Wisconsin State Parks

I’m working to visit all Wisconsin state parks.  Here are my comments about the parks I’ve been to.

(See State Forests & Recreation Areas)

Amnicon Falls State Park – Summer 2015

A scenic state park featuring a number of smaller waterfalls.  Pretty neat area to check out and explore.  Good park for a short visit.  It’s one of the smaller state parks with a more limited campground.

Aztalan State Park

A small day-use park which is an archeological site for the Aztalan people.

Belmont Mound State Park – Summer 2016

Another smaller state park that is managed locally.  Just down the road from the original Wisconsin State Capitol.  The day I visited the hiking trails were pretty wet.  Made it up the hill to a closed observation tower (lots of graffiti, perhaps some fires lit on it and lack of care).  Nice view from the tower.  Small park just a few trails and a playground area.

Big Bay State Park – Summer 2015

Located on Madeline Island in far Northern Wisconsin.  You need to plan ahead to get a campsite here (I had to camp at the town park that is connected to this park).  Nice views and rock formations along the lake and what looked like a nice camping area.  Not much for trails.  A boardwalk connects the town park with the state park along the lakeshore.  I think the town park has the better beach.

Big Foot Beach State Park – Spring 2017

Headed to this park my first thought is this land has to be worth tons of money.  Seems to be about the only place in Lake Geneva where you can get a public view of the lake without huge mansions blocking the view.  The park has a variety of trails.  Not a super large park.  Took a nice hike through the park and had a picnic lunch here after biking full circle around Geneva Lake.

Blue Mound State Park

Plan to visit in 2018

Brunet Island State Park – Summer 2016

I visited this park while camping at nearby Lake Wissota State Park.  I biked the Old Abe trail (very nice trail – 20 miles one way) that connects these two parks.  As the name implies this is an island, seemed to have a nice campground with many sites on/near the water.  Would be a neat place to come back to again in the future.

Buckhorn State Park – Fall 2014

Made a quick visit to this park en-route home after a camping trip.  Seems to be a popular place for water activities on Castle Rock Lake.  Didn’t seem to be an overabundance of trails.

Capital Springs State Park

Plan to visit in 2018

Copper Culture State Park – Summer 2017

Thought to be the oldest cemetery site in Wisconsin, 6,000+ years old.  Small park with a few short hiking trails some of which run along the river.  City biking trails marry up with the park leading to more exploration.  Map included below since I could not find one online before my visit.

Copper Falls State Park – Summer 2015

Pretty neat park just outside of Melon, WI.  Lots of waterfalls to check out and plenty of hiking trails.  I only had time to camp for one night here so didn’t get to explore everything.  Observation tower included at this park!

Council Grounds State Park – Summer 2016

Made a quick drive up to Merrill to make a quick visit to this park.  It never fit into plans on any other trip.  Runs along Lake Alexander and the Wisconsin River.  Seems like a kept up park.  Smaller with a limited amount of trails.

Cross Plains State Park – September 2017

This is an interesting “State Park.”  No development here other than a couple trails on the property.  No main entrance or signs except the property marking “State Park” signs.  This land combined with some local and federal park land will eventually be combined into the “Ice Age Trail Complex.”  From what I can tell no major plans for Cross Plains State Park other than what you see now.  It sounds like at some point the Ice Age Trail may run through here.  This park is across the street from the National Park Service’s Wilke Farm property.  If you can find that entrance you’ve found the entrance for Cross Plains State Park.  I hiked both prairie and an interesting trail along and into a deep gorge.

Devil’s Lake State Park – Summer 2014

Needless the say the crown jewel of the WI state park system and I believe the most visited state park.  Tons of hiking, very scenic and much challenging.  Poor area for biking (tons of large hills).  I like camping in a site with trees around it (for privacy – which I had here) so be aware when making reservations they have a bunch of sites in large fields lacking that privacy.  Beach seems pretty nice and popular.  When visiting this park make sure to also check out nearby Parfrey’s Glen and Pewitts Nest.

Governor Dodge State Park

Plan to visit in 2018

Governor Nelson State Park

Plan to visit in 2018

Governor Thompson State Park – Spring 2016

One of the newer WI state parks.  Borders the Peshtigo State Forest.  Park was well maintained and the facilities in good order.  Many of the trails were cut grass.  This area is big for boating and ATVing.  It was a nice trip.  My biggest complaint, and I don’t know if it was the time of year or what, I’ve never had such a bad experience with ticks.  They were everywhere, on everything…  Needless to say I spent much time away from the park.  I checked out a number of Marinette County Parks (Waterfall capitol of Wisconsin).  Of all the places I visited, Goodman County Park was at the top!

