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waterfall at Willow River State Park

Tucked away in the rolling hillsides of western Wisconsin resides Willow River State Park.

One of the most beautiful public recreational spaces in the state, the park is known for its breathtaking landscape which comprises a crystal-clear river, several cascading waterfalls, and forests of towering pine trees.

Spanning over 2,800 acres, the park is a favorite destination for boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, photography and birding. Attracting scores of visitors from nearby Minneapolis, which is just a 50 minute drive away, for a weekend getaway or a family vacation.

As the park is less than a five minute drive from the city of Hudson, many visitors base themselves in hotel accommodation there.

However, for those who want to experience the thrill of camping and really become at one with nature, Willow River State Park offers over 100 campsites in which to stay at.


Guests at Willow River State Park can enjoy a nice range of leisurely outdoor activities during their time there.

Showcased below is a synopsis of some of the most popular of them.

Boating at Willow River State Park

Flowing throughout the park, the Willow River is a lovely spot for boating, providing a serene way to take in the stunning shoreline scenery.

If you did not bring your own watercraft or vessel with you, guests can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards from the park’s concession stand.

To help you get onto the water, the park has a convenient boat ramp in which to easily launch yourself.

Little Falls Lake at Willow River State Park

Swimming at Willow River State Park

During the warmer months, swimming is a popular activity at Willow River State Park.

This takes place at a large swimming area within the Willow River that features a lovely sandy beach and clear water.

The beach is staffed with lifeguards during peak season. Although if you are not a strong swimmer you are advised to take extra safety precautions like wearing a lifejacket.

Fishing at Willow River State Park

As well as boating, fishing is a popular pastime at Willow River State Park.

Anglers from all over Wisconsin as well as neighboring Minnesota and Michigan come to the park for the opportunity to drop a line in the river.

With the likes of smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye in abundance, guests can fish from the riverbanks or launch their boats from the park’s boat ramp.

Just make sure you have a valid Wisconsin fishing license before you throw your first reel. You can pick these up from the park office if you don’t already have one.

Hiking at Willow River State Park

Some of the park’s best features can only be seen via its hiking trails. So if you have a decent level of fitness you should consider tackling a few of them.

Overall there are more than 13 miles of trails within the park that will take you to areas of dense forests, as well as alongside the river, and up to its magnificent waterfalls.

If you intend to attempt any of them, it is worthwhile going prepared. Wearing a hat and appropriate footwear, also put on plenty of sunscreen and mosquito spray and carry water and snacks.

hiking trail through Willow River State Park

Picnicking at Willow River State Park

Against the beautiful backdrop of its pristine scenery, many people come to the park to enjoy a picnic.

There are several picnic areas available throughout the park on a first come, first served basis, many of which offer breathtaking views of the river or the park’s dense forest. The park also has several shelters available to rent for larger groups.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own food to the park. However they are asked to dispose of their trash responsibly.

They are also advised that the consumption of alcohol is not allowed anywhere in the park.

Birding at Willow River State Park

Those into bird watching will definitely want to bring their binoculars and a birding guide with them to the park.

The park’s different habitats provide a home for several different species of birds including osprey, bald eagles, and great blue herons.

When birding, your best chance of spotting them is while hiking the park’s trails or paddling down the river. The park also has a birdwatching tower that provides an excellent vantage point for bird watchers to make the most of.


While Willow River State Park is a pet-friendly state park, it does impose some restrictions on guests who bring pets with them to the park.

One of the main ones is that dogs must be kept on a handheld leash throughout the course of their stay at the park.

They should also be well behaved and not left unattended for more than 30 minutes.

Guests should be happy to hear the park features a designated off-leash dog area where pets can run and play. It also has a dog beach too where they can swim in the river.

For a full rundown of the park’s pet policy it is worth contacting the main office.


If you fancy staying for a few nights at Willow River State Park there is a lovely campground onsite which you can base yourself at.

Overall it presents more than 100 campsites, many of which offer electric and water hookups. These campsites are located within a handful of different camping areas and provide shade and/or easy access to the trails or other facilities.

As well as the campsites, the park also has a number of group campsites and two rustic cabins available for rent.

Park Location

Willow River State Park
1034 Co Hwy A
Hudson, WI 54016
Phone: 715.386.5931

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Willow River State Park: