Spring will arrive.

Fire place

Between Peterson Shelter and Bluff Trail

Nature Trail

Pigeon Monument

Pigeon Monument

Early Spring.

Arriving soon.

Bluff Trail

The Knob shelter

Spring - the best time.

Wyalusing State Park Embraces QR Codes

Wyalusing State Park, in southwest Wisconsin, has over 21 miles of trails. Located along the bluffs of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, the trails offer a variety of sights as well as very different levels of terrain.

For the first time visitor, choosing which trail offers scenic views or which trail has steep grades or steps, can be a daunting task. A paper map shows the trail layout. Most trails have a brief description. Asking a park ranger or the park staff at the visitor station is always an option, but sometimes a visitor may forget to ask.

Wyalusing State Park began to utilize QR codes in 2011. These square-shaped black-and-white codes are found in the Park Visitor Guide and the concession stand. The Wyalusing QR codes are used to show users the latest trail information, topographical maps, nature information, and short videos of trail and natural features. Each trail has a specific topographical map. The six mile canoe trail has several sections of maps.

A QR code is a picture that a web enabled cell phone can translate into a web address. There are a number of different ways to read QR codes. The easiest is to take a web enabled cell phone, sometimes called a smartphone, and use a QR code reader app, which can scan any code and immediately launch the content in a web browser. Most smartphones have a QR Code reader App. You just need to find it. Users just point a smartphone's camera at the QR code, and in a moment (if there's cellphone coverage) the phone will access current trail information or anything relevant to using that particular trail. Web enabled tablets can also scan QR codes.

imagesWhen smartphones scan the QR code for Wyalusing State Park, the wireless device will go to a special website formatted for the smartphone or a tablet. Once the information is on the wireless device, the web address is stored on the device. The QR code does not have to be scanned again for that device.

Get a QR Code Reader
If your wireless device doesn’t have one already, the first thing you’ll need to do is download a FREE QR code reader to your mobile device.
If you have an Apple device visit the app store and download my favorite reader, QR Reader for iPhone.

If you have an Android device, visit the Android market and download QR Droid.

If you have a Blackberry device, you’re in luck! Many BB’s already come with QR code readers. Located the MENU key on your device and select SCAN A BARCODE. If your Blackberry doesn’t have a scanner, visit the app store and download QR Code Scanner Pro.

Still confused about QR codes? Here’s a video that will take you step by step in choosing a QR code reader and and scanning your first code.

QR Code Factoids:
  • QR code uptake has increased 4589% from early 2010 to early 2011
  • 56% of QR codes appear on product packaging
  • The majority of users expect to receive a coupon or deal from scanning a QR code
  • 11 out of 50 Fortune companies are incorporating QR codes into their marketing strategy
  • 68% of QR codes are scanned via an iPhone

