List of Wisconsin state parks

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Wisconsin Locator Map with US.PNG
Map of State Parks of Wisconsin
Hold cursor over locations to display park name;
click to go to park article.

A Wisconsin state park is an area of land in the U.S. state of Wisconsin preserved by the state for its natural, historic, or other resources. The state park system in Wisconsin includes both state parks and state recreation areas. Wisconsin currently has 66 state park units, covering more than 60,570 acres (245.1 km2) in state parks and state recreation areas. Each unit was created by an act of the Wisconsin Legislature and is maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation. The Division of Forestry manages a further 471,329 acres (1,907.40 km2) in Wisconsin's state forests.

Several Wisconsin state parks contain resources that have been recognized on a national level. Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, Devil's Lake State Park, and Interstate State Park are units of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, while the Wyalusing Hardwood Forest in Wyalusing State Park is a National Natural Landmark. Two Wisconsin state parks contain National Historic Landmarks, both of which are Native American archaeological sites: Aztalan and Copper Culture. 15 state parks contain a total of 23 separate listings on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). These are the two previously mentioned National Historic Landmarks, plus Lake Farms Archaeological District at Capital Springs State Recreation Area, Copper Falls State Park, six individual buildings at Heritage Hill State Historical Park (Baird Law Office, Cotton House, Fort Howard Hospital, Fort Howard Officers' Quarters, Fort Howard Ward Building, and Tank Cottage), High Cliff Mounds at High Cliff State Park, the Seth Peterson Cottage in Mirror Lake State Park, the Raddatz Rockshelter at Natural Bridge State Park, Stonefield partially within Nelson Dewey State Park, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park, the Roche-a-Cri Petroglyphs in Roche-a-Cri State Park, the shot tower in Tower Hill State Park, Whitefish Dunes-Bay View Site in Whitefish Dunes State Park, Wyalusing State Park Mounds Archaeological District in Wyalusing State Park, and four listings in Rock Island State Park: the Pottawatomie Lighthouse, Rock Island Historic District, Thordarson Estate Historic District, and a water tower.

History[edit]

Wisconsin became the first state to have a state park in 1878[1] when it formed "The State Park". The park consisted of 760 square miles (2,000 km2) in northern Wisconsin (most of Vilas County).[2] The state owned 50,631 acres (205 km2), which was less than 10% of the total area.[2] There were few residents in the area. Lumber barons were powerful in the area, and they purchased 2/3 of the state's land at $8 per acre.[2] This defeated the purpose of the parks for it didn't save the land from the ax.[2]

In 1895, the state legislature created an act which authorized the state governor to examine some land in Polk County at the Dalles of the St. Croix River to become a state park.[2] In 1899, the legislature approved the purchase of Interstate State Park and it was established on September 20, 1900.[2] Architect John Nolen was hired in 1907 to draft a feasibility plan for a Wisconsin State Parks System and State Parks for Wisconsin was released later that year.[2] The report was the guideline used to set up the state park system. It recommended the creation of four state parks: Dells of the Wisconsin River, Devil's Lake, Door County's Fish Creek (now Peninsula State Park) and the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers (now Wyalusing State Park). Three became state parks, and the fourth became Dells Natural Area in 2005.[2] A State Conservation Commission was formed in 1915 by combining the State Park Board, the State Board of Forestry, the Fisheries Commission, and the state Game Warden Department.[2]

List of Wisconsin state parks and recreation areas[edit]

Park name County or counties Area[3] Year
estab-
lished
[2]
Body of water Remarks
Amnicon Falls State Park Douglas 825 acres (334 ha) 1961 Amnicon River Contains a series of waterfalls and a historic covered bridge.[4]
Aztalan State Park Jefferson 172 acres (70 ha) 1947 Crawfish River Interprets a partially reconstructed Mississippian culture village that flourished 1000–1300 CE. The site is a National Historic Landmark.[5]
Belmont Mound State Park Lafayette 1961 None Features a 64-foot (20 m) observation tower atop a 400-foot (120 m) hill. Operated by the Belmont Lions Club.
Big Bay State Park Ashland 2,418 acres (979 ha) 1963 Lake Superior Includes a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) beach on Madeline Island, largest of the Apostle Islands.[6]
Big Foot Beach State Park Walworth 272 acres (110 ha) 1949 Geneva Lake Offers camping and fishing adjacent to a 100-foot (30 m) beach.[7]
Blue Mound State Park Dane 1,153 acres (467 ha) 1959 None Contains observation towers atop the highest point in southern Wisconsin and the state park system's only swimming pool.[8]
Brunet Island State Park Chippewa 1,225 acres (496 ha) 1936 Chippewa and Fisher Rivers Preserves a 179-acre (72 ha) island and backwater channels popular with canoeists.[9]
Buckhorn State Park Juneau 6,990 acres (2,830 ha) 1971 Castle Rock Lake Protects a scenic peninsula on a reservoir formed at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Yellow Rivers.[10]
Cadiz Springs State Recreation Area Green 644 acres (261 ha) 1970 Beckman and Zander Lakes Offers water recreation on two spring-fed reservoirs in the mostly lakeless Driftless Area.[11]
Capital Springs State Recreation Area Dane 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) 2000 Lake Waubesa Encompasses park properties just south of Madison unified in the centennial year of the state park system. A Native American archaeological site is on the NRHP.[12]
Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area Chippewa 3,272 acres (1,324 ha) 1971 Numerous kettle lakes Interprets varied glacial landforms. The park is a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve.[13]
Copper Culture State Park Oconto 42 acres (17 ha) 1959 Oconto River Interprets a burial ground used by the Old Copper Culture from 3000–2000 BCE.[14] The site is a National Historic Landmark.
Copper Falls State Park Ashland 3,068 acres (1,242 ha) 1929 Bad River Contains 7.5 miles (12.1 km) of the Bad River, including a 2-mile (3.2 km) gorge with several waterfalls.[15] The park is listed on the NRHP.
Council Grounds State Park Lincoln 509 acres (206 ha) 1938 Wisconsin River Lies on a riverbank where Native Americans were said to have once held councils.[16]
Devil's Lake State Park Sauk 10,200 acres (4,100 ha) 1911 Devil's Lake Protects a 360-acre (150 ha) endorheic lake in the Baraboo Range, hemmed in by moraines and 500-foot (150 m) quartzite bluffs.[17] The park is a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve.
Fischer Creek State Recreation Area Manitowoc 124 acres (50 ha) 1991 Lake Michigan Preserves a mile of shoreline flanking the mouth of Fischer Creek. Managed by the Manitowoc County Park System.[18]
Governor Dodge State Park Iowa 5,270 acres (2,130 ha) 1948 Two man-made lakes Preserves Driftless Area topography in memory of Henry Dodge, settler and first governor of the Wisconsin Territory.[19]
Governor Nelson State Park Dane 422 acres (171 ha) 1975 Lake Mendota Contains a 500-foot (150 m) beach, restored prairie, and ancient Indian mounds.[20]
Governor Thompson State Park Marinette 2,600 acres (1,100 ha) 2000 Peshtigo River, Woods Lake In development around a series of lakes and streams.[21]
Harrington Beach State Park Ozaukee 637 acres (258 ha) 1966 Lake Michigan Features a mile-long beach, a white cedar swamp, and a 26-acre (11 ha) quarry lake.[22]
Hartman Creek State Park Waupaca and Portage 1,417 acres (573 ha) 1962 Hartman Creek, seven lakes
Heritage Hill State Historical Park Brown 48 acres (19 ha) 1973 Fox River Comprises an open-air museum of 25 historical structures and over 11,000 artifacts managed by a non-profit organization. Six of the buildings are on the NRHP.[23]
High Cliff State Park Calumet 1,147 acres (464 ha) 1954 Lake Winnebago Straddles the cliff of the Niagara Escarpment on the northeast shore of Wisconsin's largest lake.[24] A group of effigy mounds is on the NRHP.
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area Dunn 707 acres (286 ha) 1980 None Features trails and a 60-foot (18 m) observation tower among hills covered in forest, prairie, and wetlands.[25]
Interstate State Park Polk 1,330 acres (540 ha) 1900 St. Croix River, Lake O' the Dalles Preserves a basalt river gorge joinly with an adjacent state park in Minnesota. The park is within the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway and the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and contains the western terminus of the Ice Age Trail.[26]
Kinnickinnic State Park Pierce 1,239 acres (501 ha) 1972 St. Croix and Kinnickinnic Rivers Offers boat-in camping and overlooks at the sandy river delta at the mouth of the Kinnickinnic.[27]
