Wisconsin is well-known for the unparalleled beauty left behind by the areas that were not once covered in and flattened by regional glaciers. Indeed, the Driftless Area of Wisconsin is one of the best regions to explore nature. Wyalusing State Park is nestled along the Mississippi River in far Southwestern Wisconsin. This park is an absolute gem with amazing river views, excellent bluffside camping, a cave, trails galore, night sky viewing, and SO much more!
If you haven’t yet been, plan a family adventure to Wyalusing State Park ASAP! It will be well worth the nearly 3 and a half hours spent in travel. And, we’ll help you plan your visit to maximize your time and get to all of the best spots in the park and area.
Before you head out on your journey, we also recommend you join the 2022 Wisconsin State Parks Challenge and get your kids started with the Wisconsin Explorer’s Program so that you can earn prizes and patches while you explore nature together.
Wyalusing State Park At-A-Glance:
- Travel Specs: 3 hours, 24 minutes | 200 miles
- Address: 13081 State Park Lane, Bagley, Wisconsin
- Hours: Open daily 6 am – 11 pm
- Vehicle Admission Pricing: With a WI license plate, you can purchase a daily pass for $8 or an annual pass to all of Wisconsin’s state parks for $28. Stop in at the park office.
- Camping: Yes, 109 family campsites and an indoor/outdoor group camp.
- Pets: Leashed pets are allowed in the park.
- History: Wyalusing is one of Wisconsin’s oldest state parks. It was once home to Native American tribes, and many burial ground mounds remain in the park today. Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first Europeans to come to this region in June of 1673. The land was then used for fur trading with Native American tribes, a few unsuccessful mining ventures, and ultimately farming. The state park was established in 1919.
Bicycling is permitted and popular throughout the paved roads in the park. There are also two trails where mountain biking is permitted: the Mississippi Ridge Trail (1.8 miles) and the Whitetail Meadows Trail (1.7 or 3.1 mile loop). Go slow, yield to hikers, and be careful of soft, eroding trails following rain or wet seasons.
Bluff Top Concession Stand
Adjacent to the Wisconsin Ridge Campground, the Bluff Top Concession Stand offers camping essentials, such as firewood, ice, and camp supplies in addition to canoe & kayak rentals. It is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Fishing, Beach & Boating/Canoeing
The fishing is great here at Wyalusing! There is even an accessible fishing pier at the boat landing.
While the state park itself does not have a beach, you can enjoy one nearby at the Wyalusing Recreation Area just 2 miles from the park.
You can access the surrounding waters via the boat ramp. The park maintains a well-marked 6-mile canoe trail through the backwaters of the Mississippi River. Look for the blue and white canoe trail signs to keep you on the right path. You can rent canoes and kayaks at the Blue Top Concession Stand.
Camping is definitely a highlight at Wyalusing! The park has two main family campgrounds with 109 sites to choose from:
- Wisconsin Ridge Campground: nestled along the bluffs of the Mississippi River. These are campsites with an amazing view! You might not want one of these, though, if you have young, wandering children as these cliffs are not protected. This campground also features a concession stand and some of the best campground showers around!
- Homestead Campground: Set in a circular fashion around a center playground and bathroom/shower facility. This one is closer to the park entrance and the Huser Astronomy Center.
If you came to hike, then you are in for an absolute treat! Wyalusing offers 14 miles of hiking trails of varying lengths for your family to enjoy! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Bluff Trail (0.9 miles): For the adventurous! This trail is high in the Wisconsin River bluffs and offers amazing views. There’s also a small cave, Treasured Cave, to explore.
- Sugar Maple Nature Trail (1.5 mile loop): A beautiful hike through the woods. It will lead you down to Pictured Cave Rock with a small waterfall. There are stairs on this trail so baby wearing is a must for toddlers/babies.
- Sentinel Ridge Trail & Loop (1.6 miles): This trail starts at Point Lookout and descends along the bluff toward the boat landing below. There are lots of stairs and amazing River views! The ‘loop’ section of the trail is wide & paved making it accessible and stroller-friendly.
Huser Astronomy Center
Wyalusing State Park is perfect spot for nighttime sky viewing as it is high above the surrounding little towns and rivers. The Huser Astronomy Center is home to several high-power telescopes, and the StarSplitters offer regular FREE public viewing events!
Picnic Areas & Playground
The park is home to two playgrounds: one near the Wisconsin Ridge Campground & Point Lookout and the other located at the Homestead Picnic Area (not far past the Homestead Campground). Also, near Point Lookout you’ll find a tennis & basketball court, sand volleyball court, and a ball field!
There are five picnic shelters located throughout the park, many with spectacular views of the Mississippi!
The Whitetail Meadows Trail (1.7 or 3.1-mile loop) is groomed for classing and skate cross-country skiing in the wintertime. This is a great trail for the less experienced cross-country skier. Please no pets or hikers.
All trails not groomed for cross-country skiing are available for winter hiking and snowshoeing. If you’re brave, hike out to see these beautiful frozen waterfalls: Pictured Rock Cave, Big Sand Cave, and Little Sand Cave!
Great Pit Stops Along the Way:
- Sassy Cow Creamery, W4192 Bristol Road, Columbus, Wisconsin
- Stop in for an amazingly delicious scoop of ice cream and play in their farm-themed outdoor playground! They also offer tours.
- Bavaria Sausages Inc, 6317 Nesbitt Rd, Fitchburg, WI
- Crafting and selling authentic, natural Old World Bavarian sausages and much, much more! You won’t regret a trip to their “Wurstkuche” (sausage kitchen) store to explore the bounty of European goodies.
- Cave of the Mounds, 2975 Cave of the Mounds Road, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin
- Explore a cave and then climb the observation tower at the nearby Blue Mound State Park for a breathtaking view of the area! This is a great pit stop on your way to Prairie du Chien.
- Governor Dodge State Park, 4175 WI-23 Dodgeville, Wisconsin
- Another great pit stop along the way, Governor Dodge is an awesome place to experience another taste of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area! We recommend hiking and camping here.
- Rural Route 1 Popcorn Retail Store, 101 US-18, Montfort, Wisconsin
- All the traditional gourmet popcorn favorites and many more. Try the fudge or jalapeno popcorn for a big twist! This might be the snack that gets you over the hump of the last. few. miles…
Fun & Yummy Stops in the Wyalusing Area:
- Fort Fun Park, South 15th Street, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
- Community-build playground with a variety of options, including accessible play, for children of all ages! There is also a skate park here which is open to skateboards, roller blades, and BMX-style bikes.
- Pete’s Hamburger Stand, 118 West Blackhawk Avenue
- Open seasonally, Pete’s has been a downtown Prairie du Chien staple since 1909. The name of the game here is singular: hamburgers with onions. Oh, so good!
- Prairie Fun Land, 512 E Paquette Street
- A child’s dream! Go karts, mini golf, bumper cars, water wars, arcade, & more!
- The Local Oven, 213 East Blackhawk Avenue
- Home of the maple bacon donut! Ice cream, bakery, Gluten free products, and gifts.