Decoding the Driftless - A feature length film

In the middle of what feels like endless cornfields is a hidden jewel – the Driftless Area. For reasons yet unknown to us, the glaciers of past ice ages missed a small section of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The crushing effect of miles of ice saved the land from turning into a plowed up mess. And while there’s nothing wrong with a plowed up mess (corn grows great in that), it saved the caves and billion year old rocks from getting reworked.


Where is the Driftless Area?

The driftless area or driftless zone as some call it, is a large section of land between Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. If you’re looking at a topographic map it’s easy to find – essentially the hilly regions of the upper midwest. If there are hills, bluffs, steep canyon walls and waterfalls, you’re probably in the driftless area.


Why is it special!

Because the glaciers missed the area, there exists a unique geology. There are landforms and animals that are non-existent in other parts of the midwest. Most people don’t know they exist though, which is why we’re doing the educational outreach that we are. In particular, we’re concentrating on these:

  1. Effigy mounds – The native Americans built large burial mounds, often in the shape of animals. They scatter the landscape.
  2. Cave Art – In the caves of the area, the Native American art is preserved. The story it tells is both interesting and shocking.
  3. Caves, Sinkholes – There are limestone caves all throughout the area, all of which hold hidden passageways.
  4. River Ecosystems – Some of the oldest rivers in the world are here!
  5. Rare Ecosystems – Algific Talus Slopes, Goat Prairies, Dry Prairies, are but a few of the unique landscapes in the area.
  6. Springs – cold water resources in the driftless are home to some of the world’s best trout fishing.
  7. Glaciation – glacial geology shaped the area, but exactly why it missed this area is still a bit of a mystery.
  8. Rare Species –Peregrines, monkshood, ice-age snails, timber rattlesnakes and other rare species call this area home.

The Feature Length Documentary

To help us tell the story of the driftless, we wanted to use the power of media. Here is the trailer to our indiegogo campaign where we’re trying to raise funds for the filmmaking process. Click here for more info on how you can help.

How Can You Help?

First and foremost, now that you know it’s here, you can visit the region. Stay in a Bed and Breakfast (like Nature Nooks or Justin Trails) and support local business. Eco-tourism helps spread the word that this area is worth protecting.

Secondly, learn as much as you can about the region before you come. We’ve found that the information that’s available today is few and far between. Even the locals often don’t know what an amazing place they are in. That’s why we’re putting our energy into a feature length doc and educational resources. If you do feel passionate about spreading the knowledge, I encourage you to donate a few dollars to our campaign. Every contribution goes a long way towards protecting this area through education! Thanks again.

hot girl in tunnel entrance

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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