Wisconsin State Parks free for this weekend

Wisconsin State Parks free for this weekend
Copyright 2019 by Channel 3000. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

All Wisconsin State Parks are offering free admission this weekend as a part of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Free Fun Weekend.

The weekend aims to get people outside to enjoy Wisconsin’s natural beauty, and also waives the requirement of a fishing license to fish in Wisconsin waters, along with ATV/UTV registration to ride on Wisconsin trails.

Laura Cooney, her husband Patrick and their two sons, Owen and Dylan, are spending their weekend camping at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo. For Cooney and her family, it’s all about bonding time.

“I grew up camping a lot when I was little and it was just a super fun bonding family time,” she said.

Hailing from Maryland, Wisconsin’s 66 state parks are part of the reason the Cooneys moved to Madison.

“We moved here from Maryland because we wanted to be able to just drive 45 minutes from downtown and be able to get outdoors and go camping,” Cooney said.

The Cooneys said the family plans to spend their time camping at Devil’s Lake hiking, playing, roasting marshmallows and maybe even getting in the water. The variety of outdoor recreation that can be done at the park is what makes it so popular, according to park superintendent Steve Schmelzer.

“There’s just so many different activities that they can do here, that’s one of the draws of Devil’s Lake,” he said. “​We really like to see people come out and enjoy whatever recreational activity they like to do, whether it’s camping or hiking or swimming or kayaking.”

However, the park’s popularity can make campsite reservations hard to come by on summer weekends and even some summer weeks. Although, spring was slower than usual with the cool temperatures and rain, Schmelzer is predicting a busy summer season this year.

“We looked at our camping reservations, those are on par with past seasons,” he said. “It should be a good summer. We expect a big crowd of people to come out this summer.”

Well aware of how campsites can fill up, the Cooneys booked their weekend three months ago and are planning to make it out to Devil’s Lake a few more weekends this summer.

The Free Fun Weekend wraps up Sunday, but annual admission stickers can still be purchased for use later this summer and camping reservations can be made for any state park on the Wisconsin DNR’s website.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.