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Friday, June 26, 2015

Repellent Free at Willow River State Park!

Yes, that is an exclamation point in the title!  Wayne and I arrived at Willow River State Park on Wednesday evening and my first question at the visitor center was about ticks and mosquitoes.  The gal assured me no one has been complaining, but I was skeptical.

Bug free at site 145

Just because no one was complaining didn't mean I could expect miracles.  If folks were covered in DEET they might think it was fine, right?  But after we pulled in to our gigantic pull through site I waited for the mosquitoes to descend...and they didn't.  Well, I thought I'd take a little walk since we'd been in the truck for 6 hours and was delighted to discover the trails are wide and sandy and tick free too!

Now, that doesn't mean that there isn't plenty of natural beauty to enjoy.

When I got back from my half hour walk we decided to drive through the park and get the lay of the land.  We are staying in the 100 loop closest to the entrance and it's definitely got the larger more modern sites going for it.  The 300 loop is heavily wooded (ticks? mosquitoes? Maybe!) and the access road is very curvy and the sites are small and tight.  Most likely it was an older section of the park that was designed before our modern campers came along with half their belongings in tow!

Past the 3 campground loops is a boat launch and beach and access to the dam.  We got here just in time as it appears they are planning on draining the lake to do repairs on the aging dam.

The lake will be emptied in a controlled fashion with an eye for impact on wildlife and for sediment management.  Trout fishing is supposed to be good in the area, and I even saw something about mussels being plentiful along the St. Croix River which is what the Willow River empties into a little further along.

There are 13 miles of trails in the park that wind through woods and prairies and I can vouch for an abundance of deer and bunny rabbits.

Leafy Spurge lines the Yellow trail

The shower building in the 100 loop is modern too, with 5 unisex private shower areas and the ladies room had 5 stalls, and plenty of mirror and outlet space.  And all this for only $20 a night (after you buy your sticker, of course), electric included at the site.  I love Wisconsin state parks, especially when they are pest-free!

Each shower is roomy, has a bench and hook outside the shower area, the water gets hot and best of all it STAYS ON!  No pushing the button every 10 seconds or so to get some water.  Luxury!

I've found a few new wildflowers including just one specimen that I haven't seen before and can't find on my Minnesota Wildflowers website I usually use. It was at the edge of a mowed section of a campsite so I'm assuming it is native like the other prairie plants but is shorter than the others so hard to see.  Does anyone recognize it?

With my luck it's a weed!


  1. I'm not sure what it is, but it looks so much like Chinese Lanterns. That's part of the genus Physalis, which apparently includes numerous species around the world, some known as groundcherries and other names. I bet it's one of that group.

  2. Oh the glory of a bug-free campground/campsite! I know you'll enjoy. I also like a shower where you don't have to push the button every few seconds ... that gets real tiresome.

    As to the unknown flower ... I don't know, either. Bell-shaped, but not Jimson Weed ... ?? Let us know if you find out, ok? :- )

    1. Looks like maybe some type of ground cherry, I'll see who else chimes in.