Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Translate

Frequently Asked Questions

How many campsites are available today?

See www.reservedane.com for more information or to make reservations.

Please view our Cancellation & Change Policy webpage.

No check in is required. You can head to your reserved campsite.

  • Please visit our Fees webpage for a complete listing of prices
  • Brigham Park non-electric sites are $2 less per night than our other campgrounds
  • Brigham Park electric sites are $5 less per night than our other campgrounds due to not having the amenities that are available at our other campgrounds
  • Additional $10 Administrative fee per reservation
  • Senior discount of $2 per night for campers 65 or older
  • Dane County campgrounds are pet friendly. There is no additional cost to bring your dog with you when camping. Access to off-leash areas at Token Creek and William G. Lunney Lake Farm Park are also included during your camping stay.

Check Wisconsin State Parks and county and private campgrounds around the area and region for availability. Please contact the individual campgrounds for more information. Please see the Wisconsin Department of Tourism webpage for additional information.

There are five "boat campsites" at Mendota County Park. Campers may sleep on their boat OR use the boat campsite reservation to store their boat during their stay in the Mendota campground (campsite reserved separately). No tents or RVs are allowed on boat campsites. A maximum of six (6) people are allowed. All five boat campsites share one communal fire ring.

A $2 per night discount is available to campers 65 or older. There are no discounts for AAA, Good Sam Club, disabled/veterans or other RV/camping groups.  Chaperoned youth groups receive a discounted price for reserved group camps. Please visit our Fees webpage for a complete listing of prices.

All campsite reservations/registrations are now made online at www.reservedane.com or by calling the Parks Office during office hours with your debit/credit card. Park staff or the campground host may also be able to assist with a reservation/registration.

All campsite reservations/registrations are handled online at www.reservedane.com whether you are at the campground, at home or on the road. Credit/debit cards is the only method of payment. Self-registrations stations are no longer used for campsite registrations. Park staff or the campground host may be available at limited times to assist.

Camping reservations for the upcoming season (the following year) can be made starting November 1st following the close of the campgrounds. If November 1st falls on a weekend then it will be the Monday following. Visit our Facility Opening & Closing Schedule webpage for information about the opening and closing dates of facilities including campgrounds.

Campground hosts are volunteer residents in the parks.  Most campgrounds have a campground host.  Host sites are located close to the campground kiosks, usually in a clearly marked “Host Site”.  These volunteers are typically the first contact for patrons in the campgrounds.  If there are no park staff available, please contact the host with questions or concerns.  Park Ranger contact information is located at the campground kiosks at each park.  In case of emergencies, dial 911.

This is not required, but it may help you confirm your reservation/registration and campsite number. You can always access your transaction history and receipt online at www.reservedane.com - Login and then go to My Account, My History and/or Reprint Receipt(s). There is no need to register with park staff or with the campground hosts.

Gates are not locked at night, as we frequently have special circumstances where patrons need to enter the parks after closing time at 10 p.m.  If there is a closed gate, you may still enter, but please leave all gates as you found them.

Most campsites have fire rings. You may search for campsites that have a fire ring online at www.reservedane.com. William G. Lunney Lake Farm campground has some non-electrical sites with pedestal grills only; these sites do not allow campfires. Fires are allowed on any site where there is a fire ring provided unless special circumstances are posted at the campground kiosk (burn bans, etc.).

All sites have a picnic table.  The table can accommodate approximately 6 adults.

Yes, you will have to move your RV. Campgrounds hosts may a portable dump tank that can be used. We don’t have water or sewer hook ups at each site. Babcock, Mendota, Token Creek and William G. Lunney Lake Farm have a dump station and potable water available at the sanitation station. Dumping and water is free to registered campers. Visit our Fees webpage for current costs for non-registered campers.

We’re investigating a possible dump station for Brigham.

There are a few pull-through sites at William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park campground. Other campgrounds offer pull-in/back-in sites. You may search for campsites that are pull-through online at www.reservedane.com.  In addition, the parking pad sizes are displayed for each campsite along with a photo of the site.

Every site is a little different, but generally our campgrounds can accommodate any size RV.  Please visit www.reservedane.com for a complete listing of sites available at each park, parking pad sizes and a photo of each campsite.

To find pad sizes:
View campsites in a list view (you may use Display Option:  Listing or Detail) and you can see the pad size in the Description column for each site. To narrow your list you can select campground, dates, features you would like. Currently, there is no option to sort by pad size.

All regular campsites are limited to one Camping Party (6 individuals) and two Camping Units (two tents or one RV and one tent). More than 6 people in a party will require additional sites. All vehicles and trailers must park on the gravel pad provided for the site or park staff can provide a parking permit for the general parking areas. Group camping is available by advance reservation at Brigham, McCarthy, Scheidegger Forest, Token Creek and William G. Lunney Lake Farm. Supervised youth groups may also group camp at Indian Lake Park. Visit our Fees page for group camping fees.

All non-campers are required to leave the park by closing time at 10 p.m.

Firewood is available at all of the campgrounds for a price of $5/bundle. Fire-starters and firewood bundles can be purchased at the campground office from park staff or from the campground host.  Please remember that any firewood originating outside of Dane County is not permitted due to the Emerald Ash Borer and other invasive insect species. 

Campsites must be vacated prior to 2 p.m. on the last day of a reservation/registration. You can enter the campground and set up any time the site is empty and before the park closes at 10 p.m.  If there is a situation where you need to come into the park later than 10 p.m, please contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 to notify us of your plans so we may inform the Park Ranger.

You may go online at www.reservedane.com and edit your existing camping reservation and change your campsite for a $5 fee (Login and then go to My Account, Changes). You may contact the Parks Office during business hours if you need assistance.

You can check campsite availability on online at www.reservedane.com or ask for staff assistance. 

There is a 14-night maximum stay in the Dane County Park System.  After the 14th consecutive night, campers are required to leave the property for at least 48 hours before returning.  Campers can move to a different Dane County campground for this 48 hour period if they wish and then return to the original campground for another 14-night consecutive stay.

Dogs are welcome at no charge with any registered camper for the length of your stay.  Campers are required to clean up after their pets and to keep them under control and leashed at all times while in any Dane County Park.  Leashes are not to exceed 6’ in length.  Dane County does offer dog off-leash areas throughout the county.  Token Creek County Park and Capital Springs Recreation Area (southwest of William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park) have off-leash areas available within a short distance of the campgrounds.  Campers may also use these off-leash areas during their camping stay. 

A permit is required at improved boat launch sites. One permit is good at Dane County, Cities of Madison and Monona Launches/Lake Access Sites. Unimproved boat launches do NOT require a permit. All Lake Access sites requiring a permit will be clearly marked. Please read information located at the kiosks carefully for more information. 

Improved lake access sites require a permit year round to access the parking lot to launch your watercraft and/or park in the lot. Your permit sticker has to be adhered to the lower driver’s side windshield of your vehicle or your daily permit receipt/new annual permit application receipt must be placed on your driver’s side dashboard.  Visit our Fees webpage for a list of permit fees. Permits can be purchased online at www.reservