Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Autumn is here, cloaking the state of Wisconsin in the golds, reds and oranges it is known for each year, but peak foliage is often only a single week in northern states where winter follows closely. Here are a few state parks to visit in the near future to catch the leaves at their brightest.
Blue Mound State Park, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin (Peak foliage Oct. 16-22)
Blue Mound State Park stands out as the highest point of southern Wisconsin, with a lookout tower atop the 1,700 foot elevation. The park is wheelchair accessible, and includes a lift to the top for people with mobility issues. Pets are allowed in Wisconsin state parks, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Mountain bikers can also look forward to over 15 miles of single-track trails, and for people or families looking for fall camping, there are sites available in the park.
Interstate State Park, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin (Peak foliage Oct. 16-22)
The Interstate State Park is right on the state border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, with Minneapolis-St. Paul a short drive away. It is the oldest state park in Wisconsin, centering on the St. Croix river and a steep gorge sometimes called the “Dalles of the St. Croix.” The park is wheelchair accessible, with gorgeous views of the river and the St. Croix Falls. There is also an Ice Age Interpretive Center, which shows a 20-minute film on the great glaciers that once covered the state, as well as photographs, murals, and other information on the glaciers.
Governor Dodge State Park, Dodgeville, Wisconsin (Peak foliage Oct. 16-22)
Governor Dodge State Park is known for its stone promontories like Enee Point, which become even more striking each fall when the leaves around them change color. One of the largest state parks in Wisconsin, it encompasses over 5,000 acres of hills, bluffs, and valleys, including two swimming lakes and a waterfall. Visitors can enjoy camping and picnicking, or take off to enjoy hiking, canoeing, paved or mountain biking, fishing, or horseback riding.
Wyalusing State Park, Bagley, Wisconsin (Peak foliage Oct. 23-31)
The Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers join inside Wyalusing State Park, where you can find family or group campsites. The park also has overnight group lodges and dormitories for people who want to stay more than a day, but do not like the idea of sleeping in a tent. Those are reserved by calling the property office. The park itself has hiking, biking, and canoeing trails, places for fishing, bird watching, or boating, and Native American burial mounds. Additionally, each month the StarSplitters host a public program open to everyone at the Huser Astronomy Center in Wyalusing. It begins with a one hour presentation, and if the weather permits, ends with time viewing the night sky through the high powered telescopes on site. The October program will start at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, October 29. Donations are encouraged, but not required.