Howdy blog readers! For this post, we’re going to go slightly outside of Menomonie to a place called Willow River State Park about an hour from the university. Willow River is an absolutely beautiful little area tucked away near Hudson, right on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border. This state park offers a river, as well as cliff sides, swimming areas, hiking areas, an observation deck, sightseeing, and most importantly (for me at least), rock climbing.
Climbing-wise, this area is very difficult. All of the routes are 5.10 or higher and contain roof problems, overhangs, or both. The overhang makes you hold more of your body on your arms, and can make the 50+ foot climb feel even longer. My personal favorite route is the 5.10d White Noise, and I have heard good things about Natural Selection, a 5.12 b/c. One thing to note is that falling rock is rather common on the left side, so make sure you are top-notch on safety, and always wear a helmet. If rock climbing is a little too vertical for you, there is also a set of stairs leading to an observation deck, the view of which can be seen below.
Be sure to wear and/or climb in a bathing suit to cool off in the river on a hot day! Willow River has a lot to do for anyone, and is worth going to even for non-rock climbers. I would recommend visiting on a Tuesday night and heading to Dicks Bar in Hudson after the climb for $2 burgers and a stroll down the boardwalk to the beach. So make the trip Stout students, you’ll be glad you did. Safe climbing and happy hiking!