« Back to Blog

7 Must Visit Door County Parks

7 must visit Door County Parks

More than just the 5 gems, these state and county parks are a treasure of activities and sights.

When thinking about visiting Door County Parks, there are a lot to choose from.  We hope you can narrow down that decision with our recommendations.  We grew up on the Peninsula, so these parks were our backyard playground as children.

This park is the best to get away from the crowds.

This park is the closest to the popular towns.

This park is the #1 attraction in Door County on Trip Advisor and our most popular kayak tour as well.

This park you have to take 2 ferries to get to.

This park has ancient native american paintings on a rock cliff

 

Peninsula State Park

If you can make it to this park during June or September, you are in for a treat.  But during the July, August months, it is better to stay away imho due to traffic, parking, a lot of people, boats, jet skis, and bikes.

Pros:

  1. Free boat launch
  2. Numerous great trails
  3. Plenty of water to kayak and sights to see on the water, ie. Horseshoe Island, Eagle Lighthouse, Nicolet Beach
  4. Easy car camping
  5. Sunset bike trail is a great family biking experience.
  6. New tower coming
  7. Eagle bluff, a towering masterpiece of a bluff.

Cons:

  1. Busy, Busy, Busy during the main season.
  2. I can’t find a spot to park busy,
  3. Tower currently not available.
  4. Boat traffic is heavy during weekends.
  5. So many campers have fires, that the park is in a haze most nights and afternoons.

Secret tip: Leave your car on the outside of the park and bike or hike in.

Rock Island State Park

Pros:

  1. Secluded, the best camping spots are on the far side of the island away from the other campers.  It is a bit of a hike thou.
  2. No biking, I consider this a pro and con. It keeps the island in a mellower state.
  3. Off shore surf spot. The jaws of Lake Michigan tow in surfing spot.
  4. Cultural sites, find the face carved in the rock.
  5. A fun kayak to camp spot, kayak over from Washington Island and pull up to your camping site on the water.

Cons:

  1. You can get stuck up there.  With any major wind and wave storm, the potential to not be able to use the ferry becomes possible, leaving you to stick it out an extra day or two.
  2. No biking, it would be nice to zoom around this island on a bike
  3. Dangerous swimming conditions near shoal and cooler water.  There is a lot of moving water around the Rock Island State Park.  Be wise and humble.

Secret tip:  Camp on your boat in the marina and there is no charge to stay.

Door Bluff County Park

Door Bluff County Park park used to be rarely visited, but since the dawn of social media, it has climbed in popularity.  It boasts the highest natural point in Door County(see if you can find the marker, a large flat stone on 2 other stones like a bench)  This was my backyard growing up and I really love this park.

Pros:

  1. No entrance fee
  2. Native American Pictographs, some of the oldest living connection to the peoples who truly lived off and with the land.  Amazing it is still visible on the water of Death’s Door.
  3. Highest natural point on the peninsula.
  4. Gorgeous views of Washington Island, the sunset and the Green Bay side of Lake Michigan.
  5. As of 2019, there is another 100 acres being added onto the park!

Cons:

  1. No camping
  2. No biking
  3. Don’t fall off!  Every few years, someone happens to fall off the cliff.  Please be careful and watch your children.
  4. Not a young children appropriate hike to the bluff.

Secret tip: Find the secret lookout spot cove.

Cave Point County Park

Being the #1 destination on Tripadvisor and probably one of the more popular natural locations in Wisconsin has Cave Point County Park as a must visit for your vacation.

Pros:

  1. The waves provide amazing photography with the ice sculptures they create in the winter months and the splashes during the spring, summer and fall.  Be mindful and careful around the edge of the water.  There are not many places to get out of the water easily if you fall in, so just go ahead and don’t fall in. The waves also provide some amazing surf if you know what and where to look for it.
  2. Cliff jumping, the water level moves up and down each summer, so make sure you look before you leap.  This cliff jumping location is a beginner jump and not too high.  It is very shallow, so check it out with some snorkels and walking around prior to jumping, don’t take a strangers suggestion!  We have seen many people hurt themselves jumping here.

Cons:

  1. Good luck getting a photo without people in it.  This park has become quite popular.
  2. Dangerous, every year, someone loses their life here either slipping in the water off the rocks during winter or kayaking without appropriate instruction, guiding or gear.  Please don’t take unnecessary risks.

Secret tip: Get here for sunrise to find the park empty and beautiful.

Cave Point County Park

Newport State Park

Turn off the lights, we have a dark sky winner and it is Newport State Park!  All the beauty without the crowds.

Pros:

  1. Dark sky award winner for watching shooting stars in August and actually seeing them without much light pollution.
  2. Hike in camping leaves the crowds behind
  3. Kayak camping makes camping fun and exciting.
  4. Secluded beaches, actually find a section of beach you could call your own.

Cons:

  1. Cooler, being on the lakeside of the Peninsula, this park gets cooler than the bayside.  That can keep the bugs away and make snuggling easier. (blessing in disguise)
  2. Not that many campsites, so book early!

Secret tip: Kayak to one of the europe lake campsites and save a long hike and have a protected spot to kayak during the day, the lake isn’t always kayaker friendly.

Stary night sky viewed from Newport State Park in Door County, WI

Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park

While Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park doesn’t have a boat launch and the main beach pathway has eroded due to high water levels, this beach is an absolute stunner!

Pros:

  1. Borders Cave Point, so it has plenty of opportunity to explore without getting back in your car.
  2. Fun waves to play in when it is windy.
  3. Beautiful long beach

Cons:

  1. Minimal services
  2. pit toilets are stinky
  3. Rip current near corner of beach is dangerous

Secret tip: Hike in from Cave Point County Park and get a real nice long hike that see a variety of scenery.

Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park kitesurfing

Potawatomi State Park

Wrapping up our favorite parks, is Potawatomi State Park. This park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Pros:

  1. Free boat launch with park pass
  2. Sheltered swimming
  3. Not too busy
  4. Great fishing for whitefish, rainbow trout, walleye, and northern pike. Park rents out free fishing equipment too!

Cons:

  1. Due to rocky nature of beach, there is no swimming beach. That is a pretty big bummer.
  2. Far away from amenities, so pack a lunch.

Secret Tips: The sheltered boat launch, makes for one of the best free boat launches on the peninsula.

Check out our Door County tours that frequent some of these parks below.