Visit the Best In Madison WI parks in Madison, South Central and Southern Wisconsin and area state parks.
ARBORETUM UW MADISON – Madison, Dane County, WI – Visitor center and 1260-acre outdoor ecology laboratory. The UW Arboretum is a 1,260-acre parcel between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway, in the middle of vibrant Madison. It consists of the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. Numerous plantings of flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection add to the acres of plants. The UW Arboretum is cherished by thousands of Madison area residents and area visitors each year. Since 1934 the University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum has added to the birth of anew science of restoration ecology. The UW Arboretum has restoring the land, adding floral and native species, increasing research, fostering land care and Aldo Leopold’s land ethics. There are educational tours and science and nature-based classes, free entertaining concerts, art exhibits and a rich variety of research and educational activities. Visit the UW Arboretum at 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, W Arboretum 53711-3726. Call (608) 263-7888.
AZTALAN – 42 miles NE near Lake Mills, WI in Jefferson County. An important archaeological site showcases portions of an old stockade and two mounds that have been reconstructed in the park. The park is mostly open prairie, with 38 of its 172 acres in oak woods. You can canoe, boat and fish. The Aztalan Museum, just north of the park includes two pioneer church buildings and other structures from the 19th century. 920-648-8774.
BLUE MOUNDS STATE PARK – 21 miles Northwest near Mount Horeb, WI in Dane County with the highest mound in Southern WI, an outdoor swimming pool and two scenic viewing towers offering fantastic panoramic views of South Central Wisconsin. This 1153-acre Park. The park can be accessed also by foot or bicycle by way of the Military Ridge Trail about 0.7 mile west of Mounds Park Road on the trail. The Blue Mounds State Park is located at 4350 Mounds Park Rd, Blue Mounds, WI – 608-437-5711.
BOTTOMS STATE NATURAL AREA – Mazomanie, WI. The Mazomanie Unit of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway is a natural area consisting of 3,550 acres located in Dane County 2 miles North of Mazomanie on County Hwy Y and 3 miles south of Sauk City on Hwy 78. The bottomlands offer hardwood forest, prairies, savanna, sloughs, wetlands flowage located along South shore of Wisconsin River between Mazomanie and Sauk City. The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway goal is to preserve and maintain the over 285 bird and 45 mammal species, land, prairie, oak, flowage, wetlands and to provide a quality public use area for recreational pursuits, maintain the natural and scenic landscape, and manage the corridor’s natural resources for the long-term benefit of the citizens of the area and state. Berry picking, bird watching, canoeing fishing, dog training grounds. hiking, historical and archeological sites, hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing activities are allowed.
DEVIL’S LAKE STATE PARK – About 35 miles NW of Madison is a very popular park with over 9000 acres, spectacular views, 500-foot cliffs, miles of hiking (lower lake and upper bluff trails), mountain bike trails, great rock climbing and two beaches. The Devil’s Lake State Park is located at – S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo, WI – 608-356-8301.
GOVERNOR DODGE STATE PARK is located 45 miles West of Madison near Dodgeville, WI in Iowa County. It is a 5270 scenic acres of hills, bluffs and valleys, 2 lakes and a waterfall. 608-935-2315. Governor Dodge State Park is a popular state park hiking and cross-country skiing. It offers`wildlife viewing including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and 150 species of birds including Red-tailed hawks and turkey. The great variations in topography from bluffs to prairie provide a diverse array of plant species, hickory, oak, pines, spring wildflowers, ferns, and prairies. The park offers boating, campsites, fishing, snowmobiling, and hiking trails. Naturalist programs offer guided hikes and present evening nature programs at the park amphitheater. Take State Highway 23 north of Dodgeville to the park entrance on the right about 3 miles north of Highway 18. The Governor Dodge State Park is located at 4175 State Road 23, Dodgeville, Iowa County, WI – 608.935.2315.
LAKE KEGONSA STATE PARK is 25 miles East of inn near Stoughton, WI in Dane County is this 342-acre park of oak woods, prairie, wetland marsh joins a 3200-acre, 30-foot deep, glacier-hewed lake offering excellent fishing, a hiking trail, beach and boat launch. 608-873-9695.
NATURAL BRIDGE STATE PARK – Natural Bridge State Park is a 530-acre state park near North Freedom, Wisconsin and feature Wisconsin’s largest natural arch in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area that was missed by the Glacier melting 11-12,000 years ago. Evidence of human use of the rock shelter over a very long period dated between 9000 and 8000 BC. By the 1920s, the bridge was a favorite place for picnics and a popular tourist destination. Natural Bridge became a state park and state natural area in 1973. The natural sandstone arch was created by the eroding effects of wind and water making a natural opening 25 feet high by 35 feet wide. 11,000 years ago it was a rock shelter used by native people when the glacier was melting. The park can be used during the day. No camping is allowed. Several activities are available. There is a self-guiding, a 2-mile hiking trail through the woods south of the highway, a large picnic area with tables on County Highway C, hunting and trapping are allowed at certain times, cross-country but there are no trails groomed, winter hiking and snowshoeing are allowed anywhere in the park. The Park is located at E7992 County Road C, North Freedom, WI 53951. Park is located about 40 miles NW of centrally located Madison. Call – 608-356-8301.
NEVINS SPRINGS FISH AND WILDLIFE AREA, Fitchburg WI. It is the oldest of all DNR managed lands. The State acquired it in 1876 for use as a fish hatchery. Located in the City of Fitchburg about 6 miles south of the City of Madison and is adjacent to the Nevin Fish Hatchery. Nevin is managed for fish and wildlife habitat. There are fourteen natural springs and feed into the Yahara River System. The Capitol City Bike now passes through the natural area. Recreation activities include berry picking, biking, bird watching, fishing, geocaching, hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing. Nevin is located South of Madison inside Fish Hatchery Road (County Hwy D), Lacy Road, and Syene Road. There is a parking lot at Syene Road. Nevin Springs Fish and Wildlife Area – Fitchburg, Dane Cty, WI – 3911 Fish Hatchery Rd – 608.275.3246.
NEW GLARUS WOODS is located in Green County Wisconsin. The park is located just outside of New Glarus about 22 miles SW of Madison. Several acres of the park are restored prairie. Park also offers rest rooms, campsites, picnic tables and wildlife viewing areas accessible to people with disabilities and at times by permit, disabled hunters are allowed to hunt wild turkey in the New Glarus Woods. The walnut trail is closed to hiking during this time. Pets are welcomed, but must be on a leash less than 8 feet long. They are not allowed in picnic areas or buildings and cannot be left unattended. You must clean up after your pet. You can be ticketed or evicted if your pet’s behavior or noise interferes with other’s enjoyment of the park. DIRECTIONS: From New Glarus to the New Glarus Woods State Park, take State Highway 69 south about a mile to County Highway NN. Turn west on NN and go about 1/10 mile to the park entrance. New Glarus Woods State Park – W5446 County Highway NN, P.O. Box 805, New Glarus WI 53574. (608) 527-2335.
OLBRICH BOTANICAL GARDENS, Madison, WI in Dane County WI, offers 16 acres of gardens and famous for its Rose Garden, Thai Pavilion, Sunken Garden and Perennial Garden. Travel Wisconsin and see Olbrich Gardens. The Olbrich’s Bolz Conservatory is a glass pyramid filled with exotic tropical plants, fragrant orchids, other flowers, birds and waterfall. Admission is free daily for the outdoor Gardens. Olbrich Botanical Gardens – 3330 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704 – 608.246.4550.
