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25 Best State Parks in Wisconsin [2024 Edition]

A guide to all the cool parks in Wisconsin you must visit, including where to stay, hike and enjoy beautiful waterfalls

Bordered by Lakes Michigan and Superior, Wisconsin is more than just dairy and cheese!

There are so many desirable travel locations, from big cities to beautiful landscapes, but the state parks in Wisconsin are some of the most beautiful in the world!

They offer a range of sights and attractions for thrill-seekers, nature lovers, and families.

For romantic getaways in Wisconsin, state parks with cabins are also a great option!

Top right photos is a frozen lake with bare trees. Top left photo is a picture of a big rock transformations on a sunny day. Bottom left photo is a part of the forest with brown leaves, bare trees and crevices. Bottom right photo is a small falls with green grass and clear green water.
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In this article, I share the best state parks ov Wisconsin for hiking, mountain biking, all-terrain vehicle riding, backpacking, camping, fishing, boating, kayaking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.

No matter what you like to do, there are parks to visit in Wisconsin that will suit your needs.

Even if you can’t decide on any other park, you must visit the largest state park in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park! If people had Wisconsin state parks ranked, it would easily be number 1.

Wisconsin State Park Systems have nearly 156,000 acres of land available for visitors to enjoy.

Nature provides beautiful backdrops all-year-round with recreation areas, trails, more than 15,000 inland lakes, 43,000 miles of rivers, and 659 miles of Great Lakes shoreline for travelers’ enjoyment. 

You can also simply enjoy the natural landscape with your family at some of the top state parks in Wisconsin.

And if hiking isn’t peaceful enough, you can check out some of the top yoga retreats in Wisconsin for more zen!

At the bottom of the post, you will also find a handy map of state parks in Wisconsin for reference.

This post contains affiliate links. if you buy via them, I’ll earn a small commission which helps me to keep this blog running. I received services for free for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Love Wisconsin? Click here to download your free bundle with a Fantastic Wisconsin Bucket List and a Weekend Trip Checklist! Don’t let them slip by!

1. Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin

largest state park in wisconsin, view of Lake State Park, Baraboo area, Wisconsin, Midwest USA.
Gorgeous Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin

Devil’s Lake State Park is the most visited state and largest state park in Wisconsin.

It is also considered by many to be the best state park in Wisconsin – it’s definitely one of the best state parks near Wisconsin Dells!

And it’s easy to see why with it offering gorgeous scenery in every season, and the opportunity to enjoy that with your favorite outdoor activity.

It is located in south-central Wisconsin, about 3 miles south of Baraboo, and is well connected.

You can easily reach this State Park by car following the brown and white Devil’s Lake State Park signs at turns. 

Climbing the huge boulders that make up the East Bluff trail offers views of the lake. The surrounding valleys are absolutely breathtaking and the most amazing activity to do.

As the name suggests, it is also home to Devil’s Lake, one of the best lakes in Wisconsin.

With downtown Lincoln City a few minutes away, one can glide quietly by canoe or kayak on the lake.

With three campgrounds, Devil’s Lake Wisconsin camping has 423 sites that can accommodate a family of 6.

Camping at Devil’s Lake is one of the best things to do in Central Wisconsin, and the park has one of the best campsites in Wisconsin Dells.

Devil’s Lake is great for hiking year-round, and a great activity in Wisconsin Dells in winter.

It’s also a popular destination for families during spring break in Wisconsin.

Book Devils Lake Wisconsin camping

2. High Cliff State Park, Wisconsin

top state parks in wisconsin, view over lake winnebago at sunset
Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin
  • Accommodation Options: Honestly, the best way to enjoy the beauty of this area is by renting a cabin or a cottage. This house offers gorgeous views on the lake and this luxury home comes with a spacious garden and stunning views.

This park overlooks the largest inland lake, Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin and is situated on limestone cliffs (once sacred to Native Americans), and is well connected by the road.

The park’s most popular destination is the magnificent 12-foot statue of Winnebago Indian Chief Red Bird standing on a huge granite rock overlooking the lake.  

The park also has a marina, historic sites, a campground, picnic areas, a beach, an observation tower, shelters, and play areas.

This is one of the best Wisconsin state parks with cabins. In fact, many facilities include a specially designed cabin, accessible for people with disabilities.

High Cliff State Park Wisconsin has 112 regular campsites with firewood available at the park wood yard.

The park also has four picnic areas with tables, grills, water, and restrooms.   

The park is about 40 minutes drive from Green Bay and makes a great day trip. There are plenty of great resorts in Green Bay if you rather stay in the city.

Book here waterfront cabins in High Cliff State Park

3. Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin

best national parks in wisconsin, waterfall at copper falls
Waterfall in Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin
  • Accommodation Options: The best way to enjoy the beauty here is by renting a cabin or a cottage. On VRBO, I found this scenic waterfront Log Home and this cabin rental comes with its own dock.

It’s easy to see why Copper Falls is considered one of the top northern Wisconsin state parks.

The deep gorges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular waterfalls make Copper Falls State Park Wisconsin one of the most scenic parks.

Additionally, it’s considered one of the best Wisconsin state parks with waterfalls.

Located about two miles northeast of Mellen in Ashland County, one can reach it by taking State Highway 13 to the north side of Mellen and turning (northeast) on State Highway 169. Go about 1.8 miles and the park’s entrance will be on your left. 

This state park offers hiking, picnicking, fishing, and swimming as well as other activities, but one of the main highlights is the North Country National Scenic Trail.

This trail offers some of the best hiking in Northern Wisconsin and is well worth a trip to the park.

The park has 54 regular campsites with a group camping area big enough for 40 people, offering an overnight stay and for people with disabilities, a rustic bin.

Copper Falls is in the heart of the prime fishing area, offering all kinds of sport fishing within easy traveling distance. It’s thus perfect to bring your inflatable fishing kayak!

That’s why it is one of the most popular state parks in Wisconsin since it is home to some of the best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin.

Book Waterfront Cabins in Copper Falls State Park

4. Mirror Lake State Park, Wisconsin

cool parks in wisconsin, mirror lake state park at sunset
Golden Hour in Wisconsin

Just a few miles from Wisconsin Dells, Mirror Lake State Park Wisconsin is a great place to spend some quality time with family in the summers.

It is conveniently located just off Interstate 90-94, exit I-90-94 to U.S. Highway 12, south of Wisconsin Dells.

The lake is surrounded by beautiful sandstone bluffs that go up to 50 feet offering excellent fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and bird watching opportunities.

One can also enjoy wooded campsites, picnic areas, a boat landing, and miles of biking, hiking, and cross-country ski trails, making it an ideal spot for a weekend vacation idea in Wisconsin.

It’s considered one of the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells and close to the best Airbnbs in Wisconsin Dells.

This Wisconsin Dells State Park features 147 campsites and various other types of lodging, camping, and great fishing.

It also offers adaptive equipment available for people with mobility impairment.

Book an AirBnB at Mirror Lake

5. Rocky Arbor State Park, Wisconsin Dells

best wisconsin state parks for hiking, lake in wisconsin dells
Rocky cliffs and vegetation at Rocky Arbor State Park in Wisconsin Dells

Rocky Arbor State Park is one of the best state parks in Wisconsin Dells. It offers an escape from the water parks to enjoy the outdoors and some of the best hiking in Wisconsin Dells.

This seasonal park is open for camping from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.

During the off-season, hikers and picnickers are still welcome to use the park.

Hiking is also a great way to spend a romantic getaway in Wisconsin Dells. The city is also home to some of the best romantic hotels in Wisconsin.

The park is well connected to the road, from Interstate Highway 90/94, take the U.S. Highway 12/16 and exit on the north side of Wisconsin Dells.

From here, go east on Highway 12/16 about 0.8 miles. The park entrance will be on your right.

This park and recreation retreat offers pine trees and sandstone bluffs for a cool escape for the picnicker, camping family, or hiker.

Hike through the park to get a glimpse of pine trees, sandstone bluffs, and animals of all sorts.

Walk quietly and you may see deer, squirrels, bats, raccoons, and chipmunks.

Wooded campsites are another great feature of this park and offer a 1-mile self-guided nature trail. The campground also has showers, flush toilets, and electricity.

Don’t forget to bring your Wisconsin hiking guidebook in order to explore the best trails, and your Wisconsin Like a Local itinerary to find all the best-kept secrets.

