Mar 10, 2017

Burnett County

Wisconsin’s Premier Northwest

By: Emily Gall

Located in northwest Wisconsin, nestled comfortably within a landscape of winding rivers, soaring pines and incredible wetlands, you’ll find Burnett County, Wisconsin. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all types, the area is known for its spirited waters and inspiring wildlife.


When we say spirited waters, we mean it. From lively lakes promising an afternoon of swimming and watersports, to flowing rivers full of energy, calling water enthusiasts to a day navigating the currents, our waters replenish your spirit with adventure and excitement. 

Abundant Riverways

Boasting nearly 80 miles of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Burnett County is a haven for water enthusiasts of all types. Enjoy swimming with the family, honing your waterskiing skills and navigating the currents with friends. With the most miles of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, one of only two National Parks in Wisconsin and 14 smaller rivers, you have truly entered river country. Paddle through the most scenic places in the region as you navigate the Namekagon River through the northern barrens, or float leisurely down the Clam or Yellow with rod and reel in tow. 

At the Lake

As you travel throughout the county, you’ll notice our lakes are as plentiful as our rivers. At 508 named bodies of water, our pristine waters are open for your enjoyment. Picture dipping your toes into the luke-warm water at the end of a wooden dock, the sounds of splashing and laughter as the youngest family members swim and play. Campfires underneath the stars as the dark water laps calmly on the shoreline - this is what vacations are made of. Pontoon rides spent with friends and family are a tradition, and with many motorsports vendors offering day-long pontoon rentals with drop-off and pickup, there is no reason not to partake. If outboard motors and water sports are your cup of tea, Burnett County has many lakes over 1000 acres to explore.

Quality Fishing

Fishing is a favorite pastime for residents and visitors alike, no matter the season. Cast your line into our abundant waters and reel in bass, musky, northern pike, bluegill, walleye and other panfish. Seek the massive, prehistoric sturgeons that swim the waters of Yellow and a few other lakes. While the state record Hook & Line Sturgeon, measuring 170.5 lbs., was caught in 1979, to this day, huge sturgeon are harvested out of our waters each year. 


But the fun doesn’t stop where the water meets the shoreline. The incredible wildlife that is so abundant in Burnett County has become a beautiful backdrop for life in our small communities. The recognizable call of the loon, the cracking of twigs as doe and fawn meander through the forests, the excitement of spotting your first black bear as they begin to stir after a winter spent in hibernation - these are all experiences that every person should have - experiences that are all but guaranteed in our neck of the Northwoods.


With over 185,000 acres of public land at your disposal, you’ll find some of the best hunting in Burnett County. Home of the record-breaking Jordan Buck, hunters flock to this neck of the woods in search of their own trophy harvest. 

Hunters can partake in popular seasons including black bear, Canada geese, ducks, ruffed grouse, whitetail deer and wild turkey. A legend all in its own, the Jordan Buck, harvested in on the banks of the Yellow River in 1914, was the world record typical whitetail until 1993. To this day it remains a close second, but to residents of Burnett County, it is second to none. In celebration of the 100-year anniversary, residents worked together to create the Jordan Buck community art project – a larger than life kinetic sculpture that will be showcased at community events for years to come. A heritage hike was developed, following the trail of the Jordan Buck along the Yellow River. Songs were written and sung by all in celebration of this extraordinary harvest. Another Burnett County trophy is the harvest of Linda Lunsman in November 1963. Then 16 years old, she shot a 7 foot, 3/4 inch black bear with a dressed out weight of 635 pounds. Because the bear was head shot, it could not be measured for Boone and Crockett records. 

You’ll find our businesses are just as excited about hunting seasons as you are. Taverns and restaurants open their doors to visitors and their families, offering great comradery – usually at a discount. It’s no wonder so many hunters make the annual trek to Burnett County for their favorite hunting seasons.

Bird Watching

With 11 wildlife areas, including Crex Meadows and the Namekagon Barrens, birding enthusiasts from around the country travel to Burnett County to see some of the most unique and beautiful North American birds as they migrate each season. Encompassing 30,000 acres and home to over 270 species of birds, Crex Meadows’ unique topography of marshland, prairies, flowages and forests creates the ideal home for many migratory birds like the sandhill crane. Crex Meadows is home to many rare birds, including LeConte’s sparrow and yellow rail, enticing birders from all over the region with the promise of a sighting. It is also the beginning of the Lake Superior Northwoods Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail. 

Trails & Hiking

Hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts will find exceptional trail systems throughout the area. Following the path of a former railroad corridor, the 98-mile Gandy Dancer Recreational Trail passes through the heart of Burnett County. With a limestone surface and level grade, the Gandy Dancer, aptly named after the railroad workers, is a great trail for any level of enthusiast. Hikers and bikers, and snowmobile riders in the winter, will find the scenic trail as it runs through Siren, Webster and Danbury and heads even further north towards Superior. ATV/UTV frozen ground use is available, however, check the regulations in effect.

In addition to the Gandy Dancer, Burnett County boasts over 300 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 50 miles of summer ATV/UTV trails, and over 75 miles of cross country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking trails. From Brandt Pines and Sand Rock Cliff Trails to the west, to the plentiful trails in the east, those looking for a scenic path can find it in Burnett County. 


