Did you know Wisconsin is home to 48 beautiful state parks? Glaciers have created the perfect scene to go camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, hunting and much more. Not only do the parks provide a ton of beauty, but it’s also very affordable to buy a year round pass that provides you access to all of them. While we’d like to visit them all this summer, we’ve narrowed the list down to the “10 Best” and why you’ll want to check them out.
Devil’s Lake State Park – Baraboo, WI
Devil’s Lake is the largest and most popular state park in Wisconsin – it also offers the most activities. From hiking the bluff trails to taking in the spectacular views to swimming or kayaking in the serene setting of the lake, there is something to do for just about everyone. With plenty to do, Devil’s Lake can offer a weekend escape or if you’re short on time you can hop in the car with your camera to take a beautiful hike.
Interstate Park – St. Croix Falls, WI
Wisconsin’s oldest state park is known for its picturesque setting along the beautiful St. Croix River. Located in northwestern Wisconsin, visitors can climb the cliffs, kayak in the rushing waters, explore the glacial potholes or take in the views of the St. Croix River Dalles. If you’ve ever been on the Ice Age Trail, this is the spot where it comes to an end.
Wyalusing State Park – Bagley, WI
Located just south of Prairie du Chien, Wyalusing is one of the best places for camping in Wisconsin. This large park provides camping spots overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Wyalusing also features great hiking trails, a Native American burial ground, unique bird watching, fishing, boating, bicycling and numerous scenic spots to have a picnic.
Copper Falls – Mellen, WI
Located in northern Wisconsin, Copper Falls State Park offers some of the most unique scenery in the entire state. Glacial activity, ancient lava flows and the Bad River have created rocky gorges and two main waterfalls – Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls. The park is also home to a number of hiking trails and if you’re not up to hiking the steep steps, there are several overlook opportunities.
Peninsula State Park – Fish Creek, WI
Wisconsin’s second most popular park is packed full of activity all summer long. Peninsula State Park provides extensive trails for both hiking and biking. Kayaking or boating boasts the best views of Eagle Bluff and if you’re up to the challenge, you can paddle your way out to a number of islands that surround the park. If you are looking for a more relaxing visit, spend the day swimming at Nicolet Beach or take a tour of Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.
Wisconsin became the first state to have a state park in 1878 when it formed “The State Park”. Since then the park system has grown to over 66 parks and recreational areas all maintained by the Department of Natural Resources.
Mirror Lake State Park – Baraboo, WI
Located a few miles south of Wisconsin Dells, Mirror Lake State Park provides a delightful setting that is surrounded by wooded bluffs. There is a large beach for swimming and a no-wake lake keeps the water pleasant for all visitors. We’ve already camped there with our family this summer and despite the rain, we had a fantastic time.
Perrot State Park – Trempealeau, WI
Perrot State Park is located at the confluence of the Trempealeau and Mississippi rivers. This park provides some of the best views of the Mississippi that you’ll find, but be prepared to do a little work. The hike to the top of Brady’s Bluff may be short, but it’s a steep climb to the top of this Midwest mountain. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views at the top. The Great River State Trail also provides a great path for hiking and biking.
Governor Dodge – Dodgeville, WI
Governor Dodge State Park is located in the Driftless Region just north of Dodgeville, WI. The park features two large lakes that are ideal for swimming and kayaking. There are over 40 miles of trails for hiking and eight miles of off-road biking trails. The park is the third largest in the state and makes for many areas to explore.
Whitefish Dunes State Park – Sturgeon Bay, WI
Whitefish Dunes State Park is a must stop when you’re in Door County. The park features a number of hiking trails, a few miles of rocky shore and it’s signature sand dunes on rugged Lake Michigan. Don’t let the waves scare you, the beach has a shallow slope that lets you walk more than 100 yards from shore before you need to swim. It’s a great place to hang out at the beach for the day or do some exploring. We also recommend dropping in a kayak and paddling over to Cave Point County Park to check out the underwater caves.
Blue Mounds State Park – Blue Mounds, WI
One of Wisconsin’s best camping options can be found at Blue Mounds State Park. This 1,153-acre park sits atop the highest point in Southern Wisconsin, offering scenic panoramic views from two 40 ft. park observations towers. They say on a clear day, you can see all the way to Iowa! The campground contains 77 wooded sites and rustic accessible cabins for people with disabilities. Other amenities include nature programs, off-road bike trails, picnic grounds and a large outdoor swimming pool. There is direct access to the Military Ridge State Park Trail, so don’t forget to bring your bike!