Wyalusing State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Famous for its rugged, panoramic bluffs, Wyalusing State Park sits at the intersection of the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin River. Located in Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin, this 2,700-acre park is over 100 years old, though it was originally the named Nelson Dewey State Park. With two campgrounds open year-round, Wyalusing State Park is one of Wisconsin’s most picturesque RV destinations.

If you visit Wyalusing in your camper in the spring, you will enjoy a beautiful floral display when the bluffs are in full bloom. Towering more than 500 feet above the river valley, these bluffs are a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to over 90 species of birds. With over 14 miles of hiking trails and seven miles of mountain biking trails, Wyalusing offers plenty of opportunities to explore nature.

Wyalusing State Park offers the unique opportunity to visit Native American Burial Mounds. A sacred piece of history, the burial mounds date back more than 3,000 years to the Woodland Indians. Hike one of Wyalusing’s nature trails to check out the deer and bear shaped effigies, then head to Lookout Point to take in the spectacular sunset view. Wyalusing State Park is one-of-a-kind and you may just find yourself coming back year after year.

RV Rentals in Wyalusing State Park

Transportation in Wyalusing State Park

Driving

Wyalusing State Park is located seven miles north of Bagley, WI, across the Mississippi River from the Iowa border. The route into the park is clearly signed, with the entrance on your right just a mile after you turn onto County Road X.

Within the park, it is possible to drive to most points of interest and there is parking at each trailhead. Be cautious when driving on Long Valley road to the boat launch, as the road crosses a set of railroad tracks that run parallel to the river. Trains are fast and frequent at this intersection so be sure to stop and listen before crossing the tracks.

If you brought your bike, be aware that the roads are quite narrow and heavily traveled, with steep downgrades and sharp corners. Watch carefully for traffic and wear a helmet, being sure to pull fully off the road when stopping to view wildlife and nature. There are also over seven miles of designated mountain bike trails centrally located in the park, including the Whitetail Meadows Trail and the Mississippi Ridge Trail. While on these trails, please give hikers the right-of-way.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Wyalusing State Park

Campsites in Wyalusing State Park

Reservations camping

Wisconsin Ridge Campground

As the most popular campground at Wyalusing State Park, the pet-friendly Wisconsin Ridge fills up quickly. Reserve your site in early spring if you want to guarantee a coveted spot on the north ridge. These sites are smaller, less private, and non-electric, but they make up for it with their panoramic sunset view. Their size will accommodate a medium-RV, but larger campers will need to choose a site across the road, which still offers an excellent view. Out of the 55 campsites at Wisconsin Ridge, 24 are electric. You must set up your camper on the dirt camping pads provided and no vehicles may be on the grass. A picnic table and fire ring are available at your site as well.

Wisconsin Ridge has excellent bathroom and shower facilities. If you have mobility issues, an accessible site is available and there is an accessible flush bathroom and shower nearby. The park’s basketball, tennis, and volleyball court are located in the Wisconsin Ridge campground, as well as the ball field and playground. This campground also has a water spigot for use in the winter, but shower facilities are not available in the winter months.

For each site, there is a limit of six individuals or a family and two guests. Only one wheeled camping unit is allowed per site but additional tents are permitted, as long as the limit of guests is not exceeded. Friends of Wyalusing State Park operate The Bluff Top concession stand from late-May until October. At the store, you can purchase firewood, grocery items, ice cream treats, and also rent canoes/kayaks. The store is located near the Wisconsin Ridge Campground. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

Homestead Campground

If you prefer a bit more privacy, the pet-friendly Homestead Campground has larger wooded sites, which also offer excellent shade. This quiet campground is broken up into four loops, which circle around the new shower building. Campers rave that this is one of the best facilities they have ever seen at a campground. Of the 55 sites at Homestead, only 9 are electric and all electrical sites are non-reservable. Most sites have gravel pads, featuring a picnic table and fire ring. If mobility is an issue, one site has been designated as an accessible campsite. The Homestead Campground is conveniently located close to the Visitor’s Center and dump station. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

For each site, there is a limit of six individuals or a family and two guests. Only one wheeled camping unit is allowed per site but additional tents are permitted, as long as the limit of guests is not exceeded. Friends of Wyalusing State Park operate The Bluff Top concession stand from late-May until October. At the store, you can purchase firewood, grocery items, ice cream treats, and also rent canoes/kayaks. The store is located near the Wisconsin Ridge Campground.

First-come first-served

Wisconsin Ridge Campground

There are a limited number of non-reservable sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll still be able to enjoy all the wonderful amenities at the pet-friendly Wisconsin Ridge Campground. Several of the sites provide electricity access and most of them offer beautiful riverfront views. Most sites have gravel pads, featuring a picnic table and fire ring. You’ll be close to all the fun at the volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts. If you are camping with kids they will love a trip to the playground or ball field. Restrooms and shower are also nearby.

