Buckhorn State Park

Quick Facts

Buckhorn State Park

Wisconsin

(608) 565-2789

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Buckhorn State Park, established in 1971, includes a 4,500-acre park and wildlife area, a peninsula in the Castle Rock Flowage of the Wisconsin River, and land along the Yellow River--a paradise for water recreationists, hunters, hikers and nature lovers.

Map of Buckhorn (WI)

Latitude, Longitude: 43.938566, -90.003003

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Activities

  • Boating

    The open waters of the flowage are the domain of every type of watercraft imaginable. Bass boats, sailboats, ski boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, and even houseboats can be seen in constant motion. The sloughs and back-waters of the flowage offer a slower, quieter experience to canoeists. Here, each stroke of the paddle can yield a new discovery. The park has a canoe launch and canoe interpretive trail

    The canoe launch is on the peninsula's east side in a quiet slough that leads to the main part of the flowage. Canoeists should remain near shore to avoid rough water when the wind is blowing. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the park office. A concession agreement between the Friends of Buckhorn State Park and Country Cruisin' Canoe Rentals provides this. The park office has information about other areas for canoeing and kayaking around Buckhorn.

  • Bird Watching

    Osprey are seen here on a regular basis, so keep your eyes on the sky while visiting Buckhorn. Osprey generally nest in large trees or on rocky cliffs, but they will accept nest platforms on top of tall trees. A few such man-made nest sites are along the shoreline in Buckhorn State Park.

    The osprey has never been common, but the use of DDT and other "hard" pesticides caused a drastic decline in their numbers in the 1950s and 1960s. Since the banning of DDT in 1972 the species has slowly increased in number, but remains on the Wisconsin threatened species list. This may be your only chance to see one in the wild. The osprey is mostly white underneath, but its back is brownish-black. A conspicuous dark "stripe" runs across its cheeks. These birds often spotted gliding above the river in search of their next meal.

  • Camping

    The park has a three-site outdoor group camp; 42 cart-in campsites, one of which is accessible for people with disabilities; 12 drive-in sites; and an accessible cabin. ReserveAmerica has named the Buckhorn campground one of America's Top 100 Family campgrounds for three years.

  • Fishing

    The Castle Rock Flowage has earned a reputation as an excellent fishery. The wide variety of fish species found in the flowage offers anglers year-round action, in a vast number of areas. The best places to catch fish from Buckhorn's shores are off the 90-foot accessible fishing pier by the North Picnic Area, along the shore by the Buckhorn Bridge, and from the shoreline by the canoe launch. Don't forget: a fishing license is required for anglers 16 years of age and older. A kids' fishing pond is north of the park entrance on the .4-mile Turtle Trail. The Friends of Buckhorn stocked the pond in fall 2008 with hybrid bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. Eagle Scouts built a fishing pier. Parking is allowed on the side of County Highway G for visitors to hike the 350 yards in to the pond. You can check out a fishing rod and tackle box at the park office.

    Walleyes are the most sought after species in the flowage. They are hard to beat as table fare, and reach trophy size all along the Wisconsin River system. Fishing for walleyes can be especially good in spring and fall, and during morning and evening hours. Drop-offs along the old river channels are good spots to try. Use a jig and minnow or troll with a plug that imitates a small baitfish. The most popular areas are near the Buckhorn Bridge, the mouth of the Little Yellow River, and near the railroad bridge on the northeast end of the flowage.

    White bass, or stripers, as they are sometimes called, can provide fast action. Schools are easiest to locate in early summer, but these scrappy fish provide angling fun all year long. Again, a jig and minnow combination may be your best bet, but spinners and small crankbaits work well, too. The Buckhorn Bridge and adjoining causeway is a real white bass hot spot. Largemouth bass inhabit many of the shallow bays of the flowage. Drag or "bump" a plastic worm along the bottom. When a "pick-up" is felt, give some slack line, and then set the hook. These acrobatic fish can really put on a show. Surface baits may also draw strikes--especially when the water is calm.

    Smallmouth bass are also found in Castle Rock. Unlike their bucket-mouthed cousins, they prefer rocky areas or downed trees, the numerous rip-rap areas along the shore, as well as the mouth of the Yellow River provide good bronze back habitat. Lures than imitate crayfish and minnows will usually work best.

    Trophy-sized northern pike are caught at Castle Rock, too. Spoons, bucktails and spinner baits retrieved near patches of weeds will often attract the attention of these tackle busters. Large minnows or shiners work well for those who prefer live bait, Use care when landing northern pike. Their teeth are extremely sharp.

    Panfish are the preferred quarry of many anglers. Bluegills, crappies, and perch all grow large and are found nearly everywhere in the flowage. Castle Rock crappies can tip the scales at two pounds or more, and one-pound bluegills are common. Small hooks and worms or minnows will help the whole family to enjoy reeling in a meal of these tasty, finned fighters.