Book Yogi Bear Camp Wisconsin

6. Amnicon Falls State Park, Wisconsin

state parks in northern wisconsin, waterfall at amnicon falls state park
Amnicon Falls State Park waterfall in Northern Wisconsin
  • Accommodation Options: The best way to enjoy the beauty here is by renting a cabin. You’ll love this beautifully decorated Home near Spirit.

Located about 15 miles east of the Superior city limits in Douglas County, you can reach Amnicon Falls State Park through US Highway 2/53 to the southeast out of Superior.

The park offers 36 nicely spaced wooded campsites and attractive hiking and walking trails.

The covered Horton Bridge is the best spot to take photographs.

The park also features a series of delightful waterfalls and rapids along the Amnicon River.

You can view them from a covered footbridge or trails along the river.

The park offers a place to picnic, camp, walk in the woods, and you can also learn about the Douglas Fault, the geological formation that created the falls.

No wonder, that the area was a film location for some of the best movies set in Wisconsin.

Amnicon Falls State Park is more orientated towards tent camping and has vault toilets and water, but no electricity, showers, or dump station.

For outdoor enthusiasts, this is the best camping in Wisconsin state parks you’ll find. That’s why it is considered one of the best northern Wisconsin state parks.

Book here your northern Wisconsin cabin getaway

7. Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin

wyalusing state park wisconsin, best state parks in wisconsin
The confluence of Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers in Wyalusing State Park

Located on a high bluff overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, a land of sculpted limestone can be found amid a swath of preserved hardwood forest, the Wyalusing State Park.

You can easily reach the park from US Highway 18 and State Highway 35.

Wyalusing state park Wisconsin is one of the oldest parks and a world heritage site, featuring Indian burial mounds, canoe trial, and bird watching.

But even if you’re not a history buff, there are plenty of reasons to visit one of the best county parks in Wisconsin.

Wyalusing Park is a place to go for fishing, boating, cycling, picnicking, and enjoying nature. There is an interpretive center and four historical markers within the park.

The park has two campgrounds with 109 campsites that can accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs. There are 33 campsites with electricity. 

Book Wyalusing cabins and read reviews

8. Kettle Moraine State Park, Wisconsin

most beautiful wisconsin state parks, Beautiful hillside of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin.
Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin
  • Accommodation Options: The Hidden Serenity B&B is a great hideaway. But a cabin getaway is the best way to enjoy the natural beauty here. You’ll love the GGG Log Cabin close to trails and the lake. The Lillibridge Lake Home is just steps from the water on quaint Tittle Lake, nestled in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Kettle Moraine State Park Wisconsin is divided into two units: North and South.

The Northern Unit is located 45 minutes north of Milwaukee in Sheboygan County, while the Southern unit is 61 miles east of Madison and 37 miles southwest of Milwaukee in Washington County.

Considered one of the best day trips from Milwaukee, the chief feature of the reserve is the Kettle Mountain, a highly glaciated area. 

Visitors here can explore and enjoy almost 30,000 acres of rolling hills, lakes, forests, and grasslands in the Northern unit, while the Southern unit offers a recreational area of 22,000 acres.

Visitors can camp in one of the three family Wisconsin state park campgrounds, or the area is home to some of the most romantic cabins in Wisconsin.

The park also has some of the best places to hike in Southern Wisconsin!

Summer provides picturesque horseback riding, camping, bicycling, hiking, and fishing.

Fall in love with the colors as you meander through winding roads during the autumn season in Wisconsin.

Winter provides excellent opportunities for skiing, snowmobiling, and tubing.

If you’re visiting in Spring, don’t miss out on OutWiGo Green. It’s one of the best things to do in Wisconsin in May.

Book here your Kettle Moraine cabin getaway

9. Newport State Park, Wisconsin

top wisconsin state parks, view of autumn trees along door county lake
Door County, Wisconsin, the beauty of autumn

Newport State Park is located near the tip of the Door County Peninsula off State Highway 42 and is one of the best Wisconsin State parks on Lake Michigan.

Situated northeast of Ellison Bay, the state park in Door County Wisconsin is the only formally designated Wilderness Park.

That’s why it’s one of the best county parks in Wisconsin for nature lovers.

While there are a lot of fun things to do in Door County, it can be nice to get away from the busier areas.

