Wisconsin Dells is known as an entertainment city, with numerous theme parks and of course being the waterpark capital of the world with all the water parks. If you’re also wanting nature, these state parks near Wisconsin Dells are a must-visit.
Wisconsin has four state parks that are diverse and beautiful. But if you’re heading to Wisconsin Dells there are five state parks to choose from. Each provides something unique, including unparalleled views, hiking, nature trail, lakes, and even a beach.
If you’re visiting Wisconsin Dells with the family, why not visit a Wisconsin state park? Check out these exciting state parks which are a fun day trip from the city.
How many state parks are in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has a combination of state parks, state forests, state wildlife areas, and national forests. In total there are 42 state parks in Wisconsin that are waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking for state parks near Wisconsin Dells, there are five you should visit.
1. Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park is Wisconsin’s largest state park. At more than 10,000 acres there is so much to discover. If you’re visiting Wisconsin Dells, it’s only 20 miles south of the city in Baraboo. It is one of the most popular state parks, so we suggest arriving early as the parking lot fills up.
One of the main features of this state park is the 500-foot Quartzite bluff. You can hike up to the bluff for incredible panoramic views over the lake. Devil’s Lake or ‘De Wakacak’, meaning Spirit Lake, is the park’s central feature.
Devil’s Lake State Park provides recreational fun for the whole family. You can pack a picnic to enjoy by the lakeshore. Relax at the lake beach and dive into the water for some fantastic summertime swimming, overall it is one of the best places for a day outside in nature.
If you’re feeling more adventurous why not go rock climbing or hiking. There are 29 miles of hiking trails all with varying elevations, which is one of the best ways to see the park and all it’s spectacular views. The East Bluff Trail and the Tumbled Rocks Trail are two of the best trails to check. out the rock formations.
This park is perfect for traveling with friends or spending quality time with the family. It is also an ideal haven for nature lovers and bird watchers.
2. Mirror Lake State Park
If you don’t have tons of time but want your nature fix, visit Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake State Park is located less than 15 minutes south of Wisconsin Dells.
This park gets its name from the perfectly calm lake that doesn’t have a single ripple. The lake is surrounded by pine and oak trees, wildflowers, and shrubs. It’s a nature lover’s oasis just a stone’s throw from downtown Wisconsin Dells.
This is one of the best state parks near Wisconsin Dells for watersports enthusiasts. If you are into fishing, you’ve got to visit Mirror Lake. There are also opportunities to launch your own boat and rent kayaks and canoes.
This is one of those Wisconsin state parks that’s a year-round destination. In winter you can try cross-country skiing as well as some winter hiking and snowshoeing.
If you want to do some Wisconsin camping head to Mirror Lake. The Mirror Lake campground is an ideal spot to pitch your tent. The state park actually has three campgrounds which are predominately forested. Camping at Mirror Lake is a fantastic overnight vacation from Wisconsin Dells.
If you are looking for one of the best restaurants in Wisconsin Dells you most likely find yourself at Mirror Lake at Ishnala.
3. Rocky Arbor State Park
Of all the state parks near Wisconsin Dells, this is one of the closest. Just 1.5 miles from Wisconsin Dells you can be immersed in nature in five minutes.
The park covers 224-acre and is well known for its camping. The park was established in 1932 to protect the sandstone that’s 500 million years old.
There are plenty of things to do in this small Wisconsin state park. There’s a hiking trail, picnic spots, a playground, and stunning vistas.
The one-mile hiking trail winds through trees. Be sure to keep quiet and be on the lookout for wildlife. You can expect to come across deer, raccoons, and chipmunks.
If you’re looking to camp, check out the Rocky Arbor State Park campground. The campground opens on Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are 89 campsite spots, with showers, flush toilets, and some RV sites have electricity. Spend the night surrounded by pine trees and nature as opposed to a waterpark hotel (save those for the winter).
This is a fantastic campground and park for those with dogs. Bring your pet and explore the woodland.
4. Buckhorn State Park
Buckhorn is another of the best state parks near Wisconsin Dells. Travel around 32 miles north of Wisconsin Dells to reach Buckhorn State Park.
This 4,500-acre park has an abundance of stunning locations. There’s a scenic wildlife area, Castle Rock Lake, and plenty of hiking and camping opportunities.
The park offers beautiful wild camping from April through November. These secluded wild wooded campsites have to be reached on foot or via boat. There are toilets available at these sights but no drinking water.
Hit the lake and you can go kayaking or canoeing or rent boats. There is also a 300-foot marked swim area with a nice sandy bottom.
Buckhorn is one of the best state parks for fishing near Wisconsin Dells. The Castle Rock Flowage is one of the best fishing spots in the park. Anglers head to Buckhorn year-round. There’s a 90-foot fishing pier close to the Buckhorn bridge which is popular among anglers. Once you’ve got your fishing license you’ll be ready to start. Bluegill, Black Crappie, and Largemouth Bass are just some of the fish you can expect to catch.
Either spend the whole day at Buckhorn or opt for a long weekend getaway. This is one of the best state parks near Wisconsin Dells.
5. Natural Bridge State Park
The last of these top state parks near Wisconsin Dells is Natural Bridge. Drive past Baraboo and you’ll reach the Natural Bridge State Park.
Natural Bridge State Park is famed for its natural sandstone arch. The sandstone bridge was formed by erosion and is the main feature of the park. The arch is 25-feet tall and 35 feet wide. This arch is a surviving geological feature from the last ice age.
This Wisconsin state park is only open during the day, there’s no camping. Be sure to pack lunch as there are a number of small picnic tables and picnic areas.
This park is open year-round but one of the best times to visit is during the fall. The fall leaves contrast beautifully with the sandstone arch.
This park makes for a fun family day out from Wisconsin Dells. It is also ideal for any aspiring geologists or nature lovers.