By Cait Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin

 

Winter is a beautiful time to be outdoors. The quiet is wonderful for reflection, both personal and phenological.  I recently visited Wyalusing State Park, a gem in southwestern Wisconsin offering stunning views overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.

Heading up the Sentinel Ridge Trail, which features stunning overlooks of the Wisconsin and Mississippi river valleys.

Wyalusing is situated at the mouth of the Wisconsin River, where it meets the mighty Mississippi. In fact, this is where I recently paddled with our executive director Ruth, on the last day of her I Heart Wisconsin: River Trip. After paddling the last stretch of the river, we made our way through the back channels of the Mississippi and eventually found our way to the boat landing, where we were greeted by Foundation staff and Randy Paske of the Friends of Wyalusing State Park board of directors.

As I stood at the frozen Glenn Lake four months later, I couldn’t help but think about how much has changed since Ruth began her river trip. Now it is 2016, the 30th Anniversary of the Natural Resources Foundation. Despite funding cuts, we are strongly holding onto our hope and love for Wisconsin. And we’re using this milestone year to reflect on all the work the Foundation has done to support public lands like Wyalusing State Park.

In fact, the Friends of Wyalusing was the very first state park friends group to create an endowment fund through the Natural Resources Foundation’s Wisconsin Conservation Endowment. The Friends of Wyalusing State Park Endowment Fund is a permanent endowment created to provide a perpetual source of funding to support the natural resources and educational, interpretive and recreational needs of Wyalusing State Park.  The Foundation is proud to support the Friends of Wyalusing and the other public park, forest, trail and recreation areas in Wisconsin that provide Wisconsinites with opportunities to explore the lands, waters and wildlife of our state.

Donations to the Friends of Wyalusing State Park Endowment can be made on the Foundation’s website; include the fund name in the designation field.

I wasn’t completely alone in the park–a deer was surprised to see me as well.

Wyalusing State Park offers more than 14 miles of beautiful trails through woods and bluffs with outstanding views of the river valleys. The park contains excellent hiking, skiing, biking and canoeing opportunities; the Passenger Pigeon Monument, which was rededicated in 2014 for the centennial of the iconic bird’s extinction; Native American effigy mounds; an observatory and a nature center. Great for families, outdoor enthusiasts and birders—Wyalusing is a top spot for yellow-throated warblers—the park is an excellent place to visit year-round.

The view from the 500-foot bluffs overlooking the frozen Wisconsin River.

Wyalusing is one of Wisconsin’s oldest state parks—in fact, next year is its centennial—and I find it incredible and inspiring to know that Wisconsin has protected this place for nearly a hundred years, speaking to Wisconsinites’ love for natural places. At the Foundation, we are so proud to be able to help support Wyalusing and other state parks, to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to explore and cherish Wisconsin’s outdoors.