Newport State Park has 2,373 acres and 11 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, offering quiet alternatives to bustling Door County.

Newport State Park Wisconsin is very popular for hiking as it has 30 miles of trails tracing the Lake Michigan shoreline.

No wonder it’s considered one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.

But it’s not just for hiking, Newport State Park has some of the best Door County bike trails, as well.

It also has beautiful waterfront locations with plenty of opportunities for kayaking, and where you can spend an entire day paddling through the waves.

Newport has 16 backpack campsites, 13 of which are reserved, and also offers winter backpack camping, which is one of the best things to do in Door County in winter.

If you need more accommodation options, check out my articles on the best Airbnbs in Door County, the best cabins in Door County, and the best resorts in Door County.

Don’t forget to bring your Wisconsin hiking guidebook in order to explore the best trails in the area, and your Wisconsin Like a Local itinerary to find all the best-kept secrets.

Book here your awesome Door County accommodation

10. Big Bay State Park, Wisconsin

best state parks in wisconsin for hiking, The sea caves of Devils Island in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior
The sea caves of Devils Island, Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, near Madeline Island

Located on Madeline Island, the largest of 22 Apostle Islands, the Big Bay State Park Wisconsin has rugged wooded cliffs with dramatic views of Lake Superior, offering great weekend or week-long retreats for families. 

Apostle Island is one of the top state parks in northern Wisconsin for families, and for romantic getaways.

The park offers a family campground, including walk-in campsites, hiking and nature trails, and 1.5 miles of sand beach awaits visitors.

The park also offers a picnic area with tables, grills, water, and toilets. 

The Big Bay State Park is famous for having some of the best fall foliage in Wisconsin.

Thus it’s a great fall activity in Wisconsin and definitely one of the best things to do in Northern Wisconsin.

If you have more time to spend in the area, you can check out my top recommendations for things to do in Apostle Island.

Although Big Bay is a state park, Apostle Island is actually a national park, and it is one of the best national parks in Wisconsin.

Book here your Wisconsin AirBnb

11. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

best state parks in wisconsin, door county wisconsin, a view on ephraim, wisconsin
A view of Ephraim in Door County Wisconsin.

Established in 1909, Peninsula State Park Wisconsin is a 3,776-acre state treasure on the Door County peninsula. You can reach this park through State Highway 57 north towards Sturgeon Bay.

High bluffs and sandy beaches, an 1860s lighthouse, a challenging 18-hole golf course, and professional summer theater performances make Peninsula State Park extremely popular.

Hiking or bicycling is the best way to explore the trails that wind through the quiet interior of the park. Staying at a wood cabin is one of the best ways to enjoy its beauty.

The recreational opportunities are numerous such as hiking, biking, boating, golfing, and swimming during the spring, summer, and fall. It’s thus a lovely place to vacation in Wisconsin.

Check the best AirBnbs at Peninsula State Park

12. Interstate State Park, Wisconsin

best state parks in wisconsin, clearing morning fog on the st. croix river in interstate state park during autumn
Wisconsin Interstate Park

Interstate State Park is Wisconsin’s oldest state park, and one of the best Western Wisconsin state parks.

It is known for Dalles of the St. Croix gorge and gorgeous views of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, one of the best national parks in Wisconsin.

Located on the state’s western border, the park shares its name with the bordering State Park of Minnesota.

Interstate Park is in St. Croix Falls, on Wisconsin Highway 35, just 1/2 mile south of U.S. Highway 8. 

The Interstate State Park Wisconsin has an excellent swimming beach and Beach House at scenic Lake O’ the Dalles and has several picnic areas with tables, grills, as well as open shelters.

The park also has two campgrounds with a total of 85 family campsites, and a primitive group camp that can accommodate up to 60 people.

If you happen to be visiting in the fall, St. Croix hosts one of the best fall festivals in Wisconsin.

Book here pet-friendly cabins in Wisconsin

13. Rock Island State Park

lake view at rock island state park, top state parks in wisconsin
Rocky coastline, Wisconsin

Located on Rock Island in Lake Michigan off the tip of the Door Peninsula, one can reach this state park by two ferry rides.

Take Wisconsin Highway 42 to its end at Northport, the tip of the Door County Peninsula, and then take the Washington Island Ferry to Washington Island.

