Complete Guide to 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.

Complete Guide to Big Foot Beach State Park

The beach is not large (at 1900 feet of lakefront) but it is one of the most pristine (and crowded beaches) on Lake Geneva. There is a lot to do and see in this park, and around the lake.

Complete Guide to Big Foot Beach State Park

If you visit here seeking an amazing camping and vacationing experience, read on for a complete guide to Big Foot Beach State Park.

History Big Foot Beach State Park

The naming of this park has a deep history, dating back to before 796 A.D. Some of the members of the Anishinaabe tribe (a mixture of native Americans who had both Canadian and American roots) settled on lake Geneva, somewhere in the 18th century as they fled to the west in pursuit of better places to settle down for farming and to escape their warring neighbors. 

The tribes that settled here (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) created a close-knit society, and each tribe had its role to play. The Ojibwe were considered to be the ‘elder brother’, and they eventually spread across Wisconsin, advancing the Middle Mississippian culture wherever they went and leaving their marks (mounds and stockades) as far as the Azlatan State Park, and probably further south. The Odawa were the ‘middle brother’ and proficient traders and the Potawatomi were known as the ‘keepers of the fire’. 

Chief Big Foot and the Potawatomi Tribe

The Potawatomi tribe settled in the region near and around Lake Geneva because they valued the resources that were present in the region. There were rich fishing grounds, large, fertile tracts of land for farming, and lush forests that were home to wildlife that supplemented their food through hunting and trapping.

The women gathered tubers and roots that they used as food or for medicinal purposes. The reeds around the lake and lagoons in the region were used to weave mats that would be sold or traded for essential goods they could not find in the region. 

History suggests that Chief Big Foot was a ruthless chief, someone who ruled with a firm hand and was not afraid of starting wars. He was born somewhere between the 1780s and 90s as Oginouy Tigo and got his nickname from a dancing session when clay stuck to his moccasins, making his feet appear larger.

He is renowned for being part of the treaty that agreed to give up their land on Geneva Lake and get relocated to Kansas after coming up with a compensation plan with the government. He would later lead his tribe away but the forest was named after him as a tribute.

Lake Geneva and Big Foot Beach State Park

Lake Geneva is a huge (5,401 acres) body of natural, freshwater located in Walworth County. The lake is accessible to the public, with clear and well-marked swimming areas in different locations. The water in the lake is clean, pristine, and a rich ground for a wide variety of water sports and leisure activities that include boating, yacht racing, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, and scuba diving. 

There are four beaches on this lake, including the Big Foot Beach, the Fontana beach (in Fontana village), the Riviera Beach, and the Williams bay beach. 

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Ceylon Lagoon and Big Foot Beach State Park

About half a mile from the park you will find this 6-acre lake that is also among the favorite fishing spots for campers inside the Big Foot Beach State Park and hikers exploring Lake Geneva and the surrounding attractions. The most common fish species available here include the Black bullhead, the largemouth bass, and the common carp. You may also find other fish species (such as paddlefish, catfish, salmon, and trout) in limited quantities. 

Be sure to follow the fishing regulations on Ceylon Lagoon. For instance, you can only motor-troll with up to 3 hooks, lures, and baits per angler. Catch and release fishing is a popular spot here.

This is an amazing region for having picnics surrounded by scenic beauty. They have set up tables around for this purpose. The trails leading to this location are also wheelchair-accessible and ideal for people seeking to have peaceful and tranquil walks.

Big Foot Beach State Park Camping

Camping in Big Foot Beach Park is a prolific activity, with over 100 wooded campsites. These campsites accommodate both RV and tent campers. There are numerous open spaces where families can camp, and kids will have lots of ground to play on.

Big Foot Beach State Park

Campsites in the upper loop have a gravel pad, fire ring, and picnic table. There are 34 sites with electric pedestals and 2 are accessible. Tent sites in the lower loop are a short walk from your vehicle (30-100 feet). Each has a fire ring and picnic table.

The campground has a dump station, vault toilets and a shower building and all hiking trails will be easily accessible from your campsite.

RVing at Big Foot Beach State Park

The 34 designated RV campsites come fully equipped with electrical dumps and electrical hook-ups. The RV sites are not large but the ground is leveled, meaning you can easily squeeze in a big rig. Spaces will be tight though and privacy will be minimal. They recently installed private showers and more clean restrooms for the campers in the RV campground.

Activities in Big Foot Beach State Park

Outdoor lovers will love spending time in this park. A camping expedition would not be complete without the exploration of the beautiful trails in this park or engaging in water sports activities in Lake Geneva. Here are some of the best activities you can indulge in while you are in this location:

Big Foot Beach State Park Water Sports

Lake Geneva is known for its clear, clean water. Big Foot Beach has a 100-foot marked swimming area.

Fishing at Big Foot Beach State Park

Fishing is done either in Lake Geneva or on the Ceylon Lagoon. If you are a camper here, you will be loaned fishing equipment freely from the park’s office. You will need to be aged over 16 years and possess a fishing license before you are allowed to fish here. 

What we love? An accessible fishing pier is a short distance from the disabled parking area.

Swimming on Big Foot Beach 

Although the shoreline of Lake Geneva on the Big Foot State Park is not large, swimming is still a popular activity here. There are no swim guards on duty, but the waters are shallow and clean.

An evening lounge at the beach, coupled with swimming and watching the sunset is an amazing way to end a long day in this park. The beach is also a bit removed from the public camping sites but the short trail takes you through scenic locations before ending at this shoreline.

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!

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Big Foot Beach State Park Boating, paddle boarding, and kayaking

There are two places you can launch your boat on Lake Geneva; the southern part of the park or in Linn Township. If you are a true adventurer, you can always find other locations to launch your boat from the park.

You can rent a kayak or a boat near the park or in Lake Geneva town. The park’s staff will come in handy with information on how to go about this of you can check our list below of close places to visit. 

Lake Geneva is ideal for whitewater kayaking and canoeing. If you are a beginner kayaker, take a guided trip using different adventure companies and agencies close to the lake.

Popular agencies for canoe and kayak trips on Lake Geneva;

Clear Water Outdoor, LLC

  • Location: 744 W Main St, Lake Geneva WI 53147
  • Website:
  • They will handle all your needs, including renting gear and offering guides for the trip.

Fontana Paddle Company

  • Location: 454 Lake Street, Fontana WI, 53125
  • Website:
  • Sightseeing boat tours operate from mid-April through November on Lake Geneva. There are numerous options available, including private boat charters and cruises.

Hiking and walking trails at Big Foot Beach State Park

Big Foot Beach State Park may have a small beach, but it makes it up with a series of beautiful, natural trails. The most popular ones include:

Lake Geneva Shore trail

Length: 21 miles

This loop takes you on a parallel course to Lake Geneva, offering you fantastic views of the lake while still sheltering you under a canopy of lush vegetation. It is a moderate and popular trail and pets are allowed if they are on a leash.

The paths are also well marked but you need to be careful when navigating some sections where the ground is more treacherous and too slippery. These sections are dangerous at night. This is the reason why this path is only explored during the daytime.

There are not many restrooms along the trail, so sort your bathroom needs before you begin your walk. The rugged terrain is not good for biking.

The shore path runs through both private and public properties, so hikers are advised to be respectful to others on the path and the homeowners in this location. Enjoy looking at meticulously maintained gardens and yards and the beautiful views of the pristine waters of the lake. The lake runs parallel to your course. Take time to enjoy the scenery and the unique architecture of some of the old buildings and statues you will come across as your hike.

Big Foot beach trail

Length: 4 miles

This trail stretch takes you through wooded areas and along the shores of Lake Geneva. It is an all-natural trail (apart from small paved sections) hence biking may not be ideal. You will be walking inside a beautiful pine forest, with several muddy sections to keep everything interesting. Numerous other short trails branch off from this one. 

big foot beach state park hiking trail map

Other trails inside Big Foot State Park

There are other shorter hiking trails within this pack, ideal for day hikers and campers who just want to watch the birds or enjoy the tranquility in the woods.

Blue trail 

Length: 0.9 miles

Take a walk through a patch of tall hardwoods in this nature trail and enjoy watching the birds or catching an occasional glimpse of a wild animal. This is a moderate trail ideal for beginners. It is located at the western end of the park that would be great for horse riding as it opens to a picturesque grassland patch.

Orange trail

Length: 0.8 miles

On the Eastern end of the park, you will find this beautiful trail with some paved sections that take you through series of planted pines and prairie. It is a moderate trail.

Purple trail 

Length: 0.6 miles

This trail is in the northeast section of the park. It takes you through grassland and planted pines. It is fairly level, although it is more inclined than the Orange trail.

Red trail

Length: 0.5 miles

This trail is located inside the park – right in the middle. It is a level terrain that takes you through grassland and mixed hardwood area. 

Green trail 

Length: 2.9 miles

You will follow the perimeter of the park, taking in different views and sceneries throughout your hike. It has a combination of both leveled and uneven grounds, making it ideal for all types of hikers.

Black trail 

Length: 1.6 miles

You will enjoy walking among beautiful prairie and conifers on this trail. It is a moderately crowded trail located at the Southern end of the park. Some sections are a bit inclined. There are great sceneries to see along this trail.

Yellow trail 

Length: 1.2 miles

This trail is located in the western section of the park. It is also a moderate trail that takes you through grassland and woodland areas of the park. Bird watching is a common activity on this trail.

Candlelit hike

The friends of Big Foot Beach State park organize candlelit hikes in the park. It is an event that features an evening of walking along candlelit trails (usually a 0.8 miles long trail) and then gathering together for a fun night by the park’s bonfire ring. Check their website and social media platforms for more information on these kinds of events.

Bike trails at Big foot beach state park

Bike trails at Big foot beach state park

Most of the trails in Big Foot are natural trails which mean that they take you through rough, undeveloped terrain, and sometimes force you to brush tree branches aside to surge ahead. However, some sections are also perfectly suited for exploration by bike lovers, especially those who love to tackle challenging terrains.

There are no restrictions on where you can go with your bike inside the park, but you can ask the staff at the park’s office for better recommendations on the best biking trails to try out.

Picnicking at Big Foot Beach State Park

With over 40 acres set aside for picnics and other recreational activities (such as volleyball) within this park, having a great time with your family will come easy. There are about 150 tables set for this purpose and several charcoal grills. You can play volleyball with your family as you wait for the meal to get ready. The park’s office loans out these volleyballs freely. Pets are not allowed at the general picnic areas.

Wildlife at Big Foot Beach State Park

Expect to see different kinds of wildlife in this park- foxes, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, white-tail deer- depending on the season.

Bird watching at Big Foot Beach State Park

Most of the birds you will encounter inside this park are woodland birds. Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park organize bird-watching hikes several times during the year.

Some of the woodland birds to see here include wood thrush, eastern meadowlark, bobolink, great-crested flycatchers, and northern flickers. At night, expect to see owls and bald eagles. On the lake (especially in spring and fall seasons), you’ll see the merganser and horned grebe ducks.

Hunting and trapping at Big Foot Beach State Park

Hunting is a common practice here going back many years when the Potawatomi tribes ruled the lands. You will need to have hunting and fishing license and follow the Wisconsin State Parks trails hunting and trapping rules and regulations. Gun hunting is not allowed in this park. 

The best hunting times are in the fall/winter season from November 15 to around January 6th. Trapping is not allowed in closed areas of the park, or within 100 yards of hiking trails and other designated use areas, such as campsites. Archery hunting is allowed in spring, from April 1 through May 3rd. You will be given a map at the location to know the hunting and trapping zoned areas. Make sure you check out the State of Wisconsin Hunting Information.

winter in peninsula state park

Big Foot Beach State Park in Winter

Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and hiking (through the forest and in the open areas) are popular activities in the winter season in this park. Camping is not allowed during the winter season. The park’s staff creates tracks for cross country skiing if the situation allows. Ice fishing is also a popular activity but make sure you consult the office because this is a highly regulated sport for safety purposes.

Big Foot Beach 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 Walworth County Humane Society at (262) 723-1000.

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 more have all been spotted at the 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.

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Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

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Attractions close to Big Foot Beach State Park

Occasionally, we love to park and play. That means we camp in the area for a while and use that as home base as we explore the area. It can be fun to know what is in the area besides the incredible nature you immerse yourself in.

I find it also helps in the event of bad weather – hiking or kayaking in a mild monsoon (like my trip turned out last weekend) isn’t a ton of fun. Other ideas make for a plan B or even C…

Attractions close to Big Foot Beach State Park

Geneva Lake Museum

Location: 255 Mill Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Indulge your family in a bit of the history of the area at the Geneva Lake Museum. Take a walk through small, historic homes and learn about how people lived in this area many centuries ago.

Safari Lake Geneva

Location: W1612 Litchfield Road, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Experience “Jungle Jay’s” Safari Lake Geneva! This is a family-owned refuge for rare animals and animals that face the danger of extinction. You can get drive-through safaris and interact with the animals closely. The center also offers educational programs on animal and environmental conservation.

Animal Gardens

Location: 5065 WI-50, Delavan, WI 53115

On your way to (or from) the Big Foot Beach State Park, you can pop into this location to experience exotic animals and the singing parrot, nicknamed Echo. It is a petting zoo that also offers other numerous attractions including well-maintained grounds for holding events and parties, rides (train rides, pony rides, and tractor-pulled rides), and dancing horses shows.

Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures

Location: N3232 CO Road H, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

You can enjoy zip-lining, tackling challenging obstacle courses, snowshoeing, hiking, skiing, biking, and all sorts of outdoor adventure in this location.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line

A perfect way to end a trip to Big Foot State Park would be by taking a boat cruise on Lake Geneva. There are several options here, including public sightseeing cruises, private cruises, and wedding cruises. Cocktails and exotic food are offered on deck.

Restaurants and hotels near Big Foot Beach State Park

Restaurants and hotels near Big Foot Beach State Park

Most of the hotels close to the park are located in Lake Geneva town. Here are some of our favorite joints. Keep in mind that hands down, our favorite is the Simple Cafe. You can read more about it here: Simple Cafe Lake Geneva is Anything But Simple.

Next Door Pub & Pizza

Location: 411 Interchange North, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

This pub and pizza joint cooks its delicacies using the traditional, original stone-hearth oven design. They also have gluten-free options on their menu. You can enjoy a nice cocktail and listen to live entertainment as your food gets prepared.

Joni’s Diner

Location: 111 South Wells Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Grab a delicious omelet or burger from one of the finest (and oldest) establishments in Lake Geneva. The ambiance in this location is amazing and they have a wide selection of meals to choose from.

Geneva ChopHouse 

Location: 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

This is another American-themed hotel that serves tantalizing dishes. Be sure to test their signature wines and cocktails while you are here. Seafood, desserts, and steaks are the main delicacies.

Parking at Big Foot Beach State Park

There is ample and secure parking space inside the park. Display your vehicle admissions sticker to be allowed entry. Day hikers and backpackers get charged $8 per vehicle (with WI plates) and $11 per out-of-state vehicle. 

Directions to Big Foot Beach State Park

If you are coming from the Lake Geneva direction, head east towards Mill Street (following the West Main Street), then turn right and follow the South Lake Shore to the Big Foot Beach State Park.

Cities near Big Foot Beach State Park

  • Lake Geneva – 3.4 miles
  • Burlington – 13.4 miles away via WI-36 
  • Delavan – 15.8 miles via WI-50E

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Complete Guide to 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!

With over 1300 acres of scenic beauty and a number of adventure activities to keep yourself busy with, Brunet Island State Park is an excellent choice if you’re looking to take a trip alone or with your family!

Excited already? Here’s everything you need to know before you head there!

Complete Guide to Brunet Island State Park

From trekking and camping to kayaking and boating, there are a ton of activities and recreation opportunities to keep you busy while you’re here. And if you’re in the mood to sit back and relax, you’ve got that too!

Get there during the winter months to enjoy some classical-style skiing, or just sit by the pool during the warmer months of the year if you don’t want to put in a lot of effort.

A Quick Glimpse

The Brunet Island State Park is located right where the Fisher river joins the Chippewa River, with a major portion of the park located on an island in the Chippewa River, in the Northern Highland region of Wisconsin. The park connects to two major trails- the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and the Old Abe State Trail, and offers a number of campsites (69 to be specific), along with flush toilets, a playground, shelters, hiking trails, and electricity.

Plus, it is pet-friendly too!

History of Brunet Island State Park

The park is named after Jean Brunet who was born in France. He came to America when he was 18 years old. He was called a man of “considerable note” and served as an officer in the U.S. Army and participated in the building of Fort Crawford. Later he moved to Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, where he died at the age of 86.

Brunet was responsible for building the first dam and sawmill in Chippewa Falls. This opened up the area of the Chippewa Valley to an expanding lumber trade. He piloted his first raft of lumber down the Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers to Prairie Du Chien.

Jean Brunet had an idea to go north to the Chippewa River. When he got there, it wasn’t developed or explored. He built a log building that was also a trading post, supply depot, and meeting place for travelers. The Brunet trading post is near where you can see a historical marker today on State Highway 178 south of Cornell.

A ferry service was set up that would cross the river. Some of the foundation stones are gone now, but they were originally on the other side of the river from where there is a dam today. The man who set up this service was respected by everyone and he helped to make peace between Native Americans and European-Americans.

Teacher.  Missionary. Guide. Explorer. Brilliant engineer. The man was a legend AND his wooden damn across the Chippewa River not only lasted 60 years through floods and more, but it was beyond sound when it was torn down for replacement!

Brunet Island State Park

Enter Cornell

First named Brunet Falls, the town soon became Cornell.

A man by the name of Ezra Cornell helped to found Cornell University in New York, in fact, that university was named after him. He convinced the government of New York to buy land in Wisconsin for the university, and that made money for the school with the lumber industry. That is why changed the name of the university to honor him.

Cornell always visited Jean Brunet’s inn. Jean Brunet was a great help to Cornell in his work. He did a lot of scouting for timber and other things that Cornell needed.

Bring in the Industry

In 1911, a permanent dam was built by Cornell’s east side, on the Chippewa River. This dam was made at the same time that the Cornell Wood Products Company was started and it guaranteed steady employment in this area. The company made paper products, cardboard, and wallboard.

The mill worked year-round as it had steam pipes that helped keep its millpond from freezing over. They installed a stacker that is still in Cornell Mill Yard Park today. Pulpwood came in on railroad cars and then was housed in the millpond until the logs were sawed into 2 foot long pieces.

That stacker helped carry pieces of wood up high and then sorted and dumped them into different piles. They needed to be sorted into piles because they needed different grades of paper to be made. The pulpwood was then placed in water and floated to the paper mill.

In 1971 modern hydraulics made it obsolete and when paired with the paper industry slump? Well, that was pretty much the end. They filled in the pond and the park was formed.

It Became a State Park!

Northern States Power Company donated 179 acres of land to the state in 1936. The park was dedicated to Brunet’s memory in 1940. In 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a shelter for people who want to go on the island. But it was destroyed by a storm in 1970 that some say was a tornado. Then 25 volunteers came and helped clean up all of the fallen trees and debris.

In the early years, there was a beach on the west side of the island near the campgrounds. In 1973-74, because of work on the dam, they drew down water level and it became dangerous. They moved to a new location at the south end of the island.

In 1977, another tornado landed on the island. It blew down 18 acres of hemlock trees in the park. The park was closed until the spring of 1978 because there were so many trees and leaves that covered everything. Now, birch trees have grown back in that area where there were huge hemlocks before.

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Brunet Island State Park Camping

Brunet Island has two family campgrounds. You can choose to reserve a campsite online.

69 sites between the North and South campgrounds, one being more rustic than the other.

The South campgrounds have just 24 campsites but have electricity, a shower building, and space accessible for people with disabilities (site 16E).

You can also choose to set up camp in the North campground, which has 45 campsites. The only downside here is the fact that there’s no electricity. Please remember that the use of generators is forbidden in Wisconsin State Parks – and, it is an obnoxious way to treat your camping neighbors. That being said, there are a few medical exceptions: Generator use in the Wisconsin State Park System

Rumor has it that there are pay showers. I can’t find anything to verify it but you might want to bring your quarters, just in case.

Brunet Island State Park Camping

Getting Supplies Near Brunet Island State Park

You’ll find many vendors in Cornell selling almost everything you need for your trip to the park, including camping supplies. Pick up fuel and basic groceries, or use the Laundromat on the main street. Personally, I suggest you plan ahead and save a lot of money – just check out our list of camping items you can get at your local Dollar Tree store!

The local vendors there also offer kayak and canoe rentals. For firewood, you can contact the campground host.

Get Your Wisconsin Vehicle Admissions Sticker Here

The admissions sticker is mandatory on any and all motor vehicles stopping in the state parks, forests, and other recreational areas in Wisconsin. Get your sticker here.

Brunet Island State Park Activities

Brunet Island Is the top Wisconsin State Park for paddling adventures during your camping trip. All of the North loop campgrounds are on the water, which includes the lagoon. The island has a maze of channels that connects a number of lagoon-like ponds. Bring your bikes as the park is the northern terminus of the Old Abe Bike Trail a paved bike-only trail along the Chippewa River.

Picnicking at Brunet Island State Park

Brunet Island State Park has over 20 acres of picnic area available, mainly on the south and west sides of the island. Here, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the countryside and the Chippewa River.

If you’re picnicking with kids, get yourself to the playground located at the southeast section of the picnic area. Remember that the park has a strict policy when it comes to the disposal of waste, so you’ll need to carry your trash with you while you leave.

Brunet Island State Park Water Sports

The park offers opportunities for you to go swimming, canoeing, boating and kayaking. Bring your canoe or kayak and paddle the lagoon. Locate a boat launch for access to more water in nearby lakes like Portage Lake, Big Catfish Lake, Spring Valley Reservoir, plus many others.

