WI Rustic Roads: Door County, R9, R38, R39, R77, R119

Published Thursday, December 29, 2022 by Bryan

To cap off 2022, we head to one of Wisconsin's favorite vacation destinations: Door County. I'm new to the state, so my trek out to ride the Rustic Roads up the peninsula was my first visit. What a lovely area!

The Rustic Roads of the peninsula are mostly focused on visiting lighthouses. This is great, because it means the roads follow the coast of Lake Michigan. If there is one thing I've learned in my travels, it's that a road that follows water is very likely to be a good ride.

The southern two roads, R9 and R77, are nice winding paths in fairly good condition. I'd advise a little extra caution, primarily because there are quite a number of hidden driveways leading back to the lakehouses on the shore. Finding the southern end of R77 can be tricky if you're coming from Sturgeon Bay, but just keep turning south and east until you get to a lighthouse. On your way back to Sturgeon Bay, consider stopping by the Motorcycle Memorial a couple miles northeast of the intersection of WI-57 and WI-42.

Me and the Wee at the gate of the Wisconsin Motorcyle Memorial

R39 requires dealing with Bailey's Harbor traffic, which was plentiful and slow even on the off-season weekday I visited. The road is a quick jaunt out to a point on the other side of the bay.

R38 takes you to Cana Island, where a lighthouse has stood for over 150 years. If the water level is low, you can walk the rocky beach out to explore the island. If it's high, a tractor will pull you on a wagon. The view from the top of the lighthouse gives an excellent insight into the geology of the lakeshore.

There is one more Rustic Road in Door County, and an extra video this week to cover it is your end-of-year gift from me. R119 is the ring road around Washington Island. After driving down the most photographed road in Wisconsin, we boarded a ferry and made the trip across the straight known as Death's Door. I hadn't done any research beyond the ferry and the road, so I was glad to have my wife along, who knew of the Stavekirke, a truly impressive wood-frame structure. I'd also like to give a shout out to Red Cup Coffee House and Fair Isle Books for being awesome places to shop and relax before boarding the return ferry.

The Stavkirke on Washington Island

Enjoy the last days of 2022, and I'll see you back here for more Rustic Roads next week!

Categories: Motorcycle Travel WIRR