Cars and bikes are not allowed, offering an experience unlike any other state park in Wisconsin. It’s a fabulous idea when looking for cool weekend trips in Wisconsin.

The park has 10 miles of hiking trails, including a one-mile interpretive trail, a naturalist program, and 5,000 feet of beach.

These are some of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin state parks.

Rock Island State Park Wisconsin has 40 campsites with pit toilets, and picnic tables and fire rings are provided.

There is also drinking water near the dock and the boathouse.

Check Rock Island cabins and campsites

14. Blue Mound State Park

state parks in southern wisconsin, trees at blue mound state park
Forests in Wisconsin

Located on the highest point in southern Wisconsin at 1,719 feet of elevation, sits Blue Mound State Park, one of the best parks in Wisconsin.

The park offers spectacular views along with unique geological features.

It is just north of the Village of Blue Mounds, about 25 miles west of Madison via US Highway 18/151.

That makes it one of the easiest state parks near Madison, WI for a day trip.

Blue Mound State Park Wisconsin is the only state park with a swimming pool equipped with a lift for persons with disabilities. 

The park is also popular for hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, mountain biking (both double and single track), and for finding peace and solitude from the noisy city.

It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular state parks in southern Wisconsin.

The campground is open throughout the year and contains 77 wooded sites and a rustic accessible cabin for disabled people.

Each site has picnic tables, free rings, toilets, and water fountains.  

Buy here your ultimate Wisconsin travel guide

15. Point Beach State Forest, Wisconsin

best wisconsin state parks, A picture of Milwaukee Wisconsin lakefront and beach from hill
Lakefront in Wisconsin

It is a 2,903 acre Wisconsin state forest located near two rivers, Wisconsin in Manitowoc County.

With 6 miles along the coastline, it’s no surprise this is one of the top state parks on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.

To reach the Point Beach State Park Wisconsin, take County Highway O north about 4 miles. The entrance road will be on your right.

With dunes, one of the best lighthouses of Wisconsin, a state park camping, and hiking, biking, skiing, nature, and snowmobile trails, it is an adventure’s paradise. 

The Point Beach offers a family campground consisting of 127 sites, 70 of them with electricity.

All these sites are within walking distance of Lake Michigan, where you can enjoy more than five undeveloped shorelines. 

Book campsites and lakefront cabins here.

16. Kohler Andrae State Park

Best Beaches in Wisconsin, beach view of Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan

Kohler-Andrae State Park is comprised of two separate but adjacent state parks just a few miles south of the city of Sheboygan.

Here you can find an impressive 137 family campsites – of which over 50 have electrical hookups – as well as two group sites, and a cabin for campers with disabilities.

Like many state parks in Wisconsin, these beautiful wooded campsites are perfect for scenic and secluded getaways in Wisconsin.

You’ll also be able to explore some of the best beaches in Wisconsin, with over two miles of sandy beach running along Lake Michigan.

Along with camping, hiking, and bicycling, active visitors can also enjoy horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and even hunting, as well as plenty of picnic spots to cool off in.

If you plan on staying in the area, there are a lot of fun things to do in Sheboygan, and a lot of great hotels in Sheboygan and nearby.

17. Wildcat Mountain State Park

hiking in Wildcat Mountain State Park, wisconsin
Wildcat Mountain State Park

As you might think from the name, Wildcat Mountain State Park has an abundance of wildlife.

At various times, you might catch sight of white-tailed deer, beavers, red squirrels … even bald eagles can be found here.

This has to be one of the most exciting Wisconsin fall getaways for nature lovers!

The park is situated on a ridge above the Kickapoo River, just south of the city of Ontario, overlooking Kickapoo Valley.

The valley itself contains large sandstone bluffs, with evidence of settlers dating back over 4,000 years.

This is also one of the best state parks in Wisconsin for hiking.

There are over 21 miles of hiking and equestrian trails to explore, and plenty of opportunities for paddling, swimming, and kayaking in the river waters.

In the winter months, 7 miles of cross-country ski trails are available for beginner and intermediate skiers.

This is one of the best state parks near Madison, WI (1.5-hour drive), and I recommend staying in Madison or Wisconsin Dells.

