Wyalusing State Park Activity Guides:
Wyalusing State Park Trails:
Wyalusing State Park
Wyalusing State Park Overview
It is easy to see why Wyalusing was among the first candidates for a state park in Wisconsin. Was it the aboriginal mounds, settler history, or the incredible views of the Mississippi River/Wisconsin River confluence? No matter the actual reason, the reasoning was sound. Wisconsonians should be proud of this trail-laced jewel with two good yet different campgrounds.
Homestead Campground and Wisconsin Ridge Campground offer distinctly different reasons to pitch a tent. The views from Wisconsin Ridge will astound you. Enter a long, narrow loop with a fine bathhouse. The first few sites on the outside of the loop have no view but are heavily shaded with hardwoods and would make a fine tenter's camp. A steep hill drops sharply away from the camps. The inside loop sites have limited views and no privacy. The loop curves past the Knob Picnic Shelter, one of many attractive stone structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The sites with views start with #119. And they are million dollar views. The last 11 sites on this loop are first come, first served. If you reserve a site here, make sure and ask if it is on the outside of the loop with a number higher than #118.
A price is paid for this view. The sites with a view are small and have no privacy. Some have limited shade. But it seems campers are nearly always looking out to the vastness below and beyond. The other downside: This campground and Homestead Campground are sure to fill during high summer weekends. Consider coming some early fall weekend or during the week anytime.
What Homestead Campground lacks in views, it makes up in being an all-around great place to camp, with its large, grassy campsites well spaced from one another and broken with thick brush for maximum privacy. Fours spur roads with mini-loops emanate from a larger center loop. The center loop has a bathhouse, water spigot, and pit toilet. The first spur, with sites #201#219, offers a mix of sun and shaded sites beneath pine, oak, sumac, and cherry trees. Site #211 offers excellent shade and solitude. The second spur is smaller and on a hill. Site #225 also has good shade and solitude. The third spur, with sites #229#244, has heavy brush for privacy but limited shade. The sites at the end of the spur are first come, first served in deep dark woods. The final spur, with sites #245#255, features a mix of sun and shaded sites. The Turkey Hollow Trail leaves from the back of this spur.
The Turkey Hollow Trail is but a portion of 22 total miles of feature-packed paths at Wyalusing. All the trails are interconnected, so you can start hiking directly from either campground. Want to see some of the Indian mounds? Take the Sentinel Ridge Trail, which circles some mounds on the way down to the Mississippi River and gives added historical information about the mound builders, voyageurs, Black Robes, and others who passed this way. The Bluff Trail passes Treasure Cave, Signal Point, and Point Lookout, where you are sure to get an eyeful. Check out a waterfall and Pictured Rock Cave on the Sugar Maple Nature Trail. Sand Cave Trail also has a waterfall. Pass through the Keyhole on the Bluff Trail.
The above is just a sampling of the trails. Some paths are open to bicycles, too, so check the comprehensive park trails map. If you don't feel like hiking, how about a canoe trip? A signed six-mile canoe trail circles through sloughs on the Mississippi and then down the mighty river itself. Many watery wildflowers bloom during summer. A concessionaire rents boats from the nature center, located near Wisconsin Ridge Campground.
Wyalusing is popular with bird watchers. They invade the campgrounds from late April through mid-May. More species can be seen here than any other park in the state. A full-time naturalist leads programs about birds and much more. Call ahead for exact programs and schedules. Anglers will be scouring the backwaters of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers for panfish, bass, northern pike, and walleye. A fishing pier is located at the park's boat landing. Hot days will find campers driving two miles south to Wyalusing Recreation Area, a Grant County park that has a swim beach and boat landing on the Mississippi River. Finally, a group called the Starsplitters has installed observatories at the park. They will be glad to introduce you to astronomy-only at night, though. With all the things to do at Wyalusing, choosing your campground doesn't seem quite as difficult.
To get there: From Prairie du Chien, head east on US 18 for 7 miles to cross the Wisconsin River. Turn right on County Road C and follow it for 3 miles to County Road X. Turn right on County Road X and follow it for 1 mile to the state park on your right.
Address: Wyalusing State Park, 13081 State Park Lane, Bagley, WI 53801; (608) 996-2261, www.wiparks.net
Open: Wisconsin Ridge open year-round; Homestead open May through October
Individual sites: Wisconsin Ridge 54, Homestead 54
Fee: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend FridaySaturday $10 residents, $12 non-residents; weekdays and all days rest of year $8 residents, $10 non-residents; $3 extra for electricity