Wisconsin is home to rolling fields, fresh waters, and remarkable landscapes. With more than 60 state parks to choose from, there’s a lot to consider when picking out the best ones to visit. Some provide events and activities to participate in, others are more do-it-yourself. Whichever you prefer, it’s time to step out and enjoy the state’s magnificent outdoors. Here are the best state parks in Wisconsin.
With year-round availability, Interstate State Park offers the Ice Age Interpretive Center, which includes a 24-minute movie on glacial features found in the park, according to its website. The park is a part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, which allows federal park passes to be honored.
Visit in the summer to hike the Red Pine Trial, the Fox Trail or the Lake Trail. Visit in the winter to snowshoe or cross-country ski on those same trails—plus more. Lake Wissota State Park is open year-round and offers both summer and winter activities. Snowshoeing and skiing not your thing? There’s also snowmobile trail routes throughout Lake Wissota State Park.
Home to the Big Manitou Falls and the Little Manitou Falls, beautiful natural land features, Pattison State Park is a must-visit. With six trails available, ranging from a half-mile in distance to two miles, Pattison State Park is great for a family visit or an alone-time reflection visit.
The Friends of Buckhorn State Park put on a lot of different events and activities for park-goers. Those include an annual photography contest, candlelit hikes and summer naturalist programs. Be sure to check online before heading out for a visit, just in case there’s already an event planned.
If thinking of attending during the summer, there are boat and bike rentals available as well as camping gear and food and drink items available for purchase. But Hartman Creek State Park is a year-round park, so don’t limit the fun to the summer months. Attend the park during the winter for some ice fishing or snowshoeing fun.
High Cliff State Park borders Lake Winnebago, near Sherwood, Wisconsin. The park sports a marina with more than 100 slips available for rent. Visit in the summer, rent a boat and cruise the waves. Otherwise in the winter your best bet may be trekking out onto the ice—as long as it’s thick enough—and trying your luck at ice fishing. Another fun activity in the winter is to rent ice skates and sail along the pristine surface of Lake Winnebago.
The word “Potawatomi” describes a member of an American Indian tribe that originally lived near Lake Michigan. Likewise Potawatomi State Park abuts Sturgeon Bay. The park has an Ice Age Trail and an Ancient Shorelines Nature Trail. Be sure to pack your camera because there are sure to be some photo ops while on the trails.
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The Terry Andrae State Park is often referred to as the Kohler-Andrae State Park because two parks share some space—Terry Andrae State Park and John Michael Kohler State Park. The nearest city is Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Head to Sheboygan after a long day hiking and relax at a hometown restaurant.
History buffs, this is the state park for you. There’s the Aztalan Museum, operated by the Lake Mills-Aztalan Historical Society, sitting just north of the state park. At the museum there are displays, two pioneer church buildings and other 19th-century structures, according to the park’s website. Not only enjoy nature, but also learn a bit of Wisconsin history while you’re at it.
Blue Mound State Park has quite a few nature trails along with a Nature Center, an indoor shelter and an amphitheater for hosting events. There is hunting and trapping allowed at Blue Mound, with the required permits of course.
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