Brunet Island Bay State Park Fishing

Just near the north and south camp area, you’ll also find a fishing pier which is great for fishing enthusiasts. If you have a Wisconsin fishing license, you can take advantage of the free basic fishing equipment available at the park office, and hope to catch a variety of fish including catfish, muskie, northern pike, walleye, and even smallmouth bass.

Brunet Island State Park Swimming

As with most Wisconsin State Parks, there are no lifeguards on duty. They do have areas mapped out with ropes and buoys. Pets, food, and beverages are strictly not allowed in the beach area, so keep that in mind.

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

Brunet Island State Park Kayaking, boating, and canoeing

The island is part of a long, thin piece of water that stretches 3.5 to 4 miles from the Cornell dam to the Holcombe dam. There are channels for flat-water paddling in the north part of the park where there are many undeveloped islands. You might need to watch out for rocks, especially ones at the south end near the town where water levels might change quickly.

The boat ramp is on an island not far from the entrance road. There are many spots to put boats in the park near the South Campground. You can also rent a canoe or kayak from Cornell and Holcombe.

Hiking at the Brunet Island State Park

There are over 8 miles of trails available for hiking enthusiasts at the park with varying levels of difficulty. This also includes two miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Jean Brunet Nature Trail

This is a trail where you can walk and learn about the environment around you as there are signs along the trail describing the history and nature of the area. The Jean Brunet Nature Trail starts near the main bridge to the island. It has 500 feet of paving for people who need help walking on it. There is also a table at the end so people can eat and fish there too!

Nordic Trail

You can start the hike from the park office and follow the Fisher river, exploring a variety of glacial terrain along the way.

You’ll find orientation signs to guide you throughout the 4.3 miles of the trail, and if you want to take a little stop during the hike to get some rest, you can use one of the many park benches.

Old Abe State Trail

This one’s a short one-mile hike that you can embark on foot or explore on your bike.

Pine trail

The Pine Trail is in an area enclosed by the loop of the park road. The Pine trail meanders through a red (Norway) pine plantation.

Spruce trail

The Spruce Trail follows along the Fisher River from the Pine Trail to the picnic area.

Timber Trail

The Timber Trail is perfect for those camping in the north campground since it also links to the beach and the picnic areas.

Biking at Brunet Island Bay State Park

Biking at Brunet Island Bay State Park

Bicycles are allowed on the roads and trails, but not on the Jean Brunet Nature Trail. The 2-mile main road through the park has a bike lane for people to ride.

Keep in mind that a state trail pass is required to use the Old Abe State Trail for all bikers and in-line skaters age 16 and older.

The trails for biking are: Old Abe State Trail, Pine trail, Spruce trail, and the Timber trail.

Brunet Island State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during a time period of September 1 through February 15. Certain traps are not allowed in state parks.

Brunet Island State Park in Winter

The Brunet Island Park has about 4.3 miles of cross-country ski trails for classical-style skiing. The trail winds around rolling hills and along the Fisher River. Call the park office to find out what is happening with the trails when you are there. During the winter months, people like to snowshoe on hiking trails in the park too.

winter in peninsula state park

Winter ice warning: The park does not monitor or measure ice conditions. Ice thickness and safety can vary from day to day and from location to location. Use your best judgment about the safety of the ice.

Brunet Island 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 Chippewa County Humane Society at (715) 861-5748.

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, beaver, otter, muskrat and mink have all been spotted at Brunet Island.

Nature and Brunet Island State Park

Hundreds of plant species live and grow in the park, which is in Wisconsin’s North Central Forest landscape.

I don’t want to say that the excessive deer population is hindering the growth cycle of the native hemlock, but that is a favorite for them to munch on – especially the younger trees. As the older ones die off – some other kind of tree will eventually take over.

The park it trying to turn that around – and you will see fenced off areas as they try to discourage the deer hemlock buffet.

Brunet Island State Park

There are so many different ferns, fungi, and flowers to see – it really is a feast for your eyes!

Wildlife of Brunet Island State Park

Deer are a given – you will probably see them often. There are also raccoons, skunks, squirrels, fox, woodchucks chipmunks, porcupine and grouse.

Seriously, those trash pandas will raid your campsite so keep your food tucked away correctly! They even opened and raided one of our coolers!

A fed animal is a dead animal. They learn to rely on humans instead of hunting for their own food and by feeding them? You will kill them. Please do NOT feed the animals. That also goes for the ones you will see when you are boating like beaver, otter, muskrat and mink.

See any babies? Leave them alone. Mom is usually near by and she won’t come feed or take care of them if you hang around.

Birds. Just wow. Blue herons, owls, osprey, or even bald eagles! This is a hot stop on the migration routes for so many of our feathered friends!

Parks Near Brunet Island State Park

The state park is also in close vicinity to some other parks including the Lake Wisotta State Park which sits on a whopping 1062 acres of forests and 6300 acres of a manmade lake.

You can also choose to visit Washington Creek State Wildlife Management Area, which is nearby which is a 515-acre property offering several recreational activities.

All of that adds up to an amazing location to surround yourself with nature. What are you waiting for? Make your reservation now!

Brunet Island State Park

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A Complete Guide to 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.

A Complete Guide to Big Bay State Park

Big Bay State Park is a popular camping ground with great attractions including a beautiful beach, a lagoon, bogs, stunning views of the ocean, sandstone bluffs, and lush vegetation.

A Complete Guide to Big Bay State Park

There is a lot to see and do here and this guide will offer you a complete overview of the park and information about how you can have an amazing experience when you visit this park.

The park is open year-round, even during the winter season. It opens at 6 am and closes at 11 pm daily. The best times to visit the park would be in July-August when the weather allows for much hiking, kayaking, and camping. Some people (especially winter sports lovers and hunters) prefer to visit in the Winter season as well. Spring and fall are quiet times here, with minimal crowds.

History of Big Bay State Park

Established in 1963, Big Bay State Park features stunning lake caves, sand bluffs, a beach shoreline, camping grounds, and numerous hiking and walking trails. It is the largest protected area in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.

The Ojibwa connection

The Big Bay State Park is located in La Pointe, a domain claimed to be home to the traditional Ojibwa/Chippewa community (Native Americans). French settlers came in as traders and established a fort in La Pointe, which later grew to become an important location for the American Fur company.

The head of the company, Michel Cadotte married the daughter of an Ojibwa chief (Madeline) and named the island after her.

The Ojibwe/Chippewa communities considered this island as a spiritual center and petitions by the chief led to the treaty of La Pointe (in 1854) that offered these local communities permanent reservations on the island and around the Big Bay State Park and successfully ended years of conflicts between them and the Mississippi cohort.

The Ferry Ride to Madeline Island

You can drive, bike, or hike to Big Bay State Park. However, most people enjoy using the ferry as part of the vacation excitement when visiting the park. You will spend extra money on the ride, but it will be worth it. The ferry makes several trips during the day.

It is a 20-25 minute voyage that gives you unparalleled views of the lake and the surrounding. The Madeline Island itself is refreshing, full of beautiful beaches, numerous hiking trails, and the La Pointe town has become a thriving shopping and entertainment location for people visiting the park. 

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Lakeshore Rock formations

The jugged, uneven coastline is another fascination for travelers in Big Bay State Park. You can take stunning photos standing on these rock formations, overlooking the massive Lake.

If you are a daredevil, dive from these cliffs to enjoy a swim in the lake. You can spend hours sitting on these rocks as you enjoy the cool sea breeze.

Camping at Big Bay State Park

There are a total of 60 campsites and all come equipped with amenities. Campgrounds tend to fill fast here, especially in the summer. 

Family campgrounds

The 21 campsites share common shower and toilet facilities. 7 of those sites are walk-in sites. These are spacious and private tents you can rent within the grounds. Instructions on how to camp can be found at the campground center. 

Outdoor Group Camps

There are two outdoor group camps in Big Bay and both are situated about half a mile from the family campgrounds. They are a bit secluded but being right at the edge of the water, they give you better access to the lake.

Amenities in the campgrounds

Amenities here include shared vault toilets and hand pumps. There are electrical hookups, showers, and flush toilets as well. You can purchase your food and other supplies from La Pointe, 7 miles away. There is a pet area, a wildlife observation deck, changing stalls, picnic areas, and parking spaces. If you are wild-camping, firewood is available for sale at the park center.

big bay state park campground map

Other campgrounds near Big Bay State Park

If (by any chance) you find the few campgrounds at Big Bay State Park full, there are other options to explore, close to the park.

Big Bay Town Park campgrounds

The number of campsites: 61 (22 electric, and 6 remote sites. The rest are family campsites. RV campsites available as well)

Activities: Camping, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, bird watching, snowshoeing

Amenities: Fireplaces for campers and picnic, shower facilities, restroom, firewood available for sale.

This town park is situated directly opposite the Big Bay State Park, about 6 miles from the ferry dock at La Pointe. You will have access to the Big Bay State Park and the big lagoon. The view of the lake from the camping grounds here is stunning. 

Big Bay State Park Activities

The crashing of the Lake Superior water waves against the rocks makes for an exciting scene, especially when there is a fierce storm. The golden color and waves of Lake Superior in the fall enhance the experience for outdoor lovers here.

Big Bay State Park Water Sports

When the waters are calm on Lake Superior, you may find some people daring to dive in for a swim. This is considered to be the largest freshwater lake in the world. It is about as large as the state of South Carolina!

Scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, boating, and other forms of water sports are common activities in this lake. There are no sharks to worry about when exploring Lake Superior.

Big Bay State Park Fishing

Lake Superior is a rich ground for trout fishing. If you prefer to fish in the lagoon inside the park, you can catch the northern pike. Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year-round.

Big Bay State Park Swimming

Lake Superior creates a narrow but stunning beach in the Big Bay State Park. It stretches on for about 1.5 miles along the shore. This is one of the best beaches in the Apostle Islands, with soft, small-grained sands, and a shallow shore that allows swimmers to have a great time here.

The water of Lake Superior is so clean you can see the bottom of the lake. There are bathrooms and changing rooms close to the beach. 

To get here, you can decide to explore the beautiful boardwalk trail that provides several access points to the beach or you can take the staircases leading to the beach from the car park. Enjoy a great evening watching the sunset with your family or build beautiful sandcastles with your kids on the beach.

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Big Bay State Park Kayaking, boating, and canoeing

Kayaking and boating are popular activities here, especially in the summer. You can rent out a kayak and safety gadgets at the park. One unique feature of this park is that the beach faces east. As the sun rises, the water warms up, making it ideal for a great morning kayaking adventure. Boating is also allowed, especially in the deeper sections where swimming is prohibited.

Launch your kayak from the barrier beach and paddle around the sandstone cliffs to break from the park and get rewarded with beautiful views of both the lake and the park. Find your way through the sea caves and enjoy marine life through the clear, calm waters of Lake Superior. If you are a beginner kayaker, consider signing up for a kayaking tour because sometimes the lake can be unpredictable and when the waves come crashing, you could be caught in a tight fix.

