As the spring weather moves into Wisconsin — my itch to get outside is intensifying. I’m craving some muddy, dusty hiking boots and mornings spent waking up inside my tent with a mug of coffee. With a whole new year ahead of us and the start of the true outdoor wanderlust season, I wantto present a challenge to you — to get out and find anew state park to explore. We all have our home park,the one we live close to, flock to often and know like the back of our hands. That’s the park we’re the most comfortable at and don’t need a trail map to navigate in. For me, it’s Harrington Beach State Park in Belgium since I’m a resident of Ozaukee County. But I urge you to get uncomfortable and venture out. Drive an extra half-hour or hour, plan a full-day or weekend rather than a quick afternoon trip. We have more than fifty parks and forests across the state and dozens of jaw-dropping natural areas to explore. Yes, we all know the bigger popular park properties that everyone and their mother goes to, but there are places that are way, way better,more enjoyable and unbelievably beautiful. Places where you can escape the noisy crowds and really dive head first into nature. Places that when you get out of your car, you shake your head in disbelief as you say “This is Wisconsin?” I got that sensation when I checked out Perrot State Park on the western side of Wisconsin…and again at Natural Bridge State Park…and again at Governor Thompson State Park nestled way up north near the Peshtigo River State Forest. It’s a sensation that gives you the chills and once you get it, you eagerly, actively seek it out again. I’m looking forward to a long spring and summer of exploring more of our Wisconsin state park system and I’m so excited to check out a swath of new places I have yet to discover. My first destination — Roche-A-Cri State Park. I’ve been crazy anxious to spend a weekend camping and hiking there.
So there’s your challenge; visit as many new state park and forest properties as you can. You don’thave an excuse not to. You’ll be truly amazed at how diverse our state’s scenic lands are.
*Story & photos by Robby DeGraff