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Wisconsin DNR & COVID-19

We remain at your service through this emergency

Covid-19

We at your Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources want you to know we are here for you and our great state as we go through the COVID-19 public health emergency together.

To help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease, staying home as much as possible is the best way to lower COVID-19 infection rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In light of COVID-19, the DNR is canceling, adjusting and postponing an array of in-person public events, meetings and operations consistent with guidance provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Administration. However, should you need a place with space, getting outdoors has both physical and mental benefits.

Distance is still key during this ongoing public health emergency. Social distancing – the practice of keeping at least six feet apart from others and avoiding direct physical contact – is the only effective means of slowing the rate of infection.

State park and trail visitors are reminded to practice social distancing of 6 feet, refrain from congregating in large groups, travel only within your home communities and follow all existing state park rules and guidelines. Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult.

The DNR continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will also continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine additional conditions that may become necessary. Before visiting other properties, please check with individual parks regarding changes to park operations.

Thank you for your patience during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As state agencies continue operations, please understand that most of our staff continue to telework and may have limited access to files and delayed online connectivity. We are still available to serve you and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

As this is an ever-evolving situation, please check back regularly for updates or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.

Here's what you need to know about Wisconsin DNR operations and offerings:

State Parks, Trails, Forests, Recreational Areas and State Natural Areas

Father and son camping

Special park operation conditions remain in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing, refrain from congregating in large groups, travel only within their home communities, and follow all existing state park rules and guidelines. Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult.

Please see below for additional details.

Camping and Reservations

  • Changes to campground procedures are in place for 2020 to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.
  • Camping reservations are required before setting up camp. Reservations can be made for the same day of your arrival and are accepted by phone (1-888-947-2757) and the online reservation system.
  • Check-in is not necessary at the office or visitor station when coming to a property with an existing camping reservation. Please proceed directly to your campsite and begin setup.
  • Group camping is allowed at outdoor sites with a capacity of 50 people or less, with reservations.
  • Rock Island State Park remains closed through the end of 2020. The Washington Island Ferry Line has also currently suspended all trips to and from Rock Island.

Restrooms and Buildings

  • Restrooms, including shower buildings, will be open in day-use areas and campgrounds. Facilities will be cleaned routinely each day.
  • Campers are encouraged to utilize facilities one household at a time and respect/distance from other campers.
  • Some remote water fountains may be closed in the day use area of the park or have the bubbler turned off and have access to the water spigot only.
  • All other facilities will remain closed, including towers, enclosed shelters, indoor group camps, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters and contact stations.
  • Equipment rentals and concessions are available at select state parks.

Firewood

  • Firewood is available for sale at select state parks. At properties where firewood is not currently available, campers should purchase before they arrive.
  • Campers are reminded that only certified firewood or firewood originating from within 10 miles of the park is allowed into the park.
    • Certified firewood dealers can be located through the DATCP website
    • Local firewood dealers and certified firewood outlets may also be located through Firewood Scout

Admission

Open Properties Map

Open Wisconsin State Parks
(updated May 22, 2020)

  • State park vehicle admission stickers and trail passes are required to visit state parks and trails.
  • Annual stickers are available for purchase online or with credit card by phone 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. seven days a week by calling toll free: 1-888-305-0398.
  • Daily stickers and passes are available for purchase at individual properties via self-registration stations, electronic kiosk, or drive-up window service.
  • Visitors must have an admission sticker adhered to their vehicle or proof of purchase for entry.
  • Once proof of purchase is shown, visitors must place proof of purchase on the dash of the windshield while parked within the boundary of the property.
  • The 2020 annual vehicle admission sticker is valid through Dec. 31, 2020.
  • A state trail pass is required for anyone age 16 or older biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding or in-line skating on certain trails. A state trail pass is NOT required for walking or hiking. The annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31 of the year they are issued.

Capacity and Closures

  • Due to high demand, many properties will likely reach their pre-determined capacity limits. When this happens, properties will close until existing visitors leave, and capacity is reduced.
  • State Parks likely to temporarily prohibit additional visitors include:
    • Copper Falls
    • Devil's Lake
    • Governor Dodge
    • Governor Nelson
    • Harrington Beach
    • Hartman Creek
    • High Cliff
    • Interstate
    • Kinnickinnic
    • Kettle Moraine Southern Unit
    • Lapham Peak
    • Perrot, Rib Mountain
    • Roche-a-Cri
    • Whitefish Dunes
    • Willow River
  • Visitors are encouraged to explore other DNR recreation areas or visit during non-peak hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
  • The following State Natural Areas remain closed: Pewits Nest, Parfrey’s Glen, Dells of the Wisconsin River, Gibraltar Rock.
  • Popular attractions within state parks, including beaches, where social distancing cannot be achieved may close as needed.

Events

  • DNR-led events and nature programs are canceled until further notice.
  • Special events and commercial use permits will be allowed with the appropriate application and mitigation forms for groups of 50 people or less.
  • Volunteer activities will also follow the Bounce Back Plan and be permitted on a case-by-case basis depending on group size and whether the activity can be done maintaining 6 feet of space between volunteers.

Boat Launches

  • All DNR boat launches are open.
  • Anglers and recreational boaters should continue to practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum.
  • A list of launches and shorefishing access points is available on the DNR website to help anglers find fishing locations close to home.
  • Boats need to be registered, which can be done either online or via mail.
  • Minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species by removing plants and animals from boats before and after launching, draining all water from compartments, and never move live fish from any waterbody.

Trails

  • All linear/rail trails are open to the public, which includes ATV trails.
  • The Ice Age Trail remains open.
  • An annual state trail pass is required for anyone age 16 or older biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding or in-line skating on certain trails. A state trail pass is NOT required for walking or hiking. The annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31 of the year they are issued.

Hours of Operation

  • State parks and forests will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Hunting and fishing will be allowed on all open properties in accordance with legal season structure and hours. Access to some areas may be limited to walk-in or water access only.
  • The following properties will remain closed for the health and safety of the public, staff, and property integrity:
    • Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area
    • Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area
    • Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area
    • Dells of The Wisconsin River state natural area

Business Operations

As state agencies continue operations, please understand that most of our staff are teleworking and may have limited access to files and delayed online connectivity. Our staff will keep their voicemails and out-of-office messages up to date and will respond as they are able.

With this in mind, we ask that our customers:

  • Email whenever possible to communicate with staff.
  • Set-up conference calls or Skype meetings in lieu of in-person meetings.
  • Request electronic public records online using our standard system, whenever possible.
  • State staff are not currently available to access physical files and no staff are available on-site to allow physical inspection of files by the public until the Governor's COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
  • Submit documents electronically, preferably via a download link (ftp servers, DNR system, etc.). Note: If that option is not available to you, DNR staff can receive emails up to 20 MB.

License Sales

  • Our Customer Service Representatives are available to assist you 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. 1-888-936-7463
  • Hunting and Fishing Licenses are available for sale 24 hours a day at: GoWild.WI.Gov

Toll Free Hotlines

  • DNR Violation Hotline:
    1-800-847-9367
  • Emergency Spill Hotline:
    1-800-943-0003

Questions?

  • Our Customer Service Representatives are available to assist you 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. 1-888-936-7463

THANK YOU

We at the DNR thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all go through the COVID-19 emergency. We will update information as needed during this fluid situation. For specific information regarding COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

Be more than safe and stay healthy out there.