This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.

Anyone who has ever wondered what the view is like for the many eagles soaring over the Mississippi River would do well to stop at Buena Vista Park, perched 500 feet above Alma, Wis.

The road to the top leaves from Highway 35 in Alma and follows County Road E to the park. From the parking lot, a short walk takes the visitor to a rock outcropping which gives a view miles up and down the river.

To the south is the Dairyland Power Cooperative plant and a wide view of the river. Directly in front are several sand islands, backwater areas, many boats working and playing, and U.S. Lock & Dam No. 4, as well as a look down onto the city of Alma. To the north is Pool Four and miles of the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin.

Visitors wanting more exercise can also hike to the overlook.

“A lot of people use the hiking trail that goes from Second Street in Alma up to the overlook, and they like that,” said Terry Peterson, deputy city clerk.

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The park has electricity, restrooms, a small playground, picnic tables, a grill, and a shelter. The park is handicap accessible. No camping is allowed.

“We have a lot of weddings in the park,” Peterson said. “There is no fee for that. There is a signup sheet to reserve it and a donation box if people want to make a donation for using it.”

Lock and Dam #4 near Alma, Wis., from the Buena Vista Park overlook on Oct. 17, 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Lock and Dam #4 near Alma, Wis., from the Buena Vista Park overlook on Oct. 17, 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Side attractions

While the view from the top of the bluff is well worth the trip to Alma, visitors can also take in two other attractions while in the area.

The first is the stair step streets. Built on a steep hillside, Alma has 10 streets, marked with street signs, that are concrete stairs with handrails. They were built before automobiles, so narrow sets of steps were fine for getting around the town.

Second, and very near downtown Alma, is a walkway over the railroad tracks to a viewing platform for Lock 4. It offers a close-up view of boats moving through the locks and the water swirling below the dam.

If you go...

Name: Buena Vista Park, Trail and Overlook

Address: Buena Vista Road off County Road E, Alma, Wis. (Follow the signs)

Phone: 608-685-3330



Admission: Free