Here are 3 great driving trips to enjoy. On these routes will learn more about our history, view wonderful nature and learn more about Columbia County and our neighbors.


Hwy 113 / Merrimac Ferry

BicycleWisconsin means dark waters in a Native American language. The dark water of the
Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin comes from the very dark roots of the Tamarack trees which line its banks in the northern part of the state and bleed a natural dye into the river.

Many varieties of fish thrive in these waters, making Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River a fisherman’s paradise. The 9,500 acre lake has 57 miles of shoreline, and the lake and river have more than 18 miles of navigable waterway with a depth that varies to a maximum of 40 feet.

Boaters love to dock at the many sand bars for a swim, picnic or even to camp overnight. Tourists from all over the world come here to relax and enjoy this beautiful area. Once a favorite hunting and fishing ground of the early tribes, it is now a popular tourist destination for camping and water sports as well as more leisurely activities and family adventures.

The Merrimac Ferry, named “Colsac” because it bridges Columbia and Sauk counties, is a highlight to experience and the only free ferry in the state. It crosses the Wisconsin River from Highway 113 in Merrimac south to the junction of Highways 188 and 113 just north of Lodi. Trip time is 10 minutes, and 15 cars (trailers too) can cross at one time. It runs 24 hours a day during the months the lake is not frozen. Top it off with a stop at a nearby restaurant or ice cream stand.


WisDOT - Wisconsin’s Iconic Merrimac Ferry: As Popular as Ever


Click here for more information

Scenic Byway Route 60

BicycleFrom the Empire Prairie to the Mighty Mississippi, Wisconsin’s 100-mile Scenic Byway 60 follows the graceful curves of the Lower Wisconsin River. This patch of our planet sparkles, by sunny day or starry night, with the wild beauty of Nature left to its own devices for thousands and thousands of years. And nowhere so apt is Heraclitus’s adage that you can’t step into the same river twice.

In constant flux, the “river of a thousand isles” continuously sculpts its sandbars, shifts its channels, varies its flows, and repaints its colors, according to the whims of the weather gods. Here golden bluffs crop out of emerald hills and valleys that roll into rushing streams to the lively river. These waters beckon fishermen, canoeists, kayakers, and boaters. Here birdwatchers and botanists can go bananas while, chances are, an eagle is watching them. As transcendent as the ancient Driftless area landscape itself is the history encoded in its formations. Hundreds of effigy mound earthworks, still alive to the touch, stand today as spiritual gifts and messages from those who occupied this land in the deep past.

The more recent settlements on the Byway route from Lodi to Prairie du Chien have tried to complement rather than conflict with the pristine qualities of Driftless Nature. Each has its own enticing history and contemporary flavor. They offer a rich range of camping, lodging, dining, outdoor and indoor recreation, archaeological pursuits, and other learning options. They welcome both the seriously energetic and those who seek serious relaxation. They invite families to experience together this special place, the magic of which has inspired a local goal: No Child Left Inside.

Scenic Hwy 151

Whether you visit for a day or stay for a weekend, make yourself at home in Beaver Dam. This picturesque community, located in south central Wisconsin on Beaver Dam Lake, is surrounded by rich farmlands. Beaver Dam is situated just 40 minutes northeast of Madison, 90 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, 90 minutes south of Appleton, and 2 1/2 hours north of Chicago. You will find Beaver Dam a flourishing city with a progressive business and industrial climate. For current information, including local events, visit

Welcome to Columbus


Come visit Columbus, nestled among gently rolling hills, woodlands, and the Crawfish River. Located in the southeast corner of Columbia County, Columbus presents an almost perfect portrait of the late 19th century with over 200 century-old commercial and residential buildings. This Wisconsin
Main Street community features a variety of architectural styles including the extraordinary Farmers
& Merchants Union Bank designed by Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. You will find that the City of Columbus strives to preserve and promote its proud heritage. Columbus is home to unique shopping, antiques, pottery, artisans, casual to fine dining, elegant B&B accommodations, and of course carriages.



For more information about beautiful Columbia County,
here are some helpful links:

Cambria-Friesland Chamber of Commerce

Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Fall River Chamber of Commerce

Lodi & Lake Wisconsin

Pardeeville Area Business Association

Portage Area Chamber of Commerce
608-742-6242 or 800-474-2525

Poynette Chamber of Commerce

Randolph Chamber of Commerce

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Department of Tourism


Find more about Weather in Portage, WI
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Phone -608.742.6161 Fax -608.742.3582
Room 256 - 112 E. Edgewater (P.O. Box 323)
Portage, WI 53901

Directions to our office