Wisconsin Dells has been a favorite family vacation destination for more than 150 years. An explosion of indoor water parks has turned the Dells from a summer hot spot to a year-round destination.

The area of the Western Great Lakes was once part of the French Empire, and this was one of the oldest noted areas in the region, called “Dalles” by the early French explorers who charted the Wisconsin River in the 18 th century. The name stuck and over time the spelling became anglicized as the “Dells.”

The railroads arrived in 1857 and a new village was established along the Wisconsin River. Named Kilbourn City in honor of the then president of the railroad the area was a backwater but slowly began to grow in size.

This new city was the site of a dam that was built in 1853, which provided power to the area, but due to near constant flooding the dam, which was called the “most dangerous on the river,” the dam was removed in 1897. It was during this era that the first tourists began to arrive, often row boating on the scenic Wisconsin River. Visitors also came for canoe tours and for a ride on the riverboat steamers. A half century later, in 1931 the city officially changed its name to Wisconsin Dells, and after World War II the Ducks arrived. The military half-boat/half-trucks that is! If it drives like a Duck, floats like a duck and is in the Dells it is a Duck!

Throughout the later half of the 20 th century the water parks became the latest attraction. Today Wisconsin Dells remains a popular tourist destination where you can get wet and wild while having some good clean fun, and with 18 indoor water parks you can visit year round.