Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Parks

General Rules & Information

Report an Incident or Emergency

To contact the police, call 911 (Emergency) or (608) 255-2345 (Madison Police non-emergency dispatch). You can also report park related issues or incidents to the Dane County Parks Office (608) 224-3730.

Dog bites/attacks should be reported to Dane County Animal Services 911 (Emergency) or (608) 267-1989 (Non-emergency).

Park Admission

Visiting and hiking in Dane County Parks is free. Some activities require a reservation or a permit. No fee or permit is required to park a vehicle at a Dane County Park unless in a campground or lake access designated parking lot.

Park Use During Hunting Season

Visit our Park Use During Hunting webpage to learn more about which properties are open for hunting and guidelines to follow for visitors and dogs.


  • No fee or permit is required to park a vehicle at a Dane County Park unless in a campground or lake access designated parking lot.
  • Vehicles may not be left overnight (10:00 pm-5:00 am) except in Lake Access parking lots (with a permit) or registered campers within the campgrounds or group camps. Star Gazing permit holders may be in their designated Park after hours.
  • A lake access permit is required for vehicles parked in the boat launch areas. You can purchase these online and must be displayed correctly in the vehicle.
  • Washing vehicles and vehicle maintenance is not allowed.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are available at some parks and facilities.

Noise and Personal Conduct

The use of any sound amplification device, loudspeaker, generator, or other device that produces excessively loud or unusual noise is strictly prohibited, unless a permit has been obtained and it is allowed on a particular property.

  • No noisy, drunken, or disorderly person shall be permitted to remain on Dane County property.
  • It's illegal to deface, destroy, or vandalize any county property or natural growth.
  • All controlled substances and paraphernalia, identified in Chapter 961, WI State Statutes, shall be prohibited from use or possession.


  • Visit our Dogs in Parks webpage to view requirements for dogs in parks.
  • Pets are not allowed in restroom or shower facilities, buildings, playgrounds, or designated beach areas at Goodland, Mendota, and Stewart Lake County Parks.
  • Horses are allowed on designated horse trails only and must be kept under control.
  • Washing pets is not allowed.


  • No commercial or household waste is allowed.
  • All litter, debris, and trailer refuse must be removed or placed in areas or containers provided.

Picnic Tables

For the picnic tables at the shelters: dimensions are 5’ wide x 6’ long, seats are 9” wide x 6’ long, and table top is 28” wide x 6’ long. Table material is either all aluminum, all wood, or sometimes a mix of both. Picnic tables generally seat 6 - 8 people.


Alcohol consumption is allowed in the Dane County Park System by persons age 21 or over. Glass containers are not allowed on designated beaches. Non-breakable containers are recommended in other park areas. An Alcohol Beverage Permit is required for all gatherings of 25 or more people where alcohol is being consumed and may be obtained online when reserving a shelter or requesting a special event permit or from the Parks Office, Park Manager, or Ranger on duty. Permits may only be obtained by persons age 21 or over.

Tents & Special Equipment

This also includes chairs, tables, and play equipment.

  • Installing tents or other structures that are larger than 12' x 12' and require stakes or pins to be driven into the ground more than six inches will result in an additional fee to cover the marking of underground utilities.
  • A certificate of insurance may be required when bringing additional equipment into a park. 
  • Please call (608) 224-3730 for more information.

Photography and Filming

General photography: no permit is required in the park system unless you are on the grounds and facilities at the Lussier Family Heritage Center and Schumacher Farm Park.

Commercial shoot: This includes photography and videography for an advertisement or production for distribution, such as a movie or commercial. The following rules apply:

  • A Special Event Permit is required prior to photography and filming. If the activity or event is approved there is a $75 fee for the permit. The Special Event request should identify if there is a need to reserve a site or requires special access to a facility or area of the park.  There may be additional fees required.
  • Dane County must be listed on your Certificate of Insurance as additionally insured for the activity that is being proposed.
  • If this is associated with a movie production then credit must be given to Dane County Parks for providing the setting and facilities for the filming.

Drones, Rockets & Remote Controlled Aircraft

  • No model rockets, other launched projectiles, and explosives, including fireworks, are allowed in the parks.
  • Operating remote controlled aircraft, including drones, while you are located within a park property is not allowed except at the Badger Prairie County Park aeromodeling field by permit only. Friends Groups may work with the Parks Director to get a special permit to use drones for events or park promotion. We do not regulate air space or flying over park land.
  • Additional rules can be found on our Aeromodeling / Drones webpage.