Council Grounds State Park

Quick Facts

Council Grounds State Park


(715) 536-8773

Map Directions

Things To Do


Council Grounds State Park is a park with something for almost everyone. This 508-acre park along the Wisconsin River in north-central Wisconsin hosts a variety of activities and sights year round. It's in Wisconsin's Forest Transition Ecological Landscape. A 21-acre area of old-growth forest in the park is designated as Krueger Pines State Natural Area.

The land contains stands of white and red pines, mixed hardwood and hemlock; in total, 35 varieties of deciduous and coniferous trees. Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews planted its young stand of trees in the late 1930s and completed much of the first park development.

The name Council Grounds was based on stories that bands of Native Americans once used the site for their annual councils and festivals. It is said they traveled down the Wisconsin River by canoe to meet here for several days and nights of celebration each year. Though this claim has not been substantiated, these people certainly knew the land well, and used it during their fall and spring pilgrimages as they followed the river to their summer and winter camps.

Map of Council Grounds (WI)

Latitude, Longitude: 45.185610, -89.743990



  • Boating

    Waterskiing and boating are popular pastimes. The Friends of Council Grounds State Park rents canoes.

  • Bicycling

    Bicycles are allowed on roads, be wary of cars!

  • Camping

    A heavily wooded 55-site campground is popular with warmer weather guests. The campground has showers and flush toilets and 19 electrical sites. Each site has a table and fire ring. The campground has a trailer dumping/fill station and recycling containers. There also is a new outdoor group camp, three sites which accommodate 32 people each.

  • Fishing

    A dam on the Wisconsin River at Council Grounds forms Lake Alexander. Because it is a reservoir, the lake contains a wide variety of fish found both in lakes and streams. You can rent a canoe from the Friends of Council Grounds State Park. The most common sport fish is the northern pike. Although most northerns in the lake are less than 25 inches long, some trophy fish reaching close to 40 inches are present. Northern pike are active all year round and provide action whether you are ice fishing or soaking a minnow on a hot summer day. Large minnows and artificial bait such as spoons and spinners are a good bet to get you a strike.

    Walleye and smallmouth bass are also found in Lake Alexander. These species provide excellent fishing at times but can be difficult to catch without hard work. Walleye and smallmouth bass are commonly found near rocky points and under water bars. Minnows and jigs tipped with minnows are baits that work well for these fish.

    Muskellunge are present, but in low numbers. Even though muskies are not plentiful, some "big" fish lurk in Lake Alexander. A department netting survey captured one musky that measured over 60 inches, a real trophy in anyone's book.

    Panfish are good eating and provide action many times when the "big ones" are not hungry. Yellow perch are the main panfish but anglers also take bluegills and black crappies. Yellow perch are caught near the bottom in both deep and shallow water. Bluegill and black crappies often hang around brush, logs, or weed beds. Try worms or small minnows and you have a good chance of taking home some of these tasty fish.

    Shore Fishing: Fishing the Council Grounds shoreline, from the Alexander Hydro Plant to the shelter house area, can be quite productive. Deep pools, rook riffles and slow moving weedy areas provide a variety of fishing opportunities along this stretch of the Wisconsin River.

    Minnows or crawlers with a bobber can be used in any area and will catch smallmouth bass, northern pike and an occasional musky or walleye. Artificial lures can be used in the rocky areas to catch smallmouth bass, northern and walleye. Lead headed jigs, tipped with live bait, are particularly effective in spring and fall. Be prepared to retrieve rapidly as the rock-strewn river bottoms claimed thousands of baits.

    An accessible fishing pier is on the Northwest side of the park, near the lake Alexander boat landing. The pier is designed with a wide walkway and safety rails for easy and safe maneuverability. This pier is connected to the boat landing area by an accessible trail containing fishing stations along the way. These enable visitors to fish on platforms, jutting out into the water, thereby preventing erosion along the banks. These accessible opportunities were made possible through Wisconsin Stewardship and federal Sport Restoration monies.

    Every year, exceptional sized smallmouth, northern, and walleye are caught. While many fishermen choose to keep what they catch, a growing number of anglers engage in the practice of catch and release. Fish, released unharmed, will grow and, in time, provide a thrill for another lucky angler.

  • Hiking

    Several trails meander through various parts of the park, offering flat to rolling topography for hikers. The park's 2.5-mile main road also is popular with exercise walkers.A scenic 1/3-mile-long self-guided nature trail is connects the campground and the beach.

  • Hunting

    Deer hunting is allowed in the fall by special permit only. The park's deer management unit is 52A.

  • Picnicking

    A log shelter is available to rent for reunions, parties and weddings. It has two fireplaces and plenty of sitting room. Ask at the office about availability and fees.

  • Water Sports

    Boating, fishing, swimming, and waterskiing are popular here. The Friends of Council Grounds State Park rents canoes.

    The 217-foot beach has an expansive sunning area and picnic area. The best time for swimming is mid-June through mid-August. Lifeguards are not provided.

  • Winter Sports

    Please contact the park for information about winter sports/activities.


Park is open year-round however the campground and the docks at the boat landing are closed at the end of the season.

Park Partners

Friend of Council Grounds

(715) 536-8773



Council Grounds is conveniently located just west of Merrill, a community of about 10,000, and 20 minutes from the Wausau area.

From U.S. Highway 51, exit onto State Highway 64 (Main Street) and go west about 2 miles through downtown Merrill. Turn right on State Highway 107 (Grand Avenue) and go about 1.8 miles. Turn left on Council Grounds Drive and go about .5 mile to the park entrance station.

Phone Numbers


(715) 536-8773



Council Grounds Park has great camp sites with open sites to heavily wooded. Non which are from  facilities, beach, river front, boat landing, lodge and recreational trails. If that isn't enough Council Grounds is located next to "The Marc" a recreational hub for locals and visitors alike. The Marc features soccer fields, baseball fields, an indoor hockey rink (also a outdoor one)

Council Grounds Park is located along the Wisconsin River with great fishing, boating and site seeing opportunities