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Rib Mountain State Park

Property Master Plan

The Department of Natural Resources is revising the 2005 master plan for Rib Mountain State Park. The planning process will evaluate the full range of public uses occurring at the park and habitat management opportunities. In addition, options for the future will be assessed, including possibly new recreation activities. The planning process will evaluate a potential expansion of the Granite Peak Ski Area.

FL_RibMountainSP_Observation_Tower.jpgPhoto courtesy of Greg Bouressa

Planning Update

Department staff are conducting species and natural community inventories of the property to supplement the 2015 Rapid Ecological Assessment. This information will be used to inform habitat management objectives, recreation uses, and potentially update the state natural area boundary. The final report summarizing this work is expected to be completed this fall.

The Department is also seeking to gather information on:

  1. The existing downhill skiing operation, opportunities to improve its viability and visitor experiences, current and projected future regional alpine skiing demands, options for future ski run layouts, and economic factors.
  2. Mountain biking opportunities at RMSP, both within the Granite Peak Ski Area and elsewhere in the park. In particular, the Department wishes to get expert advice on potential number of trails, skill levels, layouts and locations at the park to complement the biking opportunities elsewhere in Marathon County. Information on costs and other economic factors are also needed.

The COVID-19 public health emergency has required the Parks program to redirect funding that had been allocated for this purpose. The Department is currently seeking alternative funding sources.

Staff will wait to develop alternatives for habitat management and recreation experiences at the property until the ecological inventory work and the analysis of mountain biking and downhill skiing needs and opportunities are completed. Once the reports documenting these efforts are submitted to the planning team, they will be posted on this webpage along with a revised schedule.

Where we are in the process

Process Process Description Public Input Opportunity
Background information

Staff gather and synthesize background information about the property and region to help inform planning decisions. Typical information sources include: existing plans and data, species and habitat inventories, surveys of visitors and their experiences, and input from local governments and partner groups. DNR staff summarize the background information in a series of documents for the public.

Initial public input

Jan. 22 to Feb. 22, 2020

A public open-house meeting was held locally to present information about Rib Mountain State Park and the broader region. A focus of the meeting was to gather public input about the park, the current and potential roles it plays or could play in the region, and issues to address in the planning process.
The public was able to provide input in-person or online.
Develop draft goals and alternatives Staff will use the existing master plan, initial public input, species and natural community surveys, and information on downhill skiing and mountain biking needs and opportunities to develop draft goals and preliminary alternatives.  
Public input on draft goals and preliminary alternatives Staff will present the draft goals and preliminary alternatives and gather public input and reactions. The format for this public input will be determined later based on the status of the COVID-19 health precautions.
The public will be able to view and comment on the draft goals and preliminary alternatives both in-person at the open house and online.
Develop Draft Master Plan Staff will use the public input on the draft goals and alternatives, background information, discussions with partners, and the expertise of property managers, fish and wildlife biologists, foresters, recreation specialists and others to develop an initial Draft Master Plan.  
Public input on Draft Master Plan Staff will present the Draft Master Plan and gather public input and reactions. The format for this public input will be determined later based on the status of the COVID-19 health precautions.
The public will be able to view and comment on the draft goals and alternatives both in-person at the open house and online.
Develop Proposed Master Plan Staff will modify the draft master plan as needed based on public input. This new version, referred to as the Proposed Master Plan, will be submitted to the Natural Resources Board (NRB) for its review and consideration.  
Natural Resources Board DNR presents the Proposed Master Plan to the NRB and seeks its approval of the plan. The Proposed Master Plan will be posted on the NRB website approximately two weeks prior to the meeting at which it will be considered.
In its evaluation and consideration of the document, the NRB seeks public input at its meeting. Instructions to provide input to the NRB can be found on the Public Participation Guidelines web page.


A master plan for Rib Mountain State Park was completed in 2005. In February 2015, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board authorized the Department to undertake a master plan amendment process for the purpose of evaluating a potential expansion to the Granite Peak Ski Area. Although Granite Peak Ski Corporation has publicly shared its vision for expanding the ski hill area, the Department believes that a potential expansion should be evaluated in the broader context of the entire park and other recreational opportunities. As a result, at their October 2019 meeting, the Board directed the Department to undertake a holistic evaluation of the full range of recreational and habitat opportunities at Rib Mountain to ensure that the park continues to help support the ecological, social, and economic needs of the area.

The Park

The State Park was established in 1927 and centered on what, at the time, was believed to be Wisconsin’s highest point - Rib Mountain. The park has grown in size and popularity over the years and now encompasses nearly 1600 acres and receives over 400,000 visitors annually. Except for the ski area, most of the park’s public use areas and facilities are clustered on about 60 acres of the more level terrain at the mountain’s top, which provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed several facilities at the park in the 1930s, including the first downhill ski runs and tow ropes. Over the years, a succession of ski hill operators have partnered with the Department to provide downhill skiing at Rib Mountain. Today, Granite Peak Ski Corporation leases 405 acres of park lands that provide alpine skiing and snowboarding opportunities under the terms of a 30-year lease signed in 2000.

Additional Information About Rib Mountain State Park Planning

Public Involvement

Earlier this year, the department sought initial public ideas, perspectives and comments on the current and future recreational uses and habitat management actions at the property. Over 2200 responses were received, all of which are posted here. DNR staff reviewed the comments and prepared a summary of the input and major themes.

Hardcopy forms (these have been split into batches to reduce their size)

Batch 1 [PDF] Batch 4 [PDF] Batch 7 [PDF]
Batch 2 [PDF] Batch 5 [PDF] Batch 8 [PDF]
Batch 3 [PDF] Batch 6 [PDF] Batch 9 [PDF]