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State Parks Reopen–With Limits

Starting this Friday (May 1st), most Wisconsin State Parks will re-open to the public. The parks have been closed since April 10th, by order of Governor Evers.  The reopening comes with a list of limits and restrictions, however.

Not All Parks

Of the 38 parks closed by the April 10th order, only 34 of them will be reopening.  The four that remain closed are all near the Lodi Valley:

  • Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area
  • Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area
  • Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area
  • Dells of The Wisconsin River state natural area

According to the DNR, these areas “remain closed for the health and safety of the public, staff, and property integrity”.

Limited & Restricted Entry

The primary restriction for entry in to state parks is the requirement of an annual park sticker and/or trail pass.  Only vehicles with an annual sticker (or proof of purchase) will be allowed in the parks.   Those stickers are only available via phone–no passes will be sold at the parks.

People may purchase an annual pass by phone by calling 1-888-305-0398  between 8:00 am and 3:00pm any day of the week.  The DNR cautions callers that wait times may be long.

The stickers must be adhered to the vehicle.  If you’ve ordered your annual pass, but it hasn’t arrived yet, you may place proof of purchase on the dashboard of your car.

Along with restricted entry, hours of operation will be limited.  Parks will open at the usual time of 6:00 am, but will close earlier than normal at 7:00 pm.  Northern forests, flowages, the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, and wild rivers will remain open to 11:00 pm.

Parks will also have limited capacity during the Stay@Home order.  If parks reach their listed capacity, persons will be turned away.

All parks will be closed on Wednesdays for maintenance.

Business As Usual

DNR boat launches are open at all open state properties.  All waterways that are legally accessible are open for public use under normal laws and rules.  Michigan boundary waters, however, are closed to all motorized boats1editor’s note: I am unable to find information on how this relates to Lake Michigan..

All linear and rail trails, including ATV trails and the Ice Age Trail, are open–except for those sections going through the remaining four closed parks.  No pass is required for walking or hiking on state trails, but other activities such as biking, horseback riding, or in-line skating may.

All facilities, including towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature center, and concession buildings will remain closed.  This includes all restrooms.

We are excited to reopen several of our state parks and forests for the public to enjoy. We want to thank everyone for their cooperation with our new operating schedule and procedures. We must do all that we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When visiting our treasured state parks and forests, remember to stay close to home, practice social distancing and carry hand sanitizer. Please enjoy the outdoors responsibly and be more than safe.

–DNR Secretary Preston D Cole



1 editor’s note: I am unable to find information on how this relates to Lake Michigan.

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