State Parks La Crosse WI

7 State Parks Near La Crosse WI: Wisconsin’s Natural Beauty Awaits

I am delighted to share with you the abundant natural beauty that awaits in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and its surrounding area. This picturesque region is home to a variety of state parks that offer breathtaking scenery and a host of outdoor activities. Whether you’re seeking scenic trails, family-friendly parks, or camping spots, La Crosse and its neighboring state parks in the Midwest are sure to fulfill your craving for outdoor adventure.

Key Takeaways:

  • La Crosse, Wisconsin, is surrounded by state parks that offer stunning natural beauty.
  • These state parks provide various outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and more.
  • Mill Bluff State Park in Camp Douglas showcases colorful bluffs and breathtaking fall foliage views.
  • Natural Bridge State Park in North Freedom features Wisconsin’s largest natural bridge and vibrant fall colors.
  • Nelson Dewey State Park in Cassville combines history and nature with views of the Mississippi River and Native American effigy mounds.
  • Roche-a-Cri State Park in Friendship offers fascinating Native American petroglyphs and six miles of hiking trails through stunning fall foliage.
  • Straight Lake State Park in Luck provides picturesque views of Straight Lake, including the Straight River and Rainbow Lake, along with connections to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
  • La Crosse offers a variety of outdoor activities, from nature trails to camping spots.
  • Families can enjoy the many family-friendly parks in La Crosse, offering playgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic riverfront views.

Mill Bluff State Park – Camp Douglas

Mill Bluff State Park, located in Camp Douglas, is a natural wonderland that provides an immersive experience amidst stunning fall foliage. The park’s colorful bluffs and rugged rock formations offer breathtaking views that will leave you in awe. Whether you’re an adventurous hiker seeking a challenging climb or a family looking to explore shorter trails, Mill Bluff State Park has something for everyone.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the park offers a thrilling climb of 223 stone steps that lead to an overlook with panoramic views of a lush forestland. As you ascend, the vibrant fall colors become more vibrant, painting a picturesque scene that is sure to leave you mesmerized. Your hiking buddy will be in awe as you conquer the steps together, making lasting memories in this beautiful natural setting.

If you’re visiting the park with your family and little ones, two shorter trails on the opposite side of the interstate provide an opportunity to enjoy the majestic fall colors without the demanding climb. These family-friendly trails showcase the beauty of the foliage in a more accessible way, allowing your hiking buddy to explore and discover hidden treasures along the way.

Mill Bluff State Park Highlights:

  • Colorful bluffs and rugged rock formations
  • Breathtaking views of the fall foliage
  • A challenging climb of 223 stone steps for adventurous hikers
  • Shorter trails for families with little ones

Mill Bluff State Park Trail Options:

  • Main Trail: A mesmerizing hike with panoramic views (3 miles round trip)
  • Children’s Nature Loop: A shorter trail designed for younger hikers (0.5 mile loop)
  • Pier Bluff Trail: Explore the park’s unique geological features (0.5 mile round trip)

Plan Your Visit:

Fall is the perfect time to explore Mill Bluff State Park and witness the vibrant transformation of nature. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning fall foliage and share your adventures with friends and family. Whether you’re conquering the stone steps or exploring the shorter trails, Mill Bluff State Park promises a memorable outdoor experience for everyone.

Address 15819 Funnel Rd, Camp Douglas, WI 54618
Hours 6am to 11pm
Admission $8 daily or $28 for an annual Wisconsin State Park sticker
Facilities Picnic areas, restrooms, and camping sites
Pet-Friendly Yes, dogs are allowed on a leash

Embark on an unforgettable adventure at Mill Bluff State Park and discover the magic of fall foliage in the heart of Camp Douglas. No matter your hiking skill level or age, this park offers an opportunity to connect with nature and create cherished memories with your hiking buddy. So, lace up your boots, grab your backpack, and explore the wonders that await you at Mill Bluff State Park.

Mill Bluff State Park Fall Foliage

Natural Bridge State Park – North Freedom

Natural Bridge State Park in North Freedom is an absolute gem for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. This park is home to Wisconsin’s largest natural bridge, a magnificent sandstone arch that showcases its true splendor during the autumn season. As you explore the park, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking display of vibrant fall colors that envelop the landscape.

Embark on a hiking adventure through Natural Bridge State Park, and you’ll discover a network of picturesque trails spanning four miles. These trails wind their way through enchanting oak woods and native prairie, providing an immersive experience in the heart of nature’s seasonal transformation.

One of the highlights of this park is, of course, the awe-inspiring sandstone arch. Created through centuries of wind erosion, this natural wonder offers a captivating backdrop for capturing unforgettable moments. Don’t miss the opportunity to pose next to the sandstone arch and soak in the serenity of the sprawling rock shelter nestled at its base.

Natural Bridge State Park

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As you explore Natural Bridge State Park, you’ll have a front-row seat to witness nature painting its canvas with the vibrant hues of fall. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, this park is sure to leave you in awe.

