Mama Say What?! is the new name for Thrifty Guardian.
When I told my husband about the Ducks in Wisconsin during our vacation a few years back, he was confused at how excited I was. “We have ducks in Illinois”, he said, half-jokingly, but those aren’t the kind of ducks I meant.
These are the Ducks to which I am referring:
Original Wisconsin Ducks – A Must-Do in the Dells
These decommissioned military vehicles were a central part of my summer vacations for years growing up. I’m originally from Chicago but spent every summer in Reedsburg and LaValle, Wisconsin – both of which are just a short drive outside the Dells. I bring this up because I want to mention that the Ducks do not commission this post. It is simply an adventure very close to my heart that I would love to share with those visiting (or planning to visit) the Wisconsin Dells.
What Are the Wisconsin Ducks?
The name “Duck” comes from the military code DUKW, which stands for:
- D – Designed in 1942
- U – Utility
- K – All-wheel drive
- W – Dual rear axles
It’s a great title for a vehicle that’s designed to travel through water and onto land. While the DUKWs were designed for storming beaches in WWII and the Korean War, they were later decommissioned. After being sold at army surplus stores, a man named Bob Unger bought them up to use in his tourist business. The unique ability to drive on land and through water is perfect to show off the beauty of the Wisconsin River and the surrounding bluffs.
The Ducks can drive over the land like a truck and through the water like a boat. Because the front is broad and curved, it’s perfect for going through forest trails, too.
Wait, forest trails? River? Driving??
Oh yes, the Ducks are AMAZING. And a MUST for any family visiting the Wisconsin Dells.
What Is the Wisconsin Ducks Tour?
The tour starts in the Original Wisconsin Ducks Tour parking lot, where you board one of the Ducks with your group. Each duck holds between 12-16 people, though they have models that can accommodate groups of 20.
Your tour guide will introduce themselves and take you into the woods surrounding the business. As you go through the trails, the Ducks will speed up, go down inclines, and around curves. It can be pretty exciting, and the information from the tour guide is hilarious. They will point out historic landmarks, funny decorations, and crack jokes the whole time.
For Example, You Might Want to Take a Dam Picture:
The forest tour will take you to the river’s edge, usually to splash down into the water. You will get wet here, and that’s a massive part of the fun – where you sit on the boat will determine how much you’ll get soaked. From here, you will take a leisurely trip down the river to see things like Eagle Rock:
And we can’t forget Pulpit Rock with the beautiful Grand Piano:
As you progress through the forest, you’ll pop back out at the river and back again. And around the river are the bluffs, and I cannot overstate their beauty. If you’re unsure about the beauty in Wisconsin, you will be by the end of this tour. The Ducks have a canopy over them for shade, and you never stop moving, so even on hot days, they’re pretty comfortable.
It would be hard to pinpoint a favorite part of the Wisconsin Ducks tour, but I love the forest trails. It’s incredibly cool near where the ferns grow. Just thinking about that area brings about an immediate feeling of relaxation. But again – it’s also entertaining for the kids! You won’t want to miss the Duck Graveyard (RIP):
Original Wisconsin Ducks Tickets
The first step to all of this fun is getting a ticket. Though you can buy them at the window, ordering them online in advance nets you a 20% discount. Pricing varies, but kids’ tickets (11 and under) are half the adult admission price. Children 3 and under are free.
The Duck operates March through mid-November, and hours vary. June – Labor Day, they are open 8 am – 7 pm. Their hours are from March to May and September to Noveours are 10 am – 4 pm.
Give the Ducks a Go
I’ve been to the Dells often, and I know many attractions are vying for your money. Trust me when I say the Original Wisconsin Ducks are worth the price of admission. You get to cool off and enjoy a long, informative ride through the most beautiful nature in Wisconsin. Plus, you get to experience it all in one of the strangest vehicles you’ll ever encounter.
If you’re considering a trip to Wisconsin this summer, go to the Dells and ride on the Ducks. You won’t be disappointed!
More From Mama Say What?!
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Aaron of L.A. Photography