At Roche-A-Cri State Park is a beautiful and less busy park in the center of the state. My favorite part is the large staircase offering great views of the surrounding landscape. Roche-A-Cri also boasts petroglyphs and pictographs which is an interesting but fairly short stop. There are mostly rustic campsites available and several miles of hiking available. Come check out this underrated park! If you love Wisconsin State Parks, check out. my list of parks here.
Lots of Stairs for Spectacular views
If you would like a bit more of a challenge for different kind of view, head to the Mound Trail and Stairway. It starts with a short 0.3 mile trail but then you climb up 303 steps. The stairs are well built and sturdy. There is chainlink fence along the sides of the stairs allowing for a good view but keeping people safe and off the delicate vegetation and sandstone. There are several medium sized platforms with benches on the way up in case you need to stop and catch your breath or wait for others in your group.
Once at the top you can appreciate spectacular views in all directions! There is a fairly small enclosed area keeping the vegetation protected. The fence also keeps everyone safe from the cliff edges. The stairs are open from 6 am to sunset. Dogs are not allowed on the stairs.
Ancient Rock Art
At Roche-A-Cri State Park you can see real rock art where the say the “recent” drawing are from the mid 1800’s to the 1950’s. How old is the other rock art?! The best guess is “thousands of years” but no one seems to know for sure. There are several drawings of birds and other petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (a form of early writing). The accessible ramp goes right up next the the rock mound from the handicap parking spot. There are several other paring spots right across the street. This is a unique feature and a fun stop off. Maybe more recent people have also carved things in the rock which does take some of the ambiance away.
Picnics and Playgrounds
There is a nice picnic area with multiple picnic tables at the bottom of the staircase which is right next to the parking area. There is shelter over some of these tables. This is perfect if you are there on a rainy day like our first time there. There is also a few education posters/pictures about the area and the building of the stairs.
The “playground” closest to the bottom of the staircase is a few swings. There is a slightly bigger playground at the main entrance. This includes a slide, a digger, and a small fun looking climbing structure.
The Acorn Trail, at 3.5 miles, is the longest hike at Roche-A-Cri. It loops around the whole park and connects all the other smaller loop trails. Most of it is through forests and is overall pretty level hiking. The Chickadee Rock Nature trail is about 0.5 mile. It is considered an accessible trail. I think you could probably push a sturdy stroller. It is a wide grass path for most of the trail. It goes up to and interesting rock feature. The kiddos had fun climbing around this and it was a fun destination for motivation for my little hikers.
There is a campground here with 33 campsites most of which accommodates trailers or tents. Only four of the sites have electricity. There is a vault toilet but no showers or flush toilets so get ready to rough it! Each site has a picnic table and a bench. All the sites also have a fire ring and most of a grill of some sort over the fire ring. The sites are well sized and flat with some trees between sites to give a little privacy. Some of the areas around the sites are “restoration” areas where they ask people to stay off.
Roche-A-Cri State Park hosts a handful events each year from hot chocolate and hiking, to informative talks about the rock drawings. Click here to get to the park’s website listing events from the DNR site. Friends of Roche-A-Cri State Park facebook page is also a good place to get information about upcoming events.
The main entrance of the park is closed during the winter. To access the park you will need to use the prairie parking lot off Czech Ave. This is just south west of the main entrance. In the winter the stairs are not maintained. The 3.5 Acorn trail is available for winter hiking, snow sowing or for un-groomed cross country skiing.
Dogs at Roche-A-Cri
Your furry four legged friend is welcome at the parks campground and hiking trails. There are the standard rules of needing to be on a leash and of course you have to pick up after them. Dogs are not allowed on the stairway or the Chickadee Trail.
Biking and horses
This park has no dedicated biking. You could bike the park road but it is short. There are no horse trails at this park.
A great place to grab some food is Becky’s Sugar Snack Bakery/Cafe. It’s a quick 5 minutes south of Roch-A-Cri. it is a great example of a small town multi-specialty place. Their breakfast sandwiches were on point but where they really shine is sweet. There were cookies and pastries, candy coated ice cream coats, hand dipped Oreos, and some intricately decorated cakes. The Family Affair Restaurant is right on the lake and has good reviews.
Of course Wisconsin Dells is only about 30 minutes away. If you aren’t familiar, it is a tourist hub of Wisconsin. There are tons of options for restaurants! For all you can eat logger style breakfast check out Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty. For pizza and beer with a family friendly vibe, we like Moose Jaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company. A kid and teen favorite is Buffalo Phils Pizza and Grille. There is a toy train that delivers food to some of the tables! There is a huge arcade connected to to Buffalo Phils as well.
For a faster meal we like the Pizza Lab where everyone can do get a personal pizza with almost ANY topping they want and it’s super quick. Not interested in pizza? Try Macs Macaroni and Cheese shop. Can’t decide? Try going to the Grateful Shed. It has an awesome atmosphere and decor with multiple food trucks inside a large warehouse including a taco truck, ice cream shop, pizza, and grilled cheese as well as a full bar. They even have a city bus hung from the ceiling where you can eat!.
If you are looking for water access, a small playground, or a beautiful pedestrian bridge, check out Friendship Park. If you have a horse lover in the group check out Big Horn Ranch for trail rides designed for any experience level. Check out the Adams Flea Market for local produce and craft vendors, you never know what you will find! Open weekends May-September. There is Adam’s Community Theater in downtown Adams. It features live music, new movie releases, and some old classics such as Back to the Future.
There are several other state parks close by. Buckhorn is about 25 minutes. Rocky Arbor is about 35 minutes and features some rocky hikes. Mirror Lake is about 45 minutes away with gorgeous hikes.
If you are looking for more touristy stuff, check out Wisconsin Dells, approximately 30 minutes south. They have a LOT of options. Check out Noah’s Ark or Mount Olympus for waterpark fun. We had a great time at Timbavati Zoo-especially in the winter with the VIP tour. The Wisconsin Deer Park is always a hit for kiddos who like to be hands on. The Wisconsin Duck’s boat tour is an old classic and a family favorite with the puny jokes and beautiful views. There is so much more in this little town, check it out to find the right fit for your family!
This is a fantastic park for a day of exploring or a short trip. The rock art at Roche-A-Cri is a unique feature and the stairs are a fun challenge. The hikes are pretty flat and forested. The small nearby towns of Adams and Friendship have some fun things to check out and of course, Wisconsin Dells isn’t far away.
If you love state parks check out my blog at www.WiscoExplorer.com. A couple hours north is Rib Mountain State Park-a must see park! If I haven’t written about park you are curious about, let me know! I have been to more parks than I have written about so far! Or tell me about your favorite parks and why you love them.