Whether you’re hiking, camping, fishing, biking, or kayaking, Wisconsin never falls short of beautiful views and natural settings through its many state parks. The Midwest’s best location for enjoying nature at its finest is in Wisconsin. Earth’s bounty comes alive in the natural forests, pristine lakes, rolling hills, and historical glacier drumlins. Nature preserves and open lakes bring wildlife, native plants, and wildflowers to the area. Nature lovers and sports enthusiasts alike can enjoy the pinewood forests, waterfalls, streams, and soaring sandstone bluffs.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operates all of the state parks open to the public, and both daily and yearly passes can be purchased at the entrance way of each park. The DNR also offers programs for exploring nature trails, boating, fishing, and hunting. There are over 95 state parks in Wisconsin, and the DNR reports that over 14 milion visitors frequent these areas each year. Cabins and campsites abound at almost all locations, so be sure to reserve your spot as early as possible. Other attractions include beaches, horseback riding, picnicking, and canoeing on the various rivers and lakes interspersed throughout each location.
1. Copper Culture State Park
The key attraction here is the ancient Indian burial ground from the Native American tribe of the Copper Culture. Almost 6,000 years old, it is known to be the oldest cemetery site in Wisconsin, and a nearby river offers tours and fishing. The geological history includes lava flows that have led to beautiful waterfalls, and the scenic trails will be a highlight of your visit.
2. Devil’s Lake State Park
Located in Baraboo, this beautiful site offers swimming, canoeing, scuba diving, hiking, and cross-country skiing around the 360-acre lake. The prestigious wooded pine forests and soaring bluffs make this a breathtaking destination.
3. Buckhorn State Park
This 2,5000 acre peninsula is open year round, and is frequented by campers, hikers, and hunters. Since it is located in the Castle Rock Flowage of the Wisconsin River, it is available for boating, fishing, and camping riverside. Hunting and fishing also attract campers and cabin lovers for long weekends and excursions.
4. Governor Nelson State Park
A popular spot for the dwellers of the city of Madison, this 10,000 acre park borders Lake Mendota allowing plenty of space for boating, camping, water activities, hiking, and picnicking. A swimming area and boat launch make for great summer recreation, and hiking and ski trails are open year round.
5. Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern and Southern
The Kettle Moraine area spans a 115 mile driving route around the northern and southern portions. An almost 30,000-acre wooded area with pristine lakes is a result of an Ice Age glacier in the area. The summertime is full of activities including beaches, off-road bikin,g, picknicking, and camping. Wintertime brings snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to the area.
6. Lake Kegonsa State Park
This famous fishing location features fresh lakes and water activities. One main attraction is The White Oak Nature Trail’s effigy mounds, opening up to the woodlands, prairies, and wetlands in the area. Campers, hikers, and picknikers frolic here year-round.
7. Mirror Lake State Park
Located only 3 miles outside of Wisconsin Dells, this park features rolling hills, and sandstone bluffs around the pristine lake. Swimming, camping, hiking, and canoeing are just some of the outdoor activities.
8. Newport State Park
Ellison Bay, WI
This open wilderness area offers 2,370 acres of forests beside Lake Michigan. Hiking trails, camping, birdwatching, and cross-country skiing are enjoyed by many on over 60 miles of trails. The park is located near Door County, a popular secluded tourist destination within Wisconsin’s natural forests.
9. Rib Mountain State Park
This historical area is over a billion years old, and the hill is one of Earth’s oldest geological landmarks. The area features camping, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing, as well as a 60-foot observation tower.
10. Wildcat Mountain State Park
This popular spot is located along the Kickapoo River, and overlooks the Village of Ontario. Activities include fishing, hiking, horseback-riding, and camping year-round, as well as canoe trips down the river.