This summer has been a difficult one if you’re an outdoor person and look forward to spending much of your summer free time outside. Most summers, residents and visitors take vacations to Wisconsin to enjoy the natural beauty and natural resources that the Badger state has to offer. Many visitors come to fish and enjoy some of our thousands of lakes, see our magnificent scenery, relax, and enjoy the many wonders that the Wisconsin outdoors has to offer. Wisconsin has so many things for people to enjoy without traveling hundreds of miles and spending large sums of money. The beauty and large number of state parks in most of the state make this a inexpensive vacation paradise!
Wisconsin has a tremendous state park system that is a wonderful get-a-way for residents and visitors from neighboring states. Some people think that the state of Wisconsin is nothing but dairy farms and cows. But if a little research is done on the Wisconsin DNR home page, you’ll find many memorable places to camp, parks to visit, lakes to fish, and limitless outdoor activities to enjoy with your family and friends.
Areas of the state have been blasted this summer with temperatures in the 90 degree plus range and little if any precipitation. I love to be in the outdoors most of the year, but the heat that we’ve had in June and July has been too much for me to bear. I can put up with temperatures in the 80’s, but after that I’m uncomfortable. The weather that we’ve had this summer is difficult on most people and often prevents them from traveling and going outside to sweat in the scorching sun. The southern half of the state has been hit particularly hard with the heat and lack of moisture. Even the weather in northern Wisconsin has been considerably above normal and difficult to take during most of the day. I’ve talked to friends in Minnesota and South Dakota and they’ve had much of the same weather as us. They are used to warmer weather in the summer, but not constant temperatures close to 100 degrees every day! The heat has kept many people from traveling this summer and many are hoping for a late summer cool-down or the great weather that we have in the fall before they go on vacation.
Wisconsin has a good number of state parks and campgrounds that are scattered in most regions of the state. I don’t think that enough people take advantage of the park system that we have in the state. I don’t care where you are in Wisconsin; you’ll be able to find a state park or campground close by and often within an hour or two drive. The DNR and park personnel take wonderful care of the parks and I’m sure that you’ll be able to find a state park or campground that would meet your needs while being in a scenic and beautiful location.
Most of the state parks are on or close to water, have facilities for camping, hiking, birdwatching, sailing, swimming, canoeing, enjoying nature, and of course fishing. The prices to rent a campsite are reasonable; you can cook your own food (check on fire regulations now), camp in a beautiful area, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us in most of the state. One doesn’t have to drive a long ways to enjoy the wonders of nature and the beauty that the state has to offer. As I said earlier, you don’t have to drive far from home to have a week long vacation or a day or two get-a-way to have some summer fun in the outdoors of Wisconsin.
I recommend that you go to the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov/) and check out the many opportunities and locations that you can visit and stay at this summer. The Department of Natural Resources has an informative site that can show you all the facilities and state lands that are open and available for recreational use. I live on the Wisconsin River and close to the Mazomanie State Grounds that encompass almost 5,000 acres of recreational land. I rarely see many people using this land except during the opening of the deer, turkey, and pheasant seasons when the first week may be crowded. I’ve found over the years that if you can go out during the week, you’ll have little if any competition and see few people.
I’ve written before about the beauty and natural wonders at Devils Lake State Park, south of Baraboo. This is less than an hour from Madison and has a beautiful lake nestled in the middle of the rock cliffs and hills. Devils Lake is stocked with brown trout and has a good over-all fish population. Governor Nelson State Park, on the north side of Lake Mendota, is another nice park close to the state capital. There also is Dane County Park on Lake Mendota’s north-west end with camping facilities and a boat launch on Lake Mendota which also has a great fishery. Another state park close to Madison is Lake Kegonsa State Park, near Stoughton and just south of Madison. If you don’t mind a short drive, there is Whitemound State Park near Plain, which has a nice setting for camping and a good lake for the family to fish on for panfish, catfish, and bass. Don’t forget the Wisconsin River from Sauk City to the Mississippi River where there is 80 plus miles of Riverway for canoeing, tubing, and fun. The river current is low now, but can change with some rain. There are sandbars for camping, wildlife to view and photograph, and fish to catch. You can canoe or float down the river without seeing a sole during the entire week!
I highly suggest that you try some of the state parks and lakes in southern Wisconsin. The weather may be a little cooler in the northern half of the state. So, it just depends on how far that you’d like to drive and how much you want to spend. Give Wisconsin state parks a try sometime and you’ll be amazed at the beauty, close proximity to many cities, good fishing, and outdoor opportunities without driving far and spending more money than you have to for a fun and enjoyable vacation!
Let’s hope for cooler temperatures and some soaking rain in the month of August, so we can enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors.