List of the Bugs to Avoid When Camping

Bugs to Avoid When Camping? Camping is a fun, outdoorsy activity that almost everyone enjoys. However, there are some camping bugs that can spoil your camping experience.

List of the Bugs to Avoid When Camping

If you want to avoid these bugs while camping, then read on! We will discuss several things that you should do in order to keep pests at bay when camping.

Going on a camping trip could be one of the finest adventures you’ll experience. Fresh air, spectacular mountains, stunning plants, and more are all about many campgrounds. But humans aren’t the only species to be located amongst them. And not every single one is friendly.

Bugs to Avoid When Camping

There are some camping bugs that you should avoid encountering when camping, and we will show them to you. We’ll also give you tips on how to keep pests away while camping in order for your trip to go smoothly!

Wasps

The class of wasp common to the regions that the evergreen tree grows is the yellow jacket. Some will build their nests in trunks, but most will attempt to construct a nest beneath an awning, normally at the end of spring and the beginning of summer.

List of the Bugs to Avoid When Camping

The wasps typically leave the nest early in the morning and returning back in the late afternoon. Frequently, they’ll build a nest on the ground, noticeable by a dime-sized hole.

Although, not particularly aggressive, unless the colony becomes aroused by someone coming close to the nest. If this happens, a number of wasps will fly away at once and the likelihood of a sting soars.

They tend to be attracted by the whiff of meat being cooked, sugar water (even a tiny amount on the rim of a soda bottle), and various other human goods. If you don’t notice them, the chances are greater that you’ll come into contact, leading to a wasp sting.

A can of wasp repellent is often an ideal accessory to horde, but there are usually preferable ways to take care of this situation.

Bugs to Avoid When Camping: Mosquitos

One of the most common causes of illness is a mosquito bite. Zika virus, West Nile virus, and malaria are all transmitted by mosquitoes.

west nile virus

Though the bite or sting of one may not be painful, it’s certainly bothersome and often harmful. The likelihood of a fatal or severe injury from a mosquito has been magnified by the media, but it is genuine and in some locations, significant.

The attraction for the mosquitoes is the carbon dioxide that we breathe out, together with certain other aspects that are generally less understood. Research has indicated that body warmth counts, while others have even suggested that insects can detect heartbeat vibrations.

Thankfully, there are a variety of sprays that are efficient in tackling them. DEET containing bug spray is safe and efficient if applied properly. Aim to squirt over the clothing instead of directly onto bare skin.

In either situation use the least amount necessary. Citronella candles can be used in some cases, but if it’s gusty at all they are generally much less useful.

Natural mosquito repellent can also be used. A tea tree oil-based repellent is said to work as well as DEET, and there are claims that peppermint oil too can help in some cases.

How to make your own essential oil repellent

  • Add 15 drops of tea tree oil or peppermint oil to a small bottle that’s half-filled with water.
  • Fill the rest of the way up with rubbing alcohol or vodka (so it doesn’t go bad).
  • Shake well before each use.

Mix and match oils, but one parent should always be tea tree oil – just in case it’s not as strong for the bugs.

Add any carrier oils you want – olive oil, almond oil, etc., to help moisturize skin and add some scent (coconut oil is a great all-around option).

Keep in mind that these scents may reduce how well your repellent works.

A combination of natural oils and peppermint oil will make a great smelling repellent that is still effective against bugs.

You can find a lot of additional ways to use Essential Oils on Beauty Awesome.

Ticks

Equally, ticks are widespread in forested areas. Here again, the threat of Lyme disease has been inflated, but I actually know several people in Wisconsin who have been affected.

Lyme disease

Ticks can also have Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A tick bite can be a signal that you’ve been bitten by an infected insect, but there have also been cases of people contracting these diseases from the blood after being scratched or bitten on their skin while handling ticks without realizing it.

Ticks are especially active in the warmer months. Try to wear long-sleeved tops and leg-wear that reaches down to your boots, also prevent your hair from brushing against bushes. They do tend to appear on animals, in particular dogs, more than humans. It helps to keep a find tooth dog comb for a quick once over after a walk or use a Hellmack – style lint roller on them.

As for you, if you find a tick on yourself, the best way to remove them is with a tick tool. We like the Original Tick Key as it works for people AND pets.

How to remove ticks

Bugs to Avoid When Camping: Spiders

Depending on the location of your campsite, certain species of spider will need to be steered clear of. The chances of being bitten are limited, as spiders strive to recoil from human contact and normally only go on the attack if cornered.

toxic spideres

Black widow spiders will hide in cool, dark spots but basements aren’t common camping locations, and they are inclined not to occupy caves. They’re noticeable by the hourglass-shaped colored red marking on the underside.

Violin spiders also tend to shy away from but will attack if any of your body parts brush in close proximity to them. Keep away from any places where you notice funnel webs, often in gloomy, isolated areas.

Verify the most usual toxic species for any particular region that you plan to visit, wear suitably clothing, and your chances of having your camping trip spoiled will be incredibly limited.

What did we miss?

Are there any bugs you like to avoid? Tell us in the comments!

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7 Camping Hammocks You’ll Fall In Love With

Camping Hammocks? Hammocks have been a standard for backyards for decades. Although they traditionally come from South American and Caribbean cultures, they have easily become a part of modern life.

They are the ultimate way to just kick back and relax and even doze off for a while. Just like most things, the hammock has been developed for maximum comfort and practicality.

7 Camping Hammocks You'll Fall In Love With

These are also great gems for you if you are like me -over 50 and hate trying to get up off the ground in the morning. The colder, damp ground seems to get to my joints, even if I have a liner under the tent and a mat or air mattress under my sleeping bag.

Hammocks are a staple in homes in the Mexican state of the Yucatan. They have been made there for centuries and are handwoven by women and children alike. They are made in villages all around Mexico, though they are also made and sold worldwide.

Hammocks have also been widely used on ships by sailors. Since they rock with the movement of the ship, they make sleeping on a ship much safer than a bed. Whether or not these cultural backgrounds have helped the popularity of the hammock is not known, but the practicality of the hammock sells it for itself.

Modern hammocks mimic the traditional construction of tightly wound thread but have made several changes that make hammocks more comfortable. They are much larger so people can really spread out and get comfortable.

camping hammocks

Instead of a simple thread construction, hammocks are now crafted with decorative fabrics, pillows, and even mosquito netting. Decorative fabrics made the hammock an elegant addition to any deck or veranda, and comfy pillows offer a wonderful place to sit outside and rest your head.

Outdoor Adventure hammocks are specifically designed for being used in the great outdoors. Like the sailors, camping hammocks keep campers from being tipped out in the nights. They also allow campers to set up camp anywhere without searching for that perfect spot for the tent.

Mesh netting provides protection from insects and from the wind. Camping hammocks can also be folded up to make a hanging chair, and they are extremely lightweight making it easy for hikers to carry around.

7 Camping Hammocks You’ll Fall In Love With

If you’re looking to relax in the great outdoors this summer, then a camping hammock is an excellent choice. There are many different styles of camping hammocks on the market today – each with its own unique features and benefits. We’ve put together a list of 7 camping hammocks that will make for some unforgettable nights under the stars!

– ENO SingleNest Hammock –

The single nest hammock by ENO is made from high-strength parachute nylon material and has reinforced bug netting, so you can enjoy your time outside worry-free. It also comes with two aluminum wiregate carabiners that are strong enough to hold up to 400 lbs each!

This camping hammock is made with lightweight parachute nylon and includes straps for hanging from any tree or beam. Weighing only 16 ounces, the SingleNest stuffs easily into the attached storage bag and adds very little to your pack!

– Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro –

The skeeter beater pro camping hammock is perfect for those warm summer nights. It’s made with a breathable cotton fabric that offers both sun and bug protection while still allowing you to breathe easily.

We love the double-sided zipper that makes getting in and out of the hammock a seamless process.

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– Grand Trunk Ultralight Hammock –

OK – this is for your starter camper. Coming in at only 12 ounces, it is a very lightweight gem for anyone under 300 pounds. It does NOT come with tree straps. It is very budget-friendly and great for hikers and backpackers.

– ENO DoubleNest Hammock –

The DoubleNest is versatile, durable, and compact, making it perfect for camping, hiking, or lounging around with a friend. It is only 19 ounces so it is easily portable.

– Gold Armour Camping Hammock –

With its extra-long (12 ft!) and wide (75 in!) design, this camping hammock can comfortably support up to 500 lbs. We also love the fact that it is made in the USA, and comes in a variety of colors.

Add in a 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE? If you don’t like your hammock, they will refund your money and you can keep the hammock, no questions asked.

Wow.

– ETROL Camping Hammock With Mosquito Net –

This hammock combined with a net that protects you and your children ​offers a safer and quality trip; A hood with a shading design at the end of the hammock prevents the damage caused by sunlight to your eyes. You can fully open the zipper to untie the net so that you can enjoy the scenery; It can also be used as an emergency replacement tent, but it must be used on dry ground.

It weighs 2.5 pounds and is suitable for 2 people – fully withstanding the weight of 500 pounds.

– Lawson Hammocks Blue Ridge Camping Hammock –

This is made with lightweight parachute nylon and weighing less than two pounds, you’ll be able to take this camping hammock anywhere. We love that it also has a tent with it! It’s a patented design with a unique arch pole/spreader bar system that allows for use suspended between two objects/trees as a hammock.

It can be used on the ground, or hanging up as a hammock – and the tent keeps bugs and more away!

Hammocks are an excellent choice for camping because they minimize the need to bring a tent and pad. When you’re bringing less gear, that means more room in your backpack for other necessities like food, water, or extra clothes. Hammocks also make settling into camp easy – just find two trees close enough together (or one really tall one and you’ll be set), attach the cords, and you’re done.

Next time you look at a hammock, you can think about the simple traditional hand-crafted hammock of thread and twine, or you can envision the elegant decorative floating chair. But the thought definitely will make you want to stretch out and catch a nap.

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Complete Guide to Mill Bluff State Park

Mill Bluff State Park is located near Camp Douglas (in Juneau and Monroe Counties) and contains numerous steep bluffs that stand tall among other exciting physical natural features. These bluffs used to be landmarks for people passing through the county during the 1850s.

Complete Guide to Mill Bluff State Park

A visit to this place would not be complete without hiking to the top of the bluffs to get a sweeping view of the surrounding landscape and the horizon.

Complete Guide to Mill Bluff State Park

This guide acts as a directive to enable you to have an amazing time when visiting Mill Bluff.

History of the Bluffs in Mill Bluff State Park

The bluffs in this park were formed when massive sandstone from the Ice Age glacier melting over 10,000 years ago became eroded over time. These bluffs create an amazing scene as they rise above the plain ground among a dense hardwood forest. Most are between 80 feet and 200 feet high. The bluffs are located in what is called the driftless area. These bluffs were formed during the last glaciation stage that happened in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin River spread out near Wisconsin Dells to form Lake Wisconsin. This glacial covered most parts of Juneau, Monroe, Adams, and other neighboring counties, including the Mill Bluff area. 

The sides of these bluffs became eroded by wave action over time. The flat-topped bluffs weathered this erosion because the top was composed of a more resistant form of sandstone. 

These glacial features are protected inside the forest because of their unique nature. Climbing on or defacing these bluffs in any way is prohibited. The tall ones were used by settlers traveling through the state as landmarks.

There are several tall and easily recognized bluffs in the park. These include:

  • Wildcat bluff -140 feet tall
  • Mill Bluff -120 feet tall
  • Long Bluff -199 feet tall
  • Camel Bluff -170 feet tall
  • Bee Bluff -60 feet tall
  • Ragged Rock Bluff -80 feet tall

You will come across plaques explaining the locations of these bluffs once you are inside the park.

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Mill Bluff State Park Dam

The dam inside Mill Bluff State Park has a nice beach that attracts all levels of swimmers. No fishing is allowed here. There are no lifeguards on duty and children must be under the supervision of an adult at all times.

The pond inside the park covers an approximated 2.5 acres. The water comes from underground springs. Changings stalls are available close to the pond. No motorized boating activity is allowed on the dam. 

Mill Bluff Summit Deck

The observation point at the summit deck offers you one of the best views of Mill Bluff State Park. You will feel as if you are towering above the tall pine trees. There are plaques with information that gives you a glimpse into the history of the park.

To get here, you will climb a series of staircases that start easy but become smaller and steeper as you get close to the summit.

Mill Bluff State Park Camping

First of all, there is no camping all year – they have a limited season: from May to September. The park simply isn’t staffed much the rest of the year and weather conditions make it a little tough.

There are 21 campgrounds on Mill Bluff State Park. Only 6 of these campgrounds are connected to electricity. The rest of the campgrounds offer primitive camping options.

Amenities you can find in these campgrounds include vault toilets, showers, picnic areas, and playgrounds. You can reserve any of these campsites online through the Wisconsin Park reservation system.

Mill Bluff State Park Camping
Mill Bluff State Park Map that shows the campsites

Other camping options close to the park:

If you do not get a reservation in Mill Bluff State Park, you can still explore what the park has to offer from the comfort of other campgrounds close to the park.

Aster Place

This campground is perfect for large crowds and large families. It offers lush and spacious grounds for both RV and primitive tent camping options. Your pet is also welcome here. Campfires are allowed but within a controlled environment. Other amenities available include Wi-Fi, toilets, and potable water.

Glacier Ridge Organics

The 35-acre farm is surrounded by lush pine vegetation that attracts people who love primitive camping. The campsites are small and not ideal for RV camping. There are no dump stations here and electrical hookups are far from the main campsites.

Amenities available in this campground include a shower house, potable water, a bunkhouse, picnic tables, Wi-Fi, and laundry services. Campfires are allowed. Pets are allowed as well.

Mill Bluff State Park Activities

Part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, Mill Bluff State Park offers a spectacular view of picturesque rock formations. Campsites, picnic areas, a shelter, hiking trails, and a swimming pond can all be found at this park just outside Camp Douglas.

Mill Bluff Water Sports

A pond with 2.5 acres of clear cool water from underground springs and 250 feet of white sand beach is available for public swimming. While changing stalls are available, lifeguards are not.

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here:

Nope, not at this park, sorry.

Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Mill Bluff State Park Fishing

FYI: No fishing or pets are allowed in the pond.

