View of Sunset on Shoreline of Peninsula State Park Wisconsin

Where is Peninsula State Park

Often referred to as the state’s most complete park, Peninsula State Park resides entirely within the state of Wisconsin. The state park features miles of Green Bay shoreline, the White Cedar Nature Center, Eagle Bluff Light, Northern Sky Theater, Horseshoe Island, a vast series of campgrounds and a complete 18-hole golf course. Peninsula State Park also contains a diverse trail system that provides visitors with access to hiking and biking opportunities. Door, Wisconsin is the closest city to Peninsula State Park. Peninsula US State Park is located about 180 miles (3-hour drive) north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Peninsula Park is about 68 miles (1-hour drive) from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

How Large is Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is one of the largest state parks in the state of Wisconsin. The park's total area covers more than 3,770 acres of shoreline and Wisconsin woodlands. Across these acres Peninsula State Park contains several points of interest. The state park’s lighthouse, the Eagle Bluff Light, stands 43 feet in the air and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Eagle Tower is another tall structure found throughout the park. The 76-foot observation tower is positioned atop the 180-foot Eagle Bluff. Visitors climbing to the top of the observation tower can observe views of the park, Green Bay, several islands and the Michigan shoreline. Horseshoe Island, found in the park, is the only island owned by the state of Wisconsin.

Peninsula State Park Weather

The climate of Peninsula State Park and the surrounding Wisconsin area is often defined as a continental climate. Locations with these climates normally experience mild summers and cold winters. Snowfall is common in these climates throughout the late fall, winter, and early spring. The average summer temperatures in Peninsula State Park fluctuate between highs of 85 degrees and lows of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park approach average lows of around 5 degrees Fahrenheit and highs of around 30 degrees. Snowfall in the park is heavy throughout the winter. The yearly snowfall totals for Peninsula State Park average between 40 - 50 inches.

When did Peninsula State Park Become a State Park

The state of Wisconsin first established Peninsula State Park in 1909. During the year, the state purchased land for an average price of twenty dollars per acre. Peninsula State Park was the second state park ever established by Wisconsin. During the great depression, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established in the park. These men constructed several facilities in the park and improved others. The park was also established during the 1940’s by German prisoners of war that were held at nearby Fish Creek. Since the 1940’s, Peninsula State Park has experienced several renovations and additions including the construction of a nature center, golf course, and theater. The park is managed and maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Aerial Drone View of Peninsula State Park Wisconsin

Things to do in Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is not called Wisconsin’s most complete state park for nothing. The state park provides visitors with a diverse array of outdoor experiences and opportunities. Common outdoor activities practiced throughout the park include hiking, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, and several others. The following list contains several unique adventures that our State Park Visitors Guide outlines visitors can find within the borders of Peninsula State Park.

Explore the White Cedar Nature Center

Visitors traveling to Peninsula State Park should explore the White Cedar Nature Center shortly after arriving at the park. The center contains several exhibits and educational displays that feature mounted animals of the park, historic photos and artifacts, and a large-scale model of the park. The White Cedar Nature center also frequently hosts a variety of interpretive programs that discuss the ecology, history, geology, geography, and future of Peninsula State Park.

Check out Eagle Bluff Light

Also known as the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Eagle Bluff Light was first authorized in 1866 by president Andrew Johnson and built in 1868. In 1963, Peninsula State Park converted the lighthouse keeper’s quarters into a museum. Visitors looking to learn more about the park’s and surrounding region’s maritime history and influence should visit Eagle Bluff Light and the museum.

Catch a Show at the Northern Sky Theater

The Northern Sky Theater, which was formerly referred to as the American Folklore Theater, hosts various musical comedies throughout the summer season. These shows are performed every night of the week except for Sunday. The musicals at Peninsula State Park are widely popular and draw annual crowds of over 50,000 visitors.

Fishing at Peninsula State Park

Anglers visiting Peninsula State Park will want to try their luck at several fishing hotspots found throughout the park. Two local favorite spots are the Weborg and Nicolet Bay piers. From these piers visitors of Peninsula State Park can target and hook smallmouth bass, rock bass, and brown trout. All visitors wishing to fish within the state park must obtain a valid Wisconsin freshwater fishing license prior to casting a line. A Wisconsin Great Lakes Trout Stamp is also required for trout fishing.

Hike the Hemlock Trail

The Hemlock Trail is one of the more popular hiking trails found at Peninsula State Park. The trail takes visitors through a cedar-hemlock forest and to the edge of Lake Iris. From here visitors will continue down the moderately difficult trail to glimpse views of the nearby Strawberry Islands. The trail is 1.8 miles one way and can be accessed near the Weborg and Tension Bay Campground.