Book here your Wisconsin Dells Airbnb

18. Willow River State Park

western wisconsin state parks, waterfalls at Willow River State Park
Falls at Willow River State Park
  • Accommodation Options: Hop across the Minnesotan border and enjoy a luxury stay at the Graduate Minneapolis. Want a long stay with AirBnb? This cozy loft apartment in Stillwater is the perfect place to crash after a long day exploring one of the most beautiful Wisconsin state parks.

Willow River State Park has almost 3,000 acres of countryside for visitors to explore making it one of the best Wisconsin state parks for hiking.

Fortunately, the park has created a series of color-coded hiking trails, with a wide range of difficulties from the casual to the experienced, across all manner of beautiful terrain.

For old oaks and white pines, just follow the Silver markings. If birds and wildflowers are what you seek, follow the Blue.

Within the park, you can also find one of the jewels of Wisconsin: Willow Falls – where the Willow River flows through a series of small, wide drops that lead down to eventually meet the St. Croix River.

These are some of the best waterfalls in northern Wisconsin, possibly even the whole state!

Once you’ve taken in the trails, the park has plenty of picnic and grill sites, with the largest down by the beach on Little Falls Lake.

Here you can also find one of the park’s three playgrounds, as well as large patches of open grass available for anyone who brought something to throw and catch.

Located on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, this can even be a great day trip from Minneapolis or St Paul.

As it’s one of the best state parks Northern Wisconsin has to offer, it’s definitely worth the visit no matter where you’re coming from.

19. Harrington Beach State Park

wisconsin state parks on lake michigan, sunny beach surrounded by trees
Harrington Beach State Park

Nestled between the village of Belgium and the formidable Lake Michigan, Harrington Beach State Park provides all the outdoor activities you could expect from such beautiful land.

Here you’ll find hiking trails through picturesque cedar swampland, a mile of beach for sunbathing and swimming, as well as family camping grounds and a one-mile bridle trail for horse riding.

But Harrington Beach State Park also has a few less-frequently seen attractions.

For example, this is one of the few state parks in Wisconsin to have its own observatory, which has monthly public viewings.

From the picnic area overlooking Lake Michigan, visitors can see the sunken remains of the wooden steamship Niagara – a freighter that caught fire and sank a few hundred feet from the shore over 150 years ago.

Scuba and diving enthusiasts can enjoy exploring the remains, which are submerged under roughly 80 feet of water.

20. Big Foot Beach State Park

Things to do in Lake Geneva, Big Foot Beach State Park
Big Foot Beach State Park

One of the best parks to visit in Wisconsin in wintertime, Big Foot Beach State Park lies inside Buttons Bay on the eastern shore of Geneva Lake.

Here, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are both very popular, with trails set up by park staff along the eastern end of the park.

It’s no wonder winter in Lake Geneva is the perfect time to visit!

In warmer seasons, the park still offers a wealth of family camping and hiking activities, with 100 wooded campsites with fire rings and picnic tables available throughout the area.

There’s also canoeing, kayaking, and fishing at Ceylon Lagoon, as well as 40 acres of picnicking space, playgrounds, and volleyball courts.

And of course, there are plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy some sand and sun on Big Foot Beach itself!

Visiting the park is one of the best romantic getaways in Lake Geneva.

Buy here your guide to Wisconsin Like a Local

21. Governor Nelson State Park

southern wisconsin state parks, lake surrounded by trees starting to turn orange and yellow
Governor Nelson State Park

Located along the shore of Lake Mendota in the town of Westport, this beautiful 422-acre green space is one of the best Southern Wisconsin state parks.

The park was established in 1975 named after Gaylord Nelson, a former governor and senator of Wisconsin and the founder of Earth Day

So spending a day at this park enjoying its beautiful nature is a wonderful way to celebrate his environmental activism.

Throughout the park are over 8 miles of hiking trails, Native American effigies, and a sandy beach where visitors can picnic, swim, canoe, or fish.

Prior to 1967, what is now part of the park, was originally a boy’s summer camp that the acclaimed film director Orson Welles used to attend.

This state park has some of the best hiking in Madison, WI, so be sure to enjoy a few trails when you visit.

22. Hartman Creek State Park 

best state parks in wisconsin for camping, forest of many trees
Hartman Creek State Park

First established in 1966, this is one of the best state parks in Wisconsin for camping. 