Mill Bluff State Park Pond for swimming

Hiking at Mill Bluff State Park

Hiking is the most popular activity inside this park. You will be walking among scenic bluffs that seem to grow like pine shoots against a relatively plain ground.

The park has erected observation decks in strategic places to offer visitors the perfect views while hiking inside the park. Most of the sections you will come across are not developed and although there are not many miles to explore, you will still have a great time hiking here. There are two main trails here; the Mills bluff trail and the Camels bluff loop. 

Camels Bluff Loop

Length: 1.25 mile

This is a lightly trafficked trail that gives you the chance to see wild animals and birds inside the Mills Bluff State Park. You will also be hiking on the base of many of the bluffs you come across inside the park.

Start the hike near Camp Douglas and be on the lookout for the branching trail that takes you to the top of the bluff. It is relatively steep but perfect for a nice afternoon stroll. Hikers of any skill level can explore this trail easily.

The traffic noise from the highway close to this trail may be a bother to some people but if you ignore this, you will enjoy the wonderful views you get with every step you take. Be on the lookout for bugs on the grassy section while hiking this trail, especially if you will be visiting the park in the summer season.

During the winter, the trail is quiet and with very little traffic. You may not be allowed to park inside during winter but you can park outside and take a self-guided stroll if the snow is not too restricting. The park is never closed during the offseason even if access to the campgrounds is limited.

mill bluff summit
The 223 Stairs to Mill Bluff Summit

Mill Bluff Summit

You will come across the staircase that takes you to the top of the Mill bluff at the end of this loop. There are 223 stairs to climb and although this may seem like a workout session, the view from the top of the bluff will be rewarding and worth the climb. There is an observation deck on the north end that offers an excellent view of the park and the surrounding area.

A Map of Mill Bluff State Park that shows the trails

Mill Bluff Nature and Vegetation

If you stand on top of Mill Bluff, you will notice an open land before you get to the Long Bluff. This used to be a cranberry marsh. Cranberry farming was an important activity in this region years ago. The farmers used to sell these cranberries to Milwaukee and Madison from Camp Douglas by rail.

The western side of the park is hot and dry. Here, you are likely to find hognose snakes and Jackpine trees. Hognose snakes are harmless to human beings but if you come across one do not disturb them. Remember that they are in this natural environment. The Jackpine trees need hot places for their cones to release seeds.

The eastern side is moist and you will find Oak, maple, and ferns growing wildly here. The soil on this side of the park can retain moisture because this side is sheltered from the western winds and heat. You will find many small animals here. Oak and pine trees are the predominant tree species in the park.

Mill Bluff State Park Bicycling

No motorized vehicles are allowed in the park. There are no bike trails in the park as well. Cycling lovers can explore the 15-mile stretch that begins at the park and ends in Camp Douglas by following the Omaha bike trail. From the Omaha bike trail, you can decide to either connect to the 400 State trail in Elroy or join the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.

Picnic Inside Mill Bluff State Park

The picnic shelter at Mills Bluff State Park was a project of the Works Progress Administration. The picnic shelter inside the park lies at the base of a large outcropping rock. You can climb to the top of the outcrop to have a sweeping view of the surrounding.

The shelter has a shingled roof with a low stone wall. This shelter is the perfect place to hold a social function for up to 20 guests. It has a large stone chimney on one end and the other end has been left open. Grill area, seating area, tables, and garbage bins have been provided for people using the shelter. 

There is electricity in the shelter. The shelter is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want to reserve the shelter in advance, you can do so between May and September. Pets are not allowed into the shelter or the adjacent picnic area. 

Mill Bluff State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are allowed in open areas in the park. You should adhere to Wisconsin State Park hunting and trapping rules and regulations and check the hunting calendar before visiting the park.

There are restrictions on the type of traps you can use within this property. You are also not allowed to hunt within 100 yards of any designated public use area, including all the hiking trails. 

In Mill Bluff State Park, turkey and small game hunting occur from November 1st to November 14th. You should liaise with the park’s office to see if they have any changes or requirements during this season.

Mill Bluff State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Activities range from snowshoeing, cross country skiing, to hiking. You need to know that the park is NOT staffed during the winter and that the trails are not groomed.

winter in peninsula state park

Mill Bluff State Park Snowshoeing and Cross-country Skiing

Not all trails are ideal for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. You will receive information about which trails would be ideal for exploration from the park’s office. Otherwise, stick to the trails you are familiar with for safety reasons.

As I mentioned, the trails do not get groomed in the off-season. If you are an experienced snowshoer, you will find the trails inside this park ideal for this activity during the winter season. 

Mill Bluff State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles. Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws on stray animals. 

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t microchipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Douglas County Humane Society at (715)-398-6784. 

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations. 

Other animals like deer, chipmunks, squirrels, gray wolves, skunks, fishers, elk, and porcupines can be found there. 

Pets are not allowed in the following places: 

  • Buildings 
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters 
  • Main Beach
  • Playgrounds 
  • Marked Nature Trails

No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered. 

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Mill Bluff State Park

Attractions near Mill Bluff State Park and Camp Douglas

Other attractions you might be interested in seeing once you are in Mill Bluff State Park or near Camp Douglas include;

Wisconsin National Guard Museum

This is a small museum but it has some of the best collections of world war fighter jets and canons in the US. Some of the legendary pieces you will find here include an F-4 Phantom jet, an M-3 33mm anti-tank gun, and an M-48 Patton tank among a collection of thousands of different guns and war items.

Target Bluff German Haus Shops

If you love shopping, you will enjoy the dining and shopping experience in the Target Bluff German Haus Shops. There are more than 50 artisans and vendors of unique merchandise here. They sell everything from handmade jewelry, vintage furniture, rugs, glassware, and other products. You can find a nice little restaurant to enjoy whatever dining experience you wish, exotic or local. 

Mill Bluff State Park

Mill Bluff State Park Address and Open Hours

From the 1-90, turn onto Exit 55 near Camp Douglas. Drive west for 3 miles on U-22. This will take you right to the park’s entrance.

The park is open all year long from 6 am to 11 pm. seasonal camping opens from May to September. During the off-season, camping is not allowed but visitors can take a hike inside the park. Parking is not accessible during this time. You would have to park outside and walk into the park.

Not all hiking trails will be accessible during this time. You should inquire about these trails from the park’s office before visiting during the off-season. You need a sticker for your car while camping inside this park. 

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11 Reasons You Should Go Camping This Year

Reasons You Should Go Camping? Camping is a fun, affordable way to get back to nature. It’s also an opportunity for families and friends to spend time together in the great outdoors.

11 Reasons You Should Go Camping This Year

Whether you’ve never gone camping or are looking for ideas on where to go this year, here are 11 reasons why y’all should consider hitting up your local campsite soon!

11 reasons you should go camping this year

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that staying cooped up inside for a year straight isn’t the best for our mental health. Now that people are getting out and about again, camping is the perfect option because we can still stay safely distanced from other campers.

I go camping each year because I know I’ll be able to spend more time with my family and friends, explore new places all around America (and maybe even the world!), as well as make some new buddies in the process too! It doesn’t get much better than that so don’t wait another minute – go out there right now on google maps or an online map app like Track Map before someone else gets your dream spot first!!

Let’s look at eleven great reasons for your family to connect with the great outdoors:

Campfires

Who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire at night? The smell, the stories, and let’s not forget the FOOD! We have talked about how to cook so many different things over the fire this last year from corn to fish – even 40 Great Hobo Packets for Camping and Campfire Food on a Stick !!

Anyone can cook delicious meals over the campfire and enjoy them outside at a picnic table. Let’s not kid ourselves, the hands-down favorite? S’mores! If you are concerned about how to build the perfect campfire, we have ya covered with our article: Campfires 101: Everything You Need to Know from Fire Starters on Up

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Camping Best Views

There’s no place like being surrounded by trees when it comes to getting away from city life. It’s hard to describe what it feels like when you first walk into a campsite and see the trees surrounding your tent. For some people, it can be really relaxing, and for others- like me – there is something invigorating about knowing that we are surrounded by nature.

There’s something about sleeping under the stars that brings out your adventurous side. Camping lets you get away from all of modern life, and experience nature in its rawest form – without any distractions or complications like buildings around us can cause sometimes. It gives people a chance to explore what they would do if there were no man-made structures blocking their view; this could help them find tranquility with rejuvenating roots deep within human history itself!

Let’s not forget the wildlife sightings! Even if hiking isn’t your thing, just sitting around the campsite will often times bring you in close contact with local wildlife

When you camp, the vibrancy of nature can soothe your soul as well as renew it. You’ll feel refreshed both mentally and physically after every trip! If that is one of the great reasons you should go camping, I don’t know what is.

Stargazing While Camping

With so many nights without any light pollution, there’s plenty of opportunities for stargazing. I, myself had a budding astronomer, and taking her telescope out to the darker areas of nature made for some amazing viewing of everything from meteor showers to lunar eclipses.

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Camping helps you unplug

If y’all can’t tell that by now after reading my article, then these words are for those who are addicted to their tech!

You’ll find yourself in the great outdoors without any internet or cell service…sometimes it’s a bummer, but other times I actually enjoy not being able to check my email. You’re forced to take time out and focus on what really matters – nature!

When we’re constantly connected, it’s hard to stop thinking about everything else and remain focused. Camping is a great way for your family to check out of this crazy world for a while.

With camping, you can social distance.

There are still a lot of families worried that their littles can’t be vaccinated, especially with the Delta and now MU variants. Personally? I know 9 families with kids in the ICU – all under the age of 14.

Yes, we are all are socially distanced at most campgrounds – and getting that Vitamin D along with exercise! That takes us right into reason number six:

You’ll get some fresh air and exercise.

You might be too used to staying indoors and sitting on your couch all day. Camping is a way to get some great, natural vitamin D from the sun! Vitamin D helps to strengthen your bones and muscles. It will also help with a mood boost. There are so many fun activities to do while camping, like hiking, kayaking, and swimming, just to name a few off the top of my head.

Camping will make one more adventurous.

You might only be used to the same routine, the comfortable bed you sleep in every night, and your daily grind. When you camp, you’ll find yourself pushed to your limits! You’ll have to overcome obstacles like making a fire or pitching a tent.

When you get over each of these challenges, it’s super satisfying!

Tips for Camping with Your Dog

You can camp almost anywhere.

Camping doesn’t have to be limited by your location! There are plenty of places you can camp, from the beach to the mountains. If it’s an adventure that gets ya going then try some unique locations for camping too like…

  • Camping at state parks
  • Camping at Federal Parks
  • Camping at private campgrounds
  • Camping at Chain campgrounds
  • Camping on lands that let you for FREE – but that is another article…

There are so many options – you’ll never run out of places to go.

Camping is a great way to spend time with friends and family.

Camping will strengthen your family bonds. Camping is a great way to teach your kids independence and responsibility. They’ll learn self-reliance skills that come in handy for later years, such as packing up camp when you’re finished with it or taking care of pets on their own time while away from home!

Camping teaches children how they can be independent by learning survival techniques which will also help them become more confident individuals later down the line – just like teaching someone about clean-up after an awesome vacation (even though this isn’t technically “camp”).

Cooking while camping

You can cook delicious meals over the campfire and enjoy them outside at a picnic table. Almost all camping activities give you a chance to connect with nature in ways that you won’t have anywhere else…just look at a few of the ideas we have shared:

Just. Yum!

Let’s not forget the right equipment:

And my favorite reason:

Camping is inexpensive.

Camping is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. You can reconnect with friends, family, or your significant other while sleeping in the wilderness. The best part about camping is that it’s affordable and each campsite is completely unique.

We help you save money with this article on budget supplies: Dollar Tree Camping Supplies Complete A to Z List.

Dollar Tree Camping Supplies Complete A to Z List
This is a GREAT article to read for supplies you can literally get for a buck!

If you are looking for a socially distanced adventure this next year, head out into the woods with nothing but a tent and some food! There’s no better time than now to be adventurous because summer will soon come to an end so make sure you take advantage of all these amazing opportunities before they disappear.

Other articles you may find helpful if you liked Reasons You Should Go Camping This Year:

Complete Guide to Lake Kegonsa State Park

A unique blend of a lake that occupies 3,200 acres and a 342-acre forest makes Lake Kegonsa State Park one of the best recreational parks for outdoor lovers in Madison.

Complete Guide to Lake Kegonsa State Park

You can engage in all sorts of activities in Lake Kegonsa State Park: camping, fishing, boating, kayaking, scuba diving, bird watching, picnicking, hiking, cycling-you name it.

Complete Guide to Lake Kegonsa State Park

Lake Kegonsa State Park is a popular tourist destination throughout the year and when planning for a visit, ensure you have a few days to enjoy the utmost outdoor experience on lake Kegonsa State Park.

History – The Formation of Lake Kegonsa

Lake Kegonsa (where the park derives its name) is the highlight of the park and it has an interesting story about its formation process. The lake exists as part of the 4 lakes in the Madison area; Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, Lake Mendota, and Lake Kegonsa.

The formation of the lakes started during the last ice age. 4 giant glaciers originated from Canada and glided into the northern part of the US. The Wisconsin Glacier was the largest of these glaciers and it occupied most parts of the state, blanketing parks, rivers, and valleys. Eventually, it settled on the moraine south of Lake Kegonsa and the melting process began. 

As the glacier melted, it also retreated and carried a lot of sand and gravel into the old valley and left behind tons of glacial rocks on the park’s grounds. These rocks got compacted over time, creating barriers and boulders that became the walls for the 4 dams.

The four lakes are connected by the Yahara River, with Lake Kegonsa being the shallower of them.

The native Indians who occupied these lands are the people responsible for giving the Lake its current name. Kegonsa means ‘the lake of many fishes’ in the Winnebago dialect and true to its name, fishing on the lake is one of the most prolific activities up to date.

The early European settlers referred to the lake as the First Lake because it was the first lake they came across as they ventured up north into Madison.

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Things to do In Lake Kegonsa State park

Water sports, camping, hiking, beach lounging, picnicking and a horde of other outdoor fun wait at the park. 

Camping in Lake Kegonsa State Park

There are family and group campgrounds here. You may reserve your campsite online or drive into the park and get one on a first-come, first-served basis.

