This is why Door County’s ‘curvy road’ really curves.

Credit: Luke Collins Photography

By Christina Lorey

April 8, 2024

Wayyyyyyyy up at the tippy top of the Door County peninsula, you’ll find one of Wisconsin’s most famous stretches of road–where Highway 42 curves 15 times for no discernible reason.

But really…why?

One story from Destination Door County says that the road was initially built to weave around utility poles that went straight down the center of the road.

But the more commonly cited reason for the curves is purely artistic–influenced by famed landscape architect Jens Jensen. Jensen believed in using nature to enrich people’s lives, and his parks (most notably, Chicago’s Garfield Park and Humboldt Park) are famous for their water features, rock gardens, and meandering pathways meant to mimic nature rather than shape it.

Early in his career, he designed what he called the “Ideal Highway,” a road that would slow traffic, keep nature always in view, and include a pedestrian path. So, it would make perfect sense for Jensen to have designed Door County’s curvy road built to slow drivers down and make them take in their surroundings.

TIP: While the road is a sight to see in all four seasons, we recommend traveling it in mid-October to take in the changing leaves in all their glory. According to Destination Door County, the curvy road is one of the most frequently-photographed spots in all of Wisconsin.

MORE: These Wisconsin Towns Named Among America’s ‘Most Beautiful’


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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