Bask in the beauty of Wisconsin’s park system
“There’s no place like home.” You don’t need to be a fan of “The Wizard of Oz” to understand what Dorothy was feeling as she uttered those famous words, clicked her heels together, and sent herself from the Land of Oz back to her farmhouse in Kansas. We think it’s pretty safe to say most folks have, at one point or another, felt the same longing to go back home.
However, after weeks and weeks of hunkering inside in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we think it’s also pretty safe to assume that at the moment, many folks are longing to get away from their homes instead.
The photo above was taken by Keith Wohlfert, former communications coordinator (now retired) at Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative. “Whitefish Dunes State Park is a gem of Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula,” he said. “Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, it is a paradise for those seeking to take a walk with nature. Bring your camera.”
To help pass the time that we’re still spending mostly indoors, we’re sharing these beautiful scenes of Wisconsin’s great outdoors to remind us of what awaits when it’s safe to fully venture out once again.
Wisconsin is home to 49 state parks located in all reaches of the state, as well as state forest land, fishery areas, wildlife areas, and recreation areas. These beautiful properties showcase the area’s geography and provide the kind of benefits that only time spent in nature can.
Jolene Neisius, director of employee and member engagement at Dunn Energy Cooperative, took this photo on a family visit to Interstate State Park, Wisconsin’s oldest state park, established in 1900. “The best thing about Interstate Park, besides the incredible views of the St. Croix River, is the ability to wander off the trails and explore the chasms and potholes created by glaciers thousands of years ago,” she said.
“You can spends hours exploring a relatively small area. When you have an active youngster, that is an absolute bonus!”
Famed landscape architect John Nolen, who according to the Department of Natural Resources was hired in 1907 by a newly created State Park Board to develop a plan for a state park system, described those benefits as such: “Simple recreation in the open air amid the beautiful surroundings contributes to physical and moral health, to a saner and happier life.”
It wasn’t just the visitors’ health the state parks were intended to help protect. Nolen also said, “State parks are the only means of preserving, protecting, and appropriately improving places of uncommon and characteristic beauty.”
Indeed, state parks serve as outdoor classrooms, teaching visitors about the geographic characteristics and wildlife that are unique to each park’s area as well as promoting conservation.
Roche-A-Cri State Park in Friendship is known for the 300-foot-high rock outcroppings, with a staircase to the top of the mound for a spectacular view. “Roche-A-Cri is unique in the way that you can feel like you are in different parts of Wisconsin all at one park,” said Haley Melby, marketing coordinator at Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative. Melby took this photo.
“From the stream that flows throughout the park, hiking trails, rock formations, and the 303 stairs you can climb, there is plenty to do at this park.”
Not unlike cooperatives, which are owned by the members who use their services, state parks belong to all Wisconsin residents, who pay a small fee to use them. And just as all members share responsibility for the well-being of their cooperative, all users of the state park system share responsibility for the well-being of the parks.
As we are gradually able to safely ease out of our immediate surroundings, we urge you to treasure these beautiful resources and take good care of them. Use their trails and waters to enjoy hiking, swimming, kayaking, picnicking, camping—whatever outdoor activity each particular park offers.
But please do it responsibly. Bring a garbage bag so you can take your trash and recyclables back home with you. Follow any rules as they pertain to fishing, boating, or trail use. Be considerate of others who are also using the park, and be considerate of the natural environment. Treat the park as a home you’ve been longing to return to.
For more information about each park, and to follow the latest COVID-19-related updates regarding park openings and regulations, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/.
A waterfall is one of many natural features found at Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgville, captured here by Amanda Downing, receptionist at Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperative. “My family enjoys hiking in places that have great views, and Governor Dodge State Park never leaves us disappointed,” she said.
“It’s great to get out and see so much beauty right in our own backyard.”
Copper Falls State Park in Mellen contains a section of the Bad River, which flows through a gorge and drops over several waterfalls. Laura Palzkill, member services assistant at Price Electric Cooperative, took this photo of her children taking in the beautiful scene.
“Copper Falls is a nice park for a day trip, with a variety of hiking trails, great falls views, a snack bar, and playground for kids,” she said. “We haven’t camped there yet, but are hoping to soon!”
Devil’s Lake in Baraboo is Wisconsin’s largest state park. “The hiking trails at Devils Lake are endless and are sure to bring you to some incredible pit stops with breathtaking views,” said Adams-Columbia Electric’s Haley Melby, who took the photo above left. “If you’re looking for a place to take the family and stay busy all day, Devil’s Lake is the place to go.”
Brunet Island State Park is located where the Fisher River joins the Chippewa River north of Cornell, with the main development of the park on an island in the Chippewa River. Missy Larson, billing clerk at Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, captured the beautiful image at lower left. “What I love about Brunet Island is that it’s close to home and it’s a beautiful state park with lots of activities to offer, from camping to fishing and, of course, the beautiful river to go kayaking on with family and friends,” she said.