Situated on the banks of the Black River, Black River Falls is the largest city in Jackson County and the county seat. With a population of roughly 3,600, Black River Falls has enjoyed a long and varied history. Originally settled by Jacob Spaulding, the town was destroyed by fire in 1860 and immediately rebuilt in 1861. About 50 miles northeast of La Crosse, the city has a storied history and is the administrative center of the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Black River was named Neosheprah “Dark River” by Native Americans and was later called La Riviere Noire (The Black River) by French explorers. The dark color of the waters is due to the natural tannic acids that leach from the oak and tamarack forests and sphagnum moss bogs in the 200-mile long river’s watershed.
Whether your interest is ATV and motorcycle trails, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, walking, birdwatching or simply absorbing the solitude of nature, Black River Falls is your destination. When we say unmatched recreational opportunities, we mean it.
Jackson County offers ATV and UTV riders, mountain bikers and hikers miles upon miles of wilderness trails in the Black River State Forest and Jackson County Forest while the city boasts unique antique shops, charming downtown, Sand Creek Brewery, festivals all year round and the 4.1-mile paved Foundation Trail that runs throughout the community. This charming municipality also brims with magnificent parks, ideal for exhilarating rounds of frisbee golf, tennis and many offerings for every season.
Enjoy scuba diving in the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin. The 1,300-acre Wazee Lake Recreation Area features a 146-acre lake with clear waters that attract scuba divers from all over. Our ATV/motorcycle trail system features more than 100 miles of trails and is linked to 135 more miles in neighboring Clark County. Experience a ride that takes you along rock hills, pristine meadows, over clear streams or through thick canopies of pine and oak forest. The recreation continues in the winter, with more than 300 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, plus cross-country and snowshoe trails.
Whether you favor silent sports or motorized fun, you will enjoy a landscape with natural beauty that abounds with wildlife, including bear, deer, turkey, wolves and even elk. In December 2001, the Natural Resources Board (NRB) adopted the Black River Elk Herd Management Plan. As part of the plan, the DNR determined that the Black River State Forest and surrounding public lands (primarily the Jackson County Forest) matched the criteria of lying within a historical elk management zone and providing suitable habitat to fulfill an elk herd's biological needs while minimizing the potential for human-wildlife conflicts. The Black River elk herd is estimated to be approximately 160 animals as of July 2023. Since reintroduction, the population has increased through natural reproduction, and the Black River herd is now an established wild herd in central Wisconsin. How cool is that?
Enjoy indoor activities like having fun at Ho-Chunk Gaming, shopping in historic downtown Black River Falls, visiting a brewery or winery, exploring museums and dining at fine restaurants and taverns. This thriving community truly has a lot to offer, and we invite you to come and see for yourself.