Door County Climb – Thoughts Concerning Eagle Tower

Over the past weeks, when I brainstormed ideas for this column, I’d always hedge around the idea of visiting Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park. As a person with a fairly common fear of heights and a more unusual phobia of slatted stairs (I was afraid that I would fall through them when I was a kid and I guess the fear stuck), I did not find much appeal in visiting the tower. It didn’t help that some friends and I climbed it in the dark to watch the Fish Creek fireworks this past July. Though I made it to the top that time, it was windy and scary and I didn’t want to try it in daylight when I could actually see how far up I was.

However, this summer has been about being open to new things for me and about experiencing as much of what Door County has to offer as I can. On a spontaneous drive through the park recently, a friend suggested that we climb at least part way up the tower, and I decided to face my fear once and for all.

We climbed up a few of the stories – me clinging to the side rails and going slowly for most of them – finally stopping to enjoy the view on the third or fourth.

It was breathtaking (and not because of the vertigo). It is hard to describe such a view, but experiencing it is something akin to simultaneously sighing and holding your breath. It is in those moments that you realize just how small you are.

The tower overlooks the water, but gives a different view from each side. On one side, the water stretches out like a pane of blue glass on which tiny sailboats glide like toy vessels. On the other three, you get different views of the beautiful landscape of the park. Below, Lilliputian people wander around.

As my friend and I climbed back down, a friendly passerby exclaimed, “You survived!” And we did. Back at the safety of my car, I realized that it really hadn’t been so bad (as is often the case once you’re back on the ground). At any rate, the beautiful view and feeling of accomplishment far eclipsed any fear I felt.

Climbing the Eagle Tower is a Door County rite of passage that rewards those who can brave it with an amazing view and a unique experience. I strongly suggest that you try it, even if you share my fear of heights.

The Eagle Tower is located in Peninsula State Park, and ‘tours’ are free. Peninsula State Park is also the home of the American Folklore Theatre during the summer and offers lighthouse tours as well as many scenic places to bike, read, drive or hike.