Trail Options at Natural Bridge State Park:

Trail Name Difficulty Level Distance
Prairie Trail Easy 0.5 miles
Hickory Trail Moderate 1.5 miles
Oak Woods Trail Moderate 2 miles
Forest Trail Difficult 3 miles

Whether you choose a leisurely stroll or an invigorating hike, the trails at Natural Bridge State Park offer something for every level of outdoor enthusiast. Each path provides a chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant fall foliage and discover the hidden wonders of this natural sanctuary.

Nelson Dewey State Park – Cassville

Nelson Dewey State Park, situated in Cassville along the Mississippi River, offers a unique blend of history and nature. Named after Wisconsin’s first governor, the park features five short hikes that lead to a bluff with panoramic views of the pristine Mississippi River. Visitors can also explore three sites with Native American effigy mounds, some estimated to be over 2,000 years old. Additionally, the park is home to Stonefield, a historical site with a recreated 1900-era farming village that provides insights into rural Wisconsinite livelihoods.

Nelson Dewey State Park

Roche-a-Cri State Park – Friendship

Roche-a-Cri State Park in Friendship offers a perfect destination for a group adventure. The park features a 300-foot-tall rock outcropping known as “Screaming Rock” that displays ancient Native American petroglyphs and pictographs. Hiking through six miles of trails allows visitors to immerse themselves in the fall foliage of oak, pine, and maple trees while enjoying stunning countryside views. Keep an eye out for vultures soaring between Roche-a-Cri and Friendship Mound.

Roche-a-Cri State Park, located in Friendship, Wisconsin, is a natural wonder that combines breathtaking rock formations with the historical significance of Native American petroglyphs. The park’s main attraction is the towering 300-foot-tall rock outcropping known as “Screaming Rock,” which showcases intricate petroglyphs and pictographs created by Native Americans centuries ago.

Visitors to Roche-a-Cri State Park can explore the park’s six miles of scenic trails, which wind through a diverse landscape of oak, pine, and maple trees. Along the way, hikers can soak in the vibrant colors of the fall foliage and enjoy panoramic views of the picturesque countryside.

The highlight of the park is the opportunity to see the ancient Native American petroglyphs and pictographs up close. These rock carvings offer a glimpse into the rich cultural history of the area’s Native American tribes and serve as a reminder of their deep connection to the land.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot vultures soaring between Roche-a-Cri State Park and Friendship Mound, adding to the park’s natural allure.

The Significance of Native American Petroglyphs

Native American petroglyphs are images carved into rocks by indigenous peoples dating back thousands of years. These carvings often depict animals, symbols, and figures that hold cultural and spiritual significance to the Native American tribes that created them. Petroglyphs served as a form of communication, storytelling, and spiritual expression for these tribes, preserving their history and traditions.

“The petroglyphs found at Roche-a-Cri State Park are valuable cultural artifacts that offer a unique window into the past. They remind us of the deep connection between Native American tribes and the land they inhabited,” says Dr. Rebecca Adams, anthropologist and expert in Native American rock art.

Preserving and respecting these petroglyphs is essential to honor the heritage and contributions of Native American communities. Roche-a-Cri State Park provides an opportunity for visitors to appreciate and learn from these ancient carvings while enjoying the natural beauty of the park.

Key Features Details
Park Name Roche-a-Cri State Park
Location Friendship, Wisconsin
Main Attraction Screaming Rock – 300-foot-tall rock outcropping with Native American petroglyphs
Hiking Trails Six miles of scenic trails through oak, pine, and maple trees
Wildlife Vultures soaring between Roche-a-Cri and Friendship Mound

Straight Lake State Park – Luck

Straight Lake State Park, located in Luck, is a picturesque destination that offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. This park is a true gem, providing visitors with stunning views of Straight Lake, which includes the meandering Straight River, enchanting Rainbow Lake, and a myriad of ephemeral ponds. Whether you’re a hiker seeking a challenge or a nature lover hoping to immerse yourself in pristine landscapes, this park has something for everyone.

If you’re up for an adventure, take on the challenging trail that will lead you past the mesmerizing Rainbow Lake. The trail offers breathtaking vistas and a chance to explore the natural wonders of the area. Additionally, Straight Lake State Park is connected to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, allowing you to embark on a journey through several miles of untouched beauty shaped by the ancient forces of glaciers.

But it’s not just the landscapes that make this park special. Straight Lake State Park is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted by sightings of magnificent bald eagles soaring above, elegant trumpeter swans gracefully gliding across the water, and playful river otters frolicking in their natural habitat.

Whether you’re seeking solitude in nature or yearning for a thrilling outdoor adventure, Straight Lake State Park is a destination that won’t disappoint. Lose yourself in the tranquility of Straight Lake and its surrounding beauty, and create lasting memories amidst the wonders of the Luck area.

