Pewit's Nest State Natural Area

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Pewit's Nest - Baraboo WI
Pewit's Nest Gorge - Baraboo WI
Pewit's Nest is an anomalous dark and damp gash in the earth to be found by the curious in Baraboo Wisconsin. It is a favorite swimming hole - and by standards of Wisconsin's storied state parks and natural wonders - a well kept secret (though not so much lately). You might find solitude here in certain seasons. But, on a warm summer afternoon expect lots of splashing and laughing.

UPDATE 2017 - Pewits Nest is now partially closed to the public and a $200 fine will be issued to those caught in closed areas- effective June 2017. Plans to construct stairs and viewing platforms are approved to proceed, so the are will reopen potentially in 2018.

Pewit's Nest - Baraboo WI
Pewit's Nest Gorge - Baraboo WI

My neighborhood is buzzing with lawnmowers, and a hound dog is yelping from behind a screen door. The neighbors are burning some meat on the grill. And, some kids are screaming bloody murder down at the Catholic school yard across the creek. In other words ... it's summer in Wisconsin. Which means, it's finally hot, and after this last winter, there's not a chance that I'll be turning on the AC anytime soon.

It's Saturday afternoons like this one that call the young and old alike to their cars - to gather friends - and to speed off down the highway with music blaring out rolled down windows - hands hung out  like airfoils riding the currents of sweet manure infused country air.

Do we even need a destination?

Pewit's Nest?

The parking lot is a blip beneath the highway - you'll miss it if you aren't looking for it. The trail out is short; this will not qualify as a hike. From the edge of the gorge, trails navigate every dangerous precipice - most mysteriously ending. If you are afraid of heights just stay at home - you'll not like this place at all.

Pewits Nest - Baraboo WI
Pewits Nest - Baraboo WI

This isn't a place everyone can enjoy, or will enjoy. For most, experiencing Pewit's Nest means getting wet or by climbing where - lets just admit it - only a foolish person would be climbing. And, by foolish, I mean daring - daring the odds that today isn't the day when the pine needles resting on sand resting on scum smoothed soft stone will not slip and give way beneath your not-so-sure footing. But, then, there's always the time tested and proven way to see the gorge - by carefully wading in from the beach.

If you are a poet, a photographer, the person who has to touch everything in the museum  ... if any of these apply or you are just the curious type then pack your car with friends and get moving, because you don't want to forget this summer afternoon ... I mean, I can already smell autumn in the air.

From the "Beach" at Pewit's Nest looking into the gorge
From the "Beach" at Pewit's Nest looking into the gorge

Over the last year many people have found their way to Pewit's Nest ... now it seems that everyone knows about Pewit's Nest. The cat is out of the bag.

Pewit's Nest is a State Natural Area with a parking lot for 8 cars. It was never intended to be a heavily used park - least of all a waterpark. Now hundreds of people show up every hot summer day ready to risk jumping from cliffs into a muddy pool at the bottom of a tiny waterfall. This small natural area simply can't handle this much popularity ... it is being loved to death.

It turns out that young people crave authenticity more than anything else. Being a place of and by nature where flowing water collects into a sizable pool that is deep enough to swim in makes it an authentic swimming hole. A place that is not commercialized, a place that is unregulated, a place where there is a high degree of risk for the clumsy, dumb, or unlucky.

The people who find their way to Pewit's Nest can do some things to keep this place beautiful, safe, and open to public.

If you go to Pewit's Nest, park where parking is legal - even if that means a short walk from Lehman Road ... as it is illegal to park on the potentially dangerous curve on CTY W (your car will be towed).

Pewit's Nest is a carry-in-carry-out natural area. That means that its a good idea to bring a trash bag with you and not only carry out what trash you make - but also pick up what debris others have inadvertently left.

Consider what might have washed down Skillet Creek during the last rainstorm. This is not a commercial swimming pool, or a waterpark. There are no lifeguards - therefore it is up to you to look out for your own safety.

Rock Climbing at Pewit's Nest is forbidden - so says the sign
Rock Climbing at Pewit's Nest is forbidden - so says the sign

Pewit's Nest - Baraboo WI
Pewit's Nest Beach - Baraboo WI

Directions and Map

Address for your GPS: 1 Pewits Nest State Natural Area, US Highway 12, Baraboo, WI 53913
| coordinates: N43.452607, W089.789482|

From Milwaukee2 Hours
From Madison1 Hour
From Green Bay2.5 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis4 Hours
From Chicago3.5 Hours

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Pewit's Nest - Slider Test from Nathan Mugan on Vimeo.
Fun times at the Nest.