This is beginning to resemble a Stephen King novel, or H.P. Lovecraft. What’s going on in them thar hills? You might argue the blue extends a bit further south into Illinois, but that’s probably the Quad cities area, which is somewhat more industrialized. The mysterious blue farm counties almost perfectly match the Driftless Area.I'll let the political analysts work on the voting patterns. The economic geography is not rural in the usual sense of large fields worked by immense equipment, because there are no large fields.
Here, on the Illinois end of the Driftless Area, is the Apple River Canyon.
It offers camping, parking, and some moderately challenging, although not long, hiking trails.
On the northeastern side, overlooking The Route of The Hiawathas at Camp Douglas, is Castle Rock, which looks like something for a coyote to stand on while looking for a roadrunner to drop an anvil on.
The former Chicago and North Western line from Madison to Wyeville that used to cross The Milwaukee Road here is now a bicycle trail.
Nearby is the single largest complex of railroad tunnels in Wisconsin, three of which have since been adapted to another bicycle trail. Most of the railroad tunnels in Wisconsin and Illinois are in the Driftless Area. You'll also find Devil's Lake State Park and other natural wonders.