Copper Culture State Park is not your typical Wisconsin state park. Instead, it showcases some fascinating history and has a small hiking trail. This park won’t take much of your time, but like all the parks, it shines in its own way. There is no biking or camping available. There are also no playgrounds or boat launches.
If you are coming to Copper Culture because you are on a quest to see all the Wisconsin State Parks, check out my other articles. I can make planning your next state park trip a breeze!
History and the Museum
Copper Culture State Park in Wisconsin is a small park the Oconto Historical Society runs. It is just under 50 acres and is focused on the area’s history. Copper Culture is the site of a prehistoric cemetery. Between 4,000 and 2,000 BC, the old Copper Complex people lived in this area. Some artifacts found appear to date back as far as 5,600 BC. That was before the Egyptian Pyramids were built!
A small and well-put-together museum on the property is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10 am to 4 pm. Inside is information about the excavation site, including the burial sites and the lifestyle of the people living there so many years ago. A small “dig pit” is in the back to entertain the kids. You can dig through the sand and find exciting treasures such as copper arrowheads, dear antlers, and bones.
A tour guide is available for a free tour during the museum’s hours. What an excellent resource for local history.
Admission and Parking
Unlike most other state parks, you don’t need a park sticker for admission, and the museum accepts donations.
Two parking areas are adjacent to each other. Pit toilets are available. One is near the museum, and the other is near the hiking trails. There is a large grassy area with a limited number of picnic tables.
There are maps and brochures of the park available near the museum. There are several short trails; they may total a mile. One of the trails goes through the meadow, while another takes you along the river, which is quite peaceful. The main trail passes a large tree with a sign warning about a honeybee hive. We were not lucky enough to see any evidence of the bees.
Despite mixed information online, it does appear that dogs are allowed. Several signs at Copper Culture say dogs on leashes are allowed on the hiking trails.
Just 10 minutes east of the park is The Dockside. It’s the perfect place for delicious food and a beautiful lake view. For a morning caffeine pick-me-up, check out The Shop on Main. It has coffee, chai tea, ice cream, limited bakery items, and a small gift shop.
If you want to get a different view of the park, check out the Oconto River. The Copper Culture State Park doesn’t have a boat launch, but the park across the street, Holtwood, has access to the Oconto River. The Ruins Adventure Mini Golf and Ice Cream is just a couple minutes away if you fancy some putt-putt. Check out Oconto’s list of 101 things to do in the area for more ideas.
Other State Parks
If you love Copper Culture and are looking for a similar historical park, check out Aztalan. It is 2.5 hours away and has more fascinating Native American history, as well as longer hiking trails.
The closest state park to Copper Culture is Heritage Hill. This is another unique state park that focuses on living history. It is right in downtown Green Bay and has volunteers dressed in colonial times. Check out their events calendar to see what is happening. Just a few minutes farther south is Lost Dauphin State Park. This small park offers hiking and a view of the Fox River.
The closest, more traditional state parks with camping, hiking, and water access are either High Cliff State Park near Appleton, or Potawatomi on the edge of Door County.
Copper Culture is not your typical Wisconsin state park, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold its own. The history is fascinating, and the museum is small but well done. Stroll through the peaceful trails and contemplate what life was like thousands of years ago.