Forts Folle Avoine

Step back in time at Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park. In 1969, the historic site of two 1800s fur trading posts was discovered on the outskirts of Webster and Danbury. What was quickly identified as a truly unique and special historical discovery became The Forts. Tasked with the restoration of the site was the Burnett County Historical Society, which to this day maintains and manages the historic property. Stop by the park’s on-site research library to learn more about how members are preserving this site and Burnett County history. Adults and children alike will enjoy this national register of historic places site on the banks of the Yellow River, featuring two reconstructed fur trading posts and a Woodland Indian Village. The only site of its kind, The Forts offer guests the opportunity to step back in time with authentic restorations, reenactments and world-class events. 

Crex Meadows

Our very own wetlands gem, Crex Meadows Wildlife Area spans 30,000 acres and is home to over 270 species of birds, including a number of endangered species. A haven for birding and wildlife enthusiasts, this must see attraction is just north of Grantsburg and features many rare birds, including LeConte’s sparrow and yellow rail.

The Crex Meadows Visitor Center welcomes guests seven days a week from March through November, and hosts many kid and family-friendly events including photography clubs, ecology workshops, bike tours and medallion hunts. Be sure to attend their Spring Bird Festival in May and Fall Wildlife Fest in October. The visitor center offers a gift shop and museum quality artifacts including replicas of a 1930s hunting shack and the Jordan Buck.

Follow the geese painted on Grantsburg throughways for an afternoon at Crex Meadows, a place like no other.  

Burnett Dairy Cheese Store

Just east of Grantsburg, in the small community of Alpha, is a Burnett County tradition you can’t miss. The Burnett Dairy Cheese Store, offering customers the finest cheeses, wines and more has become a community staple for residents and visitors alike. Stop in for cheese and wine samples, a bite to eat at their in-house delicatessen and indulge in the Dairy’s own homemade soft serve ice cream. Completely renovated, the new retail space has an upscale feel that creates a lasting impression.


Scattered throughout the county hidden down rustic roads you’ll find our towns and villages. Just off the banks of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway lies the Village of Grantsburg. The village is home to breathtaking Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, one of the largest state owned wildlife areas, and boasts fantastic trailways and access to the beautiful St. Croix River. The village of Siren is almost always teaming with activity, and here you’ll discover fine dining, unique shopping opportunities, and plenty of accommodation options for your stay.

Travel into the heart of Burnett County and you’ll find the Village of Webster. With a quaint main street housing a used bookstore, antique shop, freshly roasted coffee and more, this small town is an authentic representation of life in rural Wisconsin. To the north lies Danbury. Home to Forts Folle Avoine and a state-of-the-art Tribal casino and hotel, Danbury truly is a juxtaposition of past and present. Though small, Danbury has much to share with visitors including diverse shopping opportunities, restaurants and a casino. Hidden away in unexpected areas, you’ll also find the smaller communities of Webb Lake, A&H and the Trade Lake region with just as much to offer. 

Burnett County offers visitors a variety of shopping, dining and lodging options. Fish fries and meat raffles are two staples in our northwest Wisconsin community. Friday nights many of our local restaurants offer residents and visitors deep fried cod or walleye, keeping this tradition alive and well. As you drive through villages and towns, you’ll no doubt notice signs advertising the evening’s meat raffle - charitable events where attendees purchase raffle tickets for the chance to win (you guessed it) various meats like ribeye, roasts and bacon - all for a good cause. For a true northwest Wisconsin breakfast, take a trip with friends or family to one of our hometown diners. You’ll find plate-sized pancakes, fluffy omelets, and homemade biscuits and gravy served up at many cafés.  

With award winning lodges, quaint motels, mom-and-pop resorts, seasonal and rustic campsites, and everything in between, you’re sure to find the perfect place to rest your head at the end of an exciting day in Burnett County. You’ll still find the family resorts of yesteryear here in Burnett County. From cabins, cottages and vacations homes lakeside and set back in the woods, the area’s resorts offer all the comforts of home for your family’s vacation or a guys’ fishing getaway.

Brimming with seasonal and overnight campgrounds, Burnett County can offer visitors the complete outdoor experience. Roast marshmallows and enjoy camaraderie and storytelling on the shoreline of a still lake or flowing river, and prepare dinner over an open fire while the kids are drying off from the last swim of the day. With well over 600 campsites in the county, your retreat is not far out of reach for an overnight stay or your seasonal home-away-from-home.  

If roughing it isn’t your style, try one of our beautiful, award winning lodges located throughout the county. Offering modern amenities in a northwest Wisconsin setting, soak in the Northwoods ambiance while you relax in the hot tub or take a dip in the pool. The newest lodging addition to the county, located in Danbury, offers the very finest in room amenities paired with the fun and excitement of a casino. 

No matter where you choose to stay during a trip to Burnett County, you’ll experience the very best in Northwoods accommodations. From rustic campsites to luxurious lodges with all the amenities, Burnett County has something to offer for every traveler, in every season.

A true getaway, Burnett County is your premier northwest Wisconsin destination. From flowing rivers to tranquil lakes, a trophy harvest to the capture of a sandhill crane on film – there are memories for the taking for all outdoor enthusiasts. Visit Burnett County to experience our spirited waters and inspiring wildlife.

Emily Gall is a freelance writer from the A&H area of Burnett County.