Interstate State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Interstate State Park encompasses two adjacent state parks on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, the larger one being in Wisconsin and the smaller one in Minnesota, which is how they got the name “Interstate”. However, there are separate entry systems for both parks. Wisconsin’s Interstate State Park is reputed as Wisconsin’s oldest state park established in 1900. Located on the picturesque location of the St. Croix River, Wisconsin’s Interstate Park features the exotic scenery of the Lake O’ the Dalles, the river of St Croix and its unusually striking gorges, and a variety of gorgeous hiking trails. The large forested regions feature eastern white pines, maples, and basswood, as well as wildlife including foxes, raccoons, white-tailed deer, river otters, minks, skunks, muskrats, beavers, and as many as 150 different kinds of birds. The best part is that you can see it all when you bring your RV.

The park comprises 1,330 acres containing different kinds of scenic vistas, the most popular of which is the Lake O’ the Dalles. Lake O’ the Dalles also features a swimming beach and provides recreation in the form of swimming, wading, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, so don’t forget to pack your swim suit and fishing supplies in your RV. Note-worthy natural attributes of the park include interesting rock formations on the Dalles of the St. Croix. This steep gorge has been carved into a figure of an old man known as the Old Man of the Dalles. Other prominent natural areas of the park include the Interstate Lowland Forest and Centennial Bedrock Glade. Since it first opened, the park’s Ice Age Interpretive Center has been a major hit among the visitors offering exhibits, murals, photographs, and short films about the Ice Age and its glacial characteristics. Open every day, the park welcomes visitors year-round. The peak season continues from spring to fall. The camping season also usually lasts for the peak season with most of the camping amenities and sometimes the entire campgrounds getting shut down in extreme winter. Typically, the camping section is divided into two campgrounds containing electric hookup sites, so you’ll be taken care of when you bring your RV to Interstate State Park.

RV Rentals in Interstate State Park

Transportation in Interstate State Park

Driving

Interstate State Park is made up of two state parks, the larger in Wisconsin consisting of 1,330 acres and the smaller one in Minnesota comprising just 298 acres. Both the parks are administrated separately. A visitor coming to any of the two parks has to buy an additional permit for entering the second one. Wisconsin’s part of the state park is located in Polk County on the scenic spot of the famous Saint Croix River and Croix Falls. The park is easy to locate on a map or through GPS, and is established on the Wisconsin Highway 35, just a half-mile to the southern region of U.S Highway 8.

Once inside the park, grab a park map or use your GPS and you are good to wander off to distant places. Finely paved and well-directed roads will easily take you around different locations inside the park like the hiking trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, Lake O’ the Dalles, Saint Croix River, swimming beach, playground, Ice Age Nature Center, and much more. There are more than 80 campsites including group camping areas spread out in two campgrounds, one located in the North and the other located on the South side of the park. There are vault toilets in both the campgrounds, but shower facilities are only found in the North Campground. There is a dump station on a road just across the Ice Age Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center is located less than half a mile away on the western side of Wisconsin Highway 35, not too far from the park entrance. Picnic tables and shelters are located on various scenic locations all over the park.

There are sufficient parking options inside the park including parking areas at the park entrance, near the Interpretive Center, and campgrounds. A vehicle permit is mandatory for all the vehicles entering the park. Annual sticker permits are also available. Besides cars and RVs, the permit rule applies on motorcycles and trucks as well. Free sticker permits are offered for towed vehicles. All the vehicles must be parked at their designated campsites. No more than two motor vehicles and one RV trailer or motorhome are allowed per campsite.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Interstate State Park

Campsites in Interstate State Park

Reservations camping

South Camp Area

There are 45 sites in the South campground which are a combination of tent-only and RV campsites. However, none of the RV camping sites support electricity. 4 vault toilets, drinking water, and a dumping station are available. Generator use is typically prohibited but can be used upon authorities’ approval. You can begin to reserve campsites up to 11 months prior to camping. Sites can be reserved online or by calling at the park. No site can be reserved for more than 14 days. A group campsite large enough for 200 people is also available. Picnic tables and fire rings are offered complimentary along with group camp. WIFI is not available. The sites are both pet-friendly and kid-friendly.

North Camping Area

The North campground has a total of 40 campsites which are a combination of tent-only sites, electric hookup sites for RV camping, non-electric RV campsites, and primitive group campsites. There are over 20 sites in this region comprising 30-amp electrical hookups. No WIFI is available, but certain mobile connections are supported.