Within the park, there is a family campground with 103 slots, as well as five group camping sites.

In addition to camping, there are plenty of great recreational activities available. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and even kayaking.

Hartman Creek State Park is also one of the best state parks Wisconsin has to offer horseback riders and swimmers. 

Not only is the park near to the spring-fed Chain O’ Lakes, but it also offers its own 300-foot sandy beachfront.

For this park, a state trail pass is required for all bikers, horseback riders, and skiers who are 16 years of age and older.

23. Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee

best state parks on lake michigan in wisconsin, sign for Lakeshore State Park with Milwaukee in background
Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee

If you’re looking for the city-based state parks Southern Wisconsin offers, look no further than this Milwaukee gem!

Located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee on Lake Michigan, this unique Wisconsin state park makes it easy to forget you’re in the middle of a bustling city!

Many visitors to this urban oasis engage in popular activities like hiking, biking, and fishing, however, it’s also great for skating and snowshoeing in the winter.

Youll find some of the best Milwaukee bike trails and hikes within this park.

There are also various recreational things to do on the surrounding Lake Michigan like canoeing, kayaking, and boating if the weather permits.

From the Lakeshore State Park, you can also access the popular Hank Aaron State Trail if you want a longer, more challenging hiking in Milwaukee experience.

Book here the best tours of Milwaukee

24. Aztalan State Park

best parks in wisconsin, aerial view of pyramid and fence at Aztalan State Park
Aztalan State Park

Aztalan State Park is easily one of the top 10 state parks in Wisconsin if you are interested in the state’s history – especially archaeological.

In fact, this park was made a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and added to the National Register of Historic Places when it was established two years later in 1966.

According to archaeological evidence, Aztalan was settled around 900 AD by the Mississippian, a Native American civilization that lived in what is now Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern USA.

The park features a village from the Middle-Mississippian era (1000 and 1300 AD). The village is surrounded by several large, pyramid mounds and a stockade.

Visitors can explore the ruins and see recreations of what the homes would have looked like when the Mississippians lived there.

25. Governor Dodge State Park 

beautiful parks in wisconsin, view of lake and surrounding wilderness
Governor Dodge State Park

As the name suggests, this park was named after Henry Dodge, the first governor of the Wisconsin Territory.

Today it is a 5,270-acre nature park with some of the most amazing Wisconsin state parks hiking. You can hike year-round, including in winter.

In fact, Governor Dodge State Park is one of the best Wisconsin state parks in winter. 

Other than hiking, there are multiple great winter activities available, including winter camping, ice-fishing, and snowmobiling.

Of course, you can visit any time of year, and non-winter activities at the park include horseback riding, biking, and swimming.

How many State Parks are there in Wisconsin?

There are 66 state parks in Wisconsin.

The beautiful Parks in Wisconsin cover more than 60,570 acres and each is maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks, and Recreation.

Where to book Wisconsin State Parks Cabins?

best parks to visit in wisconsin, lake in wisconsin
Views that you can get used to

There are many Wisconsin state parks with cabins that you can camp in overnight or for a few nights.

However, please note that Wisconsin state parks’ camping fees are additional and range from $15 to $35, plus a $7.75 reservation fee. – Astonishingly, offers much more than hotel rooms. I found them to have a vast offer of State Park cabins in Wisconsin. They even have a large selection of Wisconsin State Park campsites. – Check prices and read reviews

Airbnb – If you are looking for Wisconsin State park cabins with a personal touch, I recommend booking at Airbnb. Additionally, their park cabins are often very affordable. They have a vast choice! – Check prices and read reviews.

VRBO – In my opinion, VRBO has the largest offer when it comes to Wisconsin State Park cabins. Whether you’re looking for lakefront cabins or beachside, it’s very likely that you can find your cabin at VRBO. – Check prices and read reviews

I also have several articles on accommodation options throughout the state. Including the best luxury resorts in Wisconsin, the best luxury cabins in Wisconsin, and even the best pet-friendly cabins in Wisconsin.

Map of Wisconsin State Parks

best state parks in wisconsin

FAQ about Wisconsin State Parks

What is the difference between a National Park and a State Park?

Size and Number – National Parks are larger in size than State Parks. They cover more distinct features, regions, and access points. However, National Parks are fewer in number than State Parks. 

