Phelps is located in famous Vilas County 15 miles northeast of Eagle River, Wisconsin.
The area of Phelps township is slightly larger than that of Milwaukee, and smaller than Chicago, 92.4 square miles with a diverse population of 1203. Nearly 75% of the land in Phelps township is Nicolet National Forest lands. These 37,716 acres translate to 30 acres for each man, woman and child in Phelps.
We invite you to share these beautiful wooded lands and lakes. The headwaters of the mighty Wisconsin River as well as the Deerskin River start right here in Phelps.
For those looking to escape the stresses and hustle and bustle of fast paced city life, Phelps should be your destination. We refer to ourselves as off the map, and in fact the map in the local phone book does not even show Phelps!
Tucked neatly into the quiet of Nicolet National Forest Phelps offers a multitude of things to see and do in any season of the year. We have one of the highest densities of fresh water lakes and rivers in the world. Every one of them has crystal clear water that produce huge fish and beautiful scenery.
If hiking is your thing slip into the Black Jack Wilderness where easy to walk trails take you down through peat moss swamps, past the Deerskin River and lakes where no motor or wheeled vehicles of any kind are permitted. On quiet nights you can hike into Whispering Lake. If you call out to the other side, the resounding echo is so perfect you’ll think your identical twin has just called back to you. The trail ultimately takes you to the Black Jack Spring Holes and the starting point of the Little Deerskin River. On the southern end of the springs you can find what remains of an old trapper’s cabin that speaks of days long past.
We have miles and miles of cross country skiing and snowmobiling trails that offer breathtaking scenery. One snow shoeing visitor went so far as to say “ it was so beautiful I had a life altering experience”.
For wildlife enthusiasts Nicolet National Forest supports a very wide range of species, large and small, furred and feathered. It is not unusual to have Bald Eagles or deer right downtown. There is a resident pair of Ospreys just on the edge of town that can be easily viewed without even getting out of your car. It’s a wildlife watchers and sportsman’s paradise.
We are a short drive from Chicago, Fox Valley, Minneapolis, Madison, Wausau and Milwaukee and are served by a small commercial airport in Rhinelander. If you want to get off the map and get away as a family, as a couple or on your own…..come to Phelps, it’s a great place to recharge your batteries.
The town of Phelps was officially chartered in 1905 and started with the name of Hackley. In 1912 the name was changed to Phelps due to confusion with another Wisconsin town named Hatley.
The original industry that created and shaped Phelps was the logging industry. Starting in the late 1800’s and peaking about 1912 and then effectively ending when the mill burned for a second time in 1957.
The forests that built the logging industry have become a Mecca for hunters, fishermen and vacationers. The tourism industry still thrives and there is a growing diversity of small businesses that have located here.
Phelps has a population of 1203 people. We have one of the few K thru 12 schools left in the country and there is unprecedented support for our school. Each 4K-K student has use of an iPod Touch. Our first thru fifth graders all use iPads, and our sixth through twelfth graders are issued their own lap tops for the school year. Although we are one of the smallest schools in the state of Wisconsin we are proud to say our students typically are achieving some of the highest SAT scores in the country. We attribute this to the high quality of teachers in our school and the low student to teacher ratios.
Phelps is governed by a 5 person board with each member serving two year terms. Elections are held annually each spring.