Wisconsin River Headwaters

Visit the headwaters of the mighty Wisconsin River

Published: April 7, 2021

One of the state’s great rivers has its start right here in Vilas County at the top of Wisconsin. Seven miles northwest of Phelps, the Wisconsin River starts its 400-mile journey through the Badger State. The Wisconsin River gets its start at the western edge of Lac Vieux Desert, a 4,000-acre lake that straddles the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

At Lac Vieux Desert Reservoir Park north of Phelps, visitors can take a footbridge over the river to a historical marker at the source of the river. The scenic park is a great place for wildlife viewing opportunities and a scenic view of Lac Vieux Desert. The park also has a picnic area with tables and grills.

A parking area is located off Shore Road on the west end of the lake. To get there from Phelps, follow County Highway E north to W. Shore Road; the parking lot will be about a quarter mile down on the right (just south of Starline Ln).

Find places to stay and learn about more attractions and activities in Phelps here.