Family Campground at Lake Kegonsa State Park

There are 96 campsites here in the family campground section. Most of the sites here are heavily wooded. 68 campsites can be reserved online while the others are available for walk-ins. The campground contains two electrical campsites reserved for people with disabilities. Shower facilities are wheelchair-accessible.

The campsites are a mixture of tent camping, RV camping, and trailer camping. Make sure you inquire about bringing your rig to camp here when reserving your spot because sometimes they regulate the number of wheeled units that can camp at the same time.

Other amenities present in this campground include drinking water, flush toilets, three vault toilets, garbage bins, dump station, and shower facilities. The dump station is usually closed during May and October, so make inquiries before you book a spot.

Lake Kegonsa State Park

Group Campgrounds

There are 6 large camping sites here and each site can hold up to 20 campers at a time. Only tent campers are allowed. RV campers, pop-ups, and trailer campers should book their spot on the family campground.

The sites on the group campground are not very wheelchair-friendly. Parking is limited to 6 cars on each camping site, although you can get other parking options close to the beach.

There is a common playground and picnic area where campers can play volleyball and other games. A sand volleyball court has been erected for that purpose and balls are provided for free by the park’s management.

Other amenities in the group campground include drinking water, a picnic shelter, picnic tables, and fire rings, restroom vaults, a dump station, recycling centers, and garbage bins. The boat landing is close to the upper picnic area, just a few meters from the campground.

RV Camping

There are spacious campsites for people seeking to visit and stay in a motor home. However, some people have reported having issues trying to park rigs larger than 40′, especially when trying to access the dump station. Some tracks may be a bit tight to maneuver with a big rig.

Other options for RV campers in Lake Kegonsa State Park

If you are apprehensive about driving your rig into the park, you can opt to stay at other camping grounds that are RV-friendly close to the park.

Badgerland Campground

This campground is located just out of Stoughton City. They have water and electrical hookups with pull-through sites, a basketball court, a playground, and a swimming pool. You can easily access the Park from this camping ground. Pets are allowed but they must be on a leash at all times.

Creek view RV Park

Creek view is a partially wooded RV Park located just outside of Edgerton. All camping sites here have water and electrical hookups. There is a common dumping station. Golf lovers can explore the adjacent Creek golf course.

Blackhawk Camping Resort

This is located on Clear Lake, Milton. Water and electrical hookups are also available here. Other amenities you have access to here include shower facilities, laundry facilities, swimming pools, restrooms, a picnic area, and a playground.

Firewood Sales at Lake Kegonsa State Park

Firewood Sales at Lake Kegonsa State Park

You will buy your firewood from the concessionaire during the weekend and you are expected to follow the Wisconsin State Park firewood facts, rules, and advice whenever you are camping here. You are not allowed to carry firewood into the park. Cutting down trees for firewood is also prohibited.

Lake Kegonsa State Park Water Sports

Yes – Lake Kegonsa State Pak is on the water – that makes it so fantastic for your watersport activities!

Fishing at Lake Kegonsa State Park

You will find excellent fishing opportunities within Lake Kegonsa all year round. Some local vendors sell or lease fishing boats and other equipment (bait, anglers, for example) near the Lake. Wisconsin State’s fishing and angling policies apply while fishing in Lake Kegonsa and a fishing license is required.

Panfish, smallmouth bass, and Walleyes are in abundance in the Lake. Although fishing happens all year round, the best time to go fishing on Kegonsa would be from April through September. During this time, you are assured of a good harvest. 

If you visit the park during the winter season, you will be presented with excellent ice fishing opportunities. The water in the lake is abundant with panfish during this period. When ice fishing, always check with the park’s office because they do not guarantee the safety of the ice.

Things may change quickly when ice fishing and you should always take precautions when engaging in this activity.

Fish can be easily found in weed beds or rock bars. You have to know where to look though. In May, Walleyes are common in those beds, and in June, look out for bluegills as they come to the shallow waters to spawn. Later on in the month, you can catch other fish (perch, bass, crappie) as well. In the summer (as it gets warmer), you can find northern pikes in the Lake.

Lake Kegonsa’s State Park Swimming

Swimming is a common activity in Lake Kegonsa. The shoreline on the beach offers excellent swimming opportunities. There are concession stands where you can rent out swimming gear or other equipment (boats, kayaks, etc.). 

Note that there are no lifeguards on duty at the lake, so exercise caution while swimming here. There are designated picnic and lounge areas next to the beach for relaxing after you have had a good swim. There is a bathhouse near the beach.

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The Beach at Lake Kegonsa State Park

There are two sections of beaches in Lake Kegonsa State Park: The Dog Beach and the Main Beach. The Dog Beach is a section of the beach that has been set aside specifically for dogs and dog lovers. Dogs are not allowed on the main beach.

The dog beach is well-marked with swim areas in the shallow waters (for smaller dogs) and a wooden jetty from where dogs can dive into the deeper waters. You are advised to keep your dog on a leash (unless when swimming) to prevent them from wandering into the other sections of the beach. 

Boating, Canoeing, and Kayaking on Lake Kegonsa

There is a boat launch at the southern part of the park and from here, you can join your friends for a kayaking expedition. Boating, canoeing, and kayaking are popular activities on Lake Kegonsa State Park all year around. Boat rentals and supplies are available about a quarter-mile upriver from the inlet of Yahara River into Lake Kegonsa. 

Lake Kegonsa State Park Nature

There are lots of natural wonders to explore in this park. The Woodlands, wetlands, and prairies provide rich grounds for all types of wildlife, birds, and natural vegetation to thrive. 

Wildlife at Lake Kegonsa State Park

You will spot different types of animals as you hike or camp inside the park. The most common ones are ground squirrels, cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, fox squirrels, gray squirrels, red fox, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and muskrats.

You may also see turtles, especially close to the marshy areas. Be on the lookout for garter snakes and red-bellied snakes as well. They might not be poisonous but you may want to avoid a confrontation all the same. All types of toads can be found in the marshy sections of the park. 

When taking a hike inside the park (on the wetlands and marshy areas), be sure to carry a bug repellent. There are numerous flies, wasps, and even spiders here. Although most of the spiders are not poisonous, try to maintain their natural habitat intact. 

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

Bird Watching

Bird watching is another common activity within the park. There are numerous local bird species that call this park home. Others birds come during the migration period. The main migration periods are from mid-March to mid-May and Mid-August to mid-October. Birds come here to nest before the next migration season.

Some of the local birds you are guaranteed to see while you are here include horned larks, kingbirds, sparrows, pheasants, bobolinks, and crows. At the shores of Lake Kegonsa, you will observe different types of ducks including geese, grebes, and ducks. 

Lake Kegonsa State Park Prairies

The prairie section of Lake Kegonsa State Park is home to beautiful flowers and plants. When these flowers are blooming, they create an amazing hue that presents the opportunity to have one of the most amazing photo experiences. When visiting this section, observe the park’s rules on environmental preservation.

Hiking at Lake Kegonsa State Park

There are many hiking trails in this park and they all take you through a diverse habitat; marshlands, woodlands, shoreline, beach, and the forest.

The Prairie Trail – Length: 1.3 miles

This trail is amazing during the summer season when the prairies are in full bloom. It is a great hiking trail for bird watchers and prairie lovers. The wildflowers on this trail are stunning, presenting excellent photograph opportunities.

The trail starts at the parking lot close to the park’s office, connects with other trails close to the group camping ground before looping back to the park near the Creek Road.

Bluebird Trail – Length: 0.3 miles

This is a short trail in the southern section of the park. This trail takes you through grassland, before connecting with the prairie trail in the north, and then looping back to the upper picnic area. It is a moderate trail you can easily explore with your kids. 

The White Oak Trail – Length: 1.2 Miles

The White Oak Trail is located in the northern part of the park, close to the Indian Mounds and the Pine plantation. It takes you through a variety of habitats, looping around 80 acres of white oak trees, following a gently sloping terrain.

The trail is close to the Family camping ground. There are numerous stops along the way, where you get to see various attractions and learn more about the vegetation and nature of the park. 

The Indian Mounds site is one of the main pit stops on this trail. You will learn more about how these mounds were built and for what purpose. This White Oak Trail is a great trail for bird and nature lovers.

The lush landscape, walking under the canopy of giant Oaks, the wildflowers, and the serenity of this trail is unparalleled. During the winter season, the trail can be a bit snowy and it gets muddy in some sections after a downpour. You are likely to encounter deer and other small animals going about their business along the trail.

Oak Knoll Trail – Length: 0.8 miles

This is a moderate trail that takes you through a short grassland and into an Oak-wooded section before looping back to end close to the boat launch area.

Wetland boardwalk trail – Length: 0.1 miles

This is a short trail that takes you to the wildlife viewing platform. From this platform, you get to enjoy a variety of birds and a beautiful shorefront sighting. This is a popular trail with bird watchers. The wetland is also home to thousands of beautiful blue damselflies and green dragonflies.

The Lakeshore trail – Length: 0.5 miles

The Lakeshore trail offers you the best views of the lake in the park. You will start your walk close to the boat landing (next to the picnic area in the South) and go past the Fish pier and the beach. The trail ends at the playground near where the Bluebird Trail begins.

hiking at lake kegonsa state park
hiking a

Insects, bugs, and spiders inside the park

When hiking through the park, you are always advised to carry a bug repellent and be on the lookout for bugs that can cause irritations or infections on your skin. Most of the spider species in the park are harmless (Thank God!). You may come across garden spiders such as wolf spiders and jumping spiders. Do not be tempted to disturb them even if they are harmless.

There are beautiful insects here too, and you will see thousands of beautiful butterflies as you take a hike. If you are a butterfly/moth enthusiast, some of the species you can see here include Wisconsin’s largest moth – the cecropia, the Promethea, Polyphemus, Luna, Tiger moths, hawk moths, and Underwing moths. 

Wasps, bees, large beetles, and flies are also common here.

Reptiles and amphibians at Lake Kegonsa State Park

Be keen on where you step while hiking here, especially if you decide to deviate from the pre-determined walk paths. There are several snake species here, and although most are non-poisonous, steer from their path if you come across one. Some of the common snake species you can find here include brown and red-bellied snakes, garters, and milk snakes. 

Besides snakes, you are likely to see other amphibians including toads and all types of frogs. Soft-shelled turtles, snapping turtles, painted turtles, and Blandings can also be found in the park, particularly in the marshy sections.

Hunting and Trapping inside Lake Kegonsa State Park

Archery hunting is allowed in the park, at specific times of the year, and in the open areas of the park. Gun hunting is NOT ALLOWED. Trapping is not allowed within 100 yards of designated use areas or in closed areas. You should inquire more from the park’s office about this. Trapping on any of the hiking trails is also prohibited.

Click to see the Hunting and trapping map in Lake Kegonsa State Park.

Deer hunting is the most popular hunting activity, although you can still try catching other small animals during the hunting season. The varied landscapes, terrains, and ground cover make hunting a very exciting adventure.

Picnicking and Shelters in Lake Kegonsa State Park

Picnic areas are scattered throughout the park. There are 5 picnic areas and two shelters here. All picnic areas are situated close to the playgrounds. Volleyball courts have been erected. You can get free balls for the game from the park’s office. Tables and fire pits have also been erected on these designated picnic areas.

Water is available at each shelter and every shelter comes with a standard electrical outlet. The shelters are reservable online and others are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

winter in peninsula state park

Governor Nelson State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Activities range from snowshoeing to cross country skiing – both diagonal-style and skate skiing.

Winter Hiking and Recreation Activities

Hiking is allowed on all trails during the winter season. The trails are usually converted into cross-country skiing courses. Snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding are popular activities on these trails during the winter.

Sledding can be difficult when under icy conditions as the icing becomes thin with use. When the trails get groomed for winter sports, they are open for skiing only, so you do not have to worry about bumping into hikers along the way. 

The concession stands (and the park’s office) rent out skiing gear as well. Trails for skate skiers are groomed and trails for diagonal-stride skiers are tracked. These winter trails can be found along the lakeshore, the wetland, and through the wooden areas of the park. ATVs and snowmobiles are not allowed into the park during this time. 

Note: Dogs are allowed on all of the trails in this park, apart from the White Oak Nature Trail. 

Open Times and Fees

Lake Kegonsa State Park is open year-round from 6 am to 11 pm daily. When driving into the park, a Wisconsin State Park vehicle admission sticker is required. You can purchase the sticker online here

Directions to Lake Kegonsa State Park

From Madison, take Highway 12 E and turn right onto the County Highway AB. From here, turn into MN and then right onto Door Creek Road. The Door Creek Road will take you to the Park.

Attractions Near Kegonsa State Park

Attractions Near Lake Kegonsa State Park

When camping inside the park, you should take time to explore some of the other attractions close to the region.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Distance from Lake Kegonsa State Park: 9.5 miles

More information: http://www.olbrich.org/

Olbrich Botanical Gardens have a mission to protect all types of plants and flowers. There are 16 acres of the sunken garden, a rose garden, a herb garden, and a garden full of amazing wildflowers. The gardens are owned by the Madison Parks as a non-profit venture, alongside the Olbrich Botanical Society.

Take a guided tour on the premises to learn more about thousands of different flower and plant species and their contribution to the ecosystem. Later, visit the Boltz Conservancy to see the 50-foot high glass (Thai Pavilion) pyramid that houses a variety of tropical plants, a waterfall, and several bird species.

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

Distance from Lake Kegonsa State Park: 9.9 miles

More information: https://www.mononaterrace.com/

The Monona Terrace Community and convention center opened its doors to the public in 1997. Today, this is a popular tourist attraction. Conventions, conferences, public events, festivities, and many other activities happen occasionally inside this center.

You will learn about the unique architectural designs (breathtaking curvilinear views, and a gallery) by Frank Lloyd Wright. The process of commissioning and building the center took over 60 years and once you visit here, you will learn about the historical significance of the center to the people of Madison.

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Paddle Pub

Distance from the Park: 7.2 miles

More information: https://paddlepub.com/madison/

The paddle pub offers you a unique (and different) wining and dining experience. It is a pedal and cruise, 16 passenger party boat on Lake Monona.

