What is the Driftless Area?
The Coulee Region
The Coulee Region, as it is colloquially known (officially designated the Driftless Area by the USGS and popularly referred to as the Driftless Zone, or Driftless Region since the 1980s) is an area of about 20,000 square miles (52,000 km 2) in western Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, and extreme northwestern Illinois, which was by-passed by the last continental glaciers.
As a result, the topography is more rugged than that usually associated with the Midwest. In Wisconsin, the region parallels the Mississippi River to the Illinois state line in a band 60 to 80 miles (100 to 130 km) wide. About halfway a lobe extends farther northeast into Wisconsin. In Iowa, it also runs parallel to the Mississippi River from the Minnesota state line to about Dubuque in a band approximately 20 miles (32 km) wide. The Minnesota and Illinois portions are much smaller, by comparison, and much more irregularly defined.
Other than rugged topography, the Coulee Region has no one single unity of landscape. In the north there is a "North Woods" visual appearance, as much of the terrain is covered in deciduous forest. The Dells of the Wisconsin River, along the route of the Wisconsin River, in the bed of Glacial Lake Wisconsin, are a unique and specially formed scenic attraction in their own right. In southwestern Wisconsin there is a more pastoral, semi-wooded landscape with many prosperous farms along rural by-ways. The portion of the Mississippi River that flows through the region is noted for its high bluffs and dramatic river scenery. In Iowa, it takes the appearance of low rugged hills covered with pine woods, a landscape not usually associated with that state. In Illinois, the area contains Charles Mound, the highest point in that state.
Early European settlers derived the name Coulee Region from the French word "couler," which means "to flow." The term is now usually used when referring only to the hilly parts of the region, while Driftless Zone may imply flatter areas such as those found around Glacial Lake Wisconsin.
Viroqua, Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful and unique small cities in Wisconsin, if not in the entire nation. For a city of 4,400, Viroqua offers abundant choices in entertainment, education, shopping and healthcare.
From the excitement of Wild West Days, the challenge of an 18-hole golf course, the culture of a play at the handsomely restored Temple Theatre, the relaxation of fly fishing the class one trout streams, swimming at the indoor aquatic center or the thrill of a hockey game at the indoor ice arena, Viroqua is the place to go for entertainment.
Listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, Viroqua's downtown district is home to dozens of specialty shops that offer everything from metal and glassware to art and wine and delicious dining. Viroqua is also the center of one of the greatest organic farming regions of the United States. Each Saturday in June through October, farmers and artisans from across the countryside come into our historic district to sell their fruits, vegetables, art and other items at the farmers market. These are just a few of the features that make Viroqua one of the principle shopping destinations in Southwestern Wisconsin.
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