Popularity – National Parks often seem to be more crowded than State Parks. This is because not all the areas are easily accessible. However, the accessible areas are extremely popular destinations as they have massive cliffs, exceptional wild rock formations, exploding geysers, and more. 

Accessibility – State Parks are smaller in size and in large numbers, making them cheaper and easier to access for the majority of outdoor maniacs. They also have various amenities like campsites, picnic tables, and access points to recreation. As State Parks are easily accessible and located in close proximity to urban locations, you can spend a weekend without too much planning in advance. However, if you are looking for more undeveloped wilderness and immersion in nature, National Parks are the way to go.

So, these are a few differences between the National Parks vs. State Parks. 

What is a National Park?

A National Park is an area of land protected by the government in order to preserve it’s significant cultural, recreational, and aesthetic value. The national parks are managed by the federal government which means that they are operated by the personnel and resources of the US Government, rather than the Government of state in which they are located. 

What is a State Park?

State Park is an area of land protected and managed by the Government of the particular state in which the park is located. Area(s) of land are designated as State Parks to preserve their natural beauty, historical significance, or utility for outdoor recreation. 

How many State Parks are there in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has 66 designated state parks. Collectively they cover over 60,570 acres.

Wisconsin’s State Parks system has more than 100 properties, 47 State Parks, 41 trails, and 9 recreational areas.

All provide unique and gorgeous scenic views, recreation, and history. Whether you are into hiking up hills, kicking back in the kayak, or just enjoying some fresh air, there is a spot for you in one of the best parks in Wisconsin and recreation areas. 

What Are the Admission Fees To Wisconsin State Park?

A vehicle admission sticker is required in most State Parks, forests, recreation areas, and trail parking areas.

The admission sticker costs around $8 for a day or $28 for a year for Wisconsin residents, and for vehicles with out-of-state plates, the cost of the admission sticker is $11 for a day and $38 for a year.
One can, either buy the admission sticker at the park office, at the service center, at a local business, by calling DNR at 888-936-7463 or online as part of a gift package. 

However, if anyone fails to pay the fee before using the park, an additional $5 fee will be charged. 

The Wisconsin State Park Pass for trails is mandatory for people aged 16 or older who want to indulge in recreational activities like biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding or in-line skating on certain trails. A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking.

What are the best Wisconsin State Parks?

Devil’s Lake State Park
High Cliff State Park
Copper Falls State Park Wisconsin
Mirror Lake State Park
Rocky Arbor State Park near Wisconsin Dells
Amnicon Falls State Park
Wyalusing State Park
Kettle Moraine State Park Wisconsin
Newport State Park
Big Bay State Park
Peninsula State Park
Interstate State Park
Rock Island State Park
Blue Mound State Park
Point Beach State Forest

What is the biggest State Park in Wisconsin?

Devil’s Lake State Park is both the largest and most visited state park in Wisconsin.

What are the best State Parks in Wisconsin with Waterfalls?

Copper Falls State Park, Amnicon Falls State Park, and Willow River State Park all have beautiful waterfalls you have to visit!

What are the best State Parks in Wisconsin with Camping?

Amnicon Falls State Park has my favorite camping spots! But it is also worth checking out Devil’s Lake State Park, Copper Falls State Park, Mirror Lake State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, and Hartman Creek State Park.


Thursday 14th of September 2023

I've been to all 50, and my perspective as a day hiker is 1. Devils Lake (you're right, and it's not close) 2. Wyalusing 3. Rib Mountain 4. Big Bay 5. Harrington Beach 6. Rock Island 7. Potawatomi 8. Amnicon Falls 9. Perrot 10. Pattison 11. Blue Mound 12. Newport 13. Kohler-Andrae 14. High Cliff 15. Peninsula 16. Interstate 17. Nelson Dewey 18. Whitefish Dunes 19. Willow River 20. Wildcat Mountain 21. Governor Dodge 22. Roche-A-Cri 23. Mirror Lake 24. Rocky Arbor 25. Mill Bluff

Nancy Claycomb

Saturday 7th of January 2023

Please add a nearby town to make easy it to find where parks are and Willow River was not put on your map.


Monday 17th of February 2020

Looks looovely! Wanna go there! ๐Ÿ˜œ