You get to experience the city on the open water while enjoying your favorite people in the company of like-minded adventure seekers. The boat is available for rental for all kinds of events, including birthday parties, corporate tours, and private tours.

Livsreise Norwegian Heritage Center

Distance from the Lake: 4.3 Miles

More information: https://www.livsreise.org/

Located in Downtown Stoughton, the Livsreise heritage center was set up to commemorate the journey Norwegian immigrants traveled as they embraced their Norwegian heritage in Stoughton and across the US. It allows visitors to learn more about the Norwegian identity in the city and understand more about their cultural and natural heritage.

Explore Golfing in Madison

If you love golfing, you can explore some of the excellent golf courses that are available in Madison city. Some of the popular golf courses here include the Glenway Golf Course, the Odana Hills Golf Course, Yahara Hills Golf course, and the Monona Golf course. Inquire at the park’s office for more information and directions to these golf courses within the city.

Restaurants Near Lake Kegonsa State Park

Due to its proximity to Madison and Stoughton cities, Lake Kegonsa State Park offers visitors an opportunity to sample some of the beautiful restaurants located in downtown Madison and Stoughton.

Springers of Lake Kegonsa – Style: American

Website: https://springersonthelake.com/

Location: 3097 Sunnyside Street Stoughton, WI

This is a quaint little pub that offers you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a few drinks as you get entertained. You can sit on the large patio and enjoy uninterrupted views of the lake as you wait for your favorite American snack to be ready.

Tornado Steak House – Style: Classic American Steakhouse

Website: https://www.tornadosteakhouse.com/

Location: 116 South Hamilton Street, Madison, WI, 53703

Enjoy delicious steak in one of the tasteful restaurants in Madison. They also offer a variety of fresh seafood and oysters delivered from the lakes close to the town. The staff is friendly and very hospitable in a classic Midwestern kind of way.

Viking Brewpub – Style: Brewpub

Website: https://www.vikingbrew.pub/

Built to reflect the Viking style, this is a must-visit location for beer lovers. The unique interior architecture makes this one of the most unique restaurants in Stoughton. It is a brewpub, which means you will be getting your beer freshly brewed. Their food menu features Scandinavian cuisine as well, to wrap everything around the Viking image nicely.

Hotels Near Lake Kegonsa State Park

For those who love exploring the wild but dread spending the night in a tent, here are some of the best hotels you can stay in close to Lake Kegonsa State Park.

Best Western Premier Park Hotel

Directions: 22 S Carroll Street, Madison, WI, 53703

Best Western Premier Park is also another luxury hotel in Madison. You will have access to a swimming pool, free WiFi, air conditioning, spa, and laundry facilities. You will be right in the middle of all Madison action and within a short distance to most of the attractions in, and around Lake Kegonsa State Park.

Hotel Tranquility Way, Stoughton

Located 16 minutes away from Lake Kegonsa State Park and just a minute’s walk from Lake Kegonsa, Tranquility Way Hotel is a water-front guesthouse that is worth checking out when visiting Lake Kegonsa.

Amenities available here include a microwave, full-size refrigerator, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a fire pit. If you love golfing, Yahara golf course and farm golf courses are close to this hotel. 

Hyatt Place Madison Downtown

Directions: 333 W Washington Ave, Madison, WI, 53703

This is the perfect hotel for people seeking to visit the outdoors in absolute luxury. Hyatt hotels are renowned for their impeccable hospitality, professionalism, and perfectionism.

They have amazing rooms which come with equally amazing amenities. You get a queen or king-sized bed that also comes with a sofa bed, flat-screen TVs, room service, mini-bar, and many other extras.

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

Other articles you may find interesting:

Complete Guide to Governor Nelson State Park

Governor Nelson State Park was initially named after a former Wisconsin Governor, Gaylord Nelson. It covered 422 acres just outside of Waunakee, Wisconsin, in Westport and located in the northern region of Lake Mendota.

Complete Guide to Governor Nelson State Park

The park is in full view of the Wisconsin State Capitol building while in Madison. It has gone through many developments and has been altered to suit the relaxation and unwinding needs of everyone who visits.

Complete Guide to Governor Nelson State Park

The park features many amenities, including a boat launch, beaches (for both humans and dogs), a lake, creek, effigy mounds, skiing and hiking trails, and areas for camping and picnic. However, the park does not allow for overnight camping and, as such, is considered a day park.

Dorn Creek!

Governor Nelson State Park has a creek that gives you the advantage of exploring more of what nature offers… please remember that this park is more of a preserve so you should practice “leave no trace” in earnest here with both plants and wildlife.

Camping in Governor Nelson State Park

Governor Nelson State Park Fun Fact

I got this gem off of Wikepedia:

A portion of the site of the park originally hosted a boys’ camp called Camp Indianola. Orson Welles was a camper at the camp in his youth. The camp closed in 1967.

I think that is fun – and remember a Girl Scout camp experience in the early 70’s that wasn’t too far away.

Camping in Governor Nelson State Park

This is by far one of the more interesting parts of the park as you get to enjoy the best of nature while co-existing in it. However, they may not allow you to camp overnight, but the day experience is just as good.

Governor Nelson State Park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

You really need to know that and find places to park your camper or RV nearby as you simply can’t camp here. We like:

KOA Madison
4859 County Road V
De Forest, WI 53532
Local Phone:
Toll Free: 800-562-5784
Email: madisonwikoa@centurytel.net

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Governor Nelson State Park Activities

When it comes to Governor Nelson State Park, the fun is limitless, and there is so much for you and your friends and family to engage in. There are numerous parks in and around Wisconsin that provide the ultimate relaxing experience, and at this very park, the amount of activities to participate in is pretty much countless. Here are a few of the activities you can engage in…

Governor Nelson Water Sports

Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend the 500-foot sand beach will be marked with buoys for swimming. No lifeguards are on duty. No boats, sailboards, or personal watercraft are allowed within the marked swim area and boaters must go slow-no-wake, within 100 feet of the swim buoys.

Governor Nelson State Park Fishing

At Governor Nelson State Park, you can indulge in the fishing game, and interestingly, they have some of the most interesting fishing options…

Governor Nelson State Park Fishing

* Ice Fishing – This is one of the more classical ways of fishing where you catch fish through the ice with spears other than going on a boat and throwing your nets. It creates an intriguing experience like no other. Just get the necessary tools, and you are good to go!

* Inland Lake / River – Are you the traditional type of fisher who likes to sit by the lake or row along the river with your hooks in hand? Well, no worries, as the park creates an avenue for you to enjoy a special moment with your friends and family. Unwind as you enjoy the cool breeze dazzling across your face.

You have the advantage of catching a variety of fish such as, but not limited to: Lake Trout, Catfish, Northern Pike, Panfish, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Walleye, Crappie, Coho Salmon, Muskies, Bluegill

A fish cleaning station is available in season, for everyone’s conveinience.

Governor Nelson’s State Park Swimming

Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend the 500-foot sand beach will be marked with buoys for swimming. No lifeguards are on duty. No boats, sailboards or personal watercraft are allowed within the marked swim area and boaters must go slow-no-wake, within 100 feet of the swim buoys.

We will talk more about dogs in a bit, but your dog gets to take a dip and cool down in their own special area for swimming too! There is a set beach area for your pups to run and bounce around and a cool picnic area in close range…next to the Morningside

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Governor Nelson State Park Boating

What’s more exciting than knowing a park gives you the advantage of a boat launch? Well, at Governor Nelson State Park, you have the privilege of experiencing this luxury. The park has a four-stall boat launch.

Go kayaking on the lake with your friends and family while you try to relax and unwind and enjoy the scenic view of the environment around you. Interestingly, the park is in close range for options to rent kayaks, so checking the information center will provide all the details you need.

Hiking at Governor Nelson State Park

Governor Nelson State Park has a cool 8.4 miles of trails with numerous nature-engulfed benefits to enjoy. These trails include areas such as oak woodland and Savanna and mesic and wet prairies. Along the trails, you will also enjoy various wildflowers that bloom along the way and different kinds of animals.

You can also stay informed as you tread the pathways as there are viewing platforms and information panels. There are numerous trails to choose from, including…

Governor Nelson State Park hiking
Maker:L,Date:2017-9-29,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

Morningside Trail

Morningside Trail covers 2.4 miles and runs along the northern end of the park through restored prairies. It is used for many purposes during winter, including skiing, snowshoers, and pet-walking (must be on a moderate-length leash).

Oak Savanna Trail

You’ll cover an estimated 1.8 miles along this trail, which starts close to the park office and extends through prairie and Savanna. You can be sure to enjoy lots of scenic views and nature’s best as you stroll along.

Redtail Hawk Trail

The Redtail Hawk Trail sits in the park’s center and leads directly to the Oak Savanna and Woodland Trails. It stretches across an estimated 1 mile.

Woodland Trail

The Woodland Trail sits along the southern end of the park and is among the most-forested regions of the park. It covers a 1-mile stretch and has an impressive 358-foot mound and several other conical mounds in close range. Get your gears on and take a grand tour of the best that nature has to offer.

Governor Nelson State Park Hunting

Please note, there is no hunting and trapping allowed in the park. For more information, please see: Hunting and trapping in Wisconsin State Parks

winter in peninsula state park

Governor Nelson State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Activities range from snowshoeing to cross country skiing – both diagonal-style and skate skiing.

Snowshoeing at Governor Nelson State Park

Who said you couldn’t take a stroll through the snow without sinking? Well, snowshoeing is great at the park and is usually done across the Morningside Trail. It is a 2.4-mile trail loop and can also accommodate your pets once they are on a leash.

Cross Country Skiing at Governor Nelson

Here is another winter activity that will be worth your while as you travel to this feature-filled park. However, you have to keep checking with their information desk to know when these activities are in full swing. Cross-country skiing covers various options, including groomed trails, flat and hilly trails, open trails, and wooded trails.

Here is the Governor Nelson Trail map with winter usage

Just see the map above to see them.

Governor Nelson State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Dane County Humane Society at (608) 838-0413.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Governor Nelson State Park boating

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Governor Nelson State Park Events

The park is open to many activities and events as it is a day park for you to enjoy with your friends and family. Interestingly, being on hundreds of acres, the park gives the advantage of hosting many personal events such as weddings, birthday and anniversary parties, and so much more.

In addition to the events you desire to host, there are several other general events you can look out for, such as fireworks, fishing derbies, reenactments, volunteer days, and so much more. The schedule changes a lot, so it would be best to consult the information desk to plan your way around when going camping easily.

Golfing at Governor Nelson State Park

There is no actual golf course here, but several in the area if you are looking for something to do beside immersing yourself in 442 acres of nature.

  • Glenway Municipal Golf Course of Madison is 4 miles away
  • Odana Hills Golf Course of Madison is 5 miles away
  • Nakoma Golf Club of Madison is 5 miles away
picnicking at Governor Nelson State Park

Directions to Governor Nelson State Park

Getting to Governor Nelson State Park is relatively easy and hassle-free as once you enter County M, you will notice the entrance to the park along Lake Mendota’s shores, on the northern side of Madison. 

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

Other articles you may find interesting:

Complete Guide to Council Grounds State Park

Council Grounds State Park? Located below the dam at Lake Alexander and along the Wisconsin River, this 508-acre park is a delightful haven for outdoor lovers. There are ample camping facilities here, and a wonderful wilderness that is etched in what used to be Native American territory.

The Lake and the River also offer excellent grounds for fishing and other water sports. The sandy beach on Lake Alexander is an amazing place for relaxation. Numerous wooded trails wait patiently for the eager explorer, with beautiful picnic areas and stunning photogenic sceneries wherever you look.

Complete Guide to Council Grounds State Park

This article is a comprehensive guide to exploring the Council Grounds State Park.

History – The Native Americans Connection

Like most parks in the Northern parts of Wisconsin, the Council Grounds State Park grounds were initially occupied by the Native Americans. They used the site as grounds for their annual festivals because of its strategic location along the Wisconsin River.

Some of these festivals and celebrations lasted several nights and days. Leaders of these native tribes also convened on the grounds to formulate strategy when faced with a threat, solve disputes among themselves, or when they wanted to make an important communal decision.

Originally, the grounds were known as Wildwood City Park, under the city of Merrill. There were about 278 acres of land then and when the park was donated to the state in 1938, expansion was allowed and the name was changed to Council Grounds State Forest, in respect to the annual councils that were believed to take place here.

The Native Americans traveled to the grounds via the Wisconsin River using canoes and boats. They are believed to have used the land for fall and spring pilgrimages for a long time. Over the years, more land was acquired and added to the forest grounds. In 1978, the site was officially opened as a state park, occupying 508 acres of land.

Concessions are still being conducted to allow for more expansion of the grounds to about 1,000 acres. The park contains a blend of white and red pines, hemlocks, mixed hardwoods, and other species of deciduous and coniferous trees. 

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Lake Alexander

Lake Alexander is formed by a dam on the Wisconsin River. The lake is a hub for water sports lovers. The clear waters attract scuba divers keen on exploring the rich marine life inside the lake. Boating, white water rafting, swimming, and canoeing are also common water sports on this lake. Catch the northern pikes, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass while fishing inside this lake.

Wisconsin River

The Wisconsin River seems to straddle the park in the South, pushing to Lake Alexander. Campers come to the river to check out beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The section of the river that straddles the park is relatively calm, allowing for water sports, such as canoeing and white water kayaking. Fishing (ice fishing and sport fishing) is also a rewarding and engaging activity on the Wisconsin River. 

Things to do in Council Grounds State Park

Because of its large size, there are numerous outdoor activities one can engage in when they visit this park. 

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Camping at Council Grounds State Park

The camping spaces are large (even large rigs will comfortably fit and privacy is guaranteed). Camping close to the Wisconsin River hearing the sound of the river crashing to the rocks is a therapeutic feeling.

The views from the river are also stunning. There are both family and group campgrounds inside the park. You may reserve a campsite online. Other campsites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Family campgrounds

There are 52 family camping sites in the Council Grounds State Park. 19 of these have access to electricity while the rest are designed for wild camping. 

Amenities here include fire rings, shower facilities, dump stations, and garbage bins.

