Two of the perpetual joys of visiting this part of Wisconsin are the scaled-down pace and the sheer beauty of the surroundings. Bear Valley is in the Driftless Zone of southwestern Wisconsin, an area of rolling hills that were not touched by the last two glaciations.
Our ‘stone’ house was built in 1915 and updated in 2005 with all modern conveniences. Upstairs are 4 bedrooms (one king, one double, one with two twins, and one with one twin). There are 1½ baths; both are accessible to all bedrooms, and the full bath has a jacuzzi tub. (Three twin Aerobeds and bedding are available by pre-arrangement, to accommodate a maximum of 12 people.)
Downstairs is a bedroom/den with a futon that converts to a double bed and a second full bath. The dining room table seats 10; the dining room has 10 chairs as well as a built-in buffet. The living room has comfortable seating for 6 and a TV that plays DVDs, some of which we supply. The kitchen has a built-in banquette with a rotating table for easy access. All appliances and kitchen/ bathroom fixtures are new from 2005. An energy-efficient washer was added in 2012 to go with the existing large-capacity dryer in the basement. The house has central air conditioning and heating, with vents in each room.
There are two large screened porches, upper and lower, each with Plexiglas option. The upstairs porch is 4-season with a gas fireplace for cold days, and lots of books, toys and games. The lower screened porch has a pass-through kitchen window shelf for easy outdoor meals on warm days.
The front porch with its Amish glider and Adirondack chairs is a perfect place from which to see birds and other wildlife, as well as to watch moon rises over the hill, mist on the marsh, stars and fireflies, and weather coming up the valley. The house is set in an acre of professional landscaping with large grassy areas for outdoor games. The yard has a fire pit, and our manager next door supplies a wheelbarrow of wood for just $10 to start you off.
Across the street is 750 acres of protected public land with nesting Sandhill cranes and other species of birds, plus a good trout fishing stream. The valley is perfect for hiking and biking. Five miles away is White Mound County Park with a 100-acre lake for swimming and boating when it's warm, and trails for cross-country skiing when there's snow.
Area attractions within a half hour’s drive include: American Players Theater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen, the Spring Green Art Fair, the lower Wisconsin River, Global View, the Fall Art Tour, Oakwood Fruit Farm, Our Lady of the Fields Shrine, and the Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Reedsburg is a half hour north.
Area attractions less than an hour away include: the House on the Rock, Gov Dodge State Park, Mineral Point, the Circus Museum, Devil's Lake State Park, the International Crane Foundation, the Wisconsin Dells, Mt Horeb, New Glarus, Wollersheim Winery, Cave of the Mounds and Dr Evermore's Sculpture Garden. Madison is 50 minutes east and Viroqua is an hour west.
Within an hour and a half are the upper Mississippi, Villa Louis, the Dickeyville Grotto, Fenton, IO; the funicular railway, Eagle Point Park and Museum of the Mississippi (all in Dubuque); and Galena IL.
All in all, a wonderful place to rest and unwind, as well as to spend time having fun and exploring, as you wish.
I am a retired librarian and my husband is a community college math teacher.
We bought our Wisconsin home in 2004 so we could spend our summers near our Midwest family. We did extensive remodeling the first year. We designed and replaced the existing kitchen and bathroom; we added an additional bath and a half, as well as the two-level porch. Much of the house is original: the woodwork, floors, staircase, doors and hardware, dining room buffet, cut glass windows and front porch. It may look like stone outside but the formed “stones” were made from cement poured on site by local workmen in 1915. We added the front sidewalk and fence, as well as the back patio and stone wall. We planted more than 70 trees and shrubs.