Kohler-Andrae State Park Sheboygan 988 acres (400 ha) 1928 Lake Michigan, Black River Preserves dunes, golden sand beaches, and pine woodland.[28]
Lake Kegonsa State Park Dane 343 acres (139 ha) 1962 Lake Kegonsa Adjoins a 3,209-acre (1,299 ha) glacial lake in rural Dane County.[29]
Lake Wissota State Park Chippewa 1,062 acres (430 ha) 1962 Lake Wissota Features forest, prairie, and a 285-foot (87 m) swimming beach on a reservoir of the Chippewa River (Wisconsin).[30]
Lakeshore State Park Milwaukee 22 acres (8.9 ha) 1998 Lake Michigan Provides urban green space on Milwaukee's lakefront.[31]
Menominee River State Park and Recreation Area Marinette 6,563 acres (2,656 ha) 2010 Menominee River Protects several miles of the Menominee River in conjunction with Michigan's Menominee River State Recreation Area.[32]
Merrick State Park Buffalo 320 acres (130 ha) 1932 Mississippi River Offers fishing and boating on quiet backwaters of the Mississippi.[33]
Mill Bluff State Park Monroe and Juneau 1,337 acres (541 ha) 1936 None Contains unusual steep sandstone bluffs that formed as islands in Glacial Lake Wisconsin.[34]
Mirror Lake State Park Sauk 2,179 acres (882 ha) 1962 Mirror Lake Surrounds a reservoir whose wooded shores and 50-foot (15 m) cliffs often keep the water mirror-smooth.[35] The Seth Peterson Cottage designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is on the NRHP.
Natural Bridge State Park Sauk 530 acres (210 ha) 1972 None Contains the largest natural arch in the state and an NRHP-listed rock shelter once used by Paleo-Indians.[36]
Nelson Dewey State Park Grant 756 acres (306 ha) 1935 Mississippi River Encompasses a 500-foot (200 m) river bluff that was once part of the estate of Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin's first governor.[37] Stonefield estate is on the NRHP.
New Glarus Woods State Park Green 431 acres (174 ha) 1934 None Preserves mature forest and restored prairie.[38]
Newport State Park Door 2,373 acres (960 ha) 1964 Lake Michigan Comprises Wisconsin's only wilderness-designated park.[39]
Pattison State Park Douglas 1,476 acres (597 ha) 1920 Black River Contains 165-foot (50 m) Big Manitou Falls, the highest waterfall in Wisconsin and the fourth-highest east of the Rocky Mountains.[40]
Peninsula State Park Door 3,776 acres (1,528 ha) 1909 Green Bay Contains a golf course, summer theater, group camps, and lighthouse on nearly 7 miles (11 km) of shoreline on the Door Peninsula.[41] The 1868 Eagle Bluff Lighthouse is on the NRHP.
Perrot State Park Trempealeau 1,270 acres (510 ha) 1918 Mississippi and Trempealeau Rivers Features 500-foot-high (200 m) bluffs bearing rare goat prairie communities on their southwestern faces.[42]
Potawatomi State Park Door 1,225 acres (496 ha) 1928 Sturgeon Bay Protects steep-to-sheer shoreline on the Door Peninsula.[43]
Rib Mountain State Park Marathon 1,528 acres (618 ha) 1927 None Straddles 1,924-foot (586 m) Rib Mountain, one of the highest points in Wisconsin.[44]
Richard Bong State Recreation Area Kenosha 4,515 acres (1,827 ha) 1963 Several small lakes Supports recreational activities, including ATVs, falconry, hunting and sled dog training, and model aircraft on the site of the abortive R.I. Bong Air Force Base.[45]
Roche-a-Cri State Park Adams 604 acres (244 ha) 1948 None Contains a 300-foot (91 m) outcropping bearing the NRHP-listed Roche-a-Cri Petroglyphs.[46]
Rock Island State Park Door 912 acres (369 ha) 1965 Lake Michigan Encompasses most of vehicle-free Rock Island, accessed by two ferry rides at the tip of the Door Peninsula. Four listings are on the NRHP, including the 1836 Pottawatomie Lighthouse and inventor Chester Thordarson's 20th-century estate.[47]
Rocky Arbor State Park Juneau 225 acres (91 ha) 1932 Preserves sandstone outcroppings similar to the nearby Dells of the Wisconsin River along one of the river's former channels.[48]
Straight Lake State Park Polk 2,780 acres (1,130 ha) 2002 Straight Lake In development around a lake surrounded by mature forest and glacial landforms.[49]
Tower Hill State Park Iowa 77 acres (31 ha) 1922 Wisconsin River Interprets a reconstructed shot tower where lead shot was manufactured 1832–1860.[50] The tower is on the NRHP.
Whitefish Dunes State Park Door 863 acres (349 ha) 1967 Lake Michigan, Clark Lake Protects dunes that formed across the mouth of a bay. A district of eight habitation sites dating from 100 BCE to 1800 CE are on the NRHP.[51]
Wildcat Mountain State Park Vernon 3,643 acres (1,474 ha) 1948 Kickapoo River Comprises a steep ridge overlooking the Kickapoo Valley.[52]
Willow River State Park St. Croix 2,891 acres (1,170 ha) 1967 Willow River Contains a waterfall in a sandstone gorge and a 172-acre (70 ha) lake.[53]
Wyalusing State Park Grant 2,628 acres (1,064 ha) 1917 Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers Occupies a 500-foot-high (150 m) bluff overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.[54] The park's hardwood forest is a National Natural Landmark and a district of prehistoric mounds is on the NRHP.
Yellowstone Lake State Park Lafayette 968 acres (392 ha) 1970 Yellowstone Lake Surrounds a 455-acre (184 ha) reservoir built in the lake-poor Driftless Area.[55]

