Potawatomi State Park is a northern paradise on Lake Michigan, sporting gorgeous beaches, rolling hills, birch forests, and limestone ridges. It’s a perfect getaway for those who want an action-packed RV vacation in one of the most beautiful spots in Wisconsin. Nestled on the western edge of Sturgeon Bay, Potawatomi State Park is home to 2.5 miles of shoreline with direct access to Sawyer Harbor, where visitors can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. If fishing is your thing, the waters of Lake Michigan are teeming with sport fish for the serious angler. Fishers will quickly take their limit of bass, northern pike, trout, and walleye year-round. Ice-fishing shacks can be seen up and down Sawyer Harbor, and frozen Lake Michigan is open for your winter-time expeditions. The park has a cleaning station and rental shop right by the launch.
A world of sunken relics and artifacts hide beneath the surface of Lake Michigan, and scuba divers are rewarded with shipwrecks from the 1800s that populate the depths of Sturgeon Bay. Enjoy learning the stormy history of the area in the nearby museum with hands-on displays and underwater videos.
Runners, mountain bikers, snowmobilers, skiers, and hikers all find the 1,200 acres of land, and the nearly 20 miles of trails provide a surprising variety of terrain and scenery for a smaller waterfront park. Hundreds of participants from miles around show up to support the park each fall in the annual Fun Run.
You won’t worry about comfort at Potawatomi State Park. The campgrounds have electric hook-ups and plenty of room for large fifth-wheels and motorhomes. The campgrounds are located 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 when the snow begins to fall, maintaining its trails for skiers. There's also a sledding hill right by the campsites. Potawatomi State Park is sure to become a favorite spot to park your RV every year.
Potawatomi State Park, on the shores of Sturgeon Bay, is easy to find, no matter what direction you’re coming from, but if you’re heading in from Chicago, take I-94 north; take the Milwaukee exit onto I-43 or US-41 and head north to Greenbay. When you get to the northeast side of Greenbay, jump on State Highway 57 going north. From there, it’s only about 2.4 miles to the park entrance. The park is just northwest of the city of Sturgeon Bay. Potawatomi State Park is at the center of Wisconsin's scenic Door Peninsula in Door County, so for a scenic drive, take the Door County Coastal Byway, which begins at Sturgeon Bay and goes to the tip of the peninsula. The State Park and campground are heavily wooded, but the trees are well-trimmed, and campers report easy access for trailers and RVs.
The Potawatomi State Park campground offers 123 campsites, 40 with electricity. Four group sites can accommodate up 30 people each for your family reunion, two of which are RV sites with the other two being tent-only. These are sites open year-round. Flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station are available. The campsites offer plenty of space with level gravel pads for trailers and RVs. Most sites are back-in. The campground is deep in the trees for welcome shade in the summer and has picnic tables and fire rings at each site. Daisy Field Campground is located near the pristine sandy shoreline with access to fishing, and it is just a short drive to the boat launch area.
The Cabin by the Bay is a fully accessible cabin in the south campground, featuring low counters, microwave, refrigerator, and stove. The cabin sleeps up to 6 people and is equipped with a wheel-in shower, heat, AC, and a screened-in porch. The cabin is located on the north side of the south Daisy Field Campground.
This loop is the south section of the Daisy Field Campground and is a little further from the boat launch, but is just a short walk from the shoreline and the beautiful Hemlock Trail. This loop has many spots with electric hook-ups and plenty of space for your large RV or fifth-wheel.
Potawatomi State Park is at 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 there is to head south, following the shore 3.5 miles to the town of Sturgeon Bay and then loop back to the start. The route covers a couple of 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 during the summer.
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 sailors of the shipwrecked boats, 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 10-30 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 16 and older will need a Wisconsin fishing license.
Potawatomi offers splendid views on its 1,200 acres and nearly 20 miles of trails. Cycling through winding trails of birch forests, you are bound to see a plethora of wildlife in the area, including foxes, raccoons, and deer. The trails are kept relatively smooth, but you will encounter some changes in elevation that will get your heart pumping. The rise in elevation isn't the only thing that will take your breath away. The limestone ridges and jutting cliffs are a sight to behold, and biking through the park is a great way to explore the area.
The park offers some of the best swimming around. There are several protected areas to swim, such as the crystal clear waters of Sawyer Harbor and the shallows along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Just watch for signs of danger and follow the code of not splashing or making loud noises around those who are fishing. It's a great way to cool off after a full day of exploring.
The waters around Sturgeon Bay offer a wealth of history both above and below the water. There are several 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 advanced techniques. Enjoy great hands-on fun for all ages.
The State Park campground is open year-round for those who delight in winter recreation. There are 17 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.
The Friends of Potawatomi have organized annual running events in the park for over 25 years now. Fall weather and changing leaf colors offer ideal conditions for the run. The event attracts about 500 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.
Hunting is allowed in Potawatomi State Park during the season, but make sure to pick up a hunting map from the park office because there are specific areas that are off-limits. Hunting in prohibited areas carries stiff penalties. You can set up your RV in the Daisy Field Campground, and either hike to your hunting area or drive an off-road vehicle. There is no hunting or trapping within 100 yards of Ice Age Trail, which surrounds the whole camping area. You will find unique hunting opportunities in Potawatomi State Park. In addition to hunting deer, you can hunt bobcat, raccoon, muskrat, foxes, coyote, and badger. Be sure to get the appropriate license, and check on the status of allowable prey before your trip as these may be updated according to population changes.
The winter months in Potawatomi State Park are perfect for ice-fishing. Ice-fishing shanties may be parked on the lake overnight, but not left for a significant amount of time. Make sure to check with the park office for rules regarding staying on the ice for any length of time, but with the north campground so close to the water, you'll want to warm up in the Airstream before heading back out to fish anyway. Ice fishing is also popular in the protected Sawyer Harbor north of the park, where fishers will find ice-fishing shacks along the frozen lake. The same bountiful variety of fish anglers enjoy in the summer is available under the ice as well. Take your catch back to the camper and cook them up for dinner.