Potawatomi State Park is a northern getaway for those who want to spend their vacation days outside. With two and a half miles of shoreline on Sturgeon Bay and direct access to protected Sawyer Harbor, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards have days worth of exploring to do.
The waters of Lake Michigan are teeming with sport fish for the angler. Fishermen will easily take their limit of bass, northern pike, trout and walleye all year with ice fishing shacks on Sawyer Harbor in winter. The park has a sweet cleaning station and rental shop right by the launch.
Under the surface, a world of sunken relics and artifacts hide in the depths and scuba divers are rewarded with shipwrecks from the 1800s that dot Sturgeon Bay. The nearby museum will teach you all about the stormy history with hands-on displays and underwater videos.
The trails at Potawatomi are well used all year by runners, cyclists, mountain bikers, snowmobiles, skiers, and hikers. The 1,200 acres of park and nearly twenty miles of trails provide a surprising variety for a small waterfront park. Hundreds of participants show up to support the park each fall in the annual Fun Run.
Potawatomi State Park campground has power and plenty of room for large fifth-wheels and RVs. The camping is in the middle of the park and it's walking distance to a clean sandy beach for cooling off in the middle of summer. Showers, restrooms and a dump station are on site and the park stays open even once the snow falls to maintain trails for skiers. There's even a sledding hill right by the campsites.
RV Rentals in Potawatomi State Park
Transportation in Potawatomi State Park
About forty-five minutes north of Green Bay would mean Canada if you were going any other route. Potawatomi State Park is in the center of Door County and Wisconsin's scenic Door Peninsula. Though the roads in the area are fine, the towns are small, the parking lots are small, and there are dead-end roads everywhere. The Door County Coastal Byway begins at Sturgeon Bay and the drive all the way to the tip of the peninsula is very scenic. The State Park and campground are heavily wooded with trees that drop their leaves in fall, but they are well trimmed and campers report easy access for trailers and RVs.
Campgrounds and parking in Potawatomi State Park
Campsites in Potawatomi State Park
Daisy Field Campground (WI SP)
The Potawatomi State Park campground offers 123 campsites and 40 with electricity. There are sites open year round. There are flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station. The campsites offer good room for trailers and RVs and nice level gravel pads. Most sites are back-in. The campground is deep in the trees for welcome shade in summer. There are picnic tables and fire rings at each site. The campground is close to a very nice section of sand shoreline with access, but it's still a short drive to the boat launch area.
Seasonal activities in Potawatomi State Park
The Ice Age Trail Hike Sturgeon Bay
Potawatomi State Park is the eastern end of Wisconsin's Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The trail's official terminus is near the lookout tower on the north end of the park. A great day hike from here is to head south, following the shore three and a half miles to the town of Sturgeon Bay and loop back. The route covers a couple hundred feet of elevation, but it's gradual and clear of obstacles. There are several great cafes and coffee shops in Sturgeon Bay and several different museums are open on the weekends in summer.
Paddle Sturgeon Bay
The State Park rents canoes and kayaks so that all visitors have a chance to get out on the water. With good directions or a guide, you might even be able to locate one of several famous shipwrecks in the bay. The Shoreline Boat Launch puts you into well-protected Sawyer Harbor, which is large enough to enjoy hours exploring a couple of small islands and the waterfront view of many luxury lakefront homes. As evidenced by the shipwrecks, weather can turn nasty here, so always check the forecasts and don't wander too far from the familiar shores of Potawatomi State Park.
The fishing here is top-notch. The modern fish-cleaning station provided in the park and gear and boat rental near the dock testify to this premier fishing area. Sturgeon Bay is one of the best bass fishing locations in the state. For boaters exploring the bay, lunkers are hiding in the many submerged rocks, old pilings and shipwrecks from ten to thirty feet deep. Whitefish, rainbow trout, walleye, and northern pike are commonly caught from the shore. The park rents out free fishing equipment if you didn't come prepared. Everyone sixteen and older will need a Wisconsin Fishing License. Ice fishing is also popular on Sawyer Harbor north of the park.
Door County Maritime Museum
The waters around Sturgeon Bay offer a wealth of history both above and below the water. There are a number of old shipwrecks in the area which are now popular dive sites, and a visit to the Door County Maritime Museum will give you a chance to see photos and videos of the wrecks without plunging into Lake Michigan. There is an original brass diving helmet and an old ship helm to touch, and several interactive displays to learn about modern submersible exploration technologies. The giant shipwreck map highlights discoveries that have been made with the help of modern techniques. Great hands-on fun for all ages.
Cross Country Ski
The State Park campground is open year round for those who delight in winter recreation. There are seventeen miles of groomed trails in the winter, nine traditional and eight for skate-skiing. The terrain climbs 120 feet above the lake level toward the middle of the park, with gorgeous views toward Sturgeon and Green Bay. No dogs, bikes, or snowshoes are allowed on the ski trails at any time. A drinking water supply is kept open in the campground. Check the park website for current weather and trail conditions.
Run Wild Quarter Marathon, 5K and Kids Fun Run
The Friends of Potawatomi have organized annual running events in the park for over twenty-five years now. Fall weather and changing leaf colors offer ideal conditions for the run. The event attracts about five hundred participants and regularly includes all ages, including babies in jogging strollers. Park roads are closed off for the races and all of the routes are level, paved, and in very good condition. The fundraiser brings money to park projects each year, ensuring that Potawatomi stays in great shape for future generations.