Hike the Eagle Trail

The Eagle Trail is one of the more strenuous hiking trails found at Peninsula State Park. The trail allows visitors to traverse 150-foot cliffs and meander through springs and forested terraces. Several portions of the trail are steep and difficult to climb. Visitors can access the Eagle Trail at Eagle Terrace or Eagle Panorama. The trail is two miles in length.

Peninsula State Park Camping

Peninsula State Park maintains and manages several campgrounds. The state park is the most popular camping destination in the state of Wisconsin and contains over 460 campsites. These campsites are divided amongst five campgrounds. Visitors looking to make reservations for these campsites can do so online through the park’s website and reservation portal.

Wildlife Viewing in Peninsula State Park

A diverse set of wildlife species call Peninsula State Park home. The species most commonly spotted throughout the park include white-tailed deer, racoons, squirrels, wild turkeys, grey foxes, porcupines, and coyotes. Visitors may also spot a variety of coastal bird species including several species of terns and cormorants in the park.

 Sunset View Blue Hour on Lake Michigan Peninsula State Park Wisconsin

When to Visit Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park can be visited throughout every season of the year. However, visitors may decide a certain season is best based on their outdoor recreation desires. Individuals looking to hike, fish, and recreate on the water may want to visit the park during the summer months when temperatures are warmer and more conducive to outdoor activities. Campers visiting the park will most likely want to arrive at the park in spring, summer, or early fall. Winter temperatures in the park can make camping uncomfortable. However, the season brings snowfall that provides visitors with the means to snowshoe, ice skate, and cross-country ski. Every once in a while, a strong winter storm will cause park facilities and roads to close temporarily.

Must Have Items to Bring to Peninsula State Park

Every outdoor trip requires at least some extent of packing and planning. Visitors planning to camp within the park for a few nights will need to pack additional supplies and equipment. The following list includes several essential items List of Parks suggest visitors will need on their trip to the park and several others they may want to bring along.

Water & Energy Filled Snacks

While obvious, visitors should make sure they bring a proper supply of water along with them to the park. Visitors planning to camp or recreate extensively in Peninsula State Park should also bring a variety of energy filled snacks. The best snacks to consume on a hiking trail or while fishing are easy to consume, lightweight, and full of energy. Trail mix, beef jerky, and protein bars are great options.

Camping Equipment

Every camping trip requires an extensive list of equipment. The best way to keep this equipment organized and accounted for when packing is to create and utilize a camping checklist. The best checklists can be checked while packing and again when leaving for the park.

Sturdy Hiking Boots

A sturdy pair of hiking boots will come in handy to every visitor who is planning to traverse any of the hiking trails found in Peninsula State Park. These trails traverse a variety of terrain including steep rocky cliffs, and slippery springs at times. Visitors purchasing a new pair of hiking boots before arriving at the park should also look to break these boots in beforehand to avoid blisters.

Layers of Clothing

Temperatures in Peninsula State Park can drop suddenly throughout the evening and overnight. Visitors planning to camp within the park should bring a number of layers with them to the park to ensure their comfort in a variety of temperatures.

Fishing Equipment & License

Anglers visiting Peninsula State Park will want to remember to bring all of their freshwater fishing equipment along with them to the state park. Visitors planning to fish in the state park will also want to obtain a valid Wisconsin freshwater fishing license prior to arriving at the park. Anglers planning to target brown trout in the park will also need to purchase a Wisconsin Great Lakes trout stamp.

Field Guides & Park Maps

Visitors can obtain park maps online through the park’s website or at the park’s entrance station and visitor center. Field guides are by no means required for a visit to Peninsula State Park, but these guides can help wildlife enthusiasts identify species during their stay in the park. The best field guides are equipped with color photos and lengthy species descriptions. 

View of Lake Michigan in Peninsula State Park Wisconsin

Where to Stay in Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park manages and maintains over 460 campsites across five campgrounds. Visitors looking to make reservations for any one of these campsites can do so through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors wishing to stay in a hotel can search for options in Door and the surrounding area.

Food Near Peninsula State Park

The closest restaurants to Peninsula State Park are located in Door, Wisconsin and the surrounding area. More options await visitors an hour away in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The city is much larger than Door and contains a wider variety of culinary offerings.

Airports Near Peninsula State Park

The Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport is the closest international airport to Peninsula State Park. The airport is located in Green Bay, Wisconsin and is 79 miles and an hour and a half drive south of the park. The next closest international airport to Peninsula State Park can be found in Milwaukee.

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