Established in 1920, Pattison State Park is a fantastic and historical natural area that attracts thousands of visitors every year. This lovely park has over 1,400 acres in the city of Superior in Wisconsin. Located along the Black River, Pattison State Park features two waterfalls: one is the tallest waterfall in Wisconsin, the 165-foot Big Manitou Falls, and the other is the smallest waterfall in Wisconsin, the 31-foot Little Manitou Falls.
On Black River, you can find all kinds of fun activities for you and your family, from swimming to fishing and boating to paddling. The park is also a fun spot for geology lovers, with dark igneous rock all over the park. You can even see the path of previous earthquake damage and lava that struck the area billions of years ago. Another attraction is the Douglas Fault Line, which is visible at the park in a large ridge that rises to a 50-degree angle.
The park also boasts over 10 miles of hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing in seven different trails from a half-mile to seven miles long. Hunt for fossils and arrowheads along the way because Native Americans lived in the area hundreds of years ago. Keep an eye out for local wildlife as well and remember your camera so you can share your journey with everyone back home.
Pattison State Park is just south of Duluth, Minnesota in Superior, Wisconsin and can be found using any GPS-enabled device. It is actually a breeze to get to using WI-35 N, which leads directly into the park. The roads within the park are fairly easy to navigate, although all vehicles must have a vehicle admissions sticker to be allowed in the state park and there is a limit of two vehicles per campsite.
If you have an RV and are towing an additional vehicle, you will need to get a sticker for the one you are towing. It should also be noted that several of the roads are quite narrow and the ones within the campground are all one-way roads. On one hand, this means you get the whole road to yourself, on the other hand, it means you need to be extremely careful when navigating them and not go against the flow of traffic.
The largest parking lot that is best for RVers is the Main Parking Lot located in between the Park Office and campground. Of course, you can also park at the campground if you are staying overnight. There are several other parking lots dotted around the park such as near Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls.
There are a total of 59 campsites within Pattison State Park, 18 of which have electric hookups. There are a wide variety of sites available for RVs of many different sizes up to and even greater than 50 feet in length. The campgrounds feature several water fountains, restrooms, and centrally located showers. Campsites feature picnic tables and fire rings, and your pet is welcome to stay with you. The parking lot for extra vehicles is directly beside the campground, so if you need to use it you won't end up having to hike back to your campsite.
The service road leading to Overlook Trail can be accessed from the campground as well as a walkway to Beaver Trail and the nearby picnic area. If you plan on staying in the winter, you should be prepared to get water from the contact station during open office hours because the water at the campground gets turned off during the winter months. Reservations are needed and can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you have been thinking of getting back to nature for real, park your rig in the lot and hike to one of the Pattison State Park backpacking campsites. Although you will have to hike into the woods about 1.6 miles, the result is worth it. You have never felt so alive and relaxed at the same time until you have seen Wisconsin from the wooded area near the Little Manitou Falls section of the Black River. There are three campsites in the backpacking area where you can pitch a tent for you and five others. You can even bring your fur buddies.
Although there is no electricity or other utilities available, there are vault toilets, picnic tables, and campfire rings so you can cook and roast marshmallows. You will need to bring plenty of water though because there is none available nearby to cook with or drink. You do not need a reservation as these are first-come, first-served. That being said, if you are planning to walk 1.6 miles with all your stuff, you will want to get there early if you want a spot.
From mid-November to mid-December, trapping, gun, and archery hunting are allowed in certain parts of the park. Hunting can be a great way to get in touch with your primitive nature side and is a bonding experience for many people. However, it is important to note certain trapping methods are restricted and no type of trapping or hunting is allowed within 100 yards of any designated use area. You should always read all the Wisconsin hunting rules and regulations before setting out of the camper.
Cross-country skiing is available during winter months, and there are miles of trails that RV campers can choose from. Cruising through the snow-capped fir, birch, spruce, and aspen trees is not an experience you'll soon forget. Some trails are subject to seasonal closings in the winter if they were damaged during the summer rains, so double check and make sure whatever trail you plan on using is actually open before setting out. Pattison State Park also has a number of informal trails available for snowshoeing if that is more your style.
If you have always wanted to find a hidden treasure (and who hasn’t?), geocaching may be the perfect new sport for you. This activity is good for all ages and can be educational as well as fun. The excitement of finding a hidden treasure never gets old. For hints and tips to find these geocaches, you can check out geocaching websites If you plan to take one of the trinkets or toys from the cache, make sure you replace it with one of your own. Also, make sure you put it back where you found it so others can find it too.
When is the last time you went sledding? Even if it was just yesterday, you should go again at Pattison State Park after a nice snowfall. Even with only a couple of inches of snow, which is pretty easy to find in Wisconsin in the winter, you can find a hill and slide down on any number of vessels. Although some people still use actual sleds made for snow, others are more creative. You can see people using rafts, inner tubes, kayaks, and even shovels to get down the slopes. Use your imagination and think of another way to sled that nobody else has thought of.
Fishing is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Pattison State Park, and the park office makes it a breeze for anyone to take part. Even if you've never gone fishing before, don't have any fishing poles, or just left some of your equipment at home, some fishing gear can be checked out from the park office free of charge. Getting a bite may prove difficult since the recreational fishing spots are few and far between in the park, but don't get discouraged. There are several rules and regulations you must follow when fishing, though, including size and bag limits and licensing requirements. So, prepare to cast your line when you take an RV trip to Pattison State Park.
Hiking can be enjoyed year-round as well. Several miles of trails will take you all throughout the park, giving you unbeatable views of the surrounding nature. However, if you want to experience the best view in all of the park, head to the south overlook at Big Manitou Falls, which even features a selfie stand so you can make all your friends jealous of your awesome vacation. RV campers are free to pick edible nuts, fruits, wild mushrooms, asparagus, and watercress along the trails for personal consumption, but you accept all risk associated with this. Don’t forget to pack your hiking gear in the rig.
You can enjoy birding and wildlife viewing from pretty much any spot in the park since the whole thing is just teeming with wildlife. Depending upon the season the wildlife can vary, but the summer and spring months tend to bring the most critters to the park. Over 50 species of mammals call the park home, as well as nearly 200 species of birds. Common animals spotted within the park include squirrels, deer, rabbits, moose, wolves, and plenty of insects. So, don't forget to pack your binoculars and camera in your campervan.
Remember to pack your sunblock and other summer gear so you can enjoy some swimming at Pattison State Park. Interfalls Lake has a 300-foot sandy beach with a bathhouse, lounging area, and plenty of waterfront to enjoy. You can also use the picnic area to enjoy lunch or dinner while you are there. Use the grills provided to barbecue something or pick up some fast food or snacks in the nearby town of Superior, just about 10 miles to the north. There is no lifeguard on duty so be careful as you will be swimming at your own risk.