There are vault toilets, a restroom with showers, arrangements for clean, drinking water, and a dumping station in the North campground. Site #32 is an electric RV campsite with facilities for the handicapped. Campgrounds can be reserved up to 11 months in advance. Campsites can be acquired for a maximum of 14 days in 21 days. No more than six persons are allowed per campsite. Generator use is not usually allowed, but if you want to make use of it, seek permission of the park staff.

No more than two motor vehicles and one RV trailer or motorhome are allowed per site, but you can bring as many as six bikes with you. The sites also allow bringing pets on a leash. Children are also allowed but must be accompanied by an adult.

There is also a group camping site for groups larger than six persons. These sites facilitate both tent and RV camping. For RV campers, 30-amp electric hookups are supplied. Typically, these sites accommodate 20 to 60 people but are spacious enough to sleep up to 200 people. Group campsites come luxuriously equipped with picnic tables and fire rings.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

Unoccupied sites are given away on first-come first-served basis.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Interstate State Park

In-Season

Attending Peak Season Special Events

Interstate State Park brings lights, colors, festivity, and fun in the form of various joyful events during its peak season sparking a new light into the park’s already mood-boosting setup. The park’s Ice Age Interpretive Center has some special summer offerings in the form of its summer naturalist programs offered Memorial Day through Labor Day that bring you an inch closer to nature through informative guided hikes and activities and much more. When autumn allures nature lovers like you to fall in love with its beautiful colors, the park’s special nature programs make sure you fall every bit into it. When the annual ‘trick or treat’ season arrives, the park’s Halloween Spectacular Weekend makes sure to make your Halloween extra special with exciting games, thrilling competitions, and much more. So don't miss out on any of these fun-filled events when you take an RV trip to this incredible state park.

Picnicking

When it comes to outdoor fun, Wisconsin’s Interstate Park has plenty of picnicking options spread in many great locations all over the park. Alongside picnic tables, the park offers complimentary barbecue grills and fireplaces. Clean drinking water and restrooms are also provided nearby. There are also two reservable picnic shelters to arrange your next big family gathering available from May to October. Camp Interstate Shelter can seat around 100 people, provides electricity, and vault toilets. The other one called River Bottom Shelter is non-electric, has a capacity for 75 people, and provides vault toilets.

Fishing, Swimming, and Boating

Interstate State Park provides outstanding opportunities for staying cool in the summer in the shape of its swimming beach built within a beach house at Lake O' the Dalles. Splash as much as you want in the cool waters, but exercise caution as no lifeguards are provided and water levels change drastically and unpredictably. Only swimming and wading are permitted; jumping off a cliff as well as swimming up the river from the boat launch area are strictly forbidden.

Non-motorized boats, kayaks, and canoes can also be launched into the lake water. Boat launching ramps are built on the St. Croix River and Lake O' the Dalles. Both the lake and St. Croix River are fit for any fishing lover wanting to have a nice day off angling. The river and lake are well-stocked with a variety of fish like northern pike, muskies, walleyes, and small-mouth bass to name a few. So no matter what type of aquatic activity you are looking Interstate State Park is the perfect RV getaway.

Off-Season

Attending Off Season Special Events

Come and embrace the romantic ambiance of Interstate Park on the Annual Candlelight Night. Celebrated in February, the Candlelight Night provides the perfect setting for all the romantics. Besides its ultra-romantic setup, the annual festival comes topped with incredible entertainment in the form of bonfires, live music, refreshments, skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking. Also, there are plenty of entertaining nature programs held at the Ice Age Interpretive Center like the family-friendly Bluebird Nest Box Workshop. There are also Nature Story Programs offered on Thursday mornings to induce a sense of love and care for the mother nature in children.

Enjoying Winter Activities

Don’t miss out on the fun of winters by confining yourself inside the camper. Celebrate winter in the most incredible way at Interstate State Park and take away the pleasures of the park’s winter special offerings. The park features more than 12 miles of trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking. But you have to be on your guard as the park does not hold any responsibility for any inconveniences resulting due to severe weather conditions or bad ice situations.

Hiking

Interstate State Park has plenty of hiking trails that are highly recommended. Bundled among many natural features of the park, these hiking trails will leave you awe-struck and wanting more. There are hiking trails of varying lengths and surface levels. There is a total of 13 trails welcoming visitors to immerse in either walking or cross-country skiing. You can bring along pets, but keep them on a leash. The Lake O' the Dalles Trail is the hikers’ most favorite choice for wildlife viewing and is only a mile long. The Skyline Trail is the park’s longest trail at a little over a mile and a half. It comprises Skyline Nature Trail and a few areas of the National Scenic Ice Age Trail. Besides being the largest, it can also pass as the park’s most challenging terrain as it features an uneven and steep surface.

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