State Parks You Need to Visit in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Park is one of Wisconsin's many parks where you can be at one with nature
Wisconsin State Park is one of Wisconsin's many parks where you can be at one with nature | © Dominik Depczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor3 August 2020

Wisconsin is a great state to be in when you just need to get away from it all and head to the park. When that urge hits, our list of Wisconsin’s best state parks will help you find a spot where you can be at one with nature. From waterfalls and famous fishing spots to picturesque lakeside beaches, these green spaces in the Badger State have it all.

Governor Thompson State Park

Natural Feature, Park
Map View

With more than 2,800 acres (1,133ha) of quiet, sun-dappled woodland, this state park in Marinette County is one of Wisconsin’s most beautiful spaces. Add to that its access to the famous fishing spot Caldron Falls Flowage, and this state park wins our hearts. Three campgrounds are tucked into the park, with camping sites that have boating-in ability. With a fishing pier, hiking and skiing trails and a picturesque picnic area on Little Woods Lake, Governor Thompson State Park is a surefire winner.

Harrington Beach State Park

Natural Feature, Park
Map View
The small rock jetty at Harrington Beach State Park, Belgium, Wisconsin changes colors with the October sunshine and autumn leaves
© Drake Fleege / Alamy Stock Photo
You’ll think that you’ve accidentally stumbled across the ocean when you arrive at this mile-long beach on Lake Michigan. One of the lake’s most photogenic spots, it comprises limestone outcrops surrounded by white cedar trees. With beaches for pets and people, a campground with kayak sites, a disabled-accessible cabin and an observatory, Harrington Beach State Park is well equipped for all activities. It might just be one of Wisconsin’s most fun state parks.

Richard Bong State Recreation Area

Natural Feature, Park
Map View

This state park offers something a little different. With 14mi (22.5km) of trails for all-terrain vehicles to explore in the state’s southeastern corner, it’s one for the thrill-seekers out there. Whether you’re driving a buggy or a bike, you’ll have fun here. Other highlights of Richard Bong State Recreation Area include designated locations for flying hot air balloons, hang gliders and model airplanes and, most fascinating of all, areas to train falcons and hunting and sled dogs.

Wyalusing State Park

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Couple with dog at scenic overlook of confluence of Wisconsin & Mississippi Rivers from Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo
Sometimes the original is the best. Wyalusing State Park is one of Wisconsin’s three original state parks and a perfect place to spend a day. With an astronomy center, 1,300-year-old Native American mounds and stone walls constructed during the Great Depression, there’s a lot to see. Camping, biking, fishing, hiking and canoeing on the special canoe trail are all activities that will help you be at one with nature. Your biggest problem will be deciding what to do first – and deciding which of your friends to bring along for the fun.

Devil’s Lake State Park

Map View
One of Wisconsin’s largest and most popular state parks, Devil’s Lake State Park, has the huge advantage of being incredibly beautiful no matter the time of year, and with Wisconsin’s four distinct and stunning seasons, you might need to visit more than once. In the south-central area of the state, you can do everything from clambering up huge boulders and canoeing to kayaking and camping here. Best of all, it’s just a few minutes from downtown Baraboo, making it super accessible.

Copper Falls State Park

Park, Natural Feature
Map View
The Tyler Fork of the Bad River flows over the Cascades waterfall in Copper Falls State Park, Ashland County, Wisconsin, USA.
© Mark Baldwin / Alamy Stock Photo
When a state park has waterfalls, deep gorges and ancient lava flows, you know it’s a winner. Found two miles (3km) northeast of Mellen in Ashland County, the most beautiful waterfalls in northern Wisconsin really need to be seen to be believed. One of the main highlights of the park is the North Country National Scenic Trail, as well as hiking, picnicking, fishing and swimming. Copper Falls is in a prime fishing area, with many kinds of fishing within easy reach.
These recommendations were updated on August 3, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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