The Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center is 400 acres of nature and history. Come to hike the seven miles of nature trails or to learn about Norwegian American history!
Like so many other attractions, the Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center is just a short drive from Westby House. For more information on this unique place and others in the Driftless area, please download our free Vacation Guide.
The Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center
Norskedalen is much more than wildflowers and springs. On the main site is an authentic homestead originally built in the 1800s. A smaller property (43 acres), the Norskedalen Heritage Site, is an open-air museum and 13 pioneer log buildings. With so much to see and do at the Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center, you’ll want to reserve the whole day. So take a picnic lunch, and prepare to enjoy the natural beauty of the coulee region. Let’s take a closer look at the parts of Norskedalen that make it so unique.
The Thrune Visitors Center
Your journey at Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center will likely begin at the Thrune Visitors Center. Located in the center is Heritage Hall, a small museum of pioneer artifacts. The Nature Room has exhibits that are hands-on and perfect for the kids. There’s a gift shop and a library for genealogical research. Trail maps and other information about the property is also available.
Enjoy Nature and Wildlife
In addition to the miles of nature trails, Norskedalen is also home to the Gundersen Arboretum. This special plot of land has been carefully landscaped and planted. This transformed the acreage into a sort of paradise with wildflowers, groves of trees, and spring-fed streams. A half-mile trail leads to the arboretum as well as the pond. It is handicap accessible, as is the parking lot.
Step Back in Time
The Bekkum Homestead at the main site is as recreation of a typical homestead in the 1800s. There’s a house and a summer kitchen, a separate building where cooking was done in the summer. The springhouse would be built around the spring to protect the water and keep it clean. The chicken coop was originally a house before the homesteaders disassembled it and rebuilt it for the chickens. The machine shed kept the farm tools safe from the elements. There’s also a corn crib, a granary, an outhouse, stable and barn, blacksmith’s shop, and storage shed. These are furnished with artifacts that would have been used at that time as well. It’s a wonderful peek into what life was like over a hundred years ago.
Separate from the homestead is the Benrud Little White Chapel, a lovely place for a Norskedalen wedding or vow renewal. And the smaller site, The Norskedalen Heritage Site, is a recreation of a small town, with 13 buildings built in different styles. One of the buildings is the oldest original home in the area, and another is the area’s first school house. This picturesque site has become a popular spot for photographs.
Tour the Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center
We recommend calling Norskedalen before you travel to ensure you’re able to do all the things you’d like to do. Some of the areas are open seasonally, or closed temporarily for maintenance. And while there is lots of information on their website, we also recommend calling if you’re interested in a guided tour. This is to make sure you get the most out of your visit to this beautiful area!
Rest and Relax at Westby House
Soak up more of the Driftless area’s beauty as you travel home to Westby House. Our Victorian rooms are comfortable and luxurious. And we prepare a homemade gourmet breakfast each morning to fuel you for whatever adventures await you. And remember to download our complimentary Vacation Guide. We hope to see you soon!