Fundraising begins for new equestrian campground

Campground planned at Governor Dodge State Park
Fundraising begins for new equestrian campground

An area state park is getting an upgrade that horseback riders have been hoping for for years.

At a fundraising event Sunday, the Friends of Governor Dodge-Equestrian Group announced plans to replace a temporary 11-site horse campground at Governor Dodge State Park with a new 21-site campground elsewhere in the park.

“The common question was, ‘When are they going to build a new campground at Governor Dodge?” said Jean Warrior, a member of the Friends of Governor Dodge State park.

It’s a question she’s been eager to answer, noting that the original horse campground leaves a lot to be desired.

“(The campsites) are pretty close together, and it’s not very scenic,” she said.

“For years we’ve been camping on blacktop,” said Gail Seasor, a fellow Friend of Governor Dodge and a member of the Wisconsin Horse Council Equine Foundation.

Warrior said the park has more than 25 miles of trails for horseback riders.

“It’s really some of the most lovely horse trails in Wisconsin, but they’re not used nearly as much as they would be or will be when we have a campground that matches the beauty of the trails,” she said.

She said the new campground will be a draw for riders.

“They will be beautifully spaced, show the topography, be peaceful and quiet. Many, many more riders will be able to enjoy the park,” she said. “There’s a big economic impact for Dodgeville.”

A nearly $70,000 donation kicked off the fundraising campaign toward the campsite’s estimated $700,000 cost.

The first check came from the Horse Council Foundation, a group using money willed from the Iris Cooley estate.

“She loved all the trails, loved trail riding,” Seasor said. “I know she’s up there smiling down on us.”

The new campground will offer more space and new amenities.

“We’ll have all these campsites. I have my name on one, I’m putting my reservation in as soon as it’s open,” Seasor said.

“It’s very, very exciting this dream is going to happen after years of being asked,” Warrior said. “It will be a very major upgrade for the whole park.”

Warrior expects construction on the campground to begin in 2020 and that it will take about three months.

More information on fundraising can be found here.