Friends of Wyalusing State Park

Wyalusing State Park was one of four areas recommended for state park status in 1911, by the Nolan Commission. It formally became a state park in 1917. At that time, it was called Nelson Dewey State Park – named for Wisconsin’s first governor. It was renamed Wyalusing State Park when Nelson Dewey State Park, near Cassville, Wi, became a State Park.
Wyalusing State Park is in the Driftless region of Wisconsin. It is bounded by the Wisconsin River to the north and the Mississippi River to the west. The confluence of these rivers is easily viewed along the Wisconsin and Sentinel Ridge Bluffs. Point Lookout is is located midway between these two bluffs. The lookout is a favorite for everyone coming to the park.
The Friends of Wyalusing was formed in the late 1990’s. The organization had 16 members. Since its inception, the mission of the Friends of Wyalusing is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the visitor experience by enhancing the connection between nature and the park visitor. Today, there are eight active members and a little more than 80 members on the roll.
The Friends of Wyalusing made their presence known as “big Stinky” met its demise in 2001. The removal of Wisconsin’s largest open-pit toilet became a national event. The Friends of Wyalusing had its most successful T-shirt sales ever. Quite literally, a truck load of t-shirts were sold as a fund raiser. The Friends of Wyalusing made a cleaning that year.
The Friends of Wyalusing also played a part in Wisconsin’s Centennial celebration of its Park system. Hundreds of people came to the park to see the launching of four hot air balloons. One of the balloons was a huge Smoky Bear. A decade later, the Friends group celebrates Smokey’s birthday. Smokey Bear leads children and adults around Wisconsin Ridge Campground inviting one and all to the birthday party held at the Peterson Picnic Shelter. Smokey rides in the back of the Park’s electric vehicle. Children decorate their bicycles. The Friends of Wyalusing, organize the event which ends with games, stories birthday cake and ice cream.
The Spirits of Wyalusing Past is the culmination of events by the Friends of Wyalusing. Interesting, colorful, historical tidbits of the area are presented by ‘Spirits of Wyalusing Past’. The “Spirits” are portrayed by members of The Friends and other volunteers who have talent and a willingness to portray a character.
The “Spirits” are located on the 500 foot bluff, overlooking the night lights of Prairie du Chien, and the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Families reserve camping spots a year ahead for this event. The event was first held in the late 1990s on or near Halloween. It was moved to the last weekend of September in 2004, because of more favorable weather.
Local scout groups and camping families decorate and carve donated pumpkins. The lighted pumpkins and lighted tiki torches are placed along the .5 mile trail part of which follows the Sentinel Ridge. The Friends of Wyalusing and family members serve as guides. After the walk, home-made treats are served. A silent auction is also held during the event. Each of the items is donated by member of The Friends of Wyalusing. It is not unusual to have over 250 visitors attend this event.
However, due to dwindling members who live close-by, The Friends of Wyalusing have found it very difficult to maintain this program.
During the early 2000’s the Friends of Wyalusing began to operate the concession stand in the east end of the Peterson Picnic Shelter. The concession stand operates during the summer camping season. All of the profits are returned to the park for projects which enhance the visitor experience.
Through Affinity Grant Awards, matching funds and other grants, The Friends of Wyalusing have been able to provide almost all of the information signage, trail signs and nature signs found in the park, including the entrance sign welcoming all to Wyalusing State Park. Informational kiosks, found throughout the park, provide information about invasive species, Friends events, and park happenings.
The Friends group assisted in the purchase of a new flagpole at the visitor contact station.
The Amphitheater, located at the Hugh Harper Indoor Camp, was partially funded by the Friends of Wyalusing. A fireplace insert, located in the fireplace of the Nature center, provides warmth to campers and park visitors during cool damp days thanks to the Friends group. The Friends of Wyalusing also provided funds for the major rehab of the Paul Lawrence Interpretive Center.
The Friends of Wyalusing through matching grants, paid for completely rewiring the Peterson Picnic Shelter, Nature Center, and the Concession stand in 2014. The Friends of Wyalusing are very thankful for the 1000’s of people who visit the park, and stop by the concession stand to purchase items, rent canoes or kayaks, or drop off donations.
In 2014, The Friends of Wyalusing, helped with the rededication of the Passenger Pigeon monument.
This year, 2015, the Friends of Wyalusing State Park along with shared grants are funding a new playground at Homestead Picnic area.  In addition to the Homestead campground, The Friends of Wisconsin State Park will be sponsoring a 5K Fun run in June. Donations from this event will go towards our most challenging plans – A nature center connected to the visitor center. We hope to break ground for this in 2017.
One of the most note-worthy projects that the Friends of Wyalusing has undertaken is the creation of the Endowment Fund. The Friends of Wyalusing was the very first Friends group to start an Endowment Fund for a State Park. When asked about the meaning of the Endowment Fund for the future, Kathy Paske, Secretary of Friends of Wyalusing said, “The park is a special place in many different respects--historical, geographical, diverse flora and fauna and spiritual to name a few. We want to make sure future Friends have the means to continue our conservation and education efforts.”
We are hopeful that a shower building and bathrooms will become a reality this year for Homestead Campgrounds.
The website  - www.Wyalusingfriends.org features interactive maps, 100’s of photos, 10’s of videos, and information formatted for Web-enabled devices.