Group Campgrounds

The group campgrounds here are divided into three sections and they can accommodate over 70 people, including facilities for disabled people. The group camping sites are well compacted, with beautiful and tall trees creating a perfect canopy over you as you camp. The bathrooms are clean and easily accessible. There are no water hookups at the campground.

Amenities here include electricity in every campsite, shower facilities, and a dump station.

Complete Guide to Council Grounds State Park

RV camping

Numerous open grounds allow for all types and sizes of rigs to park here comfortably. The sites are located close to the Wisconsin River. They are large and private, with a beautiful common area left free for all users. There is a picnic table and a fire ring here.

Most of the camping spaces are shady, protected by large coniferous trees. There is no dump water station on the campground. The sites are flat, compacted dirt with lots of space between the campsites. 

Phone reception is spotty in almost every campground in the park, due to the heavy foliage and forest cover. Make sure you carry mosquito sprays and bug repellents when coming to camp here. If you will go camping in the winter season, take note that the dump station will be closed. 

Facilities for disabled campers

Most of the trails in the park can be explored in a wheelchair without much strain. However, before you embark on a hiking adventure in a wheelchair, inquire from the park’s office about the condition of the trail you seek to explore. Toilets and shower areas are easily accessible as well.

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit.

Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Firewood

You can buy firewood at the park’s site. Campfires are allowed (under certain regulations) and fire rings are provided for this purpose. If you decide to collect firewood from the forest, inquire from the park’s office on how to go about it safely. You are not allowed to cut trees inside the park, and the dry wood you collect should be from the dead branches lying on the ground.

Campground Map 

Click here to download the map for Council Ground States Park Campgrounds.

Council Grounds State Park Water Sports

Council Grounds State Park beach

The Beach at Council Grounds State Park

There are over 200 feet of sandy beach at the park. The shore is shallow, allowing for swimming in the Wisconsin River. Further north, close to the Alexander dam, there is a pier and a boat stand that serves as the ground for launching your kayaks and canoes.

The beach is very popular, especially during the summer season. There are swings and slides erected close to the beach and a playground for your kids. The beach is accessible from different angles and trails.

There is another nice beach on Lake Alexander, just above the dam. This is a great location for boats launching into the Lake. 

Fishing At Council Grounds State Park

There is a fishing pier on the northwestern side of the park. Safety rails and a wide walkway make this pier accessible to visitors. The pier is also connected to the boat landing by a short trail that takes you through breathtaking natural sceneries.

Fishing is a popular activity here and if you are in the right spot at the right time, you can bag a good harvest. Some of the common fish species you can expect to find in this area include the northern pike, the walleye, muskies, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, black crappies, and bluegills.

Walleye and smallmouth bass can be found near the rocky sections or under the water bars. Muskies are the largest fish species in the lake, but they are tough to find and catch.

The Northern pike is the most common sport fish on the lake. They are active all year round, providing campers with excellent fishing opportunities irrespective of the season.

ing and Other Water Sports at Council Grounds State park

You need to have a Wisconsin fishing license if you are below the age of 16. You also need to observe the fishing rules in the state. If you are camping in the park, you can get fishing equipment from the park’s office free of charge.

If you are planning on going for an engaging fishing expedition, you may need to call in advance to find out what equipment they have. The basic equipment available includes bobbers, hooks, lines, sinkers, casting plugs, rods, and reels. The equipment is issued on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be borrowed for a duration of up to one week. 

Boating and Other Water Sports

Boating is a popular activity within the park. You can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, or boating on the Wisconsin River or Lake Alexander. You can rent a canoe at the park’s office or close to the park.

The section of the river flowing through the park is moderate and ideal for beginners. To stay safe while boating or kayaking, follow the advice and instructions from the staff at the park’s office.

Swimming is also common in the park. Visitors can go scuba diving inside Lake Alexander or explore the council grounds shoreline on the Wisconsin River. Lifeguards are not available, so take precautions when swimming.

Hiking and Walking Trails at Council Grounds State Park

There are a lot of beautiful, moderate hiking trails in this park. Most of these trails are well-marked and easy to follow. The main trail is 2.5 miles long. It is a moderate trail with a few inclines.

Most of the hiking trails in this park are well sheltered by large, tall pines, allowing for quiet, calm walks. You will appreciate this shade if you decide to go hiking here in the summer! There are other shorter hiking trails within the park as well;

Grounds State Park

Brown trail- Length: 0.8 miles

This trail runs parallel with the Council Grounds drive. The trail ends at the Merrill Area Recreation Complex Trail system in the North and the picnic area on the Wisconsin River in the South.

Blue Trail – Length: 0.65 miles

This is the trail that takes you through wonderful white pine trees in the Krueger Pines State Natural area. The Krueger Pine area is owned by DNR and was designed as natural habitat in 1953.

The area contains characteristic white pines. Other tree species present here include red pine, paper birch, black oak, white oak, and aspen. Krueger Pines State Area was dedicated to Senator Clifford Krueger for his role as a conservationist and advocate of natural resources programs in the US.

Big Pines Nature trail

This is a trail that can easily be accessed right from your campground. It is a serene walk that takes you through dense woods and thick foliage.

Northwest trail – Length: 1.5 miles

This is one of the longer trails in the park. The trail goes through the vegetation of red pines, hemlocks, spruces, and oaks, past swampy meadows, and grasslands before looping back to the entrance station.

The Green Trail – Length: 0.6 miles

The green trail will take you close to the Wisconsin River, offering you stunning views of the surrounding forest and shoreline. You will also pass through a marshy, woodland forest.

Fall candlelight walk

Every year, the friends of council grounds state park organize a candlelight walk as an integrated community conservation program. Inquire from the website and at the Park’s office on the dates if you want to be part of the program.

The walk normally ends at the shelter building where snacks are served and people interact for the benefit of the park. All proceeds from this walk go to promote special projects within the park. 

Every year, the friends also organize annual photo content where winners are rewarded with cash or park stickers. You can take as many photos as you wish; plants, wildlife, landscapes, birds, and anything you deem exciting and submit to the contest. The winner is chosen by the public.

picnicing at Council Grounds State Park

Picnicking at Council Grounds State Park

There are several picnic areas within Council Grounds State Park and most of them can be easily accessed from the hiking trails. At the furthest Southeastern end (on the Big Pines Nature Trail), there is a log shelter house that is used to hold gatherings or large parties. The grounds around the shelter house contain tables and seats that can be used for picnics. 

The main purpose of the house is to protect the visitors (and their supplies) from black bears that frequent this region and from harsh weather conditions during the winter season.

There are two fireplaces here and plenty of space to sit or lounge. Inquire from the Park’s office about the availability and the fees because the shelter is given out on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a large picnic area near the beach on Lake Alexander and BBQ grills are provided.

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

Birdwatching at Council Grounds State Park

Bird-watching (especially in Krueger state natural area along the Blue trail) is a popular activity. There are several bird species here including brown creeper, red-eyed vireo, pine warblers, scarlet tanagers, and red-breasted nuthatch. Deer in the park are not shy, so take out your camera and snap a few memorable photos. It is against the Park’s policy to feed any animal inside the park though.

Black bears have also been spotted occasionally inside the park. The park’s staff advises campers to be on the lookout for black bears while camping. Resist the urge to deviate from the marked trails, especially if you are not familiar with the terrain and geographical components of the area.

Keep your food and other valuables safe in bear canisters. If you mistakenly encounter a black bear, here are some tips on how to stay safe when bears attack, and how to keep them away from your campsite.

Hunting and Trapping in Council Grounds State Park

Hunting is allowed in specific seasons and only with a special permit. You are also required to adhere to the state of Wisconsin’s Parks hunting regulations. 

Download the hunting and trapping map in Council grounds state park. The map also comes with Wisconsin State Parks and trails hunting and trapping rules and regulations.

winter in peninsula state park

Council Grounds State Park in Winter

During the winter, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing are available. Inquire from the park’s office about this before booking your campsite for the winter. The park is open all year round. During the winter season, some trails may be closed and others marked for safety purposes. 

Council Grounds State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Lincoln County Humane Society at (715) 536-3459.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like deer, chipmunks, squirrels, gray wolves, skunks, fishers, elk, and porcupines can be found there.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails.
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Council Grounds State Park and Dogs

Battleground of Council Grounds State Park

Although there is not much documentation of a battle ever taking place inside this park, there is evidence pointing out that this park was a historically significant venue for deciding wars or resolving conflicts among the Native American people.

The local leaders visited this place once every year to deliberate on what was happening in their tribes. They created strategies on how to respond to provocation from outsiders (mainly the European settlers).

They also used the grounds to celebrate whenever they had a breakthrough in the battleground. Their celebrations were intense, with war cries and dances and they usually lasted several days. 

Directions to Council Grounds State Park

Council grounds state park is located a few miles west of Merrill and a few minutes drive from the Wausau area. Exit onto State Highway 64 from US Highway 51 and proceed for 2 miles before turning right onto state highway 107. Proceed for another 2 miles and then turn left for another half-mile drive to the parks’ entrance.

Nearby Towns to Council Grounds State Park

There are three main towns close to the Council Grounds state park; Merrill, Wausau, and Perkinstown. Merrill is the closest, at only 3 miles away. Wausau is 20 miles away and Perkinstown is 50 miles away.

Campers can get their supplies from Merrill town. Biking and cycling this route is a common activity. If you have a large rig, the journey to the park’s entrance may seem a bit tight, but once you are inside, there is enough room to maneuver. 

Things to do near Council Grounds State Park

When visiting Council Grounds Park, be sure to check out some of the amazing attractions nearby, in Merrill town.

The River Bend Trail

This is a paved trail that offers exceptional experiences whether you are walking, running, or biking. It follows the Wisconsin River. You will come across painted rocks, a sharing library (where you leave a book and pick another), a bike repair station, benches to sit on and enjoy the beautiful river, and many other attractions.

It is not too crowded and you may occasionally come across a deer or two. There are several information boards along the trail, to showcase the significance of the trail to society and give credit to the people who supported and facilitated the existence of this trail. Kids will love biking or walking leisurely along the moderate trail.

Helene's Hilltop Orchard

Helene’s Hilltop Orchard LLC

Location: N1189 Quarter Rd Merrill, WI 54452

More information: http://www.heleneshilltoporchard.com

Helene’s orchard is the highlight of Merill. They have an amazing pumpkin patch and corn maze here. It is a family-owned and family-operated business that has been in operation for over a century, being passed down from one generation to the other.

In the fall season, they run a u-pick pumpkin farm. They also have other attractions inside the farm, including a petting zoo, hayrides, and a playground for your kids. They have a store where they sell farm-fresh apples, freshly-baked food, wine, and other farm produce.

Sawmill Brewing Company, Merrill

Location: 1110 E 10th St Merrill, Wisconsin 54452

More information: https://sawmillbrewing.net/

If you love craft beer and wine, you should include this location in your itinerary for the Council grounds State park visit. The Sawmill brewing company is a small company that offers 16 local craft brews (including the flagship Park City Lager brand).

When you walk into this spot, you will instantly notice the laid-back, homely atmosphere. You will feel immediately at ease. The owners are always eager to let visitors sample their local craft beer. The open spaces and lounge areas are perfect for hanging out. Snacks are also sold in this location.

Other campgrounds near Council Grounds State Park

If you feel like staying in other locations while exploring the state park, here are some of the campgrounds close to the park that are worth checking out.

Camp Escape

This campground is located 5 miles north of Merrill town. It is a 70-acre piece of land that connects directly to another 5000 acres of public land, giving you limitless camping options and possibilities. The hosts provide you with an ATV to explore the vast grounds. During the winter season, they will provide a snowmobile. 

Most of the campsites here are primitive, but the host has provided access to a small table, chairs, and fire rings to make your stay more enjoyable. Pets are allowed here. There is no potable water or other amenities, so plan your trip accordingly.

There are other numerous camping grounds under the same property, and each offers a different experience. Feel free to inquire from the host so that they can direct you to the campsite that will amplify your camping experience.

Hotels near Council Grounds State Park

Hotels Near Council Grounds State Park

If you love exploring the outdoors in luxury, you should check out the hotels close to the park, and near Merrill town. 

AmericInn by Wyndham Merrill

Location: 3300 E Main St, Merrill, WI 54452

Distance from council grounds: 4 miles

This is a luxurious hotel in Merrill town. They offer excellent services and every amenity you can expect from a luxurious hotel brand. Note that they do not accept cash, even when you have a card on the file. The staff is friendly and accommodating.

They will facilitate your movement around to check out the attractions nearby upon request. The rooms vary in size and pricing. Continental breakfast is available. Some of the common features you should expect to find here include free Wi-Fi, fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, complimentary breakfast, indoor pool, gym, and room service.

Cobblestone Inn and Suites

Location: 3209 E Main St, Merrill, WI 54452

Distance from council grounds: 5 miles

The hotel is located just off the US Highway 51, across a river. They are pet-friendly, comfortable, and affordable. The rooms are clean and comfy with hospitable staff to tend to your needs. Amenities include a fitness center, a common lounge area, free Wi-Fi, microwaves, and minifridges. Some of the suites come equipped with whirlpool tubs. 

Econo Lodge

Location: 200 S Pine Ridge Ave, Merrill, WI 54452

Distance from Council grounds: 5 miles

The hotel is a comfortable hotel, with great pricing and excellent customer service. Amenities available include a swimming pool, room service, indoor pool with hot tub, handicap facilities, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, minifridges, microwaves, and coffeemakers.

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Complete Guide to Governor Dodge State Park

Are you looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Governor Dodge State Park is perfect for people who are looking for peace and tranquility in nature. Governor Dodge State Park offers visitors many different things to do, including camping, hiking, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, and more!

Complete Guide to Governor Dodge State Park

While many people may think I am referring to Governor Dodge State Park in Iowa, I am really talking about Wisconsin. Governor Dodge State Park in Wisconsin is a great place to visit and offers visitors many fun activities. Governor Dodge State Park has something for everyone (even if you hate the outdoors).

Complete Guide to Governor Dodge State Park

Let’s take a look at this great property and everything it has to offer…

Bring on the Glaciers

Imagine a vast, flat expanse. Now imagine that this land had never been touched by human hands and only nature existed on it; all of its features were intact! Forests covered mountainsides, rivers ran through vales like veins in an arm….and then you see four huge glaciers come tumbling down from Canada into Minnesota with their massive sheets “peeling off” hilltops filling valleys left behind as they marched southward toward what we now know as Kansas.

