Governor Nelson State Park

This 422-acre day-use park is located on the northwest side of Lake Mendota and borders the southwest unit of the Cherokee Marsh State Wildlife Area. It offers a 500-foot sand beach, boat launch, prairie restorations and 8 miles of hiking trails. Along the trails are two accessible viewing platforms with information panels that interpret the history of the landscape. A 358-foot-long panther effigy mound and several conical mounds are located near the trail in the southern section of the park. The park’s woodlands and oak savannas draw Chipping Sparrows, Palm Warblers and Sedge Wrens. The park is named for Gaylord Nelson, a United States senator, Wisconsin governor, and founder of Earth Day.

Directions: From Middleton, exit Hwy 12 at Cty M, then east 4.7 miles to the park entrance at 5140 Cty M, Waunakee WI 53597.

Governor Nelson State Park map

Gazetteer: Page 36, C-1 (prior to 10th edition). | Page 85, D-8 (10th edition).

Phone: 608/831-3005.

Web site: Governor Nelson State Park

Signature Species: Wild Turkey, Eastern Meadowlark and Eastern Towhee.

Rare species: Bobolink, Mourning Warbler and Yellowbreasted Chat.

Parking: Parking lots.

Nearest food & lodging: Madison and Waunakee.