Sea caves of Big Bay State Park

To visit the sea caves here, you can rent a kayak and launch from Joni’s beach or wherever you deem fit within the Big Bay State Park. The largest cliffs and sea caves can be found at the big bay point, about a mile from the beach. These are large, scenic caves that showcase a masterpiece of years of stone erosion by water.

Hiking at the Big Bay State Park

Although water is available at the park, it would be advisable to carry fresh water and enough food for a day hike in the park. When walking through the forest, carry bug spray to ward off irritating bugs and mosquitoes. There are numerous trails to explore here;

Point-Trail loop

Length: 0.5 miles

The point trail is a moderate loop ideal for beginners. It starts right at the parking area (close to the family campgrounds) before meandering into the forest, following the Lake Superior shoreline. You will enjoy stunning views of the Lake, the rugged rocks and cliffs, and the lush vegetation (ferns, maples, pines, and birches). The trail is well marked and there is an observation deck to sample everything the park has to offer in a glance.

Boardwalk trail

Length: 1 mile

The boardwalk trail runs along the shoreline, offering you excellent views of the beach. Some sections of the boardwalk are also wheelchair-friendly. You will be walking amidst thriving flora and fauna. There are numerous off-shoot trails to bring you closer to whatever attractions you want to observe intimately. You will pass by the barrier trail that brings you to the shoreline and back to the parking area.

The boardwalk was designed to protect the areas around the beach. You will find information plaques along the trail. Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Bay View Trail

Length: 1.3 miles

Start this trail at the parking lot, go through an open area past several picnic tables and enter into the forest. You will be walking along Lake Superior, enjoying great views of cliffs and the waves crashing into the rocks.

You will want to spend time taking beautiful photos at the designated lookout spot that provides uninterrupted views of the lake and the cliff. You can decide to combine this trail with the Wood trail if you want a longer hike. Bird watching is also a common adventure for people using this trail.

Lagoon Ridge Trail

Length: 2.5 miles

The Lagoon trail is not marked. It is a bushy trail that takes you through a natural environment with little human interference. People who walk this trail are looking for serene and peaceful moments to interact with nature.

Although it is not marked, it is an easy-to-follow trail as markings from previous hikers sort of show you the way. This is the trail that takes you through the sand spits, the lagoons, and the bogs in the park. It ends as a loop back to the parking area.

Hiking at Big Bay State Park

Biking at Big Bay State Park

Some people prefer exploring the park using bikes hired in La Pointe. It is a great way to enjoy what the park has to offer although some trails (lagoon trail and boardwalk barrier trails) may not be very ideal for biking. There are not biking trails on the beach.

Bird watching in Big Bay State Park

There are many birds on Madeline Island and people who come for this activity inside Big Bay State Park are never disappointed. There is an observation deck created for this purpose. Some of the birds you should expect to see include double-crested cormorants, seagulls, herrings, cliff swallows, blue herons, piping plovers, red-winger blackbirds, owls, terns, and balding eagles.

Big Bay Sand Spit and Bog

When taking a hike inside the Big Bay State Park, make sure to visit the sand spit and bog. You’ll find sand ridges, an extensive sphagnum-sedge bog, and a lagoon that opens up to the bay mouth. There are four zones to explore here; a dry, grassy beach, a 20-foot wide wet sand beach, a rear beach (heath zone) that slopes away from the beach sand, and a tall shrub zone.

On the west side of the sand spit, you’ll encounter beautiful aquatic vegetation submerged in shallow water. A series of conifers, black and white spruces, and other vegetation lies on the eastern side of the sand spit.

Red sandstone rocks

The jugged, outcropping rocks on the Lake Superior shoreline are spectacular. The rough-edged cliffs that have a red hue make a great platform for cliff jumpers. It is a scary sport but very thrilling when watching others jump into the pristine waters.

Lush vegetation

Big Bay State Park contains a variety of vegetation. The best way to experience this is by taking a hike through the park. For instance, if you walk through the Big Bay Sand Spit’s heath zone you will encounter a sparsely wooded region that contains white pines and open spaces that contain lichens, blueberry, junipers, huckleberries, and bearberries. 

You will also find giant hemlocks and numerous wildflowers growing freely in this park.


The night sky in Big Bay State Park is clear, especially in the summer. If you will be camping here, you will enjoy stargazing as you lounge by the beach or by your campfire.

Big Bay State Park Hunting

Hunter can enjoy hunting deer at the park. However, you need to get more information about the dates and hunting restrictions before you visit the park for this activity.

Big Bay State Park in Winter

Although the big bay is most active during the summer, it remains open throughout the year and some people prefer to visit during the winter so that they can enjoy winter sports here.

Skiing and snowshoeing are important and popular sports here during the winter. You can find equipment and other safety gadgets for rent inside the park.

As a safety precaution, do not explore unmarked roads. Rangers inside the park normally mark out different sections and roads to offer people directions on where to go and what to avoid during the winter season. Some of the sections are closed during winter. They will offer this information at the Park’s center

Winter hike

All trails are open throughout. However, you are advised to exercise more caution while walking on the ice during the winter season. The ice has not been tested to establish safety levels. There will be no leaves on the trees so do not expect to enjoy much in terms of vegetation but this also means that you will have almost completely non-interrupted views of the lake!

Big Bay State Park Wildlife viewing

During the winter season, you may encounter deer, beaver, red fox, or even black bear inside the park. This time is also the designated hunting and trapping season here. Different bird species keep migrating to the park while others migrate from the park in search of warmer weather.

Winter Safety Precautions

Always dress in layers when visiting the big bay park during the winter season. The weather here can be very unpredictable, and unforgiving. Cover exposed areas of your skin with cream to avoid cold burnouts when hiking (just as you would, while hiking in the sun). 

If you decide to go for a swim, be warned that the water will be very cold during this time of the year. 

If you will be driving from La Pointe, be wary of the slippery ice on the road. Drive slowly and carefully.

big bay state park and dogs

Big Bay 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 Ashland County Humane Society at (419) 289-1455.

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 Big Bay

Wildlife of Big Bay State Park

You may encounter several wild animals during your visit to Big Bay State Park. Most of these animals stay away from the areas frequented by human beings but it is possible to spot a coyote or a raccoon occasionally.

Follow the park’s guidelines when you come across these animals. For instance, do not feed them or leave your items exposed. Campers are advised to store their foods and other valuables in fool-proof containers. 

Always try to be environmentally conscious when visiting this park. This means that if you are exploring natural trails (such as the Lagoon trail), try the leave-no-trace concept by ensuring that you do not interfere with the environment or leave trash and other pollutants.

American Black bear

Bear sightings are rare in this park but always be keen when walking through the woods. The American black bear is the largest mammal in North America and although they seem cuddly, they can be very dangerous. Campers are especially advised to be extremely cautious and on the lookout for the bear when camping inside this forest.

If you go camping here, there are tips and tricks you can use to keep bears off your campsite. The national park service provides a guideline on what to do when you encounter black bears while hiking or camping in the woods.

Big Bay State Park Weddings and other events

What better way to get married than to do so in a place surrounded by wonders of nature? Many weddings have been conducted on the boardwalk and the beach in this park (and all over Madeline Island) over the years. The stunning vistas, beautiful beaches, and crystal-clear water make for amazing backdrops for any wedding ceremony.

Big Bay State Park Weddings

Historical locations around Madeline and Big Bay State Park

There are several interesting historical places to enjoy while visiting this park.

La Pointe

You can take a 3-mile (20 minutes) ferry trip from Bayfield to La Pointe. It is a short drive from Big Bay State Park to this town. It is a small town with a rich history and it is the only inhabited town on Madeline Island.

It was originally a French trading post in the 16th century before becoming an outpost for an American Fur Company in the 18th century. This is the spot where the Ojibway tribe grew. You can learn more about the Ojibwe People here

The local name for the town (in Anishinaabe language) is Mooningwanekaaning which means ‘Home of the Golden-breasted Flicker’. Fishing is the main activity here, so you may probably enjoy a good trout, whitefish, or siscowet dish in the quaint little hotels in the town. The locals love swimming in Lake Superior and each year they organize numerous swimming competitions that draw competitors from across the world.

Madeline Island Museum

Opened in 1958, this is the museum that documents the history of the Big Bay State Park, La Pointe, and the larger Madeline island area. Numerous exhibits and artifacts stored and displayed here detail the way of life of the Ojibwe people before and after they came into contact with the European foreigners. This island was among the earliest settlement outposts and trading centers that opened the interior of the nation for European exploration. 

Places of interest inside this museum include Casper’s center, the Old Jail, the American Fur Company building, the old sailor’s home, the pioneer barn, maple-sugaring kettle, and the fortified structures that were built by the French as far as the 17th century.

Big Bay Sloop 

These are the remains of a small unidentified (and sunken) sloop on Lake Superior, about 300 feet east of Big Bay State Park. Historians suggest that this sloop may have been used for commercial purposes (as a merchant’s vessel).

The site is a preserved and protected area today. After its discovery in 1990 as a Huron boat, historians could not authenticate the name of the vessel but the boat’s wire rigging and metal cleat places its usage between 1880 and 1920

Restaurants near Big Bay State Park

There are several fine dining and drinking places in La Ponte. Here are some of the favorites;

The Beach Club 

Location: 817 Main St, La Pointe WI 54850-2400. You get great views of Lake Superior and the ferries from the terraces of this club. There are docking facilities for customers here, so you are not restricted to whatever means you want to use-boat, car, walking, or by ferry. They have a great cocktail selection here.

Tom’s burned down cafe

Location: 234 Middle Rd, La Ponte, WI 54850-0222. This hippie bar has lots of funny and interesting signs everywhere. It is a great place to hang out, listen to the bands playing, have a drink, and just enjoy yourself. Everything here seems ‘disorganized’ in a kind of charming way. 

restaurants near big bay state park

The Copper Trout

Location: 250 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5046. This is a seasonal restaurant that serves fresh fish, delicious Italian-style pasta, Black Angus beef steaks, and gourmet pizza. They have vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free and vegan options. It is a small, popular restaurant, with a limited seating capacity.

Mannypenny Bistro

Location: 201 Manypenny Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5028. This is a family-owned restaurant and bakery that prides itself in making the best pizza in La Ponte. They have a good selection of American and Turkish sandwiches and wood stove oven pizza that comes with a bottomless cup of drip coffee. Try their delicious blackened chicken quesadilla served with red beans next time you visit this place!

Pier Plaza restaurant & Pickled Herring Lounge

Location: 1 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5018. This is an all-inclusive restaurant. You can stay here, dine and have a great time at the lounge. The views of the lake and the pier are breathtaking from this location. The rooms have a lake-view balcony, with a wide variety of amenities to choose from.

Hotels near Big Bay State Park

There isn’t a whole lot to choose from in the area as a lot of people go here to actually camp. We found ONE we would recommend:

Landmark Restaurant at Old Rittenhouse Inn

Location: 301 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5016

This is a bed and breakfast hotel overlooking Lake Superior. It is set on a historic property, in an old Queen Anne Victorian mansion that is ripe grounds for a romantic getaway, or a wedding. 

