Located on a peninsula that juts into Castle Rock Lake in northern Juneau County, Buckhorn State Park offers a unique outdoor experience.
The 5,700-acre park, with over 10 miles of shoreline, sits at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Yellow Rivers and features a landscape of sandy soil left behind by the retreating glaciers. Dense forests of jack pines and oaks alternate with prairies grasses, wild flowers and sedge meadows. Wildlife includes osprey, heron, sand hill cranes, hawks, beavers and otters.
There are 7 miles of trails to explore, including one that leads to a pond stocked with fish for young anglers, a geocaching trail and one that includes a 20-foot observation tower. In the winter, five miles of the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing.
Five boat launches give quick access to the great fishing available on Castle Rock Lake, one of the largest lakes in the state. There also is fishing equipment available for the park for those who want to fish the shoreline.
If you didn’t bring your own, you can rent canoes and kayaks on site. A 10-stop canoe interpretive trail is a fun way to learn more about the park’s wetlands. Paddle sport enthusiasts are cautioned to not venture too far out from shore where gusty winds can make navigation difficult.
Make your way around the Ranger Rick Geocache trail with one of the GPS units that can be checked out at the park office.
Hike the new Glacial Lake Trail and imagine what the sand dune area looked like after the Glacial Lake Wisconsin receded over 15,000 years ago. Did you know the area’s bluffs were once islands in the lake? Explore the entire park and learn about the history of farms and towns before the lake was created. Did you know there is a farm and silo submerged in the middle of Castle Rick Lake? Ask a local on how to find it while boating.
A 300-foot swimming beach with a sandy bottom is located on the eastern side of the park. Swimming is unsupervised.
Camping options range from 42 secluded backpack sites on or near the waterfront to eight family campsites for tents and pop-up trailers and three group sites for up to 40 people each. Backpackers can use one of the carts provided to haul gear anywhere from a 100-yard walk to 1.2 miles Toilet facilities are available, but campers and day trippers should bring their own supply of drinking water. Some sites are suitable for people with disabilities.
For a less-rustic feel there is a newer 60-unit drive-in campground, located near the beach, with some electric sites and more coming in the future.
Campsites fill up on the weekends, especially the backpack sites. You may discover a new favorite campsite by coming midweek.
Mosquitoes tend to hatch near the end of May and can be bothersome for a few weeks but if you have bug spray, a screen tent, or a thermocell it is tolerable. This is also a great time to be at the beach or on the lake.
As at other Wisconsin state campgrounds, there is a reservation fee of about $10. Nightly camping fees vary depending on the date. Per site rates are approximately $20 for state residents and $25 for non-residents. Sites with electricity are $10 more.
The Yellow River State Wildlife Area adjacent to the park on the northwest side. The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is just 9 miles north of the park.
Traveling north on Interstate Highway 90/94 from Madison: take Exit 69 (Mauston) and turn west (left) on State Highway 82. At the traffic signal, turn north (right) on State Highway 58. Go about 8.7 miles to the third intersection with County Highway G. Turn right and go about 3.5 miles; the park entrance will be on your right.
Traveling south on Interstate Highway 90/94 from La Crosse or Eau Claire, take Exit 143 (Tomah/Necedah) and turn east (left) on State Highway 21. Go about 22 miles to Necedah. In Necedah, turn right at the stop light onto State Highway 80. In about 4 miles, where Highway 80 angles to the right, go south on State Highway 58. Go about 3.1 miles to County Highway G. Turn east (left) and go about 3.5 miles; the park entrance will be on your right.
|Address||W8450 Buckhorn Park Ave., Necedah, WI, 54646|
|Price Range||Fees listed above. Under $50 per nite|