Governor Nelson State Park

Governor Nelson State Park

Located on 10,000-acres along Lake Mendota, recreation and nature mingle within sight of the state Capitol building. Boating, fishing, picnicking and swimming are favorite activities. Trails and restored prairie beckon nature enthusiasts.

Effigy mounds in the wooded upland. In spring, summer, and fall, hike 8.4 miles of trails through many diverse ecological communities including oak woodland and savannah and mesic and wet prairies. Wildflowers are abundant along the trails. Various animals can often be seen while hiking the trails. Also found on the hiking trails are two accessible viewing platforms with information panels. On most days the Wisconsin State Capitol building can be seen in nearby Madison. There is also a boat launch and a swimming area for pets. Park is one of the few Wisconsin state parks that does not allow overnight camping.

The park is a popular summertime destination, sporting a 500-foot sand beach, bathhouses with solar-heated showers, a four-stall boat launch and a fishing pier, as well as playground and picnic areas. Water-oriented sports include unlimited horsepower boating, sailboarding, sailing, swimming, and pet swimming. Pan fish are the most popular catch with small and largemouth bass, crappie, and perch increasing in numbers. Walleye, pike and muskie were stocked several years back and are being taken as well.

There are many attractions for the nature enthusiast, including the Mackenzie Environmental Center, the Culver Natural Springs Conservancy/Token Creek Watershed, Governor Nelson State Park, and Devil's Lake State Park. Dane County is Wisconsin's second largest tourist attraction. Skiers of all capabilities will find Governor Nelson State Park a fun place to visit. The wide trails provide plenty of room for both classic and skate skiers. It is hilly enough to make it interesting but not so hilly as to make it difficult for beginners.

In winter, the park's hiking trails become a hotbed for cross-country skiers, while its forests and prairies draw snowshoe enthusiasts. There is even a popular sledding hill for kids of all ages. Governor Nelson State Park has four wide and unsurfaced hiking trails. Several steep slopes, but primarily level ground, explore the park's old hardwood forests. In winter, the park welcomes ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Four miles of groomed track are provided. No camping facilities at this park.

Governor Nelson State Park Map

Friends of the Governor Nelson State Park

Governor Nelson State Park in the City of Waunakee - Dane County (Southeast WI).


Governor Nelson State Park
5140 Cty Hwy M
Waunakee, WI 53597
United States
(608) 831-3005
(608) 255-2537, Toll Free (800) 373-6376 [Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau]

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