Phelps, Wisconsin is a gem that few people know about!
Phelps is located about 15 miles northeast of Eagle River, Wisconsin, in Vilas County. This small town is nestled within the 650,000-acre Nicolet National Forest. Nearly 75% of the land in the township is Nicolet National Forest. And Ottawa National Forest is just two miles to the north in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The headwaters of the mighty Wisconsin River and the Deerskin River begin in Phelps and other waters flow into Lake Michigan.
Phelps is a great place to start a business, raise a family, and send your children to a world-class, award-winning school while living in the beauty of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. The School District of Phelps has a tradition of providing high-quality education in a creative environment, and you won’t find a friendlier small town in Wisconsin.
Discover a fantastic four-season destination for all outdoor enthusiasts, or the community you have been looking for to call home!
37,716 Acres to Roam
1395 Miles to Trails
40 Snowmobile Trails
The history of Phelps, Wisconsin, is inextricably intertwined with the fur trading and logging days of the 18th and 19th centuries, and later, with the tourism trade. The first Europeans in the area were French fur traders. Inhabited by Chippewa Indians, Lac Vieux Desert was a crossroads for the fur trade.
The abundance of rich forest land drew the first business to the area in 1896. Not long after that, a town was settled. The town’s biggest growth spurt took place from 1906 to 1912 when Finnish people moved to the area to farm and work in the lumber mills and forests. Originally known as Hackley, the town was renamed Phelps in 1912 (due to confusion with another Wisconsin town named Hatley).
The Town of Phelps is located in the northeast corner of Vilas County along the border with Michigan. The headwaters of the Wisconsin River are in the northwest corner of the town at Lac Vieux Desert. Much of the town is a part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 108.8 square miles (281.8 km2), of which, 94.9 square miles (245.7 km2) of it is land and 14.0 square miles (36.2 km2) of it (12.83%) is water.
The population in Phelps is 1,291. There are 14 people per square mile aka population density. The median age in Phelps is 54.3, the US median age is 37.4. The number of people per household in Phelps is 2.1, the US average of people per household is 2.6.
Family in Phelps
- 62.9% are married
- 13.5% are divorced
- 24.8% are married with children
- 5.8% have children, but are single
Race in Phelps
- 91.2% are white
- 0.0% are black
- 0.6% are asian
- 1.9% are native american
- 0.0% claim Other
- 2.6% claim Hispanic Ethnicity
- 3.7% Two or More Races
- 0.0% Hawaiian, Pacific Islander
Phelps is served by Wisconsin Highway 17 (WIS 17), three Vilas County trunk highways, and a large network of town and Forest Highways. WIS 17 runs southwest–northeast across the town, through the unincorporated community of Phelps and to the Michigan border and a connection to Forest Highway 16 near Smokey Lake. This also provides a connection to Iron River, Michigan, via Iron County Road 436. To the southwest, WIS 17 connects to US Highway 45/WIS 32 and the rest of the Wisconsin State Highway System approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Eagle River. County Trunk Highway E (CTH-E) begins in the Central business district of the unincorporated community of Phelps and runs northwest to serve the area around Lac Vieux Desert before ending at US 45/WIS 32 approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Land o’ Lakes. CTH-K follows the north shore of North Twin Lake and provides a connection to Conover and points west, while CTH-A begins at WIS 17 approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of the unincorporated community of Phelps and leads south and east to its terminus at WIS 55 in the community of Nelma in Forest County.
The typical American commute has been getting longer each year since 2010. The average one-way commute in Phelps takes 19.5 minutes. That’s shorter than the US average of 26.4 minutes.