List of former Wisconsin state parks[edit]

Park name County or counties Area Year
founded
Year
closed
Body of water Remarks
Lost Dauphin State Park Brown 19 acres (7.7 ha) 1947 circa 2005 Fox River Surrounded the cabin site of Eleazar Williams, once rumored to be the Lost Dauphin
Old Wade House State Park[56] Sheboygan Mullet River Now run by the Wisconsin Historical Society as the Sylvanus Wade House

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Loohuis, Jackie (May 6, 2006). "Happy trails, old and new". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Wisconsin State Parks through the Years". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  3. ^ Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Parks and Recreation. "Wisconsin State Park System: 2006 Visitor Information Guide for State Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas & Trails."
  4. ^ "Amnicon Falls State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  5. ^ "Aztalan State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  6. ^ "Big Bay State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  7. ^ "Big Foot Beach State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  8. ^ "Blue Mounds State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  9. ^ "Brunet Island State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  10. ^ "Buckhorn State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  11. ^ "Cadiz Springs State Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  12. ^ "Capital Springs State Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  13. ^ "Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  14. ^ "Copper Culture State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  15. ^ "Copper Falls State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  16. ^ "Council Grounds State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  17. ^ "Devil's Lake State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  18. ^ "Fischer Creek State Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  19. ^ "Governor Dodge State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  20. ^ "Governor Nelson State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  21. ^ "Governor Thompson State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  22. ^ "Harrington Beach State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  23. ^ "Heritage Hill State Historical Park". Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  24. ^ "High Cliff State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  25. ^ "Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  26. ^ "Interstate State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  27. ^ "Kinnickinnic State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  28. ^ "Kohler-Andrae State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  29. ^ "Lake Kegonsa State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  30. ^ "Lake Wissota State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  31. ^ "Lakeshore State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  32. ^ "Menominee River State Park and Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  33. ^ "Merrick State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  34. ^ "Mill Bluff State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  35. ^ "Mirror Lake State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  36. ^ "Natural Bridge State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  37. ^ "Nelson Dewey State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  38. ^ "New Glarus Woods State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  39. ^ "Newport State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  40. ^ "Pattison State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  41. ^ "Peninsula State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  42. ^ "Perrot State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  43. ^ "Potawatomi State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  44. ^ "Rib Mountain State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  45. ^ "Richard Bong State Recreation Area". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  46. ^ "Roche-A-Cri State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  47. ^ "Rock Island State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  48. ^ "Rocky Arbor State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  49. ^ "Straight Lake State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  50. ^ "Tower Hill State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  51. ^ "Whitefish Dunes State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  52. ^ "Wildcat Mountain State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  53. ^ "Willow River State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  54. ^ "Wyalusing State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  55. ^ "Yellowstone Lake State Park". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  56. ^ "Old Wade State Park". StateParks.com. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 

External links[edit]