With a lake to the north and the Arboretum to the south, the UW campus is the meat in a big ol’ nature sandwich. Perhaps that’s why spending time outdoors is such a large part of the Wisconsin Experience. We asked our readers to tell us their favorite campus natural spaces and why those spaces are favorites. Your responses show that from Muir Woods to Picnic Point to Devil’s Lake, Badgers like to mix in a little green with their red and white.
When I needed some serenity time from the pressures of studying, I would walk the Lakeshore Path from Liz Waters Hall to Picnic Point, sit on a log at the end, and contemplate the waves on the water. The walk itself was good to get the blood moving and the spirits soaring while observing the wildlife in the trees and on the water.
—Signe Bohrnstedt Buchholz ’66
April 1978 was very hot, and Barnard had no A/C. My friend Marnee Loefler and I would go walking late at night after studying to try to cool off. We liked to walk along Bascom Hill. There were flowering trees there, and the petals fell like snow. They smelled great, and we would throw them at each other.
—Deborah Myers ’79
Lake in the Hills, Illinois
I lived in Liz Waters my freshman year. I loved to go behind the building and sit on the banks of Lake Mendota. It was so peaceful. It was also very pretty at Picnic Point. I loved the lake, as lakes had been such a wonderful memory for me from my childhood of going to northern Wisconsin.
—Donna Rossiter Roberts ’61
Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Botany Garden between Chamberlin and Lathrop Halls on University Avenue was a refuge to deep-breathe before spring finals. For some unknown reason, sitting on the small bench tucked into the trees on the southwest corner of the garden — alongside the exotic plantings foreign to our climate — did the trick, and I return as often as I can when in Madison. Can you help me recall the dedication associated with that bench?
—Tom Neubauer ’67
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Editor’s Note: The bench dedication may have changed since your time on campus, as the Botany Garden was razed in 2003 and reopened in 2004. Today, the bench in the southwest corner, which sits under a ginkgo tree and faces a sculpture called “The Seed” by Susan Falkman, is dedicated to Peter R. Anderson.
I loved the Carillon Tower and the music of the bells.
—Mary Bonn Roth ’55
The Arboretum is a great place to recenter yourself and achieve spiritual oneness. It’s only a short walk from campus, but I’m pretty sure there may be a sasquatch hiding somewhere in there.
—Alexis Rodriguez ’07
For years I have enjoyed walking to the end of Picnic Point whenever I am in town near campus. I can’t believe that the greedy UW has now started charging for parking in the lot there!
—Dave Lewke ’62
I loved to study for finals at the lilac gardens in the Arboretum. They’re generally in bloom at that time and [give off] a heavenly aroma!
—Kris Ellingsen ’79, DVM’88
Vilas Park was the favorite spot for pharmacy students to take a break from classes. It also was top priority during my grad school days.
—Salli Anderson Woock ’54, MS’59
Cape Canaveral, Florida
In Madison itself, we would go to Sunset Point. This was a while ago, but the days at Wisconsin were memorable to me.
—Roslyn Wein Gorchow ’51
I would welcome spring by walking to Picnic Point to enjoy an afternoon of sun and warmth. Sometimes I’d even study!
—Sue Edwards Oertel ’63
Run to Picnic Point, and then take a moment to take in the beautiful scenery when you get there: the best!
—Amy Satinsky Margulies ’91
Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania
Snorkeling along the Mendota lakeshore from the Union up along the fraternity/sorority house shoreline, you could watch for the schools of large carp following. There was clear water in the spring.
—Terrence Nayes ’73, ’79
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
When it gets to be April, the snow is pretty well gone, the trees and bushes are starting to push out new growth, and cabin fever is turning to spring fever. The place to go is the area around the Washburn Observatory. The mystique of the observatory itself, the flowering plants, and the broad view over the lake make for a perfect spring tonic.
—Donald Rauscher ’70
Lynn Haven, Florida
Sitting on one of the piers overlooking Lake Mendota!
—Thomas Duban ’70
For me, a student from 1950 through 1954, Picnic Point wins hands down. Just entering it and walking to the end is still my idea of a perfect outdoor day.
—Barbara Bass Grubman ’54
Woodland Hills, California
Picnic Point in the summer, and a walk on the ice to the middle of the lake in winter!
—Carol Anderson Dixon ’68
Gate City, Virginia
What type of shape are you in after the long winter? If you have a bike, go around Lake Monona (twelve miles) or Lake Mendota (twenty-three miles). Go with a friend, and pack your own lunch or snacks to economize, and make sure you have your cell phone charged up and plenty of water with you.
—Kris Gantzer Simpson ’84
Hales Corners, Wisconsin
I always looked forward to good weather and the relaxing walk along the path by the lake from campus out to Vilas Park. Maybe the park and the path are no longer available. It was always nice to walk and chat with a friend and end the walk with a picnic lunch or just something to drink.
—Sally Middleton Sutkowski ’60
The Union Terrace will come up many times as “the favorite place,” and it is mine also. When spring appears and the chairs are out, it is a very special place! The intellectual and friendly conversations carried on with the lake and sky as a backdrop combine to make this a unique and memorable experience in the universe for all past and present UW students.
—Sally Johnejack Minicuci ’70
In the early ’60s, walking the Lakeshore Path from Liz Waters to the library or Union was a quieter, peaceful diversion from the hurry-hurry walking on concrete sidewalks.
—Donna Milford Wischmann ’64
As a Class of ’50 grad and a vet, I was at Badger Village and so saw very little of the campus except around the Union and Bascom. Saw a lot of green riding back and forth, though.
—Richard Jones ’50
Vilas Park beach brought tranquility, and a visit with the monkeys let you realize that you were still human.
—Bob Graham ’67
Albert Lea, Minnesota
1) Memorial Union
2) Lake Wingra
3) Picnic Point
4) Vilas Zoo, and if you have a car
5) Devil’s Lake.
—Cheryl Lindstrom ’78, MD’82
Staking out a section of grass on Bascom Hill on a bright spring day can’t be topped. For a brief time, I was the “focus,” and the rest of campus rotated around me.
—David Rizzo ’74
I was older than the average student, having gone to college elsewhere for a couple of years, dropped out, and returned to school five years later with a wife and young daughter. We lived in
an apartment complex off Fish Hatchery Road south of Madison, tucked into a corner of the Arboretum. To get to class, I would take my bike on a shortcut through the woods and then ride along Lake Wingra. Deer, raccoon, and muskrat were my occasional traveling companions.
On the weekends, when my wife had time off from her job at Madison General Hospital, we would all venture into the Arboretum for relaxation. Near our apartment, an abandoned street was being taken back by the woods — the Lost City Forest — and more than once we enjoyed a picnic there (against the rules, but we cleaned up after ourselves). Best of all was the Curtis Prairie, with its grasses and flowers changing through the seasons. After a fast ride along the curves of Arboretum Road on the back of my bike, our little girl (now a nurse, following in her mother’s footsteps) would play among the spring and summer blossoms.
—David Rensberger ’74, MA’75