Outdoor Activities in La Crosse WI

In addition to the nearby state parks, La Crosse offers a wide range of outdoor activities that allow you to make the most of the city’s natural beauty and recreational amenities. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a camping lover, or simply looking for an adventure, La Crosse has something to offer for everyone.

Explore Nature Trails

La Crosse is home to numerous nature trails that allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and breathtaking views. Two notable trails are located in Hixon Forest and Perrot State Park. Hixon Forest offers a variety of trails, including the popular Hixon Forest Loop Trail, where you can witness the Mississippi River flowing gracefully below. Perrot State Park boasts picturesque trails that wind through lush forests, providing exceptional views of the river and the surrounding natural beauty.

Indulge in Camping

If you’re a camping enthusiast, La Crosse won’t disappoint. The area offers a range of campgrounds, including those within the state parks themselves. Set up your tent, light a campfire, and enjoy spending time amidst the tranquility of nature. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV camping, you’ll find the perfect spot to relax and unwind while surrounded by the beauty of the great outdoors.

Engage in Outdoor Activities

La Crosse provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities beyond hiking and camping. From biking along scenic trails to birdwatching along the riverside, there’s an activity to suit every interest. Pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely meal while surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. La Crosse truly offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

Whether you’re looking to hike through picturesque nature trails, set up camp in a peaceful campground, or engage in a variety of outdoor activities, La Crosse, Wisconsin is the perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Outdoor Activities in La Crosse WI Description
Nature Trails Explore the stunning trails in Hixon Forest and Perrot State Park, offering breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and surrounding landscapes.
Camping Choose from a variety of campgrounds, including those within the state parks, and enjoy a peaceful and relaxing camping experience.
Outdoor Activities Engage in biking, birdwatching, and picnicking amidst the natural beauty of La Crosse, creating memorable experiences for the whole family.

Family-Friendly Parks in La Crosse

La Crosse, Wisconsin is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, with a variety of family-friendly parks that offer endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful picnic spot, exciting playgrounds, or breathtaking riverfront views, La Crosse County parks have it all.

Riverside Park, located along the picturesque Mississippi River, is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. This expansive park features beautifully manicured lawns, shaded picnic areas, and a playground for kids to let their imaginations run wild. Take a leisurely stroll along the riverfront trail, or simply relax on one of the benches while taking in the stunning scenic beauty.

For water lovers, Pettibone Park is a must-visit destination. Situated on a peninsula between the Mississippi River and Pettibone Lagoon, this park offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and other water activities. Bring your fishing gear and cast a line in the river, or rent a kayak or canoe to explore the peaceful waters. It’s the perfect place for a family day out filled with outdoor adventures.

No visit to La Crosse would be complete without a trip to Myrick Park. This park is nestled amidst lush greenery and boasts an array of recreational amenities. Kids will love the expansive play area, complete with swings, slides, and climbing structures, while adults can enjoy a scenic walk along the nature trails. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and make use of the picnic tables while basking in the serenity of the park.


What are some state parks near La Crosse, WI?

Some state parks near La Crosse, WI include Mill Bluff State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, Roche-a-Cri State Park, Straight Lake State Park, and more.

What can I expect to see at Mill Bluff State Park?

Mill Bluff State Park is known for its colorful bluffs and rugged rock formations that offer breathtaking views of the fall foliage. It also has an overlook that provides a panoramic view of the surrounding forestland.

What attractions can I find at Natural Bridge State Park?

Natural Bridge State Park is home to Wisconsin’s largest natural bridge, a stunning sandstone arch that is especially beautiful during the autumn season. Visitors can also explore miles of trails that wind through oak woods and native prairie.

What makes Nelson Dewey State Park unique?

Nelson Dewey State Park offers a unique blend of history and nature. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Mississippi River from the bluffs and explore Native American effigy mounds that are over 2,000 years old. The park also features Stonefield, a recreated 1900-era farming village.

What can I see at Roche-a-Cri State Park?

Roche-a-Cri State Park features a 300-foot-tall rock outcropping known as “Screaming Rock” that displays ancient Native American petroglyphs and pictographs. The park also offers hiking trails that showcase the vibrant fall foliage and countryside views.

What can I do at Straight Lake State Park?

Straight Lake State Park provides beautiful views of Straight Lake, as well as opportunities for hiking along the Straight River and Rainbow Lake. The park is also connected to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, allowing for even more exploration of the natural landscapes.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy in La Crosse?

In La Crosse, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking on nature trails, camping in nearby campgrounds, biking, birdwatching, and picnicking amidst the natural beauty of the area. Perrot State Park and Hixon Forest are popular destinations for nature enthusiasts.

Are there any family-friendly parks in La Crosse?

Yes, La Crosse offers several family-friendly parks where you can enjoy outdoor adventures. Riverside Park, Myrick Park, and Pettibone Park are just a few examples. These parks offer playgrounds, picnic areas, scenic riverfront views, and opportunities for water activities such as fishing and boating.

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