Harrington Beach State Park – Fall 2015

Made a visit to this park while camping at Kohler & Andre State Parks.  Check out the trail that runs around the Quarry, my favorite portion of the park.  Of course Lake Michigan is a big feature here.  Took a quick drive through the camping area which seemed nice here.

Hartman Creek State Park

Very familiar with this park, about a 15 minute drive away.  Has several lakes and a creek that runs through it.  The Ice Age trail is prominent in this park as well.  TONS of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horses.  I think I’ve been on every hiking trail here at some point.  Even saw a bear while biking through the park… yes bears are here!  Beach is very popular here when the weather is nice and camping reservations on the weekend are impossible.

High Cliff State Park

I’ve visited some pretty scenic state parks and it’s hard to pick a favorite but this one might be it.  Nice campground, good biking, tons of trails and the views of Lake Winnebago are pretty good too.  Oh yeah, observation tower at this park!  This park has several very different distinct areas.  The Niagara Escarpment runs through this park making for some challenging hiking and nice views.

Interstate State Park – Summer 2016

The very first Wisconsin State Park.  Neat place.  I choose a bad time to visit.  Park has recently been flooded, so a bit messy, bad mosquitoes and running water was shut off to a portion of the park.  Didn’t help it was muggy and over 90 degrees when I visited here.  Very hilly area so not conducive to biking!  I camped in the South campground.  Next time I’ll do the North campground which looked a bit nicer.  Need to get back here in better conditions.  Rock formations and hiking galore.

Kinnickinnic State Park – Summer 2016

Only had time for a quick visit here as I was in a time crunch.  This park overlooks the intersection of Kinnickinnic and St. Croix rivers.  Day use park.

Kohler Andrae State Park – Fall 2016

We camped here once when I was a kid in the early 90’s, so overdue for a new visit.  This is technically two separate state parks but together they act as one.  Nice boardwalk through the sand dunes along the lake.  The park had a few different distinct areas.  The Black River trail at the north end of the park is a nice area to wander around.  Nice camping as well.

Lake Kegonsa State Park

Plan to visit in 2018

Lake Wissota State Park – Summer 2016

On the shores of a man made lake across from Chippewa Falls.  Nice park, plenty of trails and good camping.  Old Abe State Trail runs from just outside this park to Brunet Island State Park.

Lakeshore State Park – Winter 2017

Located right downtown Milwaukee on the lake.  Very small, just a trail that runs around this park.  Lots of fishing and hooks up with the trail that runs along the lake front.

Lost Dauphin State Park – Summer 2017

So there is conflicting information out there if this is even a state park or not anymore.  It’s a small little park up on a hill in DePere overlooking the Fox River.  A short hiking trail runs through the woods in the rear of property.  The park has a little history (see picture below).

Merrick State Park – Fall 2014

Located in the backwaters of the Mississippi River (Fountain City Bay), a portion of this park is located on a road connected island and the rest on the mainland.  The island features campsites and water related activities.  Smaller park but scenic.

Mill Bluff State Park

Made a first, quick, unplanned trip to this small park.  Did a quick hike based on the park map on the DNR website.  Not much to see.  Upon some more research found out there was a little more to see (and more scenic).  Below is an image of another park map not available online.  This small park has a beach and a small campground as well.

Mirror Lake State Park

Made two different quick visits to this park.  The first visit was uneventful, just a little hiking.  Second visit got to explore a little more and find some hidden gems in this park.  Some nice rock formations and hiking (Echo Rock Trail) are a must see.

Natural Bridge State Park – Summer 2014

This park was talked up and sounded pretty impressive in the newspaper at Devils Lake State Park, had a little time so I drove out here.  Not very impressed.  This is one of those forgotten state parks all for one rock formation!  Most exciting thing here was seeing the “you are here” in the middle of nowhere on the posted map at the park…

Nelson Dewey State Park – Summer 2016

Rather small state park, campground was nearly vacant during my summer visit.  Good for a day visit, some nice views.  Not enough to do here to warrant a weekend visit.

New Glarus Woods State Park – August 2017

Nice little park just outside of New Glarus.  Offers miles of hiking trails that traverse between the woods and prairie areas.  Small camping areas and hooks up to the Sugar River State Trail.