Why Birding is Special at Wyalusing State Park

Special Contributing Blog Author
by special request
Bettie Harriman, Oshkosh, WI
Wisconsin Society for Orinthology (Web Link)
Most Wisconsin birders try to make it to this beautiful state park in the southwest corner of the state at least once in May-June of each year. The reason? It is “one-stop shopping” for several more southern species of birds that nest each year in Wisconsin. On a visit to Wyalusing in late May you will probably either hear or see (or both) the Henslow’s Sparrow (a Threatened species in our state) in the fields along either side of the entrance road at the top of the hill past the Visitor’s Center.
Walking down Long Valley Road allows a birder to find three more Threatened species: Cerulean and Kentucky Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher—all are more southern species that nest along the steep slopes of this park. Birding around the boat landing at the end of this road will reveal nesting Prothonotary Warbler, still another southern species that uses cavities in trees along the backwaters of large rivers and is considered a Species of Special Concern in Wisconsin. You might hear (even if you don’t get to see) Red-shouldered Hawk and both Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos calling from the deep wooded areas or watch a Yellow-throated Vireo or Baltimore Oriole building a nest. On a good migration day, dozens of other warblers and forest nesting species can be heard and seen as they move through on their way farther north or settle in to nest here in the park. And some years, even more surprises await visiting birders—two warblers, also more common farther south, take up residence at the Park, the Yellow-breasted chat and Prairie Warbler.
But the species that brings birders to Wyalusing each year is the Yellow-throated Warbler. Wyalusing State Park is the only location in Wisconsin where this species (listed as Endangered in Wisconsin) is sure to be found every year—maybe not by everyone or every time one visits, but it will be found by some birders every year. Recently, it has been observed building a nest and carrying food for its young, proof that the species nests in the park.
It’s no wonder Wyalusing State Park has been voted the state park with the best birding trails.

Friends groups receive Stewardship grants for improvements at state parks, forest and trails

MADISON - Fifteen state park, forest and trail friends groups will share in nearly $240,000 in matching grants from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

The grants will fund improvements including renovation of hiking trails at Devil's Lake State Park, construction of a picnic shelter at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, extension of the National Scenic Ice Age Trail through Hartman Creek State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area and other properties, and building of a new campground playground at Wyalusing State Park(Photo left).

The Stewardship program makes annual matching grants available to non-profit and conservation organizations with priority given to projects submitted by friends groups. The groups must match the contributions with cash and in-kind donations of materials and labor. For the 2015 grant cycle the friends groups and Ice Age Trail Alliance are matching the grants with more than $780,000 in cash and nearly $100,000 in in-kind donations.

"These grants to our friends groups allow us to make improvements to our park and forest properties that we would not be able to accomplish without their assistance," said Patty Loosen, DNR friends group liaison.

The complete list of grants and projects [PDF] is available on the Department of Natural Resources website. For more information about the Grants to Friends Groups, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "Stewardship" and click on the link for "Grants to state property friends groups." For more information about state parks friends groups search for keyword "friends."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patty Loosen, friends groups liaison, 608-267-7474 or Lavane Hessler, Stewardship nonprofit grant manager, 608-267-0497

Front Page Feature

Agenda and Minutes of Meetings

Point Lookout located at Wyalusing State Park is featured on the front cover of the Prairie du Chien Chamber of Commerce Visitors guide for 2015.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever visited Wyalusing State Park. Wyalusing State Park is one of Wisconsin’s oldest State Parks. It is located in the driftless area of southwest Wisconsin. People arrive from all over the world to camp 500 feet above the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Wyalusing features family and group camps, hiking trails, a canoe trail, Native American burial mounds, bird watching, fishing, boating, bicycling and picnicking near several scenic overlooks of the river valleys below.

Winter activities include groomed XC skiing, camping, and when conditions allow, snow shoeing.

The Friends of Wyalusing welcome you to Wyalusing State park. I hope you find it a source of endless fascination as we have. We are a private non-profit charitable organization. Our goal is to support and enhance your experience here at wonderful Wyalusing. As you explore the park, you will see nature trails, kiosks, guided hikes and nature programs that were made possible by the efforts of our organization.

Prairie du Chien will be celebrating Bald Eagle Appreciation Days Friday and Saturday, Feb 27-28, 2015.

To get your very own 64 page Prairie du Chien Visitors Guide go to the Chamber of Commerce web site. (Here)