How people in Phelps get to work:
- 86.1% drive their own car alone
- 6.3% carpool with others
- 4.1% work from home
- 0.0% take mass transit
Colleges/universities with over 2000 students nearest to Phelps:
- Michigan Technological University (about 78 miles; Houghton, MI; Full-time enrollment: 6,078)
- Northcentral Technical College (about 80 miles; Wausau, WI; FT enrollment: 3,356)
- Northern Michigan University (about 88 miles; Marquette, MI; FT enrollment: 8,258)
- University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (about 109 miles; Stevens Point, WI; FT enrollment: 9,089)
- Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (about 117 miles; Green Bay, WI; FT enrollment: 6,069)
- University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (about 121 miles; Green Bay, WI; FT enrollment: 5,415)
- Mid-State Technical College (about 121 miles; Wisconsin Rapids, WI; FT enrollment: 2,128)
Public high school in Phelps:
- PHELPS HIGH (Students: 34, Location: 4451 OLD SCHOOL RD, Grades: 9-12)
Public elementary/middle school in Phelps:
- PHELPS ELEMENTARY (Students: 93, Location: 4451 OLD SCHOOL RD, Grades: PK-8)
Library in Phelps:
- ELEANOR ELLIS PUBLIC LIBRARY (Operating income: $64,742; Location: 4495 TOWN HALL RD.; 12,398 books; 11,545 e-books; 3,138 audio materials; 1,061 video materials; 2 local licensed databases; 28 state licensed databases; 6 other licensed databases; 6 print serial subscriptions)
There are 22.4 primary care physicians per 100,000 population in Phelps compared to the statewide average of 75.6. The area is located in both a mental health and primary care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) qualifying the area as a medical desert. By the year 2035, Phelps is expected to have a 69.1% deficit in physicians, the fourth largest projected deficit in Wisconsin. There are no behavioral health physicians in Phelps.
Hospitals and medical centers in Phelps:
- NORTHWOODS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION (2383 HWY 17)
- LILLIAN KERR HEALTHCARE CENTER (2383 STATE HWY 17)
Other hospitals and medical centers near Phelps:
- EAGLE RIVER MEMORIAL HOSPITAL (Hospital, about 13 miles away; EAGLE RIVER, WI)
- EAGLE RIVER HLTH CARE CTR (Nursing Home, about 13 miles away; EAGLE RIVER, WI)
Outdoor Points of Interest
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 freshwater lakes and rivers in the world. Every one of them has crystal clear water that produces 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 snowshoeing 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.
On The Lakes: Lake living, Ice fishing, Northwoods fishing, Fly fishing, Canoe & kayak, Paddle boarding
On The Trails: Snowmobiling, Cross country skiing, Snowshoeing, Atv/utv trails, Hiking, Biking, Horseback riding
In The Woods: Hunting & trapping, Campgrounds, Backcountry camping, Bird watching, Wildlife observation, Geocaching
Great Lakes or Chains
Phelps is located in an area with one of the highest densities of freshwater lakes in the world. Vilas County has over 1300 lakes, with four of the largest located here in Phelps. North Twin Lake, which is located right downtown, is 2871 acres and as deep as 60 feet, which makes for great fishing! And that’s just one of 41!
The larger bodies of water, such as Lac Vieux Desert and North Twin, have several restaurants that are easily accessible by boat. And the majority of Vilas County lodging facilities are located on the shores of a lake, some with complementary row boats or rental fishing boats.
North Twin Lake. Twin Lakes (North) is a 2871 acre lake located in Vilas County. It has a maximum depth of 60 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is very clear.
South Twin Lake. Twin Lakes (South) is a 628 acre lake located in Vilas County. It has a maximum depth of 43 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is very clear.
Big Sand Lake. Big Sand Lake is a 1427 acre lake located in Vilas County. It has a maximum depth of 56 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water is moderately clear.
Long Lake. Long Lake is a 886 acre lake located in Vilas County. It has a maximum depth of 88 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Trout and Walleye. The lake’s water is moderately clear.
Lac Vieux Desert. Lac Vieux Desert is a 4017 acre lake located in Vilas County. It has a maximum depth of 38 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye.
Kentuck Lake. Kentuck Lake is a 1001 acre lake located in Vilas, Forest Counties. It has a maximum depth of 40 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low.
Art Centers, Community Centers, and ETC
Phelps Historical Museum
The small town of Phelps, Wisconsin, located in Northern Wisconsin, has a huge amount of valuable history buried within it. It is our goal to display the pictures, tell the stories and preserve our past in honor of the history that has built our thriving community.
The Phelps Historical Museum isn’t the biggest, but the history that has been uncovered is absolutely huge.
PRE-COVID AVERAGE PRICE AND POST-COVID AVERAGE PRICE
Pre-Covid Ave Price Sold: $227,545.00
Post-Covid Ave Price Sold: $414,968.05