15 Best State Parks in Wisconsin You Should Visit This Summer
A guide to the best parks in Wisconsin including the best Wisconsin State Park Campings
Wisconsin is known as the Cheese State or Dairy State, but it has more to offer than just Dairy production. Bordered by Lakes Michigan and Superior, Wisconsin is home to many desirable travel locations, from big cities to state and national parks in Wisconsin. It offers a range of sights and attractions for thrill-seekers, nature lovers, and families. Here, I share with you the best State Parks in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin State Park Systems have nearly 156,000 acres of land available for visitors to enjoy. Nature provides beautiful backdrops all the 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.
The best Wisconsin state parks are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, all-terrain vehicle riding, backpacking, camping, fishing, boating, kayaking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. You can also simply enjoy the natural landscape with your family.
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How many State Parks are there in Wisconsin?
There are 66 state parks in Wisconsin.
The State 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?
Please note that Wisconsin state parks camping fees are additional and range from $15 to $35, plus a $7.75 reservation fee.
Booking.com – Astonishingly, Booking.com 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. On top, 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
1. Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin
Devil’s Lake State Park Wisconsin is one of the largest and most visited state parks 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. It is well connected with road and one can 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 the views of the lake. The surrounding valleys are absolutely breathtaking and the most amazing activity to do.
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.
2. High Cliff State Park, Wisconsin
This park overlooks the largest inland lake, Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin and is situated on limestone cliffs (once a 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. 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.
3. Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin
The deep gorges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular waterfalls make Copper Falls State Park Wisconsin one of the most scenic parks. On top, 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 turn (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.
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.
That’s why it is one of the most popular state parks of Wisconsin.
4. Mirror Lake State Park, 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.
It’s considered one of the best things to do 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.
5. Rocky Arbor State Park, Wisconsin Dells
Rocky Arbor State Park is one of the best state parks near Wisconsin Dells. It offers an escape from the water parks to enjoy the outdoors. 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.
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. 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.
Wooded campsites are another great feature of this park and offer a 1-mile self-guided nature trail. Walk quietly and you may see deer, squirrels, bats, raccoons, and chipmunks. The campground has showers, flush toilets, and electricity.
6. Amnicon Falls State Park, Wisconsin
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.
Amnicon Falls State Park is more orientated towards tent camping and has vault toilets and water, but no electricity, showers, or dump station. That’s why it is considered one of the best Wisconsin state parks for camping.
7. Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin
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.
This park is a place to go for fishing, boating, cycling, picnicking, and enjoying nature. There are 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.
8. Kettle Moraine State Park, Wisconsin
Kettle Moraine State Park Wisconsin is divided into two units: North and South.
The Northern Unit is located 45 minutes north of Milwaukee in the 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 here. There is also a cabin for people with disabilities.
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.
Read more: Best Lakes in Wisconsin
9. Newport State Park, Wisconsin
Newport State Park is located near the tip of the Door County Peninsula off State Highway 42. Situated northeast of Ellison Bay, the state park in Door County Wisconsin is the only formally designated Wilderness Park.
It 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 that it’s considered one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.
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.
10. Big Bay State Park, Wisconsin
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.
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 its autumn foliage and is thus a great fall activity in Wisconsin.
11. Peninsula State Park, 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, a 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 Wisconsin vacation idea.
12. Interstate State Park, Wisconsin
Interstate State Park is Wisconsin’s oldest state park and known for Dalles of the St. Croix gorge and gorgeous views of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.
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.
13. Rock Island State Park
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 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.
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.
14. Blue Mound State Park
Located on the highest point in southern Wisconsin at 1,719 feet of elevation, 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.
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, and mountain biking (both double and single track) and for finding peace and solitude from the noisy city.
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.
15. Point Beach State Forest, Wisconsin
It is a 2,903 acre Wisconsin state forest located near two rivers, Wisconsin in Manitowoc County. It is located along 6 miles of the Lake Michigan coast.
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, a lighthouse, a state park camping, and hiking, biking, skiing, nature, and snowmobile trails, it is an adventure’s paradise.
The Point Beach offers 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-plus of undeveloped shoreline. Book campsites and lakefront cabins here.
Wisconsin State Parks Map
FAQ about Wisconsin State Parks
Size and Number – National Parks are larger in size than the 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.
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.
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.
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 state parks in Wisconsin and recreation areas.
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.
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
Read more about Wisconsin
- 25 Best Lakes In Wisconsin: Why We Love Them!
- 20 Best Hiking Trails In Wisconsin
- Where To Stay In Milwaukee, Wisconsin In 2020: The Ultimate Guide
- 15 Great Wisconsin Vacation Ideas
- Best Day Trips From Milwaukee, Wisconsin