When the glaciers receded, they left behind four unusual circular patches of land in southwestern Wisconsin. These “islands” were encircled by flat country on all sides – a circumstance that made them stand out from their surroundings more than anywhere else around here.

The term “Driftless Area” is given to this region because it is devoid of drift or the accumulated rock and soil left by retreating glaciers. As you make your way through Governor Dodge State Park, it’s hard not to get lost in time. More than 5,000 acres of this unique “island” make up a landscape that is both majestic and serene with the sounds from nature all around us at every turn.

The sandstone bluffs date back 450 million years, to a time when the area was covered with vast warm seas. These deposited layers upon layer and then retreated leaving behind them an incredible gift for us today – this breathtaking landscape!

The waters of time and space began to carve out the flat seabeds with an unceasing hand. Century after century, they carved ever deeper valleys until we can see what lies beneath them today.

Today, you can stand within those valleys and view the park’s many bluffs. Look up at these ancient sand—pages of time locked inside the rock with awe as each new layer is revealed before your very eyes. It is just stunning!

History of Governor Dodge State Park

History of Governor Dodge State Park

Governor Dodge State Park has a relatively rich history dating back to times before humans occupied the park. In earlier times, the area saw many glaciers living in the region, and after leaving and going back to their Canadian home city, people started populating the area.

The hilly and valley interior present in the park is now used as a form of recreation for everyone but once served as a shelter for those looking for refuge from snow and icy weather conditions. The overhanging regions of the hills and its sandstone wall were a great solace for those living there – over 8,000 years ago.

However, as the years passed, various activities started to occur in the park, including farming and mining. Sure enough, the park has a history worth taking note of. In 1948, Iowa County gifted the Henry Larson estate farmstead to the state of Wisconsin.

The first 160 acres of the property would later become what we now know as the Governor Dodge State Park. Around ten years after this gift and much development, developers saw it fit to create a dam across Mill Creek, and from that came the Cox Hollow Lake. This was just the beginning of creating art that would become one of the best recreational parks in Wisconsin.

With the years passing by, the state purchased more lands to add to its already massive area of prospective luxury, and to date, Governor Dodge State Park now covers an average of 5,350 acres. 

In 1966, another dam was constructed, and the Twin Valley Lake was formed. Other developments such as trails, beaches, bathhouses, shelters, and other park amenities were created to increase the relaxation exercises.

So, with no more hunters and miners, the park has become a refreshing piece of what nature has to offer. Sure enough, their trails are still evident, but you can feel free to traverse the terrains of the park.

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There are so many activities you can indulge in while at Governor Dodge State Park, some activities that many other parks worldwide will never offer you. As you plan your next vacation, here are a few activities you can be sure to enjoy at the park…

Governor Dodge State Park Camping

Camping is one of the most flexible activities at the park as it comes in a variety of packages to best suit your relaxation needs. The park features an average of 269 campsites in both the Twin Valley and Cox Hollow campgrounds.

Governor Dodge State Park Campsite Map

Eighty of these sites have electrical connections.

There are options to choose from, including…

Group Campsites

From the campsites, eight sites can host groups of between 15 to 40 people. This takes place in the Hickory Ridge Group Camp, but only tents are allowed in this region, and campers can bring their picnic amenities along.

The area provides pit toilets, a fire ring, and picnic tables. You can access drinking water at the shower building close to group site B or next to the parking lot close to group sites E, F, G, and H.

Backpack Campsites

Close to the Hickory Ridge, there are a total of six backpack campsites, and all are located around half a mile from the parking lot. There are water and toilet facilities in place to make your stay comfortable.

Horse Campsites

Are you a horse lover and want an environment where you can be free in your own little world? Well, Governor Dodge State Park has 11 regular campsites and two small groups sites for horse campers who prefer to dwell around the Trails End Horse Camp.

This campground is open between May 1 to November 15 and fees are the same as the other sites. Bear in mind, there is no electricity on this campground. For those planning to camp out in this area, you should take your tether poles or contact the information desk to find out the types of restraining devices you can bring along.

Winter Camping

In the Twin Valley campground, there are more than 30 winter-based campsites for those who love to be out in the white fluff. Some of these sites are plowed and feature electricity, pit toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. It may sound scary for many to be out camping in the snow and cold, but it sure provides a lot of fun and excitement.

Disability-Accessed Campsites

Of course, we can expect Wisconsin to cater to people who can move around easily and those who can’t. Campsites 16 and 55 in the Cox Hollow campground and 241 and 355 in the Twin Valley campground are fully equipped with facilities to accommodate.

Governor Dodge State Park Camping Map

The services are specially created to create a lifetime experience, such as specialized toilets, electricity, and paved driveways. The information desk has all the information you need to access these campsites.

Governor Dodge State Park Activities

There is so much fun to be had here – just look at all of the amazing activities you can partake in!

Governor Dodge Water Sports

In the summer there is fun to be had scuba diving, fishing, swimming, kayaking, boating, and canoeing, and so much more!

Governor Dodge State Park Fishing

The park features two artificial lakes which offer great fishing experiences. A lot of the species you can enjoy include panfish, walleye, bass, and muskie.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year-round. You can usually get one at most local bait shops. In addition, you might need to consult the fishing authorities to know the regulations for fish sizes and bag limits. Cox Hollow also features a fishing deck.

Governor Dodge State Park Swimming

The park features two lakes, and with clean water and a clean environment, you can be assured of an amazing experience. The beach is swimmer-friendly and creates a lifetime experience like no other.

Even during the period when it gets jam-packed, you can be sure the beach areas are still accommodating. There are bathhouses close to the beaches, and they are open from 6 am until 11 pm each day. However, there are no lifeguards on duty, so you have to swim with caution at all times.

It makes for a perfect place to cool off on a hot day – just read our section on dogs (below) before you let Fido join you!

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Download

Governor Dodge State Park Boating

I once heard that a boat is a hole in the water where you throw your money. That being said, we have 2 kayaks, LOL!

I am not really sure if that is true, but if owning a boat isn’t in your budget, there is no need to worry about how you will access the boats.

They do have them for rent, and you can get all the rental details at the information office.

Both lakes are equipped with boat ramps, but only electric motorboats are allowed on the lakes. Boat mooring goes from May through to October and is offered in specialized areas only. You can check with the Cox Hollow Beach concession stand about the boat rental options.

Hiking at Governor Dodge a State Park

Governor Dodge State Park has over 40 miles of trails which is all open to hiking, just not in winter as they are usually covered in heavy snow and can be dangerous for easy trekking.

Governor Dodge a State Park Trails

There is a nice variety of trails here for the hiker, biker, horseback rider, and winter sports enthusiast. Let’s look at them:

Lakeview trail

This trail begins at the Cox Hollow beach picnic area and runs over 1.25 miles. It involves some hilly regions, wooded areas, and a secluded valley. You also get a chance to get a breathtaking view of Cox Hollow Lake.

If you are a first-time skier, it is best to walk down the first grade and start your skiing experience across the bridge. It is also important to go by the light blue trail markers.

Lost Canyon trail

You can reach this 3-mile trail from the Stephens’ Falls area and has many steep grades. This trail has many wooded areas that will create a really scenic view of the Lost Canyon. The orange trail markers can carefully follow this trail.

Meadow Valley trail

This loop trail measures around 5 miles with its trailhead at the Co Hollow beach picnic area. Going along this trail will allow you to experience some of the most restored areas of the park, including its prairies, open meadows, lush green spaces, and wooded ridges.

You will encounter some steep grades along the way, but I believe these will help your journey be more exciting.

*Biking allowed on it

Mill Creek trail

Here’s another loop trail that will create that level of adventurous excitement you are looking for as it covers a total of 3.3 miles. It runs through wooded valleys and meadows and overlooks the Twin Valley Lake and the Cox Hollow Lake.

Even though most of the trail is level ground, you will encounter many steep grades along the way.

*Biking allowed on it

Outer Horse trail

The outer horse trail covers a total of 15.3-mile loop traverse that will take riders through some of the most intriguing beauties nature has to offer.

To access this trail, you enter via the Horse Day Use Parking Area close to the Hickory Ridge Group Camp. Riders have to be 16 years and older and should have a State Trail Pass for entry.

Pine Cliff trail

This trail is wood-base and covers an average of 2.5 miles of lush nature-infused space. It starts at the Enee Point picnic area and takes its close at the Lakeview Trail on Cox Hollow’s southeastern side.

There is also an additional 2-mile trail that helps to provide enough vegetation, historical, ecological, and wildlife knowledge. The trail has a few steps and grades and some rocky regions you will have to cross over, and it is best to follow the dark green trail markers to get the most of it.

Stephens’ Falls trail

A 10-foot-wide paved trail, 0.25-mile-long, leads to a beautiful overlook near Stephens waterfall. Accessible parking is available at the trailhead…but the real trail is 0.5-miles long and a bit of a challenge to walk.

Stone steps and uneven terrain will be encountered to gain access to the falls and the trail below. Follow the dark blue trail markers.

Uplands trail

The Uplands Trail is also a 2.5-mile journey that starts close to the park office. It features several rolling hills, wooded areas, agricultural fields, and so much more. The magenta trail markers will get you safely through the grounds of this trail.

* Horses allowed on it

Governor Dodge State Park Trail Map

Biking at Governor Dodge State Park

You can look forward to enjoying an 8-mile off-road bicycle trail journey on the park’s compound. However, before you can access the bike trail, you have to access a State Trail Pass from the relevant authorities.

The trails are generally open between May one to November 15 but may have additional information in between about operational times. The park has two trails to enjoy a ride…the Mill Creek trail and the Meadow Valley Trail.

Horseback Riding at Governor Dodge State Park

Governor Dodge State Park features 22 miles of bridle trails, and with every mile stretched, riders will get a chance to see the rich beauty and heritage of the historic park.

You may need to take your own horse along for the horseback riding activity as the park does not do rental in this department.

Before access to the bridle trails, they must have State Trail passes and are open from May 1 until November 15 and is only for riders over the age of 16.

The activity includes a few features, including…

Interior Horse Trail System

This trail system is separated into several sections that cover a total of 6.7 miles. The trails connect the horse day-use parking area to the Trails End Horse Campground.

The trails you can ride through include the Woodland Trail, a 1.5-mile stretch throughout the park, and the Old Orchard Pass, which is a 1.25-mile. The Woodland Trail is guided by the red trail markers, while the light green trail markers guide the Old Orchard Trail.

You can also go horseback riding along the Uplands Trail, a 2.5-mile journey that starts about 1/4 mile from the park office. Take a stroll through the hilly terrains of the trail and enjoy the beauty of the prairies, agricultural fields, and wooded regions.

After your journey, you can rest with your horse(s) at the designated campsite, which was fully designed for horse lovers and those camping with their horses. The designated horse campground is opened between May 1 to November 15.

Governor Dodge State Park Nature Center

Governor Dodge State Park Nature Center

Would you like to learn more about the animals, plants, geology, ecology, and natural history of Governor Dodge? If so, you are invited to take part in the park naturalist programs.

The naturalist leads guided hikes and presents evening nature programs at the park amphitheater. Please check the park office or bulletin boards for the naturalist schedule.

Governor Dodge State Park Fall Colors

Governor Dodge State Park is a beauty to behold during fall as it creates an astonishing aspect of the best that nature has to offer. The different array of colors is a part of what you need to see during your visit this season.

Governor Dodge State Park Rock Climbing

The park features some cool climbing areas on a small cliff band with solid sandstones to help you get the most from your experience. You get the chance to have your blood flowing as the rush of excitement trickle to take you over.

Governor Dodge State Park is known for its many rock formation and features, some of which you can climb and others that you should probably avoid.

The boulders you choose to climb should be those that can take the pressure as the other delicate ones could be dangerous not only for you but also for others who are using the park. Even though the park authorities are not particularly fond of climbers, they allow the practice but with caution.

Governor Dodge State Park Hunting

Governor Dodge State Park Hunting

Hunting is another fun activity that you can engage in at the park as it is allowed in the park’s open areas.

However, hunting is only permitted in a certain timeframe, and you should check with the relevant authorities on the various specifications. In addition, there are guidelines on the types of traps that can be used and the areas that are out of bound.

State of Wisconsin Hunting Information

Governor Dodge State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Activities range from snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding, and hiking tours.

Cross Country Skiing at Governor Dodge State Park

There is nothing short of fun when you take on the cross-country skiing experience that Governor Dodge State Park offers. It covers a 12.5-mile length that you can enjoy with friends and family and enjoy some of the best attributes of nature. Many trails can be accessed from the Cox Hollow Beach trailhead and are also equipped with toilet facilities, picnic tables, water, and so much more. Some of the trails you can access for this activity include…

* Meadow Valley Trail covers 5 miles and starts at the Cox Hollow beach picnic area. You will pass through a lot of restored areas with nature showing the best it has to offer.

* Mill Creek Trail – Take a trail that will overlook the beauty of both the Cox and Twin Valley Lakes as well as provide you with an adventurous experience like no other.  

winter in peninsula state park

Snowshoeing at Governor Dodge State Park

You can enjoy the game of snowshoeing anywhere on the park’s compound, except on the cross-country ski trails. There are a few trails you can enjoy this amazing activity on, such as…

* Pine Cliff Trail – This trail is wood-base and covers an average of 2.5 miles of lush nature-infused space. It starts at the Enee Point picnic area and takes its close at the Lakeview Trail on Cox Hollow’s southeastern side.

There is also an additional 2-mile trail that helps to provide enough vegetation, historical, ecological, and wildlife knowledge. The trail has a few steps and grades and some rocky regions you will have to cross over, and it is best to follow the dark green trail markers to get the most of it.

* Uplands Trail – The Uplands Trail is also a 2.5-mile journey that starts close to the park office. It features several rolling hills, wooded areas, agricultural fields, and so much more. The magenta trail markers will get you safely through the grounds of this trail.

Ice Fishing at Governor Dodge State Park

Like many other parks in and around Wisconsin, you can be sure of an amazing ice fishing experience like no other. The park has icy conditions that allow experienced and first-time fishers to enjoy this fun activity.