A concession stand is open during the summer months to fill up on snacks and drinks. A dump station is located by the Homestead Campground. You’ll also be close to the Nature Center and hiking trails during your stay.

Homestead Campground

A select number of sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the pet-friendly Homestead Campground. In fact, all of the electrical sites are non-reservable. If you are lucky to snag one of these spots you’ll enjoy camping in a shady forest setting. You’ll have convenient access to restrooms and showers. Water fountains and a dump station are nearby as well. Plus, you can easily head on out to the hiking trails from this campground, such as the Turkey Hollow Trail. The Visitor Center is also a short walk away. Most sites have gravel pads, featuring a picnic table and fire ring.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Wyalusing State Park

In-Season

Hiking

With over 14 miles of trails, Wyalusing State Park offers some of the best hiking in Wisconsin that you’ll want to explore during your RV trip. Starting from the Point Lookout, the Bluff Trail is a favorite among campers. Re-opened in 2017, this short trail passes by “The Keyhole,” where you can try to find the profile of the Guardian of the Treasure carved in the rock. The trail then follows a side trail to Treasure Cave, which is one of four caves in the park. The Mississippi Trail is a three-and-a-half mile loop that follows the upper ridge of the Mississippi River. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the view when you reach Henneger Point. On your return, the trail follows Cathedral Tree Drive, where you will have the chance to visit the Spook Hill Burial Mounds. Please note, the Sugar Maple Nature Trail is one of the few areas in the park where pets are not allowed.

Visiting Burial Mounds

Scattered throughout Wyalusing State Park are 64 burial mounds left by the Woodland Indians, some of which date back 3,000 years. Please be careful not to walk on the mounds in order to preserve these sacred pieces of history for future generations. These burial sites have a variety of forms, including dome-shaped, conical, effigy, or linear mounds. Near the main picnic area you will find two bear-shaped effigies and in Spook Hill you can see two deer-shaped mounds. Check out the Sentinal Ridge Mounds, Procession of the Mounds, Wabasso Ridge, and Spook Hill Mounds. If you use a mobility device, the half-mile Sentinal Ridge Trail loop offers a wide, level pathway from which to view burial mounds. Take time to read the interpretive signs for more information on the history of this area.

Canoeing

In partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyalusing State Park maintains a scenic canoe trail through the backwaters of the Mississippi. Come paddle through this well-marked trail where you may spot a great blue heron, egret, a muskrat, or a barred owl. The canoe trail begins to the right of the boat landing, and you can choose to follow the southern or northern route. If you want to make a loop and canoe in the main channel of the Mississippi, plan to paddle it downstream and stay close to shore as there may be strong currents and large watercraft. Bring your own canoe or kayak in your rig or rent one at the concession stand. Keep in mind that rentals are not allowed in the main channel. Also, please note that each person must have a Coast Guard approved lifejacket.

Off-Season

Bird Watching

Voted the state park with the best birding trails and best eagle watching, Wyalusing is a bird watcher’s paradise. During the spring and fall migration, Wyalusing is home to over 100 species of birds. Visit the park in late May or June to catch sight of the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow and the rare Yellow-throated Warbler. In addition to these elusive birds, you may also encounter turkey vultures, great horned owls, or red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. Bald eagles are also commonly seen year-round, soaring on the air currents above the Mississippi River. Park the camper and hike one of the bluff trails for the chance to catch sight of these majestic birds.

Cross-Country Skiing

Wyalusing is a beautiful place to visit in the winter too! With a variety of groomed trails, the park is a great place to view wildlife while you cross-country ski. The two-mile Turkey Hollow trail passes through open fields, an oak forest, and a pine plantation. As you can guess from its name, you might even ski past a turkey! This is a more challenging route with several hills so only attempt it if you are an experienced skier. A longer but easier route is the three-mile Whitetail Meadows Trail, which follows the edge of the woods.

Enjoying Astronomy

Love to watch the stars? Wyalusing State Park is home to the Lawrence L. Huser Astronomy Center. The Starsplitters, a group of amateur astronomers, offer free public programs and telescope viewing experiences at the center in the summer and fall. Join them for a “Star Party” to enjoy the wonders of the night sky. You can bring your own binoculars or telescope, although they do have some to share. You could also attend their monthly “Lunatics” presentation, which is an advanced astronomy discussion. If you attend one of their gatherings, please refrain from using a flashlight or cell phone, but rather use a red light that does not pollute the night sky.

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