The Door County Festival of Nature

Spring arrives at The Ridges.

Spring arrives at The Ridges.

Those who reside in or regularly visit Door County know that the outdoor way of life on the peninsula just feels right—but did you know that spending time in nature actually reduces your risk of chronic disease? Continue or start your outdoor habit with a weekend devoted to celebrating nature, the Baileys Harbor-based Door County Festival of Nature in May. This year is the 17th annual celebration, and the docket is full with workshops, lectures, hikes, bike tours and field trips all over the peninsula, more than a dozen of which are new.

Thursday before Memorial Day weekend festivities kick off at the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center at The Ridges. There participants can mingle, register and pick up materials for different events throughout the weekend. The toughest part is choosing which events to attend!

Friday morning early risers could set off on a six o’clock birding hike of the Baileys Harbor boreal forest, then jump on segways for a motorized tour of The Ridges. In the afternoon a boat tour of Plum and Pilot Islands whisks you away from the mainland. Dine well on Friday evening: About Thyme organic farm hosts a ticketed dinner program sponsored by Waseda Farms. UW-Oshkosh’s Jordan Karsten, a biological anthropologist delivers a keynote presentation. On Saturday, head to Mud Lake for a serene guided morning kayak paddle. In the afternoon tromp through the forest with Jordan Karsten at Whitefish Dunes State Park. Sunday a morning outdoor walk and yoga and meditation are offered starting at eight o’clock at Toft Point.

Lily pads float in Mud Lake.

Lily pads float in Mud Lake.

These events and dozens more presented as part of the Festival of Nature are led by local and regional professionals and amateur experts who embrace the spirit of education and conservation. The festival is a joint effort between The Ridges, Door County Land Trust, Crossroads at Big Creek, Greater Escarpment Organization of Door County, Open Door Bird Sanctuary, The Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Wetlands Association.

The Festival of Nature events have limited space, so be sure to register early. Registration opens in mid-March for what is sure to be a weekend full of learning, fresh air and gorgeous views.

Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: The Ridges Sanctuary is home base, just steps from the Inn, but events happen in various places around the peninsula.

Pre-registration required: Highly recommended; Registration begins March 18

Cost: Event costs vary from $25-50

John Burroughs’s words “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order” adorn this year’s festival brochure, and they couldn’t be truer. Prepare to be renewed by reserving a room at the Blacksmith Inn for your nature celebration weekend.