Newport State Park – Summer 2014

One of five Door County state parks.  This one is designated as Wisconsin’s only ‘dark sky’ park.  This park features a bunch of trails, lots of Lake Michigan shoreline and about a dozen hike-to only campsites.  Was only able to make a short visit.  Would be neat to revisit this park and camp here for a night or two.

Pattison State Park – Summer 2015

Pretty sure I’ve had my best camping experience here.  The nice weather helped but it was a quiet campground and well maintained.  This park features the tallest waterfall in Wisconsin along with a couple other water falls.  Little Manitou Falls is worth the hike.  Nearby a visit to Duluth is in order, the Lakewalk is a nice bike ride bringing you through the aerial lift bridge and Amity Park is a must stop.

Peninsula State Park – Summer 2014

The other crown jewel of the state park system.  This state park is huge and very busy!  Tons of biking and hiking you won’t get bored here.  Fish Creek is on one side, Ephriam on the other.  Several different campground to pick from, all of which fill up fast!  The Eagle Tower (observation tower) has since been removed due to safety issues but offered some fantastic views.  There are lighthouses a nice looking beach and great views.  The Eagle Trail is a well hidden secret here and a challenging hike.  I did that my final morning here and didn’t have my camera along… that was a mistake.

Perrot State Park – Fall 2014

Located in Trempleau on Wisconsin west shore, this park offers great views and challenging hiking.  The park offers two bluffs which you can hike to the top.  If you look carefully you can see into Winona, MN. You can get some great sunset views over Trempeleau Bay.  Nearby is the Treampeleau Wildlife Refuge, make a quick bike ride into that area which offers more exploration.

Potawatomi State Park

I’ve been to this park twice.  First time was a quick visit.  Second time was for a couple nights of camping.  This park felt more like where regular people go and all the hoity toity people go to Peninsula.  Less hustle and bustle here as well.   Good biking in and nearby this park, great hiking and lots of good views.  This parks features one end of the Ice Age Trail.  Observation tower is included here and offers great views.  Had three bald eagles flying around while at the top of the tower for an extra special view.  The Ahnapee State Trail is nearby which offers a nice bike ride.

Rib Mountain State Park

Another popular state park.  Only available for day use only.  The campground was removed a while back.  Most people come for the views and observation tower.  If you hike a bit deeper into the park you’ll find a quarry which might be the neater feature here.  Great park for scenic views year around and hiking trails galore.

Roche-A-Cri State Park

I’ve been to this park numerous times.  Nice for a day visit.  I’ve camped here once and it gets boring.  No showers at this campground as well.  Managed to get here once on a very foggy day, while you didn’t get the nice view from the top of the mound, it was still a neat experience.

Rock Island State Park

Visit planned in 2018

Rocky Arbor State Park

Have had a few visits to this park.  I think the camping experience is nice.  The park has a few neat rock features to look at but lacks much of any trails.  Good home base for visiting the Dells area.

Straight Lake State Park – Summer 2016

Wisconsin’s newest state park.  Right now nothing developed here.  Ice Age trail runs through it and allows hiking in to Straight Lake.  Looks like a small campground and fishing facilities will be developed in the future.  The day I visited was hot, muggy and lots of bugs.

Tower Hill State Park

Visit planned in 2018

Whitefish Dunes State Park

I’ve made a a couple visits to this park.  Has a lot of sand dunes and beach area.  Don’t miss a visit to Cave Point County Park (which is within Whitefish Dunes State Park).  This park is open for day-use only, no camping.

Wildcat Mountain State Park – Summer 2016

Made a quick visit here and it sure doesn’t feel like you’re in Wisconsin anymore.  Very nice views, steep hills and challenging hiking await you here.  Will plan a future visit here.

Willow River State Park – Summer 2016

Only made a couple hour visit here.  Lots of camping available.  The Willow River Falls is the main sight to see here.  Very scenic, that part of the park has it’s own feel compared to the rest.

Wyalusing State Park – Summer 2016

Another one of those parks with tons to explore.  The park map has 10 points of interest to visit.  I made it to all but one or two of them.  Some neat hidden gems.  My visit was during some muggy hot weather and recent flooding in the park left some trails impassable.  I’ve never had such a nice view from my campsite, up on a ridge, those sites fill up first.

Yellowstone Lake State Park – August 2017

The drift less region of Wisconsin offers very little in good lakes.  The DNR located the land that is now Yellowstone State Park and found it was the ideal location to create an artificial lake.  This park is popular for fishing, boating and the beach.  The campground was nice and the miles of hiking trails leave a lot to be explored.  The only downside to staying here is the lack of good biking in or near the park… tons of large hills!