The Enchanting Curves of Door County’s Highway 42

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  • Post last modified:March 13, 2024
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Door County, nestled on the eastern edge of Wisconsin, is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and serene waterfronts. But there’s one hidden gem that stands out—a curvaceous ribbon of asphalt that winds through the heart of this enchanting peninsula.

The Mystery of Highway 42’s Curves

At the northern tip of Door County, where the land meets Lake Michigan, lies Highway 42—a road that defies convention. Fifteen graceful curves weave through dense forests, creating a driving experience unlike any other. But why all the twists and turns?

Jens Jensen’s Influence

The story behind these sinuous bends traces back to the early 1930s. Locals affectionately call it “Jensen’s Road,” attributing its design to the visionary landscape architect Jens Jensen. Jensen, a Danish-American, believed in harmonizing human-made structures with the natural world. His parks—lush with water features, rock gardens, and meandering paths—celebrate the beauty of nature.

Highway 42 seems to embody Jensen’s philosophy. Its purpose isn’t merely to transport travelers; it’s an invitation to savor the journey. The road slows down even the most hurried drivers, urging them to appreciate the surrounding wilderness. As you navigate each curve, the forest envelops you, and glimpses of Lake Michigan peek through the foliage.

A Photographer’s Paradise

The winding road has become a muse for photographers, capturing its allure in every season. In spring, delicate blossoms frame the curves. Summer brings lush greenery, while autumn transforms the landscape into a fiery palette of reds and golds. Even winter, with its snow-draped trees, adds a magical touch.

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Exploring the Curves

To experience this natural wonder, follow Highway 42 north from Gills Rock. As you near the peninsula’s tip, the road veers eastward, leading to the Washington Island Car Ferry. About 1.5 miles past Gills Rock, the winding road reveals itself—a serpentine path that beckons you to slow down, roll down the windows, and breathe in the pine-scented air.

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