By Dennis McCann
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
With overbooked lifestyles and packed family schedules, even relaxation can take on a frantic pace, leaving some state parks in Wisconsin crowded and hectic on prime summer weekends.
For more solitude and quiet, plan visits for off-peak times, either midweek or in shoulder seasons. Trails, beachs and campgrounds will be less congested.
Whether that’s three reasons in one or one in three, it’s good advice, especially when midweek lodging specials are added to the mix. Whether you want to go biking, hiking or camping in Wisconsin, here are five parks to consider for your next weekday getaway.
Devil’s Lake is Wisconsin's largest and most visited state park, but it's a different story on weekdays, without the large day use crowd on the park's popular trails. Even last-minute campsites are often available if you want to go camping.
The 411-acre park in Wisconsin Swiss country is filled with campers on weekends, but during the workweek you just might have the park to yourself.
Bicyclists taking part in the Bike Green County ride program, which offers some midweek lodging discounts, can access the park from the Sugar River State Trail. Even staff members get in on the hiking fun—when the park is less crowded, they have time to lead short nature hikes.
Even the Swiss-themed shops in nearby downtown New Glarus are less crowded.
The quiet and curvy Kickapoo River that passes by this scenic park in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area can get highway-busy on weekends, but quiet reigns midweek. Take in the bucolic hill and valley views from Mt. Pisgah, especially when fall colors wrap the land, or circle the “mountain” on the park’s miles of hiking trails.
During weekdays, area cheese factories are open for tours, as are the Amish farms that offer everything from quilts to bentwood rockers to brown hen eggs along Highway 33. Another vote for midweek visits? The Amish won’t sell on Sundays.
This park, where the Trempealeau River meets the Mississippi, has its community of campers on summer weekends, but on weekdays and in spring and fall it's much quieter.
Because it adjoins the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, the park is a great place to watch migratory birds; others come to take in the river, its crawling barge traffic and to visit the busy lock and dam nearby. Bicyclists can reach the park from the Great River State Trail. One more bonus of visiting midweek: a better chance of snaring a table at the popular Trempealeau Hotel.
Waterfalls are best enjoyed with a bit of elbowroom. Seven miles south of Superior, this state park offers waterfalls and rapids along the Amnicon River, some accessible from a covered footbridge or, on hot summer days, from water-splashed rocks. The park offers nature programs for kids and naturalist-led hikes and programs for visitors of all ages.