Travel With Friends

Whether the destination is near or far, the Friends offer meaningful, well-planned trips geared toward travelers who appreciate the beauty and complexity of nature and are eager to learn more from experts carefully selected to guide the tours.

Upcoming trips include:


View Photo Albums Of Previous Trips

Chicago Field Museum
January 29, 2014 - Filled
February 4, 2014 - Filled

Did you know that the Field Museum houses nearly 26 million specimens and artifacts? Less than 1 percent of these are on display to the public. On this tour we will have the opportunity to visit the storerooms and working laboratories that house these unique collections during an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.

Our day will include two formal tours. One tour showcases a new temporary exhibit, "Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair." Not only the birthplace of the Juicy Fruit chewing gum and the Ferris Wheel, the World's Fair also marked the triumphant debut of The Field Museum.

This exhibit will bring to life one of the most spectacular events in Chicago's history. Explore how the fair brought visitors closer than ever to unique wonders like exotic animals, international cultures, and strange new products from all over the world. We recommend you read "Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America" (Erik Larson, 2003) prior to viewing this exhibit. This bestseller brings Chicago circa 1893 to life.

Our second tour takes us into one of the non-public collections areas. We'll head to the Zoology Department, with a museum curatorial staff member giving us a close-up view of the museum's special collections and the area where scientific staff work.

After a lunch break (on your own in the museum's Corner Bakery Café), you have free time to explore the rest of the permanent exhibits on our own.

The museum's 35 permanent exhibits feature their core collections. These exhibits include: "Inside Ancient Egypt," an extended display of Egyptian artifacts including 23 mummies and a tomb with 5,000-year-old hieroglyph, Native American Hall, the Grainger Hall of Gems, the Hall of Jade, Ancient Americas, and the Evolving Planet, a display spanning 4 billion years of life on Earth.

The trip fee is $125 for members and $165 for non-members (includes a Friends membership) and includes our motor coach transportation, basic admission to The Field Museum and two special guided tours: a Behind-the-Scenes curator-led tour and docent-led tour of "Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair."

We will be departing from the Arboretum Visitor Center at 7 a.m. and returning there at about 6:30 p.m. Please plan to arrive at the Arboretum Visitor Center about 15 minutes prior to departure.

Experience Yellowstone National Park in Winter
February 7 -14, 2014 Filled

Join the Friends of the Arboretum in experiencing the dramatic natural world of Yellowstone National Park in winter. This may be the best time of the year to visit Yellowstone: prime time for wildlife viewing and there are relatively few park visitors. We will have the opportunity to see billowing geysers (including Old Faithful), frosted landscapes, frozen waterfalls, abundant bison, elegant elk, possible wolf sightings, western birdlife and more – truly a magical season in our country’s first national park.

We will visit Yellowstone National Park at its north entrance, near Gardiner, Montana and Mammoth Hot Springs, to experience a winter wonderland found no other place on earth. Our professional Yellowstone guides will amaze you with their knowledge of the ecology, geothermal features and wildlife of this iconic American destination. Our unique Yellowstone itinerary includes guided explorations via minibus, snowcoach, and on foot. to the stunning thermal features of Old Faithful to the wildlife rich habitats of elk, bison and big horn sheep. A highlight for the week features a search for Yellowstone’s wolves and wildlife with a Yellowstone Association naturalist guide.

The eight-day tour begins in Bozeman, Montana, and includes 7 nights lodging (including 2 nights in the famed Snow Lodge at Old Faithful), most meals (breakfasts and lunches), naturalist led wildlife tour, two days of snow coach tours to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Old Faithful and Norris Geyser Basin, ground transportation after meeting in Bozeman, professional naturalist guide and Friends of the Arboretum host Chuck Pils.

conifer swamp

Cedarburg Bog and Eastern Wisconsin Natural Areas- Filled
May 20, 2014

Join fellow members of the Friends for a unique opportunity to explore several significant natural areas in southeastern Wisconsin. We will start our day with a guided tour of Cedarburg Bog, take a break for a hearty lunch at the Riverside Brewery in West Bend, and in the afternoon we will explore other natural areas as we wind our way back to the Arboretum.

Many of the last remnants of Wisconsin's native landscapes are protected under the State Natural Areas system. These areas are important places for scientific research, ecological restoration and recreation. They protect more than 90 percent of the plants and 75 percent of the animals on Wisconsin's lists of endangered and threatened species.

Cedarburg Bog, in Ozaukee County, is one of the largest and most diverse wetlands remaining in southeastern Wisconsin. The most unusual feature is North America's southernmost "string bog," consisting of lines ("strings") of stunted cedars and tamarack trees alternating with sedge-dominated flats, more typical of northern boreal regions.

Cedarburg Bog is home to a diverse collection of plants and animals, including several carnivorous plants like pitcher plants and sundews. It is a habitat for both breeding and migrating birds, and is particularly valuable for its ability to support northern birds breeding at the southern limit of their range.

The uniqueness of Cedarburg Bog has been acknowledged by its inclusion in several state, national and international scientific programs. It is jointly owned by the Wisconsin DNR and UW-Milwaukee, which maintains a Field Station for educational programs and research. Our tour of this area will be led by Dr. Jim Reinartz, plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist, director of the UW-Milwaukee Field Station, adjunct professor of biological sciences, and recipient of the Friends-sponsored Henry C. Greene Award for Innovative Approaches in Restoration, one of the Leopold Restoration Awards.

After lunch we will explore several other significant State Natural Areas. Mark Martin, retired DNR Natural Areas Manager, and Chuck Pils, retired director of the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources, will lead this portion of our tour. Both are experienced tour leaders and intimately familiar with Wisconsin's natural areas.

The walk at the Field Station will be approximately 2 miles on trails with gentle terrain and on a 2 foot-wide boardwalk. Sturdy shoes, clothing for outdoors, snacks, field guides, and binoculars are recommended. The trip is limited to 40 people and goes rain or shine! The fee includes lunch, professional tour guides, and motor coach transportation.

The trip fee is $100 for members and $140 for non-members (includes a 1-year basic Friends membership). We leave at 7 a.m. from the Arboretum Visitor Center and return at 5 p.m.

If you have questions about this trip, send an e-mail to Friends Manager Sara Minkoff or phone her at 608.263.7760

great blue heron

Explore Horicon Marsh - June 4, 2014 Filled

Experience spring migration at Horicon Marsh, the "Little Everglades of the North." Enjoy seeking out some of the more than 260 species of birds Horicon Marsh has to offer. Bring your bird book and binoculars -- let's go birding!

This tour of the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States includes a trip into the marsh aboard a pontoon boat, lunch and a naturalist-led walking tour.

We will journey into the heart of the marsh on a 2-hour, pontoon boat birding tour, exploring Wisconsin's only "Wetland of International Importance."

After a hearty lunch at the Iron Ridge Inn, Liz Herzmann, DNR naturalist and wildlife educator, will present an illustrated history of Horicon Marsh before leading a walking tour of the southern marsh while discussing its cultural and natural history and highlighting the abundant and diverse wildlife.

Dress for the weather; we will be spending most of the day outdoors. Sturdy shoes, clothing for outdoors, snacks, field guides and binoculars are recommended.

The trip is limited to 50 people. The cost for the trip is $95 for members of Friends and $130 for non-members (includes a membership in Friends). We will leave from the Arboretum Visitor Center at 7:30 a.m. and return to the Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m. Please plan to arrive at the Arboretum Visitor Center about 15 minutes prior to departure.

Questions? Send an e-mail to Friends Manager Sara Minkoff at or phone the Friends office at 608.263.7760.

Following in the Footprints of the Glacier
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Curious to learn more about Wisconsin’s geological features? Interested in decoding drumlins and moraines, and understanding more about how ancient seas, torrential rivers, persistent winds, and gigantic masses of ice have shaped the natural landscapes seen in today’s Dane County?

Led by Arboretum naturalists Sue Bridson, Miguela Fry and Stephanie Williams, this trip offers a close-up look at the glacial geology of western Dane County. We start the morning with a 25-minute indoor presentation, a virtual tour of the rocks and landforms we will see on our trip.

Then, we’ll head out to Pope Farm Conservancy for a sweeping view of local glacial features, take a short woodland hike on part of Wisconsin’s Ice Age National Scenic Trail to view Wilkie Gorge, visit a glacial-outwash working quarry, and a stop at a 450-million-year-old ocean floor to hunt for fossils.

We will have a gourmet lunch at The Old Feed Mill in Mazomanie. Its rich history dates back to pre-Civil War 1857, the year the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad Company arrived from Milwaukee, platted Mazomanie, and continued its drive to Prairie du Chien to create the first rail connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system.

While in the Mazomanie area, they also developed a water power supply for a new flouring mill, what is now The Old Feed Mill. The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, received a prestigious Certificate of Commendation from the Wisconsin State Historical Society, after three years of painstaking restoration.

Sturdy shoes, clothing for outdoors, snacks, field guides and binoculars are recommended. The fee for the trip includes a copy of "Landscapes of Dane County," a publication from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, lunch, professional tour guides, handouts and motor coach transportation. Tour goes rain or shine!

The trip fee is $100 for members and $140 for non-members (includes a 1-year basic Friends membership). Please plan to arrive by 8 a.m. at the Arboretum Visitor Center. We plan to return to the Visitor Center at 4 p.m.

If you have questions about this trip, send an e-mail to Friends Manager Sara Minkoff or phone her at 608.263.7760.

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Fall Migration Cruise: Explore the Wetlands and Wildlife of the Mississippi River by Riverboat November 5 and November 11, 2014

Join the Friends of the Arboretum on November 5 or on November 11 for a unique three-hour expertly narrated riverboat tour of the Upper Mississippi River. We'll explore a variety of wetland habitats including open water, narrow backwaters and side channels along riverside cliffs and floodplain forests.

With the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge known as one of the most noteworthy bird migration flyways in the world, we expect to see a variety of migrating and resident birds.

Even though we can expect brisk temperatures, participants will experience amazing close-up views of thousands of elegant tundra swans and hundreds of a wide variety of other waterfowl plus numerous bald eagles and other wildlife. The 261-mile refuge is the longest river refuge in the continental US and well known as bird watchers paradise.

We will board our US Coast Guard-inspected eco-boat, specially designed to navigate otherwise inaccessible waters of the Mississippi, at Lansing, Iowa and explore Pool 9 of the Wildlife Refuge as well as the backwaters and open channel nearby.

Along the way, we will enjoy a narrated tour from our USCG-licensed captain, who will share information about the river, navigation, history and people. We will also have an experienced birder and a river historian on board to provide information and identification.

This tour offers visitors a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty and natural wonders of the Upper Mississippi River in the comfort of the Mississippi Explorer, a specially designed, enclosed and heated vessel (with on board restrooms) offering protection from inclement weather while providing exceptional views.

Dress for the weather, we'll go rain or shine. Be sure to bring your cameras and binoculars!

The fee for this trip is $100 for members and $140 for non-members (which includes a Friends membership) and includes our motor coach transportation, box lunch, guide, and Mississippi River chartered boat trip. The trip is limited to 50 people.

We will be departing from the Arboretum Visitor Center at 7:30 a.m. and returning there at about 5 p.m. Please plan to arrive at the Arboretum Visitor Center about 15 minutes prior to departure.

If you have questions about this trip, send an e-mail to Friends Manager Sara Minkoff or phone her at 608.263.7760

Download registration form