• Wis Outdoor Explorer

Wisconsin's County Parks

Dells of Eau Claire County Park in Marathon County

I really enjoy visiting one of the many different state parks throughout the state. The offer a look at what’s unique in those area. From water falls to bluffs, our state parks offer a glimpse of Wisconsin’s beauty in all throughout the state. But what if you can’t get to all or even a few state parks? There is an alternative and that’s the county park systems that run throughout each county in the state.

In my opinion, the Wisconsin County Parks systems are very under rated and often overlooked as destinations for anyone who’s looking to get in the Wisconsin outdoors. They are the perfect place to plan a day trip and often offer as much or more than our state parks.

With over 600 county parks available throughout the state, you’re sure to find one that will fit the activity that will get exploring Wisconsin.


Let’s face it, a lot of us find it difficult to get away from daily life during the week to get out and hike. Then when you do hit the trails on the weekends, they can be busy and full of people taking advantage of our trail systems. I’ve found that county parks offer a little more solitude on the trails. While more hikers are crowding the state park trails, you’ll find that county park trails are open and ready for you to explore without the crowds of people rushing you along to the next outlook point.

County Parks offer many of the same things you'll find at a State Park.


Camping is a summer time tradition in Wisconsin. As a kid, I remember spending most of the week packing up and readying the camper for a weekend of camping. We often camped at one of the county parks that was near our home. We enjoyed that fact that it wasn’t too far away from home, and yet far enough to feel like you’re getting away from life for a few days. Whether you’re looking for hiking and biking trails, great fishing and swimming or just someplace quiet and secluded, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to camping at a county park.

Day Tripping

To me one of the greatest things about Wisconsin’s county park systems is how close they can be to your home. Most counties throughout the state have at least one county park. That means that you’re not far from that county park and that makes planning a simple day or even half a day trip even easier. Sometimes it’s nice to just get the family out of the house for even a few hours. We’ve planned a simple picnic for the kids and they can play on some different equipment other than what’s in their backyard for a few hours. While they’re playing you can get caught up in a book, cast a line or just watch the kids play a day away. You’re close enough to home, that you don’t need to over plan your trip which, as a parent, makes the time more enjoyable for myself too.

See Things that are Unique to Wisconsin

There are more to our county parks than just camping, hiking, fishing and camping. There are numerous opportunities to see things that you just won’t see anywhere else. For instance, you can visit the Cherney Maribel caves in Manitowoc County or the highest point in Wisconsin, Timms’s Hill County Park in Price County. You can even visit one of the last original wooden covered bridges in Wisconsin at the Covered Bridge Park in Ozaukee County. Take a trip to Rock County and visit the Beckman Mill County Park and see an authentically restored 1868 grist mill. Just by doing a quick search, you’ll be surprised at the many different attractions that are available to you at one of your county parks.

In my opinion, Wisconsin’s county park systems are a great way to get out and see Wisconsin. Most offer free access to things like picnicking, hiking, biking and playgrounds. Some may charge a small fee or ask for a donation to certain attractions. But for the most part, they are an affordable way to enjoy a day. Each county park also offers something unique or the whole family. So, don’t be afraid to venture in different counties to see what new things you can discover as one of Wisconsin’s Outdoor Explores.

Wisconsin County Parks List:

Timm’s Hill:

Maribel Caves:

Covered Bridge Park:

Beckman Mill:

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