Ice Climbing at Governor Dodge State Park

Just like rock climbing in the summer, there is also ice climbing which can be a little bit more tricky and blood-rushing. It involves many techniques so, to do it smoothly, one must understand the tricks associated with it. Get all the details so you can enjoy this adventurous activity.

Governor Dodge State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Iowa County Humane Society at (608) 935-1381.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like deer, red fox, coyote, squirrels, and beavers. Black bears, cougars, groundhogs, and wolves have all been spotted at Devil’s Lake.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents. Keep in mind that camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Directions to Governor Dodge State Park

Getting to Governor Dodge State Park is relatively easy as it is located around 3 miles north of Highway 18 in Dodgeville. Whether you are going by bike or foot, the park can be entered through the Military Ridge State Trail and is situated on the eastern side of County Highway Z.

Directions to Governor Dodge Sta

Restaurants Near Governor Dodge

Food is practically everything, and there is no way one can go without “filling their faces” with some good food. With your visit to Governor Dodge State Park, you have to enjoy some of the best local dishes from some amazing restaurants such as…

Hi Point Steak House

Just 8 miles away at 6900 County Road Hhh in Ridgeway, this classic Wisconsin Supper Club is a true dining experience. While it may look like nothing but a green pole barn when you pull up, give it a chance – large portions, friendly staff, and make a reservation before you go.

Bob’s Bitchin BBQ

Located at 167 N Iowa St. Dodgeville, Wisconsin, is an amazing restaurant ready and waiting to serve you some of the most mouth-watering delicacies that Wisconsin has to offer.

Hotels by Governor Dodge

If you choose not to camp out at the park but want to stay close by, you may want to stay at one of the best hotels or guesthouses in the area. There are quite a few but based on customer reviews and the services and amenities they offer, here are a few you may want to consider staying at…

Spring Valley Inn

This amazing lodge sits on 12 acres of wooded prairie and features 35 amazing guest rooms. It boasts the largest indoor pool in the area and is also equipped with a steam room, exercise room, whirlpool, and sauna. The overall environment creates a peaceful and relaxing haven for those looking for quality service and affordable dwellings.

They feature meeting and banquet halls that can host up to 180 people at a given time and is in close range to some other fun areas such as House on the Rock, Tower Hill State Park, and Governor Dodge State Park. It is located at 6279 County Highway C, Spring Green, WI.

Best Western Dodgeville Inn & Suites

Many people have chosen to make the Best Western Dodgeville Inn & Suites their favorite hotel for many reasons. The features and amenities are unique and not present anywhere else in many other hotels in and around the area.

The rooms at this amazing hotel feature some cool amenities such as a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, a refrigerator, free wifi, and a comfortable and luxurious bed. They also offer concierge services at the hotel and are close to some of the must-visit areas around town.

Take a trip to 1130 N Johns St, Dodgeville, WI, and get a taste of what luxury, comfort, and relaxation feel like.

Nearby Things To See

WINERIES

Who said Wisconsin was not a fun place to be with some of the most intriguing and fun offerings of memories? Your visit to one of the state’s most amazing parks, the Governor Dodge State Park, is not complete unless you visit the Botham Vineyards & Winery when you are done with your hike.

They offer a wide variety of drinks you can choose from to close off your day of fun, whether vi bottle or glass.

BREWERIES NEARBY  

Another interesting type of fun you may want to embark on is visiting one or two of the breweries around town. You can consider taking a trip to…

* New Glarus Brewing Company

Situated on 2400 State Hwy 69, New Glarus, WI, is the New Glarus Brewing Company, a company run on passion and love for brewing. You can expect to taste some of the most intriguing beers the region has to offer as they make everything from scratch and with all-natural ingredients.

* Jubeck New World Brewing

Here is another brewery that focuses on ensuring their beers are made from scratch, with natural ingredients, and time and dedication. They feature a 50-gallon brewing system and have seasonal brewing events you might not want to miss.

Take a tour and sip some beer as you go along. They are located at 115 W 11th St, Dubuque, IA.

The House on the Rock 

This is a FUN place and almost unbelievable. We wrote all about it on our travel site – learn more here.

Other articles you may find interesting:

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Camping at Wisconsin State Parks: Discover the Unexpected Joys of Camping

Camping at Wisconsin State Parks is a great way to get back to nature and experience camping in all its glory. People often associate camping with sleeping on the ground, but there are so many options these days, down to rentable cabins!

Camping at Wisconsin State Parks: Discover the Unexpected Joys of Camping

With miles of trails, incredible recreation areas, and a nature center or an observation tower or two, hands Down Wisconsin has some of the best state parks you will find anywhere! With the panoramic views from their sandy beaches, when added to picnic areas that are all located at a great spot, you simply can’t go wrong!

Whether you are looking at a short hike or going cross-country skiing in the open prairie during the winter, you will soon see why these not-so-hidden gems are favorite places to any Wisconsinite who loves to spend time in natural areas.

From the great lakes to Southern Wisconsin we have spectacular views from the Wisconsin State Park system for you to have a wonderful time.

Most of these camping sites have facilities like showers and bathrooms available as well, so you don’t need to worry about getting dirty or going too long without using the bathroom when you go camping. There are many places in Wisconsin where people can find campsites, such as Devil’s Lake State Park Campground and Wyalusing State Park Campground.

Let’s take a look at which of Wisconsin’s State Parks might be the perfect spot for you to enjoy the natural resources that all Wisconsin residents already love!

Camping at Wisconsin State Parks: Discover the Unexpected Joys of Camping

We’ll share more information about what it’s like to stay at one of these camping sites in our blog post! With 49 AMAZING Wisconsin State Parks, there is literally a place for everyone and something for all to do!

There’s camping for every type of weather, camping to suit your interests, and camping with amenities like showers and bathrooms. If you’re looking for a camping experience in Wisconsin that will make sleeping on the ground feel luxurious, then check out these campsites!

If you need any more information about camping at Wisconsin State Parks or want details on a camping site near you, then simply check out our list below. We are working our way through all 49 Wisconsin State Parks for a Complete Guide series!

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Camping Wisconsin State Parks

Just click on the link if you want to learn more about that park – and bear in mind, we haven’t gotten them all done yet.

1. Amnicon Falls State Park

2. Aztalan State ParkAztalan State Park is considered to be the largest and most important archeological site in Wisconsin. It is located in Aztalan town, Jefferson County. The park is renowned as the grounds where tribes of Native Americans thrived between AD. 1,000 and AD. 1,300.

3. Belmont Mound State Park

4. Big Bay State Park – At 2,350 acres, Big Bay State Park is the largest tract of land in Madeline Island, Lake Superior, Ashland County. Madeline Island is the largest island in the Apostle Island chain.

5. Big Foot Beach State Park – The Big Foot Beach State Park is a 271-acres piece of land located on the shores of Lake Geneva in the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. This is a busy vacation destination during the summer season, with campers, hikers, and outdoor lovers coming to enjoy the fantastic attractions found in the park and Lake Geneva nearby.

6. Blue Mound State Park – If you’re looking for a place to spend the day outside with family and friends, then look no further! Blue Mound State Park has everything from hiking trails, fishing lakes, campgrounds, and more. Read on for more information about what this park has to offer.

7. Brunet Island State Park – Want to know about the natural beauty and wonders of Brunet Island State Park? From hiking, kayaking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, camping, and more we have it all covered!

8. Buckhorn State Park – Spread over8000 acres, Buckhorn State Park is one of the largest state parks, packing in 1600 acres of Buckhorn Wildlife Area and some 2200 acres of Yellow River Wildlife Area. This state park packs in many recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and is nothing short of a paradise for nature lovers. 

9. Copper Culture State ParkCopper Culture Mounds State Park may not be very popular but it has a lot of historical significance. It was home to the first inhabitants of this region, who are believed to have existed within 4000-2000 BC (over 5000 years ago!).

10. Copper Falls State Park – Imagine spending a weekend exploring spectacular cascading waterfalls, hiking beautiful trails that offer the most fantastic views, staying in old log cabins, a chance to see the creation of ancient lava flows, hardwood forests, gorges, and cliffs in a 3,068-acre piece of land?

11. Council Grounds State Park – Located below the dam at Lake Alexander and along the Wisconsin River, this 508-acre park is a delightful haven for outdoor lovers. There are ample camping facilities here, and a wonderful wilderness that is etched in what used to be Native American territory.

12. Cross Plains State Park

13. Devil’s Lake State Park – The largest state park in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park is about thirty-five miles northwest of Madison and is on the western edge of where the last glacier stopped, right in the heart of the River Country.

14. Governor Dodge State Park

15. Governor Nelson State ParkGovernor Nelson State Park was initially named after a former Wisconsin Governor, Gaylord Nelson. It covered 422 acres just outside of Waunakee, Wisconsin, in Westport and located in the northern region of Lake Mendota.

16. Governor Thompson State Park

17. Harrington Beach State Park

18. Hartman Creek State Park

19. Heritage Hill State Park

20. High Cliff State ParkHigh Cliff State Park is one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, on the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago in the town of Sherwood, it offers a wide variety of activities for visitors year-round. From camping to hiking and biking to weddings; this guide will tell you everything there is to know about High Cliff State Park!

21. Interstate State Park

22. Kinnickinnic State Park – On the Minnesota edge of Wisconsin’s Western Region, Kinnickinnic State Park is a 1,242-acre park in which the Kinnickinnic River, locally known as Kinni River, joins the St. Croix River. The mouth of the Kinnickinnic River forms a sandy delta upon which boaters can picnic and camp. Kinnickinnic State Park is a large park that offers something for everyone. It has over 1,000 acres of land with trails to enjoy and forests to explore.

23. Kohler-Andrae State Park

24. Lake Kegonsa State Park – A unique blend of a lake that occupies 3,200 acres and a 342-acre forest makes Lake Kegonsa State Park one of the best recreational parks for outdoor lovers in Madison.

25. Lake Wissota State Park

26. Lakeshore State Park

27. Lost Dauphin State Park

28. Merrick State Park

29. Mill Bluff State Park

30. Mirror Lake State Park

31. Natural Bridge State Park

32. Nelson Dewey State Park

33. New Glarus Woods State Park

34. Newport State Park

35. Pattison State Park

36. Peninsula State Park – Nestled in the heart of Door County, Peninsula State Park is hands down one of the most popular states for camping. With its extensive hiking trails and scenic views, is a favorite destination for campers and hikers alike in the East Wisconsin Waters area.

37. Perrot State ParkPerrot State Park is a Wisconsin state park on the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. This 1,212-acre park offers visitors over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails with scenic views of the river valley.

38. Potawatomi State Park

39. Rib Mountain State Park

40. Roche-A-Cri State Park 

41. Rock Island State Park

42. Rocky Arbor State Park

43. Straight Lake State Park

44. Tower Hill State Park

45. Whitefish Dunes State Park

46. Wildcat Mountain State Park

47. Willow River State Park

48. Wyalusing State Park

49. Yellowstone Lake State Park

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While you are camping check out a few of our other hints and hacks for camping:

Camp Food Hacks

Get lots of great camp food ideas by going here: Camp Food Hacks

Camp Equipment Ideas

See more of our thoughts on different camping equipment here: Stuff We Love

Camp with Kids Tips

Get more ideas of things to do with kids here: Camping with Kids Hacks

Camp with Dogs Tips

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Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park is a comprehensive guide to exploring the park and all of its offerings. This includes tips on what you should bring, where you can stay, how much it costs, and more!

Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park
Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Copper Culture Mounds State Park may not be very popular but it has a lot of historical significance. It was home to the first inhabitants of this region, who are believed to have existed within 4000-2000 BC (over 5000 years ago!).

Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The park was the site for their burial grounds. It is not a large property, at just 42 acres, but there is a lot to see and learn within the boundaries of the park and along the Oconto River. This article is a complete guide on the best way to explore the Copper Culture mounds State Park.

The Menominees, Mid Archaic period, and copper mining

The earliest inhabitants of this region were the Menominees, a Native American tribe that occupied the northern regions of Wisconsin. They were referred to as the Old Copper Culture people because they made tools and different decorations out of copper. Bracelets, knives, spear points, fishing hooks, and other copper material dating back to this point in time were unearthed on Copper Mounds. 

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The way of life of the Copper Culture people 

The human remains excavated inside the Copper Culture mounds state park were marked to date back to over 7,000 years ago. The Menominees were hunters, fishermen, and gatherers. The Lake provided them with the fishing opportunities they needed and the vast wilderness was rich grounds for wildlife, berries, and tubers they used as food.

Their knowledge in tooling certainly made the hunting venture more productive. Later on, as their knowledge of copper mining and creating tools from copper advanced, they advanced to become traders and merchants. They traded their copperware for the goods they did not have with other tribes in far-off places.

Some of the goods they gained through trading include pottery products and agricultural produce. Evidence of trade (recovered copper products dating to this time, and in the style of the Old copper culture people) has been collected as far as the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean.

There is documentation of a tooling village in Cahokia, where the mid-Mississippian culture thrived; showing that the copper culture people extended their craft to the South.

ow the Copper Culture Mounds were formed

How the Copper Culture Mounds were formed

The water in Lake Michigan started rising gradually, about 6000 years ago. The rising water flooded the valley (currently known as Green Bay). The people who occupied this valley were forced to move to higher grounds because of the constant flooding.

To make matters worse, Lake Nissiping’s water had also risen to a higher level than that of Lake Michigan, completely submerging the land that would later become the grounds for the current City of Oconto.

This flooding pushed them further inland, and they eventually settled at a place called Susie’s hill. They established a life here and began working with copper. Their knowledge and work with copper are what led them to be referred to as the ‘Copper Culture’ people. The mounds were created at the eastern end of Susie Hills as a burial ground for their departed. These mounds would later become part of the Copper Culture Mounds State Park.

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Discovery of Copper Culture burial site 

In 1952, Donald Baldwin, a 13-year old boy discovered the mounds accidentally in Copper culture States Park. Excavation began under the direction of the Wisconsin historical society. The copper culture mounds state park is the oldest known burial site in Wisconsin.

The excavation uncovered 52 burial sites. Many others sites were destroyed by quarrying and disturbance of the land over time. It is estimated that over 200 burial grounds are still present in the park. The copper culture burial site is said to be 5,000 years old, according to Wisconsin’s state park tourist guides.

