Our nation’s first soil conservation project of the 1930s was launched in the Coon Creek Watershed around Coon Valley, Wis. (just a short distance north of Crawford County) with the leadership of Aldo Leopold, the “father” of wildlife conservation. Phil Lewis, a retired UW Professor of Landscape Architecture, identified the Driftless as a region that should be preserved as a natural playground and retreat for surrounding, large urban areas as part of his Circle City concept developed decades ago.
The Driftless Area is the subject of both a book, The Becoming of the Driftless Rivers National Park, and a documentary film, Mysteries of the Driftless, in recognition of the significance of the natural, historical and archaeological resources of the region.
A nearly complete mastodon skeleton was discovered in 1897 a few miles east of Crawford County near the town of Boaz.
The limestone and karst geology of the Driftless Area resulted in numerous deep caves, including several known sites in Crawford County, such as the Kickapoo Caverns and Larson Cave.
Trout Unlimited recognized the significance of the world-class trout streams of the region when it launched its TUDARE program (Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort) in 2004. Large sums of money are being spent restoring the ecology of the coldwater resource of the Driftless Area.
The land’s diverse topography harbors many globally-imperiled natural communities with amazing contrast, spanning the gamut of hot-dry sites with prickly pear cactus to Ice Age holdovers like Pleistocene snails and beautiful northern monkshood wildflowers sustained by air chilled and vented from subterranean ice caves and rock fissures.
Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first Europeans to visit the upper Mississippi Valley, the area now proposed to be a national park, when they reached the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River on June 17, 1673.
The majority of ancient Native American effigy mounds, along with prehistoric cave art, is concentrated on the Mississippi River bluffs of the Driftless Area. As a result, the Effigy Mounds National Monument was created right across the Mississippi River from Crawford County.
Some geologists believe that the Kickapoo River may be the oldest active river in the world.
In 2012, the Huffington Post declared the Great River Road Scenic Byway in Wisconsin the prettiest drive in the nation, edging out a highway in Hawaii for the title.