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What’s Happening In Wisconsin’s State Parks, Forests, Trails And Recreation Areas



DNR Parks And Recreation News

What’s Happening In Wisconsin’s State Parks,
Forests, Trails And Recreation Areas

With over 100 state properties in the Wisconsin, find your Memorial Day Weekend adventure away from the crowds, long wait times and dangerous walking conditions. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Be Prepared This Memorial Weekend

This weekend is one of the busiest weekends at Wisconsin state properties and the first big weekend for our seasonal staff. Some of our parks and forests will be very crowded, like Devil’s Lake State Park, where parking is extremely limited. To help you make the most of the weekend, here are some tips, tricks and reminders so everyone can have a fun, safe trip with minimal stress.

Get Ready

  • Purchase your 2023 vehicle admission sticker in advance of your trip to avoid waiting in line at the entrance stations. Annual admission stickers can be purchased online, are good for the calendar year and are valid at all Wisconsin state parks and forests. If you don’t receive the sticker in the mail before your trip, follow the instructions in your e-receipt.
  • Expect long wait times and busy parking lots. Parking lots often fill before 9 a.m., and access to some parts, or all of certain parks, may be temporarily restricted until congestion lessens.
  • When parking lots are full, please remember:
    • Parking is allowed in designated spaces only. Do not park along roadways.
    • Do not block the flow of traffic by waiting for a parking spot to open. Move on and try again later.
    • If camping, consider leaving your vehicle at your campsite.
  • Load your smartphone with some podcasts or an audiobook, use the restroom before entering park lines, fill up the gas tank and bring along snacks and water for the drive in.
  • Pack a picnic blanket, camp chairs and sunscreen as picnic shelters may be full or picnic tables hard to find.

Timing It Out

  • Campsite check-in/check-out time is 3 p.m. Be considerate of fellow campers when coming and going.
  • Check to see where the busiest places in the park may be and save those for another time or choose to do those trails early in the day or later in the evening.
  • Avoid the crowds by visiting some of our less crowded properties. Find the list and exploration maps on this DNR webpage.

Be Flexible

  • Our natural resources are here to stay. If you didn’t get to see the rock formation, waterfall or vista you hoped for, come back another time when it’s less crowded.
  • Weekdays, non-holiday weekends and evenings after 4 p.m. tend to be quieter at most state park properties.
  • Plan alternative options for places to visit if access is restricted when you arrive.

Remember that everyone wants to have fun this weekend. Don’t overheat – literally and figuratively – and be ready to adapt your plans. Enjoy your visit to Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas this Memorial Day weekend.



Find Your Southern Wisconsin Adventure This Weekend

It’s worth repeating: Devil’s Lake will likely have very heavy crowds during the holiday weekend. We invite you to explore other state properties to avoid congestion.

Wisconsin is home to 50 state parks, 15 state forests, 44 state trails and several recreation areas. Check out these scenic properties where you can still find your adventure but with a smaller crowd:

  • Mirror Lake State Park is a prime spot for boating and swimming. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes and pontoon boats are available for rent to get out on the namesake water. The park also features sandstone cliff ledges lining natural surface trails, a beach and an accessible pier.
  • For hiking, visit the miles of trails the wind through Governor Dodge State ParkThe park offers easy hikes, steep hills with deep valleys, and trails for biking and horseback riding.
  • In the southeast, the Pike Lake Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest is terrific for picnicking and hiking. The Ice Age Trail also travels through the Pike Lake overlook, which showcases a panoramic view of the lake.
  • The Great Sauk Trail is one of Wisconsin’s many rail trails. The paved asphalt trail starts at the Sauk Prairie State Recreation Area and continues 10.5 miles paralleling the Wisconsin River through Prairie du Sac and Sauk City. Enjoy beautiful views, historic towns, fishing spots and local destinations for food, drinks and music.
  • Visit Natural Bridge State Park to see an incredible naturally formed bridge that is thousands of years old. It’s a good one to explore for families with hikers of all ages and is less than 20 minutes from Devil’s Lake.
  • For stunning views off the beaten path, explore Roche-A-Cri State Park. The park protects a 300-foot-high rock outcropping and Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.
  • Located near Castle Rock Lake, Buckhorn State Park is a great spot for water enthusiasts, hikers, campers and nature lovers. The park and two adjacent state wildlife areas cover more than 8,000 areas to explore.

If you do decide to visit Devil’s Lake, please know all campsites have reservations for this Memorial Day weekend. Some parking lots may close, often filling before 9 a.m. Expect long wait times. Access to some areas, or all of certain parts, may be temporarily restricted until congestion lessens. Parking is allowed in designated spaces only. Do not park along roadways or on the grass, and do not block the flow of traffic by waiting for a parking spot to open.

During 2023, South Shore Road at Devil’s Lake State Park will be under construction between County Highway DL and Ski Hi Road which may also lead to delays and traffic congestion on busy days. South Shore Road will be closed during the week but will reopen on weekends.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR



Outdoor News And Announcements

Universe In The Park Starts Soon!
Universe in the Park (UitP) is a popular outreach program of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in partnership with UW Space Place. UitP is predicated on a very simple idea: the best environment in which to introduce the general public to astronomy is outside under dark skies.

Since 1996, the UitP program has visited state parks throughout Wisconsin during the summer camping season, with experts giving talks and slide shows, answering questions, and letting the general public view astronomical objects through one of the UitP telescopes.

The statewide Universe in the Park program of the UW-Madison Astronomy Department is funded, in its entirety, by the generous support of Jere and Anne Fluno.

What Is Universe In The Park?
A typical UitP session begins just after sunset with a 30-40 minute talk and slide show about astronomy. Recent astronomical news is frequently discussed, such as the discovery of new solar systems, the demotion of Pluto, and the latest results from the Hubble Space Telescope. The talks are presented for audiences of all ages.

At the conclusion of the talk, weather permitting, they set up a moderate aperture (8″-10″) telescope and provide park visitors the opportunity to view available astronomical objects.

Universe in the Park starts this weekend at the Sandhill Wildlife Area, Wildcat Mountain State Park and Governor Dodge State Park. Find more dates on the DNR’s event calendar.

Photo Credit: Universe in the Park



Mill Bluff State Park

Mill Bluff offers outstanding views of glaciation. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Mill Bluff State Park

As soon as you arrive at Mill Bluff State Park, you’ll see the stunning features that make this park unique. Part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, this park offers visitors spectacular views of the picturesque rock formations that the Driftless Region is known for. There are more than two miles of hiking trails at Mill Bluff offering views of the park’s mesas, buttes and pinnacles. To get to the top, 223 stone steps lead to the top of Mill Bluff, where an observation deck on the north end offers an excellent view of the park and the surrounding area. After hiking, cool off in the clear water of the park’s 2.5-acre pond open for swimming.

Located just minutes off of I-90/I-94 via US Highway 12, Mill Bluff State Park provides the perfect opportunity for those traveling to stop and stretch their legs. For those with enough time to stop for lunch, the two picnic areas on the property have a shelter, picnic tables, grills, waters, and bathrooms available.

Not only is Mill Bluff a great location for day use, but the park also has a rustic, family campground with 21 campsites open late May through September. A mix of wooded or partially wooded sites, campers have a variety of layouts to choose from. Six of the sites available for reservation have electric hookups. Twelve of the sites, 7 and 10-21, are very flat and accessible.

Next time you are heading north for a road trip or feel like checking out some neat rock formations, consider a stop by Mill Bluff State Park.

Mill Bluff State Park is located in Camp Douglas.


Upcoming Events

John Muir Bike Trails Workday
Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit
Saturday, May 27
8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Join the Southern Kettles Off-Road Riders for a workday, with lunch provided. We’ve got a few areas of the trails that we’re going to tackle, and we’d love your help! Let us know if you can join so we can make sure to have enough food and beverage. Contact the SKORR at skmtbclub@gmail.com to RSVP.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Beach Yoga
Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit
Saturday, May 27
9 – 10 a.m.

Join Certified Yoga Instructor Cherie Hart for a nature-immersed and inspired session to help you feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the day. Beginner friendly, and all levels and skills are welcome. Meet at the North Shelter.

Take A Hike!
Interstate Park
Sunday, May 28
9 – 11 a.m.

Go for a nice walk on the Lake O’ the Dalles Trail. The naturalist will be roaming the trail for questions and conversations about Interstate and what lives in the big nest near the trail.

Learn To Fish
Peninsula State Park
Tuesday, May 30
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Want to try fishing but don’t know what to do? Join our Learn to Fish Program, and we will show you how! We will have fun activities to teach you the basics before sending you off to catch some fish. We will supply all the equipment and bait.

If you are 16 and older, you will need a fishing license. This program’s activities are designed with families in mind but are open to kids of all ages. Meet at the Weborg Pier inside Peninsula State Park.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR




We’re Hiring
Still looking for that summer job opportunity that lets you get outside? Looking to be a part of the Wisconsin DNR this summer? Applications are still being accepted for summer seasonal positions.

Read more about open positions and the pay, hours and more information online. Applications are only accepted via the Wisc.Jobs website. To find all openings, search by agency and select Dept. of Natural Resources. Or, contact your favorite property to find out if positions are available!

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR



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