The sign into Wanakena says “Gateway to Wilderness” and rightly so. The village is surrounded by designated State Forest Preserve, yet an excellent road will carry you here. Wanakena itself is a quiet hamlet with a storied past. Begun at the turn of the nineteenth century as a mill town for the big timber that surrounded it, Wanakena was also a famous destination for the privileged class who traveled by rail to sample the fine hunting and fishing. As the lumbering era closed, the village became home to the renowned Ranger School, which continues to train young men and women in forestry. Today, Wanakena exists much as it did 100 years ago, small and well cared for, an ideal setting for the visitor seeking outdoor adventure.