Famously known as “Circus City” for being the hometown of the Ringling Brothers, Baraboo, WI, is a historic town that attracts numerous visitors every year.
Another claim to fame this small town boasts is the International Crane Foundation featuring 15 different species of cranes.
The well-maintained Victorian homes, the winery, museums, restaurants, and farms as well as its vicinity to various state parks are just a few more reasons to visit this splendid town.
If you’re thinking of going camping, this list of 5 stunning state parks near Baraboo, WI, full of natural beauty and breathtaking views, are terrific places to start.
Map of State Parks Near Baraboo, WI
Here is a map of the state parks in Wisconsin covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Baraboo
When you are ready to explore the great outdoors in the Baraboo area, there are plenty of options to get close to nature, and these Wisconsin state parks are an excellent place to start.
1. Devil’s Lake State Park
Location: S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913
Starting this list close to home, Devil’s Lake State Park is the largest and most popular state park in Wisconsin, located in Baraboo itself.
The park is enveloped by 500-feet tall quartzite bluffs that overlook the majestic Devil’s Lake spanning 360 acres. Considered 1.6 billion years old, these pink quartzite outcrops are awe-inspiring geological formations that have survived glaciers from the Ice Age.
Apart from the scenic beauty, visitors can also enjoy the 30 miles of hiking trails, along with the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, as well as the off-road bike trails. If you have a permit, you can also go rock climbing.
There are two beaches at each end of the Devil’s Lake where you can go swimming. There are also facilities for boating, canoeing, kayaking, as well as scuba diving. Fishing and hunting are allowed if you have permits. Come winter, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and dog sledding.
The park offers three campgrounds — the Quartzite campground, the Northern Lights campground, and the Ice Age campground — totaling over 400 campsites. Amenities are available to all visitors to ensure a special experience.
2. Brunet Island State Park
Location: 23125 255th St, Cornell, WI 54732
Nearly 160 miles from Baraboo is Brunet Island State Park sprawled across 1,300 acres where visitors can enjoy water sports while exploring the island’s many channels and lagoons.
The park offers numerous trails to explore for hikers and bikers alike. Bikers can ride on park roads or the hike-friendly Old Abe State Trail Link, the Pine Trail, the Spruce Trail, and The Timber Trail. Hikers can geocache at Jean Brunet Nature Trail, Ice Age National Picturesque Trail, and Nordic Trail, which provide stunning vistas. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, among other winter activities, are also available.
The park also offers swimming, paddling, and boating opportunities and rents out canoes and kayaks. Anglers can catch catfish, crappie, walleye, and other species of fish from the fishing piers. Hunting and trapping are also permitted, although only in the park’s open area.
It also offers a picnic area with rings, grills, and fireplaces, as well as facilities like a playground and a ball diamond. A rustic log pavilion can be rented as well.
There are two family campgrounds in the park — the South Campground is an ADA-accessible campground with 24 sites with electricity and a shower room with flush toilets, whereas the North Campground has 45 unpowered campsites, most of which are near the Chippewa River’s shoreline or bays.
3. Council Grounds State Park
Location: N1895 Council Grounds Dr, Merrill, WI 54452
The Council Grounds State Park, located 141 miles from Baraboo, offers a variety of recreational opportunities and is a favorite among water enthusiasts.
You can swim, sunbathe, or have a picnic on the park’s 217-foot beach on Lake Alexander. Water sports such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, and water skiing are also available. For visitors’ convenience, the park has a boat landing area as well as canoes and kayaks available for rent.
Anglers can cast a line from the Council Grounds’ shoreline and fish for walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and other fish species from the park’s accessible fishing pier. Hunting and trapping are permitted in the park as long as they are done in open areas.
The park has a variety of trails that range from easy to difficult, such as the Big Pines Nature route, featuring rolling topography as well as an educational experience, and the Northwest track that loops through meadows providing stunning a view of the woods. Backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are some of the winter activities available.
There are two campgrounds in the park. The heavily wooded family campground has 52 campsites, 19 of which are electric-friendly. It also has a group campground with three electric sites. A dump station and recycling containers are also provided.
4. Governor Dodge State Park
Location: 4175 WI-23, Dodgeville, WI 53533
Governor Dodge State Park, spanning 5,270 acres, is a treasure trove of spectacular hills, bluffs, waterfalls, and deep valleys. It is only approximately 50 miles from Baraboo, allowing visitors easy access to the natural splendor of this park.
The park has over 40 kilometers of hiking trails as well as off-road biking trails offering breathtaking views. Most of these trails are also winter sports compatible. It also has 22 miles of equestrian riding trails that offer horseback riders an unrivaled view of the area.
There are swimming beaches and bathhouses on both Twin Valley Lake and Cox Hollow Lake. It also features three launching ramps for easy boating as well as rowboats and canoes for rent. You can even fish for bass, walleye, muskie, and other species. During hunting season, you can also go archery deer hunting or hunt for small game and turkey in designated parts of the park.
The park has about 300 campsites, including group campsites, standard campsites, an equestrian campground, and remote backpacking sites. There are also 8 picnic shelters and accessible shelter buildings with restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, and an amphitheater to make a family visit even more fun.
5. Hartman Creek State Park
Location: N2480 Hartman Creek Rd, Waupaca, WI 54981
About 88 miles from Baraboo is Hartman Creek State Park, spanning an area of 1,417 acres, that provides plenty of recreational opportunities.
The park has approximately 12 miles of off-road biking tracks, of which 10 miles are suitable for hiking. It also boasts over 7 kilometers of bridle trails with picturesque woodland views.
Hunting and trapping are permitted in certain areas of the park. There are also winter activities such as cross-country skiing, fat tire bicycling, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling to offer visitors a year-round experience.
Hartman Lake, with its 300-foot sand beach and large swimming area, is ideal for those who prefer to kick back and relax. You may also go boating, canoeing, or kayaking in the lake’s crystal clear waters, or fish for largemouth bass, bluegill, and other panfish from the ADA-accessible fishing pier.
There are 103 family campsites and five group campsites in the park. Showers and flush toilets are available at some of these locations. The park also has a picnic area with picnic tables, grills, drinking water, restrooms, and parking, along with three shelter buildings available for rent.
Wrapping It Up
All of the state parks listed here are located only about a few hours’ drive from Baraboo, offering convenient options for quick weekend trips. These state parks are not only brimming with exquisite views but also offer various recreational activities.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a fishing and hunting license to participate in some of these activities, as well as a state trail pass to hike the parks’ various trails. Make sure to read the parks’ websites to learn more about the parks so you can have a fun and comfortable camping or day-trip experience.