Welcome back to Traveling With Tom. This week I take you to Door County Wisconsin. I’ve written extensively about Door County in the past blog posts. You can check out some of my more recent articles here, here, and here.
A few weeks ago, my Traveling Partner and I made the 200 mile, 3+ hour drive from Madison to Door County. The weather forecast was not in our favor; cool, windy, and drizzly. That about sums it up! Our mission wasn’t better weather, it was to check out the house we rented for the month of July. There were a few open days so we took four of them to make sure the house met our needs. It did.
It was the first time we went to Door County in the spring. We’ve visited there several times in the summer and fall. We even went once in the winter. We liked them all. While there, we visited some of our favorite places and checked out a few new spots to further explore in July. Lots of places were still closed for the winter, many of them opened up around the first of May. That didn’t stop people from coming to Door County. There were plenty of people ready to get out and enjoy spring. They would have to wait a couple of weeks before that happened!
Cana Island Light Station
Last summer, we enjoyed our visit to the Cana Island Lighthouse. That day was sunny and warm, this time it was windy, cool, and overcast. We did note that the water level of Lake Michigan was a little lower this spring than last year. If we had our mud boots along, we could easily walk across the shallow inlet to explore the island even though none of the facilities were open. We did see a few people preparing to walk across in their sneakers, not sure they realized how cold the water is, hope they made it. Cana Island it about fifteen minutes from the rental. I’m sure we’ll make several visits next summer when everything is open and the wagon is available to cart us across the water.
Washington Island Ferry
We drove to the tip of the Door peninsula to check out the Washington Island Ferry schedule for next summer. After picking up a couple of current brochures, we watched as the ferry loaded. One of our goals for our July stay is to visit the Rock Island State Park. We’ll drive on the ferry for the 30 minute ride to Washington Island. Then drive about seven or eight miles to the northeast corner of the island to catch the walk-on ferry to Rock Island. No cars or bikes are allowed. It’s the only state park in Door County we haven’t visited. Can’t wait until summer!
The Anderson Dock and The Hardy Gallery
One of my favorite places in Door County is the Anderson Dock in Ephraim. Located on the Green Bay side of the Door peninsula and just north of Fish Creek, Ephraim is a quaint village with an affinity for the arts. The dock that juts out into the water is popular for fishing and watching the sunset.
The building you see in the photos below is the Hardy Gallery where arts are on prominent display from the end of May to early October. Admission is free. The building itself is a work of art with tasteful graffiti allowed. It’s fun to see some of the new messages that appear between visits.
I hope the prayers worked for Grandpa Gene!
Did Jenny, the farmer, say “Yes?” Hope so.
Peninsula State Park
The snow was gone (barely!), the breeze was cool, and the sky cloudy but that didn’t stop us or others from making the climb up the new Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park. This handicap accessible tower opened last summer (2021) to great fanfare. It replaced a lookout tower build after WWII that was no longer safe. The Eagle Tower has become one of the “must sees” in Door County. During summer weekends and holidays, the park staff were on hand to direct traffic and parking! Advice: go early and be patient!
The new Eagle Tower is quite the engineering marvel. It’s stout with a gentle rise to the observation platform that overlooks Eagle Harbor on Green Bay.
The boardwalk takes visitors above the tree line, interesting to see the bare trees ready for spring.
This new tower was built at the cost of $3.5 million with about 1/4th the cost raised by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Thank you!
From the observation platform, the Village of Ephraim is visible over the top of the trees. The Anderson Dock and Hardy Gallery can be seen on the left side of the photo below.
On our drive through Peninsula State Park, we stopped at another favorite, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. It’s scheduled to open in mid-May for tours. The scenery is delightful and the history of the light is so interesting. I recommend a stop if you have the time and the parking lot has room!
We like the city of Sturgeon Bay a lot. It’s located on the Shipping Canal that connects Lake Michigan and the Bay of Green Bay. The downtown has nice shops, my Traveling Partner particularly likes Barn Door Quilts. While she shops, I walk the street shooting photos and pop into Ace Hardware or the kitchen gadget store. There’s a lot to like in this town of nearly 10,000 people. I think we could easily live here, even in the winter!
Potawatomi State Park
While in Sturgeon Bay, we made the ten minute drive to another favorite place in Door County, Potawatomi State Park. We’ve served as campground hosts in this park at least four times, it could be five or six but I don’t remember! After a chat with the park manager, Erin, we made the scenic drive stopping at one of our favorite sites, Old Ski Hill Overlook. It looks a lot different in the spring without leaves on the trees.
Potawatomi is the eastern terminus of the Ice Age Trail that winds through Wisconsin for over 1100 miles. They just moved the terminus marker to the overlook from its previous place about a half mile down the trail. Check it out the next time you are in Door County.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
Not far from the rental house is Whitefish Dunes State Park. The day of our visit, the fog rolled in off Lake Michigan and the waves battered the shoreline. The wind was so strong that it blew mist off the Lake to the observation platform fifteen feet above the water. The flags document the strength of the wind out of the east.
Cave Point County Park
Up the road a few miles from Whitefish Dunes is Cave Point County Park. This park is another very popular place for visitors to Door County. It’s especially popular with photographers trying to capture the sunrise over the lake. I can’t tell you how many other photographers I’ve seen at zero-dark-thirty with their tripods and cameras waiting for first light. It’s magical.
Like at Whitefish Dunes, the fog was heavy and the waves angry at something. The rocks were slippery so I was cautious, my supervisor didn’t even have to warn me to be careful! I had a lot of fun trying the catch the waves as they hit the shoreline. Below are some of my better photos.
Here comes the wave!
Here’s the result!
Below is a short video of those angry waves. Make sure the sound is on but not too high, it’s loud!
Door County Candle Company
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard about Door County Candle Company on the news. This small locally owned business has sold over 60,000 blue and yellow candles to support Razom, a charity created in the US in 2014 to support Ukraine. This company is owned by a young woman, Christina, a third generation Ukrainian. Her grandparents were born in Ukraine and emigrated to the US. When the current war began, she began making a special candle to raise money for Ukraine. She thought if she could sell three hundred it would be good. The local and national media picked up her story and the orders rolled in. Just a couple of days ago, they announced that the sale of candles has raised $525,000 for Ukrainian relief. Here’s a link to the story that appeared on ABC News just the other day. By the way, Door County Candle is located in the village of Carlsville about half way between Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor on Highway 42.
While phone orders are at least twelve weeks behind, candles are available at the store. We stopped twice to buy candles as gifts for friends and family. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!
We had another great time in Door County. We can’t wait for summer.
Until next, happy travels!