5 State Parks You Have to Visit in Wisconsin

Wisconsin National Parks
by Elizabeth Orwig May 10, 2017

1. Aztalan State Park, Aztalan

 Aztalan State ParkLake Mills, United StatesBeautiful scenery and great kayaking

This state park located in Southeast Wisconsin is home to the ruins and excavation sites of an ancient Native American tribe who abandoned the town around 1200 AD. The mounds and stockades located near the Crawfish river give an idea of how the ancient Native Americans lived.

Shelters at Aztalan State Park can be reserved near the park, however camping is not permitted, as Aztalan is strictly a day park only (open from 6AM-10PM). The entrance to the park is located right off Highway Q, not too far from the interstate that connects Milwaukee with Madison.

Aztalan State Park also allows visitors to kayak, canoe, and fish on the Crawfish river. The park’s hiking trails through Wisconsin’s prairie land are quite beautiful.

2. Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo

 Devil’s Lake State ParkBaraboo, United StatesHiking, camping, fishing all in Wisconsin’s largest state park. There are 41 miles of hiking trails some of which are pretty challenging. Great spot for a weekend getaway. #hiking #camping

Devil’s Lake is the largest state park in Wisconsin. It has quartzite bluffs that are nearly 500 feet tall which were created by glacial deposit and moraines during the last ice age. Devil’s Lake is the premier rock climbing park in the Midwest.

Devil’s Lake is located near the center of Wisconsin, not too far away from Madison, making access to the park relatively easy. There are multiple campsites at Devil’s Lake, which means great access and easy-to-make reservations. Because the interstate 90/94 runs near Baraboo, the park is only a short drive away.

Devil’s Lake SP has beaches, 29 miles of beautiful hiking trails (go in the fall when the leaves are turning), SCUBA diving, and cross country skiing in the winter.

3. Rock Island State Park, Rock Island

 Rock Island, WIWashington, United StatesGreat backpacking spots and beautiful wildflowers on the island.

Rock Island is a small island in Lake Michigan, off the shore of Wisconsin. The island used to be a colonial settlement with a thriving fish market, but it was hit with an outbreak of Scarlet Fever. Today, the ruins of the village (and the graveyard) remain.

To reach Rock Island, you take the car ferry from Door County to Washington Island. From Washington Island, you drive to another dock slightly more east and board the Karfi (passenger boat only), which will take you to the island a few times a day. There are five big areas designated for campers who are backpacking on the island, but a much larger selection of smaller camping sites — all in beautiful locations.

Pro-tip: the lighthouse on the island (which can be accessed by trekking the five-mile perimeter loop) is a must see. It has a wonderful backstory pertaining to the man who used to take care of it, and is now being maintained by his grandchildren. If you climb to the top of the once used.

4. Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee

 Lakeshore State ParkMilwaukee, United StatesBeautiful views of the lake as well as the city.

Lakeshore Park is a relatively small park on the lakefront of Milwaukee. It’s perfect for running and walking, and offers scenic views of the lakefront, the Milwaukee skyline and the Summerfest grounds.

Lakeshore State Park is easily reached. The main entrance is directly next to Discovery World, which can be accessed by exiting I-94 for the Port of Milwaukee and taking a right-hand turn. Park on the street if you’re not going to see Discovery World. Unfortunately, Lakeshore State Park is not large enough to offer camping or backpacking sites, but certainly worth the scenery if you’re already in downtown Milwaukee.

Lakeshore Park also has access to little inlet beaches and prairielands — and you can go bicycling and picnicking. There is a long stretch of road near the end of the Park going toward the old, red Lighthouse on which many people choose to bring out their fishing gear and try their luck at some fish in the harbor.

5. Harrington Beach State Park

 Harrington Beach State ParkBelgium, United StatesBeautiful lakeside views and prairie trails

Harrington Beach State Park is located about halfway between Chicago and Green Bay and is known for having waves that crash like the ocean. There is wildlife similar to that of the Wisconsin countryside, numerous hiking trails, a beautiful inland lake, many camp sites, and ruins of an old mill. The park’s highlight is the Nature Center, which has a high-power telescope for some truly incredible stargazing away from the city lights.

Harrington Beach Park is off the Interstate-43. You take the highway that leads from Belgium into the neighboring town of Lake Church, so Harrington is relatively close to the interstate, but once you enter the campsites and hiking trails, it does not feel like it. There are multiple campsites that can be reserved ahead of time and pets are welcome. The camp can also be accessed with day passes that are relatively inexpensive.

Not only does Harrington Beach State Park have access to the beautiful scenery of Lake Michigan, it also possesses an inland lake, Quarry Lake. The lake is part of the history of the Stonehaven mining community, once located where the park is now. The path around Quarry Lake is approximately a mile and a half, filled with delightful stops to observe the native wildflowers and gorgeous scenery of the area.

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