12-gem Challenge

This is the 12-gem challenge cover image provided by TourismWyalusing State Park in one of 12 Wisconsin State Parks taking part in the 12 – gen challenge.
This fall, take the road less traveled and discover some unique spots in Wisconsin's state parks. Share your selfie on social media with the hashtag #WISTATEPARKS for your chance to win a 2017 state park vehicle admission sticker. Challenge runs from Oct. 5 through Nov. 13.

How to enter

  1. Take your selfie at any of the locations or events in the 12-gem challenge property list. You can submit a photo from each place or event on the list.
  2. Share your selfie on social media with the hashtag #WISTATEPARKS and include a subject line of where the photo was taken. (Don't have a social media account? You can also upload photos directly to TravelWisconsin.com.
  3. That's it! Selfie photos will be displayed at TravelWisconsin.com and a random drawing of all photos at the end of the challenge will select the winners.
Challenge rules and regulations [PDF]
12-gem property list - printable version [PDF]
Ice Age Trail AllianceThe Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) [exit DNR] is a nonprofit umbrella organization that supports over 70 friends groups around the state. Friends groups and volunteers generously donate their time and talents to preserve, protect, promote and enhance Wisconsin’s state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas. Visit FWSP's website to learn more.

The Friends of Wyalusing

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.

One of “The Friends” most successful events was known as “The Spirits of Wyalusing Past”.  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.  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 were placed along the .5 mile trail part of which follows the Sentinel Ridge. The Friends of Wyalusing and family members served as guides. After the walk, home-made treats are served. A silent auction was also held during the event. Each of the items was donated by member of The Friends of Wyalusing. It was 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. The “Spirits of Wyalusing Past” was changed to Harvest Celebration.  The Harvest Celebration still has, pumpkin carving, Lighted tiki torch walk, a silent auction and snacks. In place of the “Spirits” a live band plays music in the Peterson Shelter.

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.

In 2015, the Friends of Wyalusing State Park along with shared grants funded a new playground at Homestead Picnic area.  In addition to the Homestead campground.
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 shortly,for Homestead Campground.

The website  - www.Wyalusingfriends.org features interactive maps, 100’s of photos, 10’s of videos, and information formatted for Web-enabled devices.

Letter from the President

Friends of Wyalusing State Park
13081 State Park Lane
Bagley, WI 53801
imageHard to believe but another season is drawing to a close. As we look back on the things we accomplished in 2016 with your support, we also look forward to 2017.
We provided programs and events for school groups and the public this year that were well received. We assisted the park with important needs like AED’s. We concentrated this year on non-personal interpretation signage and this will continue into 2017. Next year is indeed special as Wyalusing State Park turns 100. We ask for your help to celebrate this milestone. Mark June 3rd, 2017 on your calendar. Your executive board is working on events to make this centennial celebration memorable. And you can help.
Per our By-Laws, on October 10, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the Peterson Shelter we will have our annual general meeting and election of Officers/Directors for 2017. This is your chance to have your voice heard in the organization. Please attend if you can. Your current board has been in place for a number of years and does a great job but fresh ideas are always welcomed. If you or someone you know would like to get more involved, here is that opportunity to help start off the Park’s second hundred years on good footing.
I have been pleased to serve as your President and will continue in whatever capacity I can as long as I am able.
Your Friend,
Bruce L. Klang
President – Friends of Wyalusing State Park.

FOW Endowment Fund

Friends of Wyalusing were THE FIRST Wisconsin Friends Group to start endowment fund...

The Friends of Wyalusing is the very first friends group of a state park in Wisconsin to start an endowment fund for a state park. We started by depositing a $1000 in an "acorn fund" with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.  The goal was to deposit $1,000 each year until the fund reached  $10,000. at that point we could either withdraw 5%  of the fund or let it grow.

The Friends of Wyalusing State Park are very proud to be able to leave this legacy for future generations and hope you will support us in making our "acorn" grow into a mighty oak for the future.

'I am so proud to be part of Wyalusing State Park. At this moment, the Friends of Wyalusing are making a very positive step towards the future of this park.' Brian Hefty, Wyalusing State Park Manager continued, ' I am certain that this Endowment Fund will only grow."

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."

Bruce Klang wrote, "For all of my adult life, I have worked for Wisconsin State Parks. I have seen first hand the impact these natural areas can have on park visitors of all backgrounds. Our family grew up camping and enjoying our parks and we hope that future families will have the same opportunities."

The Friends of Wyalusing State Park Endowment Fund is a permanent endowment that was created by the Friends of Wyalusing State Park to provide a perpetual source of funding to support the natural resources and educational, interpretive and recreational needs of Wyalusing State Park. The Endowment fund was begun in February of 2009. The endowment is managed by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Contributions to Fund are tax-deductible and can be made by sending a check to the Natural Resources Foundation of WI, Attn: Friends of Wyalusing State Park Endowment Fund, PO Box 2317, Madison, WI 53701 or by donating online at www.wisconservation.org.

If you love Wyalusing State Park and want to help protect its natural beauty and recreational opportunities for future generations to enjoy and explore, consider leaving a legacy gift behind by including the Friends of Wyalusing State Park Endowment Fund in your will. To leave a bequest to the Fund, simply incorporate the following language in your estate plans: “I give [describe the gift] to the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [federal tax id # 39-1572034], a nonprofit corporation organized and existing under the laws of Wisconsin and with a principal mailing address of PO Box 2317, Madison, WI 53701. This gift shall be designated to the Friends of Wyalusing State Park Endowment Fund.”

Jonathon Ringdahl Brings Film Crew to Wyalusing State Park

Jonathon Rigdahl and Travel Wisconsin  visited Wyalusing State Park.  Ringdahl visited all of Wisconsin State Parks in 2013. His reviews of each state park can be found on this web site. He is also a board member for The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.
Wyalusing State Park is located at  the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.  One of Wisconsin's oldest state parks, 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 the 500 foot Wisconsin Ridge Campground..
“I've been anxiously awaiting this video since meeting with the awesome film crew from Plum Moving Media! Great job guys! I hope you enjoyed the adventure I took you on! I love this video and it highlights why our state park system is the best! Thanks Travel Wisconsin for making this possible! These were two super-fun days!” Ringdahl said.

Fall Fest 2016

The Friends of Wyalusing State Park sponsor a major event on the last Saturday of every September. Everyone is welcomed. Campers and park visitors from the surrounding area look forward to the event which featured live music, a silent auction, and trails lighted by torch luminaries and carved pumpkins with glowing candles.
This year, as in all of the others, pumpkins will be provided for carving free of charge.Carving is located at the park’s maintenance  building.  Pumpkins  will be placed along a park trail by park staff, volunteers and a Prairie du Chien girl scout troop.  As the sun set, candles inside each pumpkins are lighted. The owners of the pumpkins take home their creations at the end of the festivities. A sub sandwich party will be held for the carvers and their families. The sandwiches and other snacks are provided by The Friends of Wyalusing.
The evening festivities include live music, luminaries along the trails, a silent auction, and food.
Silent auction items are provided by The Friends of Wyalusing and park visitors. Items also include handcrafted items, a quilt and a large pillow created using  Wyalusing t-shirt logos, and a special basket featuring donated items from the Prairie Street Farmers Market.
Additional photos and movies can be found on the Friends of Wyalusing web site. (http://www.wyalusingfriends.org)