Parfrey’s Glen is located within Devil’s Lake State Park and is a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-designated State Natural Area and about 28 miles NW of centrally located Madison. Parfrey’s Glen was designated a State Natural Area in 1952. Parfrey’s Glen is Wisconsin’s first State Natural area and is the most visited state natural area outside of Devil’s Lake State Park. The glen is a spectacular deep gorge deeply cut through the sandstone of the south flank of the Baraboo Hills. The glen reaches a depth of nearly 100 feet and embraces a mountain-type stream flowing through its floor. The shaded moss-covered walls of the glen are sandstone with embedded pebbles and boulders of quartzite. The flora yellow birch, mountain maple, and red elder and several rare plant species. Parfrey’s Glen Creek, a fast, cold, hardwater stream flows through the gorge. The Path is about 0.8 miles long. Powerful floods change the glen and force various closures, repairs and upgrades in recent years. Hikers wishing to continue up to the waterfall must navigate a stream and rough stone. A current Wisconsin State park sticker is required on all vehicles. Pafrey’s Glen is about 4 miles east of Devil’s Lake State Park. Just take Hwy 113 south out of Baraboo and turn left on DL. The entrance will be on your left a few miles down. The entrance is a bit hard to see, but if come to a 4-way stop near the Old Schoolhouse Restaurant, you passed it. Pafrey’s Glen, Hwy DL, Merrimac, Sau County, WI 53561 – 608.356.2185.
ROTARY GARDENS – The Rotary Gardens are located in Janesville Wisconsin about 35 miles SE of centrally located Madison. Rotary Gardens offer educational opportunities, events, a visitor center and gift shop, and a horticultural showcase on 20 acres of themed garden including ferns and Moss, Shade, Prairie and Woodland gardens and themed areas of English Cottage Gardens, French Formal, Italian, Japanese and Scottish samples of world gardening and landscaping styles. The gardens are open from dawn till dusk and the Visitor center hours vary by season so be sure to call to check times. The Rotary Botanical Gardens – 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, WI 53545, (608) 752-3885.
Tower Hill State Park – 5808 Cty. C, Spring Green, Wisconsin 53588, Phone: 608-588-2116. Tower Hill State Park, Spring Green, WI – shot tower and park and a top 101 South Central Wisconsin attractions and things to do in Southern WI. Tower Hill State Park offers a 77-acre park 40 miles NW of centrally located Madison. 11 campsites serve campers. There is a canoe landing for canoeists. Families can enjoy the picnicking facilities and shelter. Everyone will enjoy the panoramic views of the Wisconsin River, the nature and hiking trails and bluff trails, and upland forests and a variety of animals, birds, plants and shrubs. Tower Hill is best known for its 175-foot Cambrian sandstone cliff where a tower was built to make lead shot back in 1833. The tower includes a wooden shaft and the smelter house at the top. It has been rebuilt and a video program shows how shot was made in the 1830’s.
YELLOWSTONE LAKE STATE PARK is a 455-acre lake and park near Blanchardville, WI and 36 miles SW of Madison. The 968-acre state park adjoins 4050 acres of wildlife habitat and cropland. Yellowstone Lake is known for its bat habitat of overr 4,000 little brown bats roost in 31 bat houses throughout the park. In the evening, campers gather around the bat houses to watch the bats fly and hunt. Each bat can catch up to 600 mosquitoes an hour. The lake is shared by boats, canoes, fishermen, kayaks, swimmers and watercraft. Over 400,000 pounds of carp were taken from Yellowstone Lake since 1997, thus crappies and walleye and the game fish populations are flourishing. The lake is now open to fishing with regulations. Flush toilets and shower building provide excellent accommodations for campers on 128 individual campsites. For site descriptions and more information use the Web or phone (888) 947-2757. Snowmobile trails are within the park. The trail connects with the Lafayette County trails to provide hours of riding enjoyment. 5 miles of groomed and tracked Cross-Country Skiing trails exist. A vehicle admission sticker is needed. Deer hunting is allowed within Yellowstone Lake State Park by special permit. Yellowstone Lake Park – 8495 Lake Road, Blanchardville, WI 53516. (608) 523-4427.