First campground booked
I pulled into New Glarus Woods State Park to hopefully catch a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor Showers, but the ranger told me the unfortunate news that the park was full. He said they might have some spots at Yellowstone Lake State Park.
I wanted to tell the ranger that I was not willing to drive to Wyoming just to see the meteor showers. Then I had another fear that perhaps he said Jellystone instead of Yellowstone and was sending me to some overpriced campground with tons of yelling kids and blaring country music. As it turned out, this is what the ranger was doing.
Heading to Yellowstone Lake State Park
I asked if Yellowstone Lake was a Wisconsin State Park. He said that it was and that they work together. He called them and confirmed they had one spot open. He gave me a map through the back roads of southwestern Wisconsin to get there. I thanked him and flew out the door.
Unfortunately, they filled up in the twenty minutes it took to drive there. The only spot left to go was the Yellowstone Chalet Campground. It was basically a private Jellystone type campground. The campground had no shade, tons of kids, and blaring country music.
Hiking Yellowstone Lake State Park
I was only there for one night, so I put my tent up and then went hiking in Yellowstone Lake State Park. I figured if I hiked until dark, I would come back, build a quick fire, eat, drink some Leinenkugel’s, and go to bed. Nothing could bother me through this sequence of events.
Next morning, I woke up and did some more hiking near first light. I hiked the 3.5 mile Blue Ridge Trail up to the Timberline Trail and then down to the lake for a swim. You would think that the Yellowstone Lake hiking trails would be packed with people on a weekend where the campground was full. I did not see one person on the trails until the Timberline Trail took me through the campground.
The Blue Ridge Trail is 3.5 miles long and traces the outer loop of the park’s boundary. This trail is a mixture of prairie, oak savannah, hardwood forest, and Wisconsin farmland. It is a great spot to see an array of colorful birds. I saw a blue grosbeak, Baltimore orioles, and several goldfinches. While checking out a pair of orioles, I looked in the distance to see a white-tailed deer checking me out. When he realized his spying was noticed he pranced away into a cornfield.
The Blue Ridge Trail starts at the dam and then finishes at the entrance by the park office. There are several loops one can do along the way. Once at the entrance you can return through the woods or hike back two miles on the road.
I would recommend parking at the dam and then hiking the Blue Ridge Trail, then divert for the less than one mile Savannah Loop. This is where I saw the orioles and the deer. Then return to the Blue Ridge Trail until you hit the Timberline Trail. Take this trail all the way to the lake. This will take you right to the swimming area. After a three mile walk in the sun it is refreshing to take a dip.
From here you can hike back into the woods and take the Oak Grove Trail and or the Windy Ridge Trail loops and return to the Blue Ridge Trail and head back to the dam. If you have had enough of a hike, then just walk back on the road to the dam parking lot.
One trail I did not mention is the Wildlife loop by the park office. This trail deserves its own entry, which will be coming soon.
Yellowstone Lake State Park is part of the Wisconsin State Park system. There is a fee system to enjoy all of these parks. For more information on the fees click here. The Wisconsin State Parks do have a reservation system. In order to avoid my debacle, make sure you reserve on busy summer Saturday weekends.
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You know.. I’ve never been an outdoorsy, campground type girl. Hikes aren’t usually my thing but I’d do it if it means I can go bird watching! Haha.
Kieu recently posted..GQ trippin’ Turns 1 Year Old!
Hiking is the best way to see birds. The farther away you hike from civilization the more interesting ones you find.
You have a great eye for the trails and what to pay attention to. A city boy like me would probably miss more than half of what you catch!
Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Trekking with a Purpose – the Best of Both Worlds
I feel the same way as Raul. I’m glad Ted lives in my area and goes to a lot of places near Chicago. His posts are a great resource if I need to find a lakeside weekend getaway.
Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: A street in Oaxaca City, Mexico
This park would make an ideal weekend getaway. Just be sure to reserve a camp spot.
Wisconsin trails are pretty easy to navigate, but catching all the wildlife does take a trained eye.
Very cool wildlife…I’ve never seen a bird like that before. Looks like a beautiful place to be.
I was amazed to find this place only a couple hours away from Chicago and an hour from Madison.
You’d have to be Rand McNally to follow those directions. Good thing you’re a super-duper outdoorsman.
Leah Travels recently posted..Costa Brava,TBEX & an Unexpected Trip to Spain
Navigating the back roads of Wisconsin is no easy chore.
i love that you wear pink so well and are a rough & tough camping, hiking man. very well-rounded, i must say! 😉
lola recently posted..Cambodia Countdown – week 1
I do my best and eating a lot of Chicago deep dish pizza helps round me out even more.
we appreciate that all of your outdoor adventures seem to involve water in some way!
the lazy travelers recently posted..laws to travel by – #23
They especially involve water with a summer like this. A refreshing swim is a great way to top off a hike.
Can’t believe I haven’t checked out this place yet. It’s being added to the list!
Francesca recently posted..My annual trip back in time
I think Yellowstone Lake is the prettiest Wisconsin lake that is the closest to Chicago.
That blue bird is so cute! Looks like the hike was worth a night of misery in a kid-infested, super loud campsite 🙂
Leslie (Downtown Traveler) recently posted..PHOTOS: Day trip to Brighton Beach – Brooklyn’s Little Russia
It was not so miserable since I did not spend much time in the campsite. When I returned to the campsite after hiking, I promptly started a campfire and opened a beer. This made it very tolerable.