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An escarpment lined with trees and the lake in the distance.

Niagara Escarpment

Explore Door County's Geological Foundations

The Niagara Escarpment is an environment all its own. It’s a world-inside-a-world, a natural playground, an outdoor laboratory, and an expansive, multi-state biosystem complete with its own forests, plantlife, wildlife, and weather patterns. But more than anything, it’s a stunningly beautiful rock formation that offers endless possibilities for education, exploration, and adventure.

An escarpment lined with trees from the lake.

What is the Niagara Escarpment?

The Niagara Escarpment is a massive limestone cliff that runs from Lake Winnebago in east-central Wisconsin through Ontario, Canada before winding down near Niagara Falls in New York. 

The famous cliff over which the Niagara River plunges is part of the very same rock formation that runs through Door County. The escarpment was carved out of the landscape when the glaciers moved across Wisconsin millions of years ago and is now home to more than 200 rare plant and animal species.

The escarpment’s presence can be seen in the region’s jagged limestone cliffs, its bluffs and hillside overlooks, its lakeside cave systems, and the exposed bedrock and towering rock formations found on local trails.

A woman walking down a hill in the woods.

Where to Experience the Escarpment

The fantastic hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, and sight-seeing along the Door County Coastal Byway and at Cave Point County Park are excellent examples of how one can visit and experience the escarpment in person.

Door Bluff Headlands, Newport State Park, Potawatomi State Park, and Peninsula State Park also offer exceptional views of or from the escarpment.

Just remember: when recreating near the escarpment, it’s crucial to mind your Leave No Trace 7 Principles and be careful around the highly delicate plant and animal life.

A couple walking on a hill above colorful trees.

The Escarpment in Fall

The escarpment is especially epic in fall when the forested area atop it bursts into vibrant color. Explore options for fall drives, rides, and hikes in Door County here.

Both views of the escarpment and from the escarpment can be incredible this time of year. Bring the camera and your hiking boots and explore the trails as they traverse the escarpment or grab your paddling gear and experience it from below.

Kayakers paddling below Niagara Escarpment.

Virtual Experience: Niagara Escarpment

To get a clearer idea of what the escarpment looks like and its significance, check out the interactive Niagara Escarpment virtual experience.
An escarpment at the edge of the lake at Cave Point.

Cave Point County Park

This popular park is home to an incredible display of cliffs and lake caves, formed partly in thanks to the Niagara Escarpment and the unique geography around it.
A winding road through trees that are changing colors.

The Door County Coastal Byway

The DCCB is an official National Scenic Highway recognized for its exquisite natural beauty. Explore by car, motorcycle, bike, or foot.

Video Gallery: See the Escarpment

Learn even more about the escarpment's geographical significance and natural beauty.

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