BAGLEY, Wis. — For their first visit to Wyalusing State Park, Brett Sterry and Barbara Block snagged a campsite atop a bluff overlooking the Wisconsin River.
From there, they could look out from the bluff and see the lights in nearby Prairie du Chien and watch the sun rise and set along the river.
“We actually don’t have to move from these seats too much if we don’t want to,” said Block, of Milwaukee.
Wyalusing State Park, located near Bagley, offers visitors opportunities for hiking, canoeing, stargazing and camping along the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers.
“I think people take for granted that we have this right in our backyard,” said Chad Breuer, property supervisor for the park.
Paved roads and trails at Wyalusing State Park wind along the contours of the bluffs that tower over the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers.
Park visitors can access more than 14 miles of hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty, including paths that lead up and down the bluffs and others that are more level.
“You could spend a whole day easily and still not cover all the trails,” Breuer said.
Visitors wishing to camp at the park can pay for more-secluded spots in the southern part of the park as well as for campgrounds along the edge of the bluffs near the Wisconsin River. From about 500 feet above the water below, campers can see across the river to Prairie du Chien.
One of the most popular times for camping at the park is in September and October, when the leaves change colors in the surrounding forest of oak and walnut trees, Breuer said.
Not far from the park’s entrance is an astronomical observatory that boasts a pair of large telescopes and several smaller ones. A local nonprofit group hosts programs during warmer months for visitors who gaze at the night sky.
“It’s such a neat niche here because we don’t have a lot of light pollution, so people can see the stars,” Breuer said.
Visitors to the park can also access a two-mile canoe trail along the backwaters of the Mississippi River. The Friends of Wyalusing State Park operate a concession stand from which visitors can rent canoes and kayaks to take out on the water.
“You can canoe for hours, all around,” Breuer said.
Shelby Haase, of Oconomowoc, is spending the week at Wyalusing State Park with her husband and children. The family regularly visits Wisconsin state parks, but this is their first time at Wyalusing.
“We try to hit all the state parks, so we finally got this one off our list,” Haase said.
The family so far had been hiking and biking and on Tuesday planned to take a pontoon boat out on the Mississippi River. Haase said she particularly appreciated the scenery of the bluffs and rivers.
“We like it a lot,” she said. “We’ve heard so many good things, and I’d say we agree with all of them.”