Raymon Zillmer explored the wildlands of northern Minnesota, mountaineered in remote areas of the Canadian Rockies (Mt. Zillmer in the Cariboo Range was named in his honor) and followed the development of the Appalachian Trail. Zillmer was twice responsible for personally convincing two governors to increase land acquisition funding for the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
In the 1950s, Zillmer envisioned the Kettle Moraine State Forest forming the nucleus for a much larger linear park that would be used “by millions more people than use the more remote national parks.” He pictured extending the Kettle Moraine Glacial Hiking Trail along the terminal moraine of the most recent continental glaciation for several hundred miles.
In 1958, Zillmer founded the Ice Age Park & Trail Foundation (now the Ice Age Trail Alliance) to begin efforts to establish a national park in Wisconsin that would encompass this route.