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Discover Wisconsin: Northwoods fun on the Flambeau River
Ladysmith hosts a unique and wacky Wisconsin event in the winter called Frozen Fun on the Flambeau, featuring an ice fishing tournament, toilet seat toss and "show me your fur" competition. (Photo supplied)
We've journeyed to every corner of the state here at "Discover Wisconsin" and yet, we still find ourselves in complete awe of its raw beauty. The Flambeau River in northwest Wisconsin is, without a doubt, a spot that exudes allure. Its surrounding forest casts a reflection on the river's dark waters creating a breathtaking landscape unique to the area. The Flambeau has an array of moods from stretches of calm, tranquil water to Class 3 whitewater rapids - and good news, paddlers. There's a stretch for every skill level. If you're planning a trek down the Flambeau, here are 10 ways to capitalize on the fun:

1. North Fork - The North Fork of the Flambeau River is a favorite among paddlers and a great place to start your trip. This stretch of the river is calm and a fairly easy paddle. A gentle current guides you through some fantastic scenery, and if you look closely, you might even spot an eagle or deer nearby. The North Fork is also a popular fishing destination. Anglers can wade into shallow waters and spend the day completely immersed in nature. If you're looking to get away from it all, head to the North Fork.

2. Smith Lake County Park and Campground - Smith Lake County Park and Campground is the first place canoers and kayakers can stay on their way down the river. There are several remote campsites visitors can paddle right up to on the edge of the river and 30 additional units inland. The campground offers visitors free firewood, flush toilets and clean showers, among other amenities. With a lakefront picnic area, ATV trail access and a sizable private beach, this is definitely a campground worth checking out.

3. Winter Greenhouse - Tucked away in Sawyer County in the tiny town of Winter lies a giant greenhouse that attracts visitors from hundreds of miles away. In addition to being a popular garden center and nursery, the Winter Greenhouse hosts a variety of gardening-related workshops. Our crew filmed the "Girls Night Out Event" where participants crafted wine glass succulents.

4. Hayward Fly Fishing Company - If you are looking to fish the Flambeau, Hayward Fly Fishing Company will hook you up. In addition to being a fully stocked shop with thousands of lures, the owner, Larry, offers guided fly-fishing trips for muskie or smallmouth bass. New to fly-fishing? No problem. Larry and crew also offer classes for beginners.

5. Big Bear Recreational - Big Bear Recreational Rentals is a full-service recreational outfitter offering kayak and canoe rentals on the Flambeau River. Every June, Big Bear hosts a 3D archery tournament in which participants - while in a canoe - shoot at 18 targets positioned along various parts of the river bank. It's a fun event that presents a new kind of challenge to any archer.

6. SUP - If you're a fan of stand-up paddle boarding then consider heading out on the Flambeau River in Rusk County. Ladysmith offers SUP enthusiasts a beautiful stretch of river with plenty of beaches and parks to start or stop your paddle.

7. Ladysmith Mardi Gras - Every summer, the town of Ladysmith puts on a giant carnival along the river-front called Ladysmith Mardi Gras, complete with rides, games, fair food and even a water ski show. It's all for a good cause, too: All proceeds benefit local organizations in Ladysmith. The event closes with a "Venetian Night Parade" where a fleet of about a dozen handmade floats parade down the river after dark. It's quite a sight.

8. Frozen Fun on the Flambeau - Ladysmith hosts another unique event in the winter called Frozen Fun on the Flambeau. Featuring an ice fishing tournament, toilet seat toss and "show me your fur" competition, it's one of those fun, wacky Wisconsin events that guarantees a good time.

9. Slough Gundy - Slough Gundy is a narrow section of rapids in the Flambeau River State Forest that's infamous among paddlers. It's a spectacular sight of huge boulders and rushing water that can be heard from a distance. Tell any local you made it through Slough Gundy and you'll gain instant street cred.

10. Ruffed Grouse Hunting - Northern Wisconsin has the largest ruffed grouse population in the nation. In fact, Price County is considered to be the "Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World." Load up the dogs and make your way to the River State Forest. Ruffed grouse are found throughout the forest, and there's over 300,000 acres of huntable land available.

To learn more about what the Flambeau River has to offer, stream "Northwoods Fun on the Flambeau River" on

- Olivia Gilbert is a crew member of the nation's longest-running tourism TV show, "Discover Wisconsin." The column is published Tuesday on the Life page in the Times.