Pronounced SHO-WAH-MA-GON, the name is derived from the Ojibwa Indian language and means "place of shallow water." The reference is to Chequamegon Bay, which extends north from Ashland, Wisconsin, into Lake Superior. The Chequamegon National Forest is a special place in the Northwoods of Wisconsin offering you the wild and scenic wonders of its diverse landscapes. Explore the forest at any time of the year for an endless variety of recreational experiences.
Totaling nearly 850,000 acres, the Chequamegon National Forest was formed by ice age glaciers that sculpted the land surface, shearing off hilltops and producing small lakes from the huge blocks of melting ice left in the retreating glacier's path. The culture, traditions and lifestyles of the Indians, missionaries, fur traders and loggers who traveled these forests, have added a wealth of colorful natural and human history to the Chequamegon National Forest of today.
There are thousands of miles of paved and gravel roads in the Chequamegon National Forest that provide access to recreation areas and attractions. These roadways also provide visitors with endless opportunities to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Chequamegon landscapes and wildlife.
One special scenic drive in the Chequamegon is the Great Divide National Forest Scenic Byway. This roadway spans 29 miles on State Highway 77 through the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest.
The Great Divide Scenic Byway received its national designation for its stretch of rolling forested ridges which display forests of great diversity and a vast array of wildlife. Steeped in a rich cultural heritage, the region also displays unique cultural diversity and traditions dating back as early as 1000 B.C.
The Scenic Byway passes through the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest from the town of Glidden to the east to Lost Lake in the west. This popular travel route affords Forest visitors some of the best scenic driving Wisconsin has to offer. It also serves a wide range of multiple-use management practices necessary to accentuate forest growth and productivity, wildlife and fish management, and fire protection.
The Great Divide Scenic Byway corridor displays a variety of scenic, historic, and geologic features. Composed largely of granite and iron ore deposits, the Penokee Range forms a visible ridgeline known as the Great Divide that separates the water flowing south to the Mississippi River. Glacial remnants found in this region record some of the earliest as well as latest, chapters of geologic history found in the United States. It is this prominent landform that lays the foundation for the Scenic Byway and provides today's focal points—the Great Divide and its associated topography, natural, and cultural history. It was for this reason the Great Divide Scenic Byway was established.