As I continue working towards my goal of visiting every Wisconsin State Park, I sometimes wonder what rhyme or reason there is to the order in which I go. Turns out, there is no order. BUT if there had been an order, a logical one would be in order of date of establishment. If I had done that, Interstate State Park or Interstate Park, would have been first on my list.
Located directly across the St. Croix River from Minnesota’s Interstate Park, Wisconsin’s Interstate Park became Wisconsin’s first state park in 1900. (It was Minnesota’s second state park.)
As this park is a 4 1/2 hour drive from my home, we camped in the park and made a long weekend of the trip. The camping was…well, I’ll cover that in a different post. The hiking, though, that part of the trip was wonderful. Scenic and full of both natural and human history.
And just like that, the 2023 camping season is underway for me! Unlike previous years where we drive 5 hours north and then wonder why it’s so cold in May, the first trip of the 2023 season was close to home in south central/southeast Wisconsin at Ottawa Lake Campground.
Part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit, Ottawa Lake Campground is one of the four campgrounds in this part of the forest. In addition to the campground, visitors can recreate with the lake and lake adjacent activities. There is a playground, areas to picnic, volleyball courts, and other ways to spend a day near a lake. This park doesn’t have any of its own hiking trails, which is okay because the Kettle Moraine forest has numerous trail systems nearby. The closest one, and the one we hiked, is the Scuppernong Trail System. I’ll cover that in a post a different day.
Frequently, a park has a niche, something it offers that makes it stand out from other parks. This niche is often what become designated as a park in the first place as someone loved this feature enough to share it with everyone. It could be anything, rock formations, Native American history, waterfalls, etc. A showcase of what the state has to offer.
Merrick State Park is no different. Nestled on a short stretch of a slough of the Mississippi River, it’s not surprising that this park is all about water. Water sports, water views, and water…camping.
I covered the minimal hiking at the park in a previous post. You can check it out here. This is a park for water lovers. Fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing enthusiasts will find plenty to fill their days with. I’m not a water enthusiast (yet) but I still really enjoyed this park. Not for the hiking, which is normally why I like a park, but for the unique camping it offers.
I love Door County. It’s one of those places that I only ever visit while in a vacation state of mind, so I only ever think positive things about it. Growing up outside of Green Bay and now living in Madison, getting there has always been a breeze. From family trips, to girls trips, to a couple’s getaway, it’s been a go to place for a quick yet memorable break.
Part of what makes it so great is the vast amount of things to do. There is seriously something for everyone. Every age, every interest, and every budget can find the perfect activity. I love that the area is a mix of settled civilization and natural/wild area. It’s cute tourist town meets Northwoods meets beach meets farmland. You can get outside and explore nature, stop at a brewery, and then head back to your cabin or lake house.
If you are looking to mix in some outdoor time into your next trip, and I hope you are, then I encourage you to consider Whitefish Dunes State Park.
Recently I’ve been talking about our trip to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s upper peninsula. I’ve covered all the hiking we did and all the gorgeous natural scenery we saw. Sadly, I’ve arrived at my last post in the series; where we stayed.
There are lots of options for lodging in and around the Porcupine Mountains wilderness area. Looking for a chain or boutique hotel? You can find that in nearby towns. Looking for more of a cabin feel? There are plenty of those nearby too! Want to stay in the park? Then plan to get a little more rugged. The park itself has a large variety of lodging options, including drive in campsites, walk in campsites, walk in cabins, and walk in yurts.
All of the lodging options, prices, operating dates, and reservation info can be found on the park’s reservation page.
Lately I’ve been covering my trip to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve covered a bunch of waterfalls (Presque Isle Waterfalls, Union Mine Trail Waterfalls, Overlooked and Greenstone Waterfalls). I’ve also covered a gorgeous lake and a ridge hike. Despite covering all of that, I haven’t covered anything resembling a mountain. The area is called the Porcupine Mountains, after all.
At this point you might be saying, “but the Midwest doesn’t have any mountains.” While it’s true that the Midwest is not home to any of the more impressive peaks, smaller mountains are everywhere, depending on your definition. I’m prefacing this by saying that I am not a geologist, but it turns out there is no universally accepted definition of a common term like a “mountain” or “hill.” Until the 1970’s, the US used the definition that a mountain was land differentiated by 1,000 feet of local relief. I’ve also seen organizations that define a mountain as anything above 2,000 feet of local relief or more, and others that consider the angles and definitions of the slope and peak. So basically, whatever you define a mountain as is both right and wrong!