Best National Parks in Wisconsin

There are just four National Park Services in the state of Wisconsin, but they are mighty big attractions. The state doesn’t have a National Park, the national park services comprise two epic National Scenic Trails, an incredibly beautiful National Lakeshore and a serene National Scenic Riverway. As you can tell, the Badger State is a great place to get wet in the wild! So, whether you are into hikes through the wilderness or sailing on the water, here’s our guide to the best national parks in Wisconsin.

Best National Parks in Wisconsin

1. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a stunning collection of 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland. The National Park Service established this lakeshore in 1970 to preserve the naturally wild and beautiful Lake Superior islands in northernmost Wisconsin. At the national lakeshore, there are lots of things to explore, for instance, colourful cliff formations, sea caves, sandspits, cuspate forelands, tombolos, a barrier spit, and numerous beaches. Furthermore, the lakeshore is at the continental northwestern limits of hemlock-white-pine-northern hardwood forest as well as elements of boreal forest. This diversity of habitats provides homes for nesting and migratory birds, and a variety of mammals, amphibians, and fish.

To get to the National Lakeshore you take a boat. You can then explore more on a boat or sea kayaking tour. You can also go diving, caving, hiking, camping, sailing and a whole lot more.

2. Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail

A mere 15,000 years ago during the Ice Age, much of North America lay under a huge glacier. The Ice Age Trail is a National Scenic Trail that stretches 1,200 miles through the state of Wisconsin following the outline of the most recent glacier to retreat from the state. This glacier sculpted a wide variety of beautiful landscapes, for instance, lakes, prairies and rivers, which you can explore whilst walking the trail. Also along the route, you’ll see other geologic features, for instance, kames and drumlins. You’ll also see ice-walled-lake plains, outwash plains, eskers, tunnel channels, unglaciated features of the Driftless Area and other older landforms.

Along this mammoth walk you can enjoy lots of outdoor pursuits, for instance, camping, star gazing, biking, and horse riding. In the winter along the trail, you can enjoy cross country skiing and snowshoeing. All year-round, the trail is a great place for birdwatching and enjoying the many nature walks. All along the trail, interpretive signs provide information about the formations and geologic features.

3. Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway

The St. Croix and Namekagon rivers together form the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The rivers flow through some beautiful and unspoiled areas and offer outdoor enthusiasts 252 miles of recreational opportunities. For instance, you can paddle, boat, fish, and camp, as well as hike and explore the surrounding historic towns. Throughout the year, the St. Croix River Association staff present and run indoor and outdoor programs aimed to educate visitors about the area and help them get the most out of the riverway. For example, they host an environmental education program and provide workbooks for children at the visitor centre. Also along the riverway, you’ll find historic cabins and archaeological sites, for instance, Riverside Landing and Sandrock Cliffs.

4. North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the United States. Additionally, it is the longest National Scenic Trail in the country. Hiking this trail gives you a wonderful opportunity to experience the wild natural beauty of the northern states. On its way from Vermont to North Dakota, it snakes its way through the states of MichiganMinnesotaNew YorkOhioPennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Stretching over 4,600 miles, this trail cuts through a variety of inspiring landscapes, for instance, hills and valleys, lakes and rivers, open prairies, and past historic sites that tell how America settled and grew as a nation.

The Wisconsin section is just over 209 miles long and takes in some incredibly scenic spots, for instance, Pattison State Park, the Saint Croix River, and the Chequamegon National Forest.

best national park wisconsin

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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