Directions to the Big Bay State Park

From La Pointe, take highway H to Hagen Road (about 4 miles away) and continue along this road to the entrance of the park (about 2 miles away). From April to December, you can catch a ferry boat from Bayfield to La Pointe. If you are using your boat, you can launch from the public landing in Bayfield or a private landing on Madeline Island.

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A Complete Guide to Aztalan State Park

Aztalan 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.

A Complete Guide to Aztalan State Park

Their existence is evident from the flat-topped mounds they left behind, influenced by the Middle Mississippian culture. Today, the 172-acre park serves as a recreation and protected National historic landmark. 

Complete Guide to Aztalan State Park

A visit to Aztalan State park offers exciting insights into the lives of the people who used to live in Aztalan centuries ago. There is a lot to see and do here as you are about to find out.

History of Aztalan State Park

The way of life of the early settlers on Aztalan was largely influenced by the Middle Mississippian tradition. Most of the Native Americans practicing this tradition settled in Cahokia, but some are believed to have streamed into Aztalan and created another settlement here. Just like in Cahokia, you will find mounds (made from the earth) and stockades (made from logs), some evidence of pottery, and some evidence of farming. 

The early life of Aztalan residents

The archaeological exhibits collected from the mounds in the park show that the Native Americans who lived here practiced a hybrid form of life. They were farmers, fishermen, and hunters. The proximity to bodies of water (such as the Crawfish River) turned them into prolific fishermen. They used crude tools to till their land and the corn they harvested was stored in the mounds they had created.

They also lived in a close-knit society, with rectangular and circular houses concentrated in one location. Archaeologists believe that this kind of settlement was also important as a security feature. By being close together, they could quickly mobilize and protect their villages.

Aztalan Mounds and Stockades

The mounds were believed to have served several purposes. Some say that they were used for storing the agricultural produce, or housing the village political leaders, while others say that they may have been reserved for religious ceremonies and rituals in the community. 

Today, only three mounds remain in Aztalan State Park and excavation was halted after the land became a protected site and registered as an important historical landmark in 1966, 12 years after it was opened to the public as a state park. The mound in the northwestern region of the park was used as a burial site.

The Princess Burial Mound

The Princess Burial Mound

This mound was built to mark the burial ground of a young woman. The careful way in which the young woman was buried depicts that the woman was an influential person and hence the ‘princess’ title. The archaeologists who discovered her could not find any similarity to the way she was buried with the other bodies they found.

They felt that she must have been an important figure in her society to warrant such a send-off. Her hands adorned ornate belts and beads and she was laid on her back, and her hands carefully placed on her sides before the grave was filled up.

The Stockades

The stockades are believed to have been designed for protection purposes. A series of logs set vertically from the ground were reinforced by weaving willow through them and then covering them with clay and grass. Some stockades were built in layers, offering several protective shields and a good base to shoot arrows at the enemies.

Most of the stockades on the park were later ruined as people tried to reclaim the land for agricultural purposes. It took the intervention and reconstruction efforts by friends of Aztalan to give this land the protected status as a way of trying to preserve the history and tradition of the Native Americans. Today, you will see some of the reconstructed stockades near the Crawfish River.

How Aztalan became a State Park

The process of converting this piece of land into a state park began in 1922. Local Jefferson residents were concerned that the diggings around the mounds would quickly erode the historical significance these mounds held. Originally, the state park was called Mounds Park because of these mounds. There were more than 40 mounds in this park at one time.

Once the flattening and erosion of these mounds started, the residents came together and decided to purchase part of the park as a conservation effort. They turned the park to Wisconsin Archeological society. More land was later purchased (and other parcels donated by the residents) to create what is officially recognized as Aztalan State Park today. 

No form of digging or archaeological excavation is allowed on the grounds of this park today, as a way of protecting this middle Mississippian tradition.

The Aztalan Museum

Lake Mills-Aztalan historical society was mandated to operate the Aztalan museum. This historical society was instrumental in the preservation of the land and the culture of the locals here. They donated some of their lands to the park. When visiting Aztalan, head over to the museum that is located on the North of the park to have a self-guided tour and learn more about the park. There are two old church buildings on this location as well. 

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Is Aztalan State Park Haunted?

There have been rumors that the State Park is haunted. No one can prove that but people say that the park has a certain ‘feel’ to it when you visit here.

Native Americans

Many people believe that many eerie things have happened in the park, especially close to the burial mounds. People say that they develop a feeling of being ‘watched’ whenever they visit the park, especially when they are exploring these mounds. Y

ou feel as if someone else (someone you cannot see) is there with you, watching your every move. The locals believe that the native Americans who settled there many centuries ago were angered by the destruction of their final resting place. Many of these settlers are believed to have come from Cahokia in search of a place to create home and build farms. 

The mysterious disappearance of the Natives

No one knows definitively why these native Americans abandoned Aztalan. Some archeologists and historians believe that the community dispersed in search of better places to stay after environmental degradation while others believe that they may have been driven away by conflicts from other tribes, or by some sort of natural calamity.

How these Native Americans disappeared from the location remains a mystery as well. No one seems to know about where they went, or why they left the place. The other tribes that lived in the area during that time have a well-documented history to the present day. What happened to the Aztalans? Where did they go?

Evidence of butchered bodies

Some researchers found butchered bodies and human heads, adding to the weird mystery surrounding the park. Many wondered whether these Native Americans were cannibalistic and although it has not been proven, it makes the place seem eerie, especially at night.

Aztalan State Park Camping

So, there is no camping in Aztalan State Park. Unlike other parks in Wisconsin, Aztalan is great for a day exploration (or a weekend excursion) but not ideal for adventurers seeking to camp for many days, unless you are en route to other attractions within the State. There are great campgrounds close to the park you can explore if you decide to camp here.

Aztalan State Park Camping

Duck Creek Campground

More information: Duck Creek Campground Website

Amenities: WiFi, laundry, Dog Park, sandpits, basketball court

This is a small, family-owned campground. It has 4 rustic cabins and 4 rental trailers. 81 of the 134 campsites are seasonal sites. From this location, you can visit the Aztalan State Park and other key attractions within Aztalan, including shopping malls and the Ho-Chunk casino. 

Blackhawk County Club

More information: Blackhawk country club website

Amenities: Bowling alley, golf, laundry, WiFi

Blackhawk is an old and popular campground in Aztalan and with its proximity to Aztalan State Park, it offers the perfect setting for relaxation after a long day of walking the park’s grounds. 

Jellystone Park Camping resort

Amenities: Game room, Fishing, laundry, restaurant, golf

More information: Jellystone park website

You will find comfortable cabins in the campground at the Jellystone resort. They offer numerous outdoor entertainment options, including visits to Aztalan State Park and other spots within the county.

Aztalan State Park Activities

Aztalan Water Sports: The Crawfish River

The Crawfish River is an important part of the park’s history. You will find the ceremonial center of the village on the banks of the river, something that suggests that the villagers used the river for many purposes (such as religious rituals), besides being a source of food and water for irrigation. It was also an important transport and trade route for these early inhabitants.

You can go fishing in the Crawfish River. Keep in mind that Fishing licenses apply.

Canoeing and boating

Although there is no special boat launching pad, canoeing and fishing is a popular activity on Crawfish River. If you love fishing, you may enjoy catching a good stock of catfish, walleyes, and northern pikes that are plenty in this river. Kayaking and paddling also happen on this river, although the section that passes through Aztalan is calm and ideal for paddling or beginner kayakers. 

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Walking/hiking at Aztalan State Park

The hiking trails in Aztalan are short and numerous plaques and boards strategically placed along these routes offer you comprehensive information about whatever you come across. You can take amazing photos of these attractions here as well. There are lots of wildflowers (especially on the banks of the Crawfish River) which offer the perfect setting to have a great picnic with your family.

Aztalan trails

Length: 1.9 miles loop

The longest walking trails here are only 1.9 miles, which makes the park an ideal location for a day hike. You can take on the trail that leads to the West bank of the river, then onto the mounds, or take the trail in the South of the building that takes you through the wildflowers and onto the mounds.

Kids can enjoy sighting birds or collecting bugs in the foliage, or run in the open as you push your way from one mound to the other. No guided tours are offered in this park.  

Aztalan Trail Map

Aztalan State Park Biking

Biking is allowed in Aztalan State Park. You will need a state park sticker though. There are areas you are prohibited from biking or driving inside the park as a way of conserving the environment and the property located there.

Cultural celebrations in Aztalan State Park

The Ho-Chunk/Winnebago tribes are the ones who took up the role of keeping the middle Mississippian traditions in Aztalan alive through enacting their way of life in dances and festivals that happen annually.

The friends of Aztalan organize different events during the year, including a Native American Day that occurs in July. it features a colorful display of the way of life of the Native Americans, with traditional dances, exaggerated clothing, and traditional rituals. They communicate and offer more information about these festivals on their website

Aztalan State Park Hunting and trapping

Although hunting and trapping are allowed in this park, you have to conform to the regulations of Wisconsin’s State Park. For instance, if you are hunting with a bow/crossbow, you can do so from 15 December to 6 January although the hunting and trapping season opens on November 15.

You are also not allowed to discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a building. You can inquire at the state’s center for more information if you are interested in this spot.

Aztalan State Park in Winter

As this is a day park, you will find a lot less “planned” activities for winter. Cross-country skiing is allowed, but trails are not groomed. Snowshoeing and winter hiking are permitted.

Please note: sledding is not permitted at the park. It is illegal to sled on the mounds as these are culturally tied into Native American religion. Please be considerate.

Aztalan 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.

Pets are allowed only in designated areas and they must be on a leash and under control at all times. You will find maps with areas you can take your dogs all around the park. Always pick up after your dog and do not let the dogs wander onto the preserved sites. Carry enough food and water for the dog as well. 

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Jefferson County Humane Society (920) 674-2048.

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.

How to get to Aztalan State Park

How to get to Aztalan State Park: Directions

The town of Lake Mills is just about a half-mile away from Aztalan State Park. This makes it convenient for people who would like to stop and replenish their supplies, or fuel. There used to be a small trailer in the visitor center but I would advise you to carry your food and supplies.

There is sufficient parking, both in Aztalan and in Lake Mills town. From Lake Mills town, at Exit 259, take a detour and drive on for a few minutes to get to the State Park. If you are coming from the West on Interstate Highway 94, get to County B by going south on State highway 89 to the Lake Mills town.

If you are coming from the east on Interstate Highway 94, take the State Highway 26 south to Johnston Creek to get into highway B then follow the road to Lake Mills.

State permit

You will need a Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker to get into Aztalan State Park. This permit also allows you to get into all the state parks, forests, and recreation parks in the State.

When to visit

The park is open daily from 6 am to 11 pm. Entry fees are charged at the center. The museum is opened from Thursday to Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. The best time of the year to visit is from mid-May through late September or early October.

Restaurants near Aztalan State Park

Here are some of our favorite restaurants;

Tyranena Brewing company

Location: 1025 Owen Street, Lake Mills. This is home to the famous Tyranena beer. Enjoy a weekend of fun, music, and great food while sipping the local brew.

Crawfish Junction

Location: W6376 County Road A Johnson Creek. If you love eating fish, pop into this restaurant for their delicious fish fry, burgers, seafood, and sandwiches.

Pyramid Event Venue

Location: 117 S Main St Lake Mills. This is an event venue that serves great food and cocktails as you enjoy numerous performances daily. 

El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant Lake Mills

Location: 102 E Madison St Lake Mills. This is one of the best Mexican in the State and they serve Mexican and other exotic cuisines. Pop in for great-tasting margaritas and tacos.

The Grist Bar and Table

Location: 103 S Main St Lake Mills. This is a small but great location which offers you amazing views of the downtown. The ambiance is set perfect for people seeking to have a great, relaxed, and exciting night.

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Learn How to Cook Pizza Over Campfire

Have you ever thought to cook pizza over campfire? On a large scale, pizza is a favorite meal for many families. Pizza is a delicious and filling meal that is popular for all sorts of events. In fact, plenty of families have weekly or monthly traditions involving pizza.

How to Cook Pizza Over Campfire

It should come as no surprise, then, that many families want to make this classic dish over a campfire. Whether on a campout or at an outdoor event, pizza is a great dish to make over a campfire. 

Following is a quick guide on the materials you will need and the methods you can use to cook pizza over a campfire.

Can You Cook Pizza Over A Campfire?

In short, yes, you can absolutely cook pizza over a campfire. Cooking pizza over a campfire differs from a traditional oven, however. You can use a variety of methods to cook pizza depending on your personal preference. 

Campfire Cooking Materials/Equipment

Ultimately, what materials you will need will largely depend on what method you are using to cook campfire pizza. It is important to note that you should always use campfire safe equipment when cooking.

Standard kitchen materials and utensils may not hold up to the intense and direct heat of a campfire. The last thing you want while cooking is any of your materials breaking on you.

In general, however, there are some kitchen utensils you will want to have for campfire pizza. Tinfoil and fire-safe pans are very useful. You will want a way to cut the pizza to serve it, such as a knife or pizza cutter. 

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Methods For Cooking Pizza Over Campfire

Following are some of the methods that you can use to cook pizza over a campfire. 

Cooking Pizza Over Campfire Using Tinfoil 

Tinfoil can easily be used as a makeshift pan, especially in a pinch. Simply roll out some fire-safe tin foil and curve the edges inward so nothing spills out of it. Get your pizza ready and place it on the tin foil and put it over your heat source. 

Low and slow is the best way to cook a traditional pizza, as you cannot flip it over on the fire without spilling toppings everywhere. That’s why I recommend campfire calzones if you want to use tin foil.

Once you have your dough out, roll it lengthwise so it’s more of a cylinder than a disk. Then once you have your toppings on it, fold it over itself and pinch the edges together. Wrap the calzone and tin foil and cook it on both sides until all of the cheese inside is melted.

This is a simple and easy way to make delicious pizza over a campfire and is sure to be a favorite no matter the circumstances.

Cook Pizza Over Campfire

Using A Pan Or Pizza Stone To Cook Pizza 

Like tin foil, pans and pizza stones are used to directly cook pizza over a campfire. As previously mentioned, it is important to ensure that your pan or stone is campfire safe before you proceed with the cooking process.

To start, lightly grease the pan and get your campfire ready. Then, make your pizza as you typically would and lay it on the pan or stone. 

Set the pan over the fire on a rack or support of some kind. Allow it to cook until the cheese is completely melted before removing it from the fire. Once it has cooked through, remove it from heat and allow it to cool.

Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut into slices and serve to your hungry campers. Just because campfire pizza is unconventional doesn’t mean it is impossible or even hard to do. Make sure to leave enough room between the fire and the pizza so that the crust doesn’t burn while the toppings remain uncooked.

Cook Pizza over Campfire Using A Dutch Oven

Think of dutch oven pizza as the campfire equivalent of deep dish pizza. In fact, it is super easy to make a delicious deep-dish pizza using a dutch oven. To start, make your pizza as you normally would.

Lay it in the dutch oven, preferably on a rack inside the oven. Lay it over hot coals and dump some more hot coals on the lid once it is secured onto the oven. From there, cook in five to ten-minute increments until it is ready to serve. 

Once it is fully cooked, remove the dutch oven from heat and allow it to cool before carefully removing the pizza. Place the pizza on a tray and cut to serve. Using a dutch oven is a simple way to make a crisp and tasty pizza just like you would at home.

Cook Pizza Over Campfire

Cook Pizza Over Campfire Using Pie Irons

This method is a little bit different than the other methods. To start, grease your irons and lay bread or dough in them. Then, add sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you want. Latch the irons and hold them over the fire for four minutes per side. 

The great thing about using pie irons is that everyone can make their own, and they can easily be checked to ensure that the pizza is done. For this method, bread typically works better than dough does, but it can work if you allow more cooking time for the dough.

This is perhaps the easiest method, and it is great for parties or events where people may want to eat at different times. Plus pie irons are easy to take apart and clean after the fact.

Campfire Pizza On A Stick

A favorite for many scouts, campfire pizza on a stick is simple and fun to do. To start, take a small pot of pizza sauce and set it over the fire to heat up. Then, take cheese sticks and cut them into small sections about an inch long. 

From there, skewer them onto cooking rods, followed by folded pepperoni. Wrap the meat and cheese with pizza dough and cook over the fire until done. Dip it into the pizza sauce and enjoy!

While it may not be the most salient campfire food, making pizza on a campfire is simple to do and delicious! It is perfect for parties and picky eaters alike, and helps to bring the taste of home wherever you go! 

With this guide, you too can effortlessly make pizza over a campfire for your next outdoor adventure.

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Learn How To Cook Eggs Over Campfire

When it comes to campfire cooking, your options for what you can make might seem slim. However, it should be noted that most meals can be made on a campfire with patience and dedication.

How To Cook Eggs Over A Campfire

Likewise, it is totally possible to make delicious eggs over a fire. Whether on a campout or just using a campfire, eggs are a great dish to make. Eggs are high in protein and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. 

They can also be eaten on their own or served as a side dish. Some recipes even use cooked eggs as an ingredient. Cooking eggs over a campfire requires some patience and preparation, but it’s well worth it. Eggs are a great breakfast food that is easy to make over the campfire.

How To Cook Eggs Over Campfire

Following is a simple guide to the ways you can cook eggs over a campfire. While they can be a finicky food to make, learning to cook eggs over a fire is well worth the effort it takes!

Cook Eggs over Campfire Equipment

Ultimately, what equipment you will need will largely depend on what method you are using to cook your eggs. However, there are a few recommendations that you should take heed of.

First, always invest in high-quality materials when cooking with open fire or coals. It is incredibly important to ensure that the cooking materials you will be using will withstand high and direct temperatures.

Further, it is always best to have quality supplies when cooking outside. The last thing you want is containers or utensils breaking or making things harder for you.

Cook eggs over campfire

Cook eggs over campfire: Cooking Eggs With Foil

If for whatever reason you can’t use a pan, using heavy-duty aluminum foil to cook your eggs will work just fine. Once you have your fire or coals going, lay out a sheet of tin foil and fold the sides up.

From there, lightly grease the foil and palace over the heat. Allow the foil to sit for about five to ten minutes while you prepare your eggs. If you are making scrambled eggs, crack the eggs into a container and add any other ingredients that you wish.

Once the foil is heated up, pour the eggs onto it and cook normally. For sunnyside eggs, simply crack the egg straight onto the foil and cook normally.

Once you are done, remove the foil from heat and allow it to cool. Once it is no longer warm to the touch, dispose of it as you normally would. The great thing about tin foil cooking is that it is not only easy, but it is also convenient. 

Tinfoil can help reduce the number of dishes you need to pack and clean while cooking over a campfire, which is great when you are cooking away from home, especially on a campsite.

Cooking Campfire Eggs In The Shell

Cooking eggs in the shell, or making campfire ‘boiled’ eggs, is pretty simple to do. First, get your coals or griddle ready for cooking. Then, get a pot of water and fill it with your eggs.

From there, simply set the pan over heat and allow the eggs to cook for about half an hour. As the water begins to boil, it will slowly raise the temperature of the actual egg over time. By the time the half-hour is up, you will have delicious cooked eggs. 

Be sure to give the eggs time to cool before you dig in! Some recommend adding vinegar to the water you are boiling or even salt or baking soda. This is supposed to make the eggs easier to peel after they have cooled off.

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Cooking Campfire Eggs In A Bag

Cooking eggs in a bag is a campfire cooking hack that many don’t know about. To start, place a pot of water over your heat source and allow it to boil. At the same time, crack open two eggs into a zippered plastic bag and mash them together in the bag.

Make sure you leave some room in the bag for air. Once your water is boiling, place the bag in and let it sit for about ten minutes. Once the ten minutes are up, carefully remove from the water and pour the eggs onto your plate.

This recipe is super simple and you can add tons of extra ingredients like cheese or bacon to it as well. 

Making A Campfire Breakfast

In the morning, it can be hard to make a big breakfast, especially over a fire. Cooking over fire takes a lot more work than cooking at home, as you have to build and maintain the fire all outside. 

Thankfully, however, eggs lend themselves quite well to a campfire breakfast. They are simple to make and only require a pan and a spatula to cook. Following is a quick guide to cooking your eggs with a pan. 

Using Cast Iron To Cook Eggs

Many prefer to use cast iron to cook their eggs. Cast iron or steel pans are preferable as they can withstand the heat of a campfire. It is much harder to control the temperature of an open fire, so as previously mentioned, it is always wise to invest in durable cooking utensils. 

Cook eggs over campfire

To use cast iron, first prepare your fire for cooking. Then, place the cast iron over it and allow it to heat up. Lightly grease the pan, and you are ready to cook your eggs.  Cast iron might take a little bit more grease than would a typical kitchen pan, so keep that in mind.

Once you are done cooking, remove the cast iron from heat and set it somewhere where it can cool down and not be in the way. You will need to wash it using a special method, so don’t try to throw it in with your other dishes. 

Making eggs over a campfire might sound difficult at first, but it is actually pretty simple. Plus, there are loads of cooking methods that you can use to make delicious eggs.

With the help of this guide, you are well on your way to making delicious breakfasts and meals over a campfire.

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How To Cook Corn On The Cob Over A Campfire

Corn on the cob is a favorite side dish for at-home meals, but have you ever wanted to enjoy it using a campfire? Whether on a campout or at a backyard bonfire, there are several different ways that you can cook corn on the cob over a campfire.

How To Cook Corn On The Cob Over A Campfire

There is simply nothing like freshly cooked corn with the added flavor of salt, pepper, or butter. No matter how you enjoy your corn, there are several ways you can cook it over a campfire.

How To Cook Corn On The Cob Over A Campfire

Following is a comprehensive guide of different ways that you can cook corn on the cob over a campfire.

In Husk Versus Out Of Husk

To start, you can cook your corn in the husk or out of the husk. There are pros and cons to both, and either method can lend itself better to certain cooking methods rather than others. Cooking corn in the husk helps to lock in moisture.