    Warm summer evenings are ideal for doing battle with channel catfish. Try fishing below the Castle Rock dam. Use cheese, doughnuts or stinkbaits and fish along the bottom. Be sure to use fairly stout tackle. Channel cats can weigh more than 20 pounds and will fight hard to remain in deep water. Shore fishing from campsites provides a good opportunity to catch catfish.

    Ice fishing for walleyes and panfish is also very popular. Tip-ups baited with minnows work best for walleye. A small hook tipped with wax-worms, mousies or small minnows are in order if you're after panfish . Look for groups of shanties or anglers to indicate the best winter fishing spots. Be extremely careful, as ice conditions change rapidly on the flowage.

  • Hiking

    Please enjoy a hike through the scenic park. The park and two adjacent state wildlife areas cover 5,900-acres on a peninsula in the Castle Rock Flowage of the Wisconsin River and land along the Yellow River in Wisconsin's Central Sand Plains.

  • Hunting

    Archery deer hunting is one of the most popular recreation activities at Buckhorn. Most of the property is open during the early and late bow seasons. Gun deer hunting is allowed only in Yellow River Wildlife Area.

    Long before the area was purchased for the present-day park, sportsmen from Wisconsin and surrounding states hunted the area with primitive weapons. This tradition continues today as modern archery enthusiasts stalk the deer of the Buckhorn peninsula.

    The springtime strutting and gobbling ritual of a male wild turkey is among nature's most exciting events. This has helped the wily bird attain immense popularity among Wisconsin's hunters and wildlife enthusiasts. Buckhorn is fortunately one of the premiere locations for watching this show.

    Male turkeys, also called gobblers or toms, display or strut in small openings or open wooded areas. They do this and gobble and drum to attract females for mating. The best view of the shoe is just after sunrise from mid-March through early May.

    Spring turkey hunting is available by permit only in the state park and Buckhorn Wildlife Area. Hunters must apply by early December of the previous year. Sixteen hunters are permitted for each of three seasons in April in zone 15F, the park and Buckhorn Wildlife Area. Yellow River Wildlife Area, Zone 1, allows turkey hunting for all six spring periods and for fall turkey hunting.

    Archer success rates generally lag behind those of gun hunters. This results in a herd with more adult deer, and hence, more trophy bucks than would be found in surrounding areas. Each year, several trophy bucks are harvested by lucky hunters at Buckhorn.

    The best time for a trophy buck is during the "rut" or breeding season in early November. Male deer tend to be more active and somewhat less wary during this season. Hunters often wait near an active scrape or trail in hopes that a deer will walk within range.

    The wildlife area has many shallow sloughs, wetlands and islands. Experienced hunters use hip boots, canoes and boats to gain access to areas overlooked by others.

  • Picnicking

    A rustic shelter was built in 1995 for use by campers in sites 10 through 12 and 25. The shelter is intended for day use only and is equipped with a picnic table and screened windows. Campers may use it to escape the mosquitoes or to cook food out of the rain.

  • RVing

    Please contact the park for information about RV sites and rates.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Face-to-face encounters with resident wild animals are the rule, rather than the exception. The Buckhorn Wildlife Area is managed to encourage and preserve wildlife and plant communities typically found in central Wisconsin. Canada geese, herons, sandhill cranes, ducks, muskrats, beavers, otters and mink all frequent the marshes and sloughs. Uplands are home to whitetail deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, and even an occasional black bear. Hawks and owls hunt remnant prairies and mixed oak-pine stands in search of mice, snakes, insects and other prey.

  • Winter Sports

    Ice fishing for walleyes and panfish is also very popular. Tip-ups baited with minnows work best for walleye. A small hook tipped with wax-worms, mousies or small minnows are in order if you're after panfish . Look for groups of shanties or anglers to indicate the best winter fishing spots. Be extremely careful, as ice conditions change rapidly on the flowage.

Seasonality/Weather

Open year-round

Park Partners

The Friends of Buckhorn State Park

The Friends of Buckhorn State Park work on park activities and special events. They raised funds for the accessible cabin, the savanna restoration project, stump removal in picnic areas, amphitheater, cold water rinse shower, two-stall unisex shower building, wildlife mounts, and the installation of electrical service to the south shelters, pit toilet and accessible campsite. They have worked with park staff in organizing and running the summer candlelight hike and the park photography contest. They sponsor the essay contest associated with the November Special Youth Deer Hunt and have a cooperative agreement with Country Cruisin Canoes to bring canoe and kayak rentals into the park. The friends group also donated funds for future construction of a flush toilet/shower building

Directions

Driving

Traveling north on I-90/94 from Madison, take Exit 69 (Mauston) and turn west on Hwy 82. At the stoplight turn north on Highway 58. At Cty Trk G (12-15 miles), turn right and go 4 miles to the park entrance. Travelling south on I90/94 from Lacrosse or Eau Claire, exit at New Lisbon, turn east on Highway 80 and turn east on County Trunk A. Go north on Highway 58. Turn right on County Trunk G for 4 miles to park entrance.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(608) 565-2789

Links