The evidence collected during the excavation process shows that the Archaic Native Americans buried their dead in four different styles. Some people were buried extended -lying on their back with their legs stretched flat. Others were buried flexed – with their arms folded.

Discovery of Copper Culture burial site 

Those who could not be identified (possibly because their flesh had decayed) had their bones collected, bundled, and buried in one location. Others were cremated inside a pit and the ash either scattered or buried.

The discovery of the park occurred on two sites; the Osceola site and the Oconto site. The Osceola site is situated along the Mississippi River shoreline and the site was estimated to have about 500 burials before disturbance by erosion or human actions. The Oconto site is located on the outskirts of Oconto town. This is where excavation in 1952 yielded the remains of 52 people and numerous artifacts.

Belief in Life after death

Evidence from these burial grounds showed that the deceased people were interred close to their place of death. Some were buried with copper tools, ornaments, and bone tools. Some graves contained exotic goods as well. This was an indication that these copper culture people may have believed in there being some form of life after death.

The dead were buried with the goods so that they could have a head start in another life. People buried with copper goods and ornaments may have held positions of leadership in society as this was construed to be a sign of respect.

Copper Culture Mounds Museum

The Copper Culture Museum

One of the most notable homes in Oconto County is the Werrebroeck home inside the copper culture state park. The Belgium-styled brick house was built by Charles Werrebroeck, a mason who immigrated to the US in 1911.

This house currently serves as the copper culture state park museum. There are several barns, a woodshed, and other buildings that constitute the Charles Werrebroeck home. 

Exhibitions and artifacts from the excavation of the mounds are displayed here, alongside videos and photographs explaining how this process was conducted and its significance in the preservation of the Native Americans’ history.

Copper mining and the end of the Copper Complex

Archaeologists pointed out that these Native Americans used a heat treatment process called annealing to extract the copper from the ore they excavated in the region. Annealing is a process where the ore gets heated to a more malleable state and then gets hammered into the desired shape. Mining was done near Lake Superior and transported for processing to villages where tooling experts and blacksmiths lived.

These villages were known as copper tooling sites. Once heated, copper became malleable and could be shaped into a variety of tools, including knives, hooks, leisters, and ornamental products such as necklaces and bracelets. The main mining regions were in Keweenaw Peninsula (in Upper Michigan) and on Isle Royale (In Lake Superior) where natural veins existed. 

Copper mining and the end of the Copper Complex

Over time, stone (rock) started replacing Copper as a choice tool and the old copper complex started dwindling. Copper deposits were also getting quickly depleted and harder to find. Stone was readily available and it could be shaped through flaking to form a variety of products, including crude weapons and knives.

The natives had to make long journeys to obtain raw copper. Increased population and a new reliance on fishing (which was a more sustainable method of earning a livelihood) gradually led to the disappearance of the copper way of life. 

Things to do inside Copper Culture Mounds state park

With over 51 acres to explore, there are a lot of activities to engage in within the park. Outdoor lovers will find beautiful, isolated, and quiet hiking trails inside this park. History lovers will be at home inside the Oconto Archaic museum. 

Here are some of the best things to see and do inside the Copper Culture Mounds State Park:

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit.

Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Camping at Copper Culture Mounds Falls State Park

There are no camping facilities inside Copper culture Mounds State Park at the moment. You can explore other camping options close to the park, in Oconto town. 

Holtwood Campground

Location: 400 Holtwood Way, Oconto WI, 54153

Holtwood is a great camping ground for people seeking to have some fun doing water sports and enjoying the wilderness. You will be camping on the shoreline of the Oconto River. Carry your kayak (or rent one in town) and enjoy a kayaking adventure on the River, or relax with your friends by the campfire when the sun goes down.

Holtwood Campground is just 30 minutes north of Green Bay. There is a playground area and equipment (such as balls, nets, and rackets) is provided. You can play mini-golf as well, or watch an outdoor movie at the park. There is a common swimming pool inside the facilities. The campground is pet friendly and sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Both RV and tent campers are accommodated here. The campground has a firewood policy that prohibits you from bringing in firewood from outside. You can purchase firewood from the camp’s office. Ensure that you follow the firewood rules and regulations they have set in place if you want to have a comfortable camping experience. It is a pet-friendly campground.

Amenities in this campground include picnic tables, fire rings, laundry facilities, flush restrooms, hot showers, sewer hookups, dump stations, handicap sites, and electrical services.

See a map of Holtwood campground for more information.

Things to do inside Copper Culture Mounds state park

City Park Campground

Location: County N, Oconto WI, 54153: 920-834-7706

If you love outdoor adventures but do not want to camp in the woods, you can head to the City Park campground. You will be close to the River and all the amenities and attractions that the town can offer will be within easy reach.

The campsites have fire rings and picnic tables as well as other luxury amenities. It is also a dog-friendly campground but you will be expected to clean after your dog.

See a map of the City park campground for more information.

Badger Campground

Location: 411 N. Emery Avenue, Peshtigo, WI

Although it is a bit far off, the Badger campground is also an excellent choice for people seeking camping options in Oconto County. It is a 41 site campground, in roughly 60 acres of land in the southwest of Badger Park.

Amenities here include a boat launch, fire pits, picnic tables, pet areas, rental tents, restrooms, electric services, handicap facilities, a playground, and a dumping station.

Copper Culture Mounds State Park Water Sports

Fishing in the Oconto River

The Oconto River flows through the Copper culture state park and fishing is a popular activity here. The fish species that you will find inside this river include white suckers, hog suckers, long nose daces, walleyes, smallies, pearl daces, black nose daces, and mottled sculpins. These are typically cold-water fish. You may also find brook and brown trout.

Perrot State Park's Effigy Mounds

Kayaking and Canoeing 

All kinds of water sports (swimming, boating, kayaking, rafting, and canoeing) occur on the Oconto River that runs through the park. The river is easily accessible from almost any dimension inside the park.

Hiking and walking trails at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The trails in the Copper culture state park are isolated. The park does not receive many visitors and you are likely to find yourself enjoying a serene walk in the woods. 

The Bluebird trail

This is a short hiking trail that takes you through a meadow and open grassland. There are several birdhouses erected along the length of the trail. These birdhouses were placed here by the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin to provide a home for the Eastern Bluebird species. The trail is popular with bird lovers and bird watchers.

Copper Culture Hiking Trail

The main hiking trail here is the Copper Culture trail, a 1.1-mile trail that connects to the residential areas in the South, the Oconto River State Trail, takes you through the Van Hecke underpass and then back to the park itself.

You can park your vehicle at the parking lot of Van Hecke Avenue or inside the Park grounds when exploring this trail. It is a moderate trail with some rugged, elevated sections that may not be ideal for biking.

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

The Oconto River hiking trail

This is an 8-miles trail that follows a leveled pathway, past forested grounds, along the Oconto River, and connects to the Copper Culture hiking trail in the Eastern end. From this trail, you can access the leisure activities within the Oconto River.

We are talking about canoeing, kayaking, and boating opportunities. At the western end of the trail, you can visit the Stiles Junction Railroad Station. The trail is straight and long. Biking is possible with a few rough sections along the trail.

Other trails inside Oconto town worth exploring include the Elementary school exercise trail, the Oconto Marsh Bird Trail, the Sharp Park walking trail, and the ride Oconto history trail.

The museum grounds offer excellent picnic opportunities as well. They have erected BBQ grills, a community pavilion, a children’s playground, and restroom facilities within the area.

Picnicking at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The museum grounds offer excellent picnic opportunities as well. They have erected BBQ grills, a community pavilion, a children’s playground, and restroom facilities within the area.

Bird Watching at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Bird Watching at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

There are two duck houses at the Copper Culture State Park. These duck houses were erected by the Association of Bird City Oconto. They are regularly monitored and reported on. If you are in luck, you may come across rarely sighted birds such as the Acadian Flycatchers and Cerulean Warblers.

Other birds you may see here, especially in the marshy sections include the wood ducks, snowy owls, scoters, ring-neck ducks, and the yellow-headed blackbird. Bald eagles and Water fowls have also been sighted here in the past. Copper culture state park is home to one of the Oconto’s bluebird trails.

Hunting and trapping in Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Hunting in Copper culture mounds State Park is regulated by Wisconsin’s hunting and trapping regulations. From November 15th to December 15th, gun and archery hunting is allowed in the open areas of the property. Trapping is not allowed in closed areas on the trails.

In the spring season, gun and archery hunting and trapping are allowed from April 1st to May 3rd. You can inquire more about these dates and the regulations from the park’s office.

Here is the hunting and trapping map for Copper Culture State Park.

Copper Culture Mounds State Park in Winter

Like any Wisconsin State Park, winter doesn’t signal the end of all activities!

winter in peninsula state park

Winter sports

Snowshoeing and winter hiking are permitted in this park. Follow the advice of the park’s office when coming to enjoy winter sports activities.

Copper Culture Mounds State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Oconto County Humane Society at (920)-835-1738.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like deer, chipmunks, squirrels, gray wolves, skunks, fishers, elk, and porcupines can be found there.

Things to do inside Copper Culture Mounds state park

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails.
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Directions to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Exit the US-41 at exit 22, turn left at the roundabout, and follow the signs on the road to the state park.

Attractions near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Copper Culture State Park is not a large park, and you may find yourself wanting to explore other attractions beyond the park’s boundaries, especially if you plan on staying for several days. Here are other attractions you may find worth exploring during your visit to the copper culture state park.

Beyer Home Museum

Location: 917 Park Ave, Oconto, WI 54153

The Beyer house is among the oldest brick homes in Oconto County. It was built in 1868 by Cyrus Hart. Eventually, after several changes of ownership, it fell into the hands of George Beyer in 1881. They remodeled the house to include a three-story tower room and a wrap-around porch.

Oconto County took over the house in 1941 and turned it into a museum before opening it to the public. In 1979, it became recognized as a historic landmark and became registered in the national register of historic places. The home is a perfect depiction of how the wealthy people in Oconto lived in the 19th century.

Attractions near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The Ruins Adventure Mini Golf

Location: 150 Howard Ln. Oconto, Wisconsin US

If your kids love golf, visit the ruins adventure mini-golf to enjoy an 18-hole miniature golf setting. Many exciting things are happening here, including a glow golf event where the lights get turned off and the course and golf balls lit with blinking colors. They have a shop which sells delicious ice cream.

Peshtigo Fire Museum

Location: 400 Oconto Ave, Peshtigo, WI 54157

In October 1871, a fire engulfed Peshtigo, killing over 2,000 people and destroyed the city. The Peshtigo museum was built to preserve this painful heritage and to showcase how the town is prepared to avert such a disaster in the future.

You will find various exhibits and artifacts from the legendary fire on display here. Adjacent to this building is the Peshtigo cemetery, where the charred remains of the people lie buried in a mass grave.

Hotels near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

You will find excellent accommodation in any of the following hotels within driving distance of Copper Culture State Park.

Econo Lodge Inn & Suites

Location: 600 Brazeau Ave, Oconto, WI 54153, More information: Econo lodge website 

Distance from the park: 1 mile

Econo Lodge Inn and Suites is a moderately priced hotel in Oconto, offering you great amenities and proximity to the park. You will enjoy a continental breakfast, an indoor pool with a tub, free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and a business center. The hotel is pet-friendly.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Marinette

Location: 2020 Old Peshtigo Ct, Marinette, WI 54143, More information: Country Inn & Suites Website 

Distance from the park: 18 miles

Located less than 10 minutes from Menominee-Marinette Twin County Airport, this is the perfect spot to explore Green Bay and the attractions in the area, including the DeYoung Family Zoo. The hotel offers an indoor pool with a hot tub, fitness center, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, air-conditioned rooms, handicap accessibility, and meeting facilities. It is a pet-friendly hotel. 

Hotels near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Independence Stay

Location: 2030 Old Peshtigo Court, Marinette, WI 54143, More Information: Independence Stay Hotel Website

Distance from the park: 18.1 miles

Located just north of Green Bay, this is a beautiful hotel that offers you comfort at a reasonable price. All rooms have full-size refrigerators, microwaves, and table-top burners.

Pets are welcome here, and there are designated pet rooms for this purpose. Parking is free for guests. A fitness center, free internet, self-service laundry, and smoking-free facilities are some of the amenities you will find here.

Tarragon Motel

Location: W1915 Flame Rd, Marinette, WI 54143, More information: Tarragon Hotel Website

Distance from the park: 16 miles

The Tarragon hotel is a child and pet-friendly hotel. Each room has cable TV, free Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, and a microwave. Parking for guests is free of charge. The hotel is strategically placed to explore other attractions nearby including Lake Michigan, the Marinette Shipyard, the new Aurora Bay Area Medical center, and other restaurants in Marinette.

Restaurants near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

If you are looking for a quick meal or drink, check out some of these restaurants near the park;

Iron Duck restaurant

Style: American Location: 2525 Velp Ave Green Bay, WI 54303-6535

Iron Duck is a local restaurant that cooks local cuisine. It has a very hospitable and accommodating ambiance, making strangers feel at home the moment they walk through the door. The service is also exceptional, with waiters serving you old-fashioned drinks as you wait for your food to be ready.

Poke the Bear Bar & Grill

Style: Contemporary American/Sports Bar Location: 304 N Adams St Green Bay, WI 54301-5144

Although the restaurant serves local cuisines, they are not afraid to experiment with other exotic dishes now and then. It is the perfect place to grab a drink, watch a game and wait as your plate of a delicious meal gets prepared. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, ready to offer you tips if you are stuck on choosing what to eat from the menu. 

Restaurants near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Republic Chophouse

Style: Steakhouse Location: 218 N. Adams Street Green Bay, WI 54301

Steak, chops of all kinds, seafood, desserts, and casual bar food are what you should expect when you visit this restaurant. The atmosphere is relaxed and you will get tempted to drink one of their legendary cocktails as you wait for your meal to be ready. 

Mangiare

Style: Italian/Dining Bar Location: 121 N Adams St Green Bay, WI 54301

This restaurant prides itself on using only the freshest local ingredients to prepare its dishes. The setting is classic Italian, with a small, cozy Italian-family setup. 

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