Door County’s five state parks are famously scenic and filled with iconic sights and stunning vistas.
Peninsula State Park is famous for being one of the most “complete” and family-friendliest state parks in all of Wisconsin in terms of recreational activities, facilities and infrastructure, campgrounds, and unique attractions/destinations.
Potawatomi State Park is known for its trails for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling and for being a quieter, less-traveled state park.
Whitefish Dunes State Park features the tallest sand dunes in Wisconsin and a mile-long sand beach where visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, paddling, and hiking.
Newport State Park is a tucked-away gem found on the northeastern-most point of the Door Peninsula that features hike-in camping, epic views of Lake Michigan, and some of the most secluded hiking in the county. It’s also the state’s only officially designated wilderness park.
Rock Island State Park is the state’s remote adventure park that offers rustic hike-in camping, an Icelandic-inspired boathouse, a secluded lighthouse museum, forested hiking trails, and plenty of places for solitude and forest bathing.
While mother nature is responsible for the scenic beauty found in these parks, and the Wisconsin Parks System does much of the day-to-day maintenance and organization for these places, it’s up to the parks’ Friends Groups to ensure our wild and natural spaces remain beautiful, healthy, and thriving in the long term.
Here’s how Door County’s six hyperlocal, non-profit Friends Groups help protect and preserve our beloved state and county parks and how you can help support their efforts.
Friends of Peninsula State Park
This group is responsible for ensuring that the state’s second most-visited park remains in top shape to preserve its “unique, spectacular wilderness and shoreline.”
The FPSP offers assistance to the DNR by recruiting volunteers to help run nature programs, allocating funds for special projects and administrative needs, and helping organize large events like run/walks and bike rides.
Projects for 2021 include raising funds for building out the new Eagle Tower area, improving the nature center, and selling park merchandise and commemorative bricks and benches. Check out this list of recent accomplishments and current initiatives for even more details.
If you want to help preserve and protect Peninsula State Park, your best bets are donating to the FPSP, purchasing a commemorative brick or bench in honor of a loved one, buying PSP gear, volunteering at the park, or becoming a member.
Friends of Potawatomi State Park
In charge of helping maintain this state park in Sturgeon Bay, this Friends group is a committee of dedicated locals who “volunteer their time and talents to aid in maintaining and improving Park programs and equipment.”
The group’s largest fund-raising initiative is the annual Run Wild event, a run/walk that attracts 500+ participants each year to raise money and awareness for the park.
Most recently, the Friends of Potawatomi State Park has funded invasive species-management programs, beautified campgrounds and facilities, updated the playground, developed naturalist programs, and more. Find a full list of recent accomplishments on the Friends’ website.
The Friends of Whitefish Dunes State Park
Whitefish Dunes State Park’s Friends Group assists park management with general fundraising and volunteer recruiting as well as projects like grooming cross country ski trails, building an amphitheater, replacing trail boardwalks, and building out infrastructure.
The Newport Wilderness Society
The NWS is Newport State Park’s official Friends Group responsible for collaborating with the DNR and park management to help preserve the park and maintain its integrity as an officially designated wilderness area.
The group ensures the park remains minimally developed, the plant and animal life remains healthy and undisturbed, and that there are enough volunteers to assist with preservation projects and ecological programs. Visit the NWS website for a list of current projects and programs, including trail improvements.
Friends of Rock Island State Park
The FORI helps out the staff of Rock Island in all sorts of ways—from operation and maintenance of the lighthouse and boathouse to historical preservation, volunteer projects, fundraisers, and improvements to buildings and infrastructure.
If you’re interested in volunteering with FORI and working to improve Rock Island, consider working as a docent at the lighthouse, serving as a camp host, or attending a park-cleanup day. You can also become an official member of FORI and make an even larger difference.
Friends of the Door County Park System
In addition to the Friends groups that support our state parks, Door County is lucky enough to have one that helps protect our beautiful county parks as well.
This Friends group’s mission is to “protect and preserve the beauty and splendor of our county parks” and does so through improvements to parks facilities, educational programs and materials, and recreational activities. See what they’re up to on Facebook.
Those looking to get involved with the county parks can become a member, volunteer in the parks, or contribute time or money to the group.
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