Wanted–Campground Hosts

downloadWould you like to spend some time camping in one of Wisconsin's state parks and stay for free?!  Consider being a Campground Host!
Some of the Wisconsin State Parks are looking for Camp hosts for the 2016 camping season.

Host Benefits:
  • As a campground host volunteer, you receive free camping. 
  • Each site usually comes with a free electrical hook-up and may include water and/or sewer. 
  • The schedules of our volunteer hosts allow you ample time to enjoy recreational activities with friends and family members while providing volunteer services within the state park. 
  • Hosts will have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and perhaps develop new friendships. 
  • One of the most important benefits hosts receive is a sense of satisfaction that comes in knowing you have helped make the camping experience more enjoyable for other campers. 

Who Can Host:
  • Hosts can be individuals or teams such as a wife and husband. 
  • You must be 18 years of age or older and have your own camping gear.  
  • Hosts may stay from 2 weeks to the entire season and there could be an opportunity to rotate hosts among other state parks for a broader experience
As a representative of the Department of Natural Resources, a host:
  • Stays in a campsite at the campground and volunteers a few hours a day. 
  • Greets and assists campers with information about the park and facilities. 
  • Assists in daily campground operations and set an example by being a model camper. 
  • May clean campsites, bathrooms, and facilities and assist with light maintenance. 
  • Dispenses park information and assists with campground programs. 
  • Enjoys the company of other campers and makes sure that they enjoy their stay.
You must be willing to provide services five days each week, including weekends and holidays (a minimum of 25 hours per occupant). The property manager will try to be flexible and balance a host's schedule with visitor season demands and the host’s own needs.
  • Expected to serve a minimum of two to four consecutive weeks 
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • DNR employees are not eligible 
  • Must provide own camping equipment, food, and other personal items for your stay 
  • Required to pass a background check

If you are interested in volunteering in Wisconsin State Parks, contact the property supervisor where you would like to volunteer to discuss available opportunities. Anyone who would like be a volunteer must fill out a Volunteer Agreement (PDF). Property superintendents will review the agreement and interview and select all volunteers. Find a State Park, Forest, Recreation Area, or Trail Volunteer Agreement [PDF]

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.

Concession Stand opening in May

birdinacornNeedless to say, and an understatement at best, it seemed like a lo-o-ng cold winter.  A delightful spring season is coming to  Wyalusing State Park. Soon wild flowers will be springing up and the bird migrations will be greeted by hundreds of birders who come to Wyalusing State Park. It also brings the opening of The Friends of Wyalusing State Park concession stand – known as The Bluff Top Shop.
The Bluff Top Shop will be open during the weekends in May – Friday from 3PM-8:00PM, Saturday 9:AM-8PM, and Sunday 9AM-2PM. The concession stand will also open for school groups renting canoes by special appointment. The Spring hours will continue through mid June.
This year will bring many changes to Wyalusing State Park as well as the Bluff Top Shop. In addition to a point of service register enabling faster customer service and an expanded credit card use, the concession stand will be offering unique, one of a kind, souvenirs.
Once again, the concession stand will offer certified wood for campers. The hardwood bundles is stored inside, assuring a welcome campfire in the evening or excellent heating source for the creation of campfire culinary delights. ALL PROFITS FROM THE BLUFF TOP SHOP ARE RETURNED TO THE PARK.
The concession stand also offers other camper supplies like eating utensils, batteries, tarps, matches, etc. Some food items like marshmallows can also be purchased at the concession stand.
Of course, Schwan’s products will also be available. Schwan’s frozen treats and hot items is a favorite among park visitors. Who can resist a mint flavored ice cream treat or a Bomb-op on a hot summer day?
Candy bars, chips, and soda pop are also available. The concession stand also features t-shirts and sweatshirts for kids and adults of all sizes.
Canoe rental is available through the concession stand.  Canoes are large enough for three adults or two adults and two children. Single person kayaks are also available. All canoe/kayak rentals include paddles and life jackets.
The concession stand staff will look forward to your visit. Each staff person is knowledgeable about the area and are here to serve everyone.

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.

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.”

Winter Fun–XC Ski Trails

Wyalusing State Park offers a 8.2 miles of cross-country ski trails for all levels of skiing abilities. All trails are accessible from the Astronomy Center Parking Lot. Skiing trails include the Turkey Hollow, Whitetail Meadows and Prairie trails. Cathedral Tree Drive affords the cross-country skier a beautiful view of the Mighty Mississippi.
Whitetail Meadows is groomed for traditional skiing.  Turkey Hollow is groomed for both traditional and skate-skiing.  The roadway to Henneger Point is groomed for skate-skiing and can only be accessed from Turkey Hollow Trail near the Homestead Picnic Shelter. 
Turkey Hollow is the more challenging of the trails.  White Tail Meadows is a good trail for beginners.  Please park in the Astronomy Center Parking lot ( located just past the park office) for access to all ski trails
All trails except the ski trails are available for winter hiking and snowshoeing. A frozen waterfall at Pictured Rock Cave awaits those brave enough to walk or snowshoe from the park office on Homestead Camp Road to Sugar Maple Nature Trail. Frozen waterfalls can also be found at Big Sand Cave and Little Sand Cave located on Sand Cave trail near the old park office.
The Park does not monitor ice conditions on the rivers. Be extremely cautious of ice conditions at all times.
Reminder – Park admission stickers are required on all vehicles entering the park.  If the office is not staffed, please self register at the park office.
Winter enthusiasts are invited out to the park to enjoy  the snow while it lasts.  Please no hiking or dogs on ski trails.