The "Driftless Area" refers to a region in the American Midwest, primarily encompassing parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. What sets it apart is that it was not significantly affected by the last glacial period, and thus lacks the glacial drift (sediment) that is found in many other parts of the Midwest. As a result, the Driftless Area features rugged terrain, steep hills, and unique geological formations, making it distinct from the surrounding landscape. The region is known for its scenic beauty and is characterized by deep river valleys and limestone bluffs.
Inspired by a recent publication (2023) from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS), The Driftless Area: The extent of unglaciated and similar terrains in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, we wanted to create a map that shows, in geographic detail, the extent of the unglaciated area based on the geological evidence as described in the Survey's publication.
Our colorful new map, A Physical Geography of the Driftless Area, delineates the unglaciated and unglaciated-style boundary extents by accentuating the highly dissected topography of the region while referencing elevation highpoints, transportation routes, hydrology, public lands, cities, towns and villages, state and county boundaries, and more. You might think of it as a "hitchhikers guide" to the Driftless Area by showing the geographic richness of the region, with hopes that it will encourage everyone to explore the hills, valleys, creeks and streams, and cultural diversity of this uniquely beautiful landscape.
A Physical Geography of the Driftless Area is planned for an early 2024 release and will be available by download from our Map Showcase web page. Stay tuned!