A new attraction in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., will offer visitors a compelling connection to what first attracted visitors to the area more than 150 years ago, namely the stunning natural beauty, only now with a modern sensibility steeped in sustainability, the benefits of being active in nature, and good fun. The Land of Natura, a 150-acre development along the Lower Dells of the Wisconsin River, is being described as a “natural adventure park” by the owners, Adam, Rich, and David Makowski, three brothers whose family history of resort ownership in the area goes back more than 50 years.
The first phase of the development, a 40-acre parcel, will include the world’s largest naturally filtered lake with America’s largest floating waterpark and North America’s longest canopy tour. More than 10 miles of hiking and biking trails through the woods, river beach access and kayak rentals, a greenhouse welcome center featuring native plants, and food trucks serving locally sourced specialties are also included in this initial phase, set to open early summer 2022.
The parcel of land, located just off Grand Cambrian Drive and Vine Street at Hwy 16, includes woodlands, marsh, prairie, rock formations, unglaciated rolling topography, and 2,000 feet of scenic shoreline with boat dock and bluff outcroppings on the river. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Wisconsin Dells while taking care to leave a light footprint. The park will also have designated pet-friendly areas.
The 5-acre Lake Wisconsin Dells will use an all-natural purification system provided by plants to filter the lake’s 14 million gallons of water, making it the world’s largest naturally filtered lake. Going from zero depth entry to 20 feet deep in the center, the lake is large enough to accommodate islands and an inflatable waterpark. Mt. Natura, a lookout point with waterfalls adjacent to the lake, will have multiple slides ranging in height from 100 to 150 feet that will give visitors the chance to slide from the mountaintop right into the water. There will also be a forest-themed splash pad with dump bucket that looks like a ladybug with leaves. Surrounding the lake will be a sand beach, sand volleyball court, backyard games, and walking path.
The 1,100-foot-long self-guided canopy tour includes bridges and walkways suspended from 10 to 25 feet above the ground, with themed platforms along the way to blend in with the trees. This low-impact, elevated view of nature, with opportunities for bird watching and eagle sightings, is for people of all ages and will accommodate strollers too.
According to Adam Makowski, this new development goes beyond the typical attraction you’d expect to find in Wisconsin Dells, a community popular for its waterparks and theme parks. “We look at this land as an opportunity to reclaim and preserve the legacy of what first made Wisconsin Dells famous, the Dells captured by landscape photographer H.H. Bennett back in the mid-1800s,” said Makowski. “Our vision is to create a space that allows visitors to embrace the connection between the health of the planet and their own physical and emotional health by giving them a way to move beyond passive sightseeing to having fun while being physically active.”
Makowski shared that one measure of success will be when kids willingly put away their tech devices and parents disconnect from their laptops while visiting The Land of Natura. “Our theme line is ‘Where the Fun Comes Naturally,’ and we’re hopeful visitors will feel that exhilaration the minute they start exploring the attraction,” noted Makowski.
Makowski elaborated on the inspiration for this attraction that has a feeling of a private state park and a wellness playground combined. “We grew up playing in the woods and along the river and wanted to preserve that experience for our children and children’s children, so creating awareness of the relationship between caring for people and caring for the land is key.” He went on to say they are working with arborists to ensure continued health of the eco-system and specialists in natural lagoon systems to maintain the purity of the lake.
The Land of Natura is the first new large-scale attraction for Wisconsin Dells in more than a decade. The full development is expected to take between three and five years to complete at an estimated total cost of $60 million.