Further, it protects the corn from heat and from burning, which can be very helpful. This is especially so when you are cooking a full meal on the campfire rather than just corn.  Cooking corn without the husk does leave it open to burning. 

However, it is also much simpler and opens the door for lots of flavoring techniques. For example, you can soak the corn in water and salt before cooking to seal the flavor that may be lost during the cooking process. 

corn on the cob over a campfire

Buying Fresh Corn

You should always buy corn as fresh as possible when you can. Fresh corn has more of the natural flavor in it, and it slowly loses its flavor once it is picked. In much the same way, it is best to purchase corn as close to the cooking time as possible.

Buying fresh corn and making it quickly guarantees a fresh and potent flavor, no matter what recipe you decide to do,

Dutch Oven Corn On A Cob

Many swear by cooking corn on the cob in a traditional kitchen oven, so why not cook it in a dutch oven? To start, do not remove the husk from the corn and soak it in the cool water during the preparation process.

Then, get out your oven, which should be twelve inches minimum, and spray oil into it. Place a trivet in the bottom of the dutch oven to hold the corn up from the bottom and place your corn on the trivet, side by side. 

You will want to cook the corn for about forty minutes, with the oven sitting on about ten coals. Once you place the oven, cover the top of it in as many coals as will fit on it.

Once it is done baking it, let it cool for a few minutes and remove the husk and add your favorite toppings, such as butter or salt, and enjoy!

While it does take a while, this is a simple way to enjoy corn on the cob on a campfire, and it can cook while you focus on other things as well.

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Ember Roasted Corn

Packed with flavor, ember roasted corn is a fan favorite. There is nothing like biting into the crispy corn kernels from ember roasted corn. To start, you will need to build a charcoal fire, and once it is going rake out the embers. 

Keeping the husk on the corn, lay the corn directly on the embers and cook until the husk is burned through and golden brown kernels are visible. This process should take about three to four minutes on each side.

While the corn is cooking, melt some butter inside or on the grill as well. Once the corn is done, place the cobs into a heatproof tray and scrape the husk off of it. Brush the melted butter onto the corn and enjoy!

For added flavor, I recommend sprinkling a favorite barbecue rub over the corn once you have brushed it with butter. This combined with the crisp and flavorful kernels is an awesome way to prepare corn on the cob.

corn on the cob over a campfire

Foil Wrapped Corn on the Cob over a Campfire

Making foil-wrapped corn is similar to dutch oven and ember roasted corn-making methods. For this method, you can choose whether or not to keep the husks on the corn. If you are keeping the husks, remove the outer husk off of the cob. Peel back the inner husk and clean off any silk from the cob.

Rub butter over the corn before pulling the inner husk back over the cob. From there wrap the corn in a sheet of heavy-duty foil and place it onto the coals or grill directly. The corn should take about half an hour to cook and should be turned over at the fifteen-minute mark.

To cook corn without husks, place the husked corn onto a sheet of foil. Add a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of water onto the corn. Wrap the cob in the foil and directly lay it on the coals or grill. Overall, it will take about twenty to thirty minutes to fully cook. 

Once your corn is done on either method, take it off of the grill and let it cool before unwrapping it. You can add your own seasoning or even add more butter to it if you want. 

corn on the cob over a campfire

Cooking Corn In A Cooler

OK, I know this isn’t Corn On The Cob Over A Campfire, but bear with me. Believe it or not, you can actually cook corn in a cooler using hot water. To start, make sure you completely clean your cooler as you will be cooking corn straight in it. Remove the husks from the corn and place them in the cooler, in either a single or double row. 

Boil some water, it should be enough water that when poured into the cooler will cover the ears by more than an inch. Once the water is boiling, carefully pour it into the cooler and place the lid back onto it. Let it sit for about half an hour to forty-five minutes or until the corn is completely cooked.

As you can see, there are plenty of easy ways to make corn on the cob. Corn is a delightful summer treat, and easy to make on the campfire.

Whether you are looking for a great side dish for a campout or a backyard event, you can’t go wrong with these methods of cooking corn on a campfire.

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Complete Guide to 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.

Complete Guide to Blue Mound State Park

Blue Mound State Park is an amazing place to visit if you want to get away from it all. Whether you are looking for some time camping out in nature or just want a change of scenery from your regular life, Blue Mound State Park will not disappoint. There are many different things that make Blue Mound so great such as its beautiful hiking trails and lakes full of fish waiting to be caught by anyone willing to put in the effort needed.

A Complete Guide to Blue Mound State Park

Perched on one of the tallest hills in Southern Wisconsin, the Blue Mound State Park is an excellent place to get to if you’re craving for a little peace and quiet. With a plethora of activities to try and some beautiful accommodations nearby, you just can’t go wrong. But before you start making plans, here’s a quick, go-to guide of the park, and everything else you need to know about.

A Little Glimpse

The park, which is spread across 1,153 acres, is known for its pair of observation towers that get you a stunning view of the Wisconsin River valley, the forests of the Driftless Area, the plains, and the city of Madison.

There are a lot of activities for outdoor enthusiasts to try out, and at the same time, it also appeals to those who just want to sit back and relax, thanks to the solitude it offers.

The Driftless Area of Southern Wisconsin is a region that has been largely untouched by glaciers, and it offers a unique ecosystem with bountiful wildlife.

History of Blue Mound State Park

The Blue Mound State Park was founded in the year 1959 by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It is open all throughout the year and has a lot of amenities within the campground area.

Blue Mound State Park Camping

For camping enthusiasts, the Blue Mound State Park has 77 wooded sites to offer, and there’s even an accessible cabin for those with disabilities. There are both RV sites as well as tent sites available within the campground area.

If you like electricity at your site you need to know that sites 12, 13, 25, 28-39, and 61 are the only ones that have electrical hookups.

Group Camping

There is NO separate group camping location at Blue Mound, organized groups may camp and make reservations in the family campground. There is a limit of six persons per campsite. That just means you need to book early – so you can get those sites right next to each other.

There is a section of the campground that is in the hiking/biking area – just so you know that no cars are allowed at those sites.

One word of warning here – there is a serious herd of Trash Pandas at this park. Keep you food out of their reach and put away or you will be ensured to get these beyond bold visitors at night.

Blue Mound State Park Water Sports

Blue Mound is a little different as there is no lake to play on. That kind of eliminates boating and fishing. You can still swim there though…


The Blue Mound State Park is the only state park in the whole of Wisconsin that also features a swimming pool and a splash pad. There are lockers to keep your belongings safe and a nice shower area too.

But that’s not the only reason why this is one of the most popular attractions at the state park- the pool also features an ADA lift chair to help those in need of assistance.

The pool is open daily (weather permitting) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

You need to know that there are no lifeguards on duty and that anyone under 16 needs to be accompanied by an adult. They are not a daycare – just a pool.

Please note that there is an additional fee to use the pool:

Daily Fees

  • Ages 2-17: $2
  • Ages 18 & older: $3

Season Pass

  • Ages 2-17: $30
  • Ages 18 & older: $45

While the pool is a bit dated, there is a plan to renovate it on the horizon.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
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

Blue Mound State Park Hiking

Blue Mound State Park has a number of trails with varying levels of difficulty.

 Flint Rock Nature Trail

One of the most popular trails, this self-guided 1.3-mile long trail is an easy hike and gives you a great chance to relish the geology of Blue Mound State Park.

Willow Springs Trail

This 2-mile trail is named so because it passes through a stand of willow trees and a hardwood forest. Take this hike to get a chance to gawk at a breathtakingly beautiful spring that flows throughout the year.

John Minix Trail

The Jon Minix Trail is one of the easiest trails, perfect for those looking to enjoy a low-impact outdoor activity. The trail is named after the previous owner of the park and is a simple walk around a hardwood forest.

Indian Marker Tree Trail

The Indian marker tree trail is named after the oak tree that was bent over some 100 years back, pointing towards a natural spring. It is half a mile long hike and is relatively easy.

Pleasant Valley Trail

This one’s another extremely easy trail that goes through a peaceful maple forest and has a variety of plant life to explore.

Weeping Rock Hiking Trail

The weeping rock trail is actually a mile-long extension of the Pleasant Valley Trail. You’ll get the chance to hike through some magnificent oak and maple trees and come face to face with a rock wall that has water from the springs seeping through it.

Blue Mound State Park Nature Center

The Blue Mound State Park nature center is the starting point for all of these trails and offers a variety of educational programs.

Nature Programs

If you’re looking to spend some quiet time, observing nature at its best, the Blue Mound State Park has you covered. It hosts a variety of nature programs and guided hikes, and there’s also a nature center where you can picnic and learn more about plant and animal life.

Plus, there’s also an amphitheater that hosts excellent nature programs in the evenings. And of course, on Saturdays, you can catch the Ghost Stories Into the Night Concert Series.

You can also take advantage of the 2 Nature Observing Towers at Blue Mound. These towers are located in the center of a prairie. From these high vantage points, you can see many different species of birds and wildlife that live on this land.

Blue Mound State Park Bike Trails

For bicycle enthusiasts, the Blue Mound State Park offers 15.5 miles of off-road trails that are moderate to hard in terms of challenge. You’ll need a state trail pass to get through, and you can cycle your way through the trails almost throughout the year unless there are certain unfavorable climatic conditions.

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Blue Mound State Park Hunting

Hunting is an option for enthusiasts at the Blue Mound State Park. You’ll need to acquire a license though. The park is home to cottontail rabbits, flying squirrels, coyotes, meadow mice, and even red and gray foxes, among many other animals. Deer are often spotted in the months of June, July, and August near the pool area.

In addition to the opportunities that are available during the state parks hunting/trapping time frame, hunting opportunities in state parks that were already established by rule and in place prior to the enactment of 2011 ACT 168, remain in place.

  • At Blue Mound State Park, this includes archery deer hunting, which is allowed in the park from Oct. 15 through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6.

Blue Mound State Park in Winter

At the Blue Mound State Park, you can also enjoy a number of recreational activities if you get there during the colder months of the year.

Snowshoeing at Blue Mound State Park

Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park except on cross-country ski trails. A designated snowshoe trail with a 0.75-mile loop and a 3-mile loop has its trailhead on the east side of the pool parking lot.

winter in peninsula state park

Cross Country Skiing at Blue Mound State Park

You’ll find 10 miles of well-groomed trails which you can use to try cross country skiing. The following hiking and biking trails are converted over in the winter: John Minix, Pleasure Valley bike trail, Ridgeview trail, Walnut Hollow trail, and the Willow Springs trail.

Sledding at Blue Mound State Park

There’s an excellent hill where you can go sledding – just west of the cross-country ski trailhead in the pool parking lot.

Blue Mound 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.

All trails are dog-friendly when on a leash, except for in winter with the ski-prepped trails.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t microchipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Dane County Humane Society at (608) 838-0413 or the Iowa County Humane Society at (608) 935-1381. Yes, this park covers two different counties.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • 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.

Blue Mound State park hiking trails

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.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Hotels Near Blue Mound State Park

We know it – not everyone wants to sleep IN the park, either on their boat or in a camper/RV/tent.

Wisconsin River Retreat

Located just alongside a beautiful one and a half acres of the river, the Wisconsin River Retreat is the perfect place to visit if you’re visiting Blue Mound with your family. The view is scenic and you can enjoy relaxing activities like having dinner under the stars and setting up a bonfire.

The nightly rates range between $465 – $620.

Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn

An award-winning bed and breakfast located in Madison, the Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn is another great choice for families and couples to enjoy a getaway close to nature. The inn is surrounded by gardens, waterfalls, moved trails, gazebos, flower beds, and ponds, making it the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The pricing depends on your choice of room and can go anywhere between $169 – $269 a night.

Just look at that amazing view – this park is truly beautiful to experience!

Directions to Blue Mound State Park

Get to the village of the Blue Mounds and head north, close to 25 miles west of Madison along the US Highway 18/151. Keep going north on the highway and then take a left to County Highway ID. Keep going west until you reach Mounds Road, which is at about half a mile distance.

Take a right and get to the Mounds town. You’ll find the park at one mile north of the intersection of the Highway ID and Mounds Road.

Check out our OTHER State Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

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

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking? How do you enjoy bird watching while camping or hiking? For many people, this is a question that has never crossed their minds. If you are one of these people, then it is time to start thinking about how to make the most of your next campsite stay!

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

This guide will walk you through some tips and tricks for bird watching from the comfort of your tent or cabin – no matter what kind of environment you’re in.

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

Bird watching is an enlightening experience. It is a great excuse to spend more time outdoors, learning intricate details about nature. It is also a healthy activity, especially for people who are curious about everything they see in nature. Imagine waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the morning while camping in the woods?

The peace, sights, and sounds make you much aware (and more appreciative) of your environment. You get to notice more animals, insects, flowers, fruits, and trees as you watch the birds. This is a sport that can take you across the world, as you enjoy camping, identifying, and possibly discovering new bird species in different locations.

Here are a few ideas on how you can get started with bird watching while camping or hiking in the US.

Equipment for Bird Watching

Luckily, not much equipment is needed when starting bird-watching as a hobby. You will need a good pair of binoculars though, and probably a notebook to jot down what you see. Make sure the binoculars are powerful enough for the task, as you may want to closely inspect the birds’ behavior without frightening them away by being too close to them.

Note down everything you see; color, beak size and type (crooked, straight, etc.), bird size, type of nest, nest material, bird sounds (you may record the chirping if you want to analyze this to recognize the bird later), movement, what the bird feeds on and any other relevant information that will help you identify the bird later.

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

Bird Identification Apps

There are numerous mobile phone applications you can download to help you identify what type of bird you see. A mobile application such as iBird Pro Guide to Birds contains a wide collection of local and exotic birds. It is a great guide to help you identify the kind of birds you come across while hiking or camping.

You will get a detailed history of the bird you see, including its characteristics, behavior in its natural environment, migration patterns, and other important information. It also contains field guides and trails you should explore if you are an avid bird watcher in the US. There are many customized applications you can download, depending on where you are doing your bird-watching activity on the continent.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking: Guide books

When visiting a state or national park for a camping adventure, be sure to pick up a guidebook as it gives you detailed information on how you can enjoy bird watching and other leisure activities inside that park. You can find these guide books online, in libraries, or at the park centers.

These guide books will offer you the best trails to explore, what kind of birds you should keep an eye out for, or instructions on what to do and what to avoid when enjoying bird watching in a specific location.

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

Choosing the best location

How do you know where to go to find the birds you want to see? Not all locations are ideal for a bird-watching escapade whilst others are simply a bird watcher’s paradise. Figure out which is the best location to explore so that you can have a more fulfilling bird-watching experience. You can use online resources such as to figure out which are the best campgrounds to visit in the country and the attractions you can expect to find in these places.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking: Bird watching group

As a real bird-watching lover, you will always be on the lookout for the next adventure. You will always be on the hunt for the most exotic and rare species. The best way to learn about these species and how to find them would be to join a bird watching group online or locally in your community.

Bird lovers share a lot of experiences of their adventure. They love exploring new grounds, identifying new species, and sharing tips and hacks on how to enjoy the experiences better. 


Bird watching is an activity that will test your patience and persistence limits. You can wait for hours (sometimes for days) before you spot a specific bird species. Some of the most avid bird watchers spend weeks researching a particular species.

Others have been known to follow certain bird species as they migrate so that they can document the bird’s life. You may visit a state park that has guide books on the kind of birds to expect but you may not be guaranteed that you will see these birds that day.

Some bird species (The Atlantic Puffin and California condor for instance) are rarely spotted. The puffin loves to live in the sea and comes to breed on rocky islands during the summer. Spotting the bird is an ecstatic moment for many bird lovers but it requires patience and persistence.

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

Bird watcher’s code

There are rules in every campground you visit and most of these rules have been put in place to protect nature and the environment. Sometimes it can be easy to get carried away when bird watching. If you come across a bird’s nest, do not touch or tamper with the bird’s environment.

Remember that this is their haven. Do not feed the bird’s chicks you may find in these nests. Some birds may abandon their natural habitat if they feel that someone tampered with their environment. 

Try as much as possible not to come too close to their nests. The American Birding Association’s Code of Birding Ethics is a detailed tool to help you understand what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable when watching birds within the country. For instance, if you record bird songs, do not play them close to the nests as they will disrupt the birds from feeding their chicks.

Time for bird watching

To spot a rare bird species, sometimes it all comes down to good timing and sheer luck. Some birds rise early in the morning to go about their escapades. If you want to spot these birds, you would have to rise early as well. Others (like owls) prefer being active at dusk.

Do not forget to check your local outdoors. Sometimes the birds you are yearning to see might be nestled right there in your backyard or local woodlands. If you want to attract birds to your backyard, install feeders and create a good environment for their visit.

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How to Clean Mold Out of a Pop up Camper

How to Clean Mold Out of a Pop up Camper? Mold can be a nightmare for anyone, and it’s even worse when you have to clean it out of your popup camper. Cleaning mold from this type of camper is actually quite easy though. If you are not sure how to get rid of mold from a popup camper, then this article is for you!

A pop-up camper is one of the most comfortable pieces of camping equipment for a family. They are strong, highly compact, and easy to transport. If you live in a place that rains constantly, you may have mold building up in your camper after it gets damp inside.

How to Clean Mold Out of a Pop up Camper

You do not want to sleep under a damp canvas. The moisture creates the perfect environment for mold. We have offered some tips and instructions on how you can clean up the mold out of a popup camper easily.

Removing mold from the canvas

If you are having too much mold inside the camper, I would advise that you clean the entire camper. Start with the interior; the carpets, the hard floors, and the upholstery before moving onto the canvas. Most of the mold will undoubtedly settle on the canvas. This is where you should concentrate much of your cleaning efforts.

Before you resort to washing using a commercial cleaner, you should unfold the camper and let it dry in direct sunlight. The stains will still be there but the sunlight will help prevent the mold from spreading further. You can then use a stiff brush to scrub off the mold.

Use a mildew cleaner

You can use a special mildew cleaner that contains added agents that create some sort of shield that suppresses future mildew growth. Each cleaner comes with instructions on how to use it. This is a fairly popular way to clean mold out of a pop up camper.

Generally, you spray the mildew cleaner directly onto the affected area on the canvas and wait for a few minutes as the cleaner works on the stain. If the cleaner you chose is effective, you should see the mold disappearing. Rinse the area with fresh water and leave to dry. Try to avoid cleaners that contain strong bleaching agents because they might damage your canvas.

Clean Mold Out of a Popup Camper

Use Vinegar as a homemade solution

If you are looking for a homemade solution to clean mold off your canvas, vinegar would be a great choice. Vinegar is widely used as a cleaning agent in our homes already. Just dilute it with water and spray directly on the mold stain, before wiping off and rinsing with fresh water.

Other homemade solutions include rubbing alcohol-water mixture on the stain. Tea tree oil also works well and it is a great choice for people seeking a chemical-free alternative.

How to prevent mold from forming on your camper

It is one thing to Clean Mold Out of a Pop up Camper, but better to prevent it! Although it is tough to prevent mold from forming on the canvas, you can take a few precautions to prevent this.

Check and plug all leaks on the canvas

Check to see if there are any leaks on the canvas. Mold forms when there is excess moisture. Check the seams that connect the canvas to the camper and ensure that there are no leaks. If there are leaks, take measures to seal them before they get out of control. Check all components (interior and exterior) of the camper to ensure that there are no leaks anywhere. If you find leaks, repair the areas immediately to avoid the formation of mildew.

Waterproof the canvas

If you decide to waterproof your canvas, you will be adding an extra protective layer to prevent mold and mildew from forming on the surface. Waterproofing also makes the canvas fabric last longer, thus giving you better service. You can take several simple steps to make sure your canvas is waterproof.

Clean Mold Out of a Popup Camper

Repair any tears in the canvas

Before waterproofing the canvas, check to see if there are any tears on the fabric. If you find a tear, the best way to repair the canvas would be by sewing on another patch on the damaged part. Buy a patching kit, measure the torn area, and cut a piece of material that will cover this area adequately.

Spread the adhesive that comes with your patching kit generously over the affected area. Cover the area with the piece of patching material and wait for a few minutes for the adhesive to dry.  Once fully dry, repeat the process for the outer part of the canvas.

Wash with soap and water

Wash the surface of the fabric with soap and water and then rinse. The purpose is to remove any dirt or mildew that may have formed on the surface before proceeding to waterproof. Leave the canvas to fully dry before you start working on it again so that the excess moisture gets eliminated.

Use a high-quality waterproofing agent

You will find many waterproofing products on the market. Go for one that has good reviews and one that will not spoil your canvas fabric. Spray the stained sections liberally and spread using a sponge or soft fabric. Make sure you have a consistent coating of the product on the canvas. Some people also prefer to use paint for waterproofing the canvas. If you decide to go this way, prime the area you want to paint and then use acrylic paint.

Seal the seams

Apply the sealer to seams in and around the canvas, both inside and outside. Broken or damaged seams could be avenues for leakages in the camper. Let the sealer dry before testing if it worked.

Test if the waterproofing worked

After the canvas has dried up, sprinkle some water on the surface of the canvas to test if the waterproofing worked. Go inside and check if there are any leaks (no matter how small) and rectify them accordingly.

Clean Mold Out of a Popup Camper

How to prevent mold from occurring in the future

To reduce the possibility of mold forming in your pop-up camper in the future, you can take a few preventive steps. The main aim is to keep water and humidity away from the camper popup.

Keep your popup camper well ventilated

Good ventilation allows the condensation to dry out and prevent the mold from forming. This would work well if you are camping in areas that are not too humid.

Inspect your pipes regularly

Pipes can crack, allowing moisture and water to leak or get trapped inside the camper. If you check them regularly, you will notice when these cracks occur and repair them immediately.

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