Frugal Family Fun: Free Family Day at the Aldo Leopold Center

My daughter and I have been reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac aloud to each other.  As a result, we finally decided to make the journey to the Shack as a family.

I checked out their website and was pleased to see that they were having a free Family Fun Day! (The next one will be in October—Good Neighbor Day—free admission with a donation to the local food pantry. We may go back then to see the Shack in autumn colors.)

The Aldo Leopold Foundation’s Center was quite impressive, and we spent a little time there poking around and getting directions to The Shack. The Center and the Shack are about a mile away from each other on lovely Wisconsin Rustic Road #49.

It was a short walk through white pines and along a sandy track through a prairie to the Shack. It was (and still is) a weekend and vacation retreat for the Leopold family, graduate students, and friends that they sometimes invite to join them.

The Shack itself is very basic with some bunks built into a lean-to attached to the former chicken coop, now populated with a fireplace, some rustic benches, a table, a few chairs, and some cooking utensils.













The Wisconsin River is very near—down a sandy path through a black raspberry thicket. We were surprised by how close the river was to the building but probably shouldn’t have been after noting the flat character of the land and reading about the springtime flooding so common to the area.

I  used to garden for a couple that spent time at the Shack while the husband was a student of Aldo Leopold’s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When questioned about the man Aldo Leopold, they told me that he was very unassuming and would be amazed at his fame and the reverence that the Shack and his conservation legacy engenders  in people. For many people who seek out the site of Leopold’s book, it is more of a pilgrimage than a visit to a historic site.

Burr oak along the Wisconsin River: "Only one acorn in a thousand ever grew large enough to fight rabbits; the rest were drowned at birth in the prairie sea." Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac.

In reading on the subject of land use, restoration, and management, it was interesting to note how many seminal twentieth-century thinkers on these subjects came from Wisconsin. My reading list now includes John Muir’s writings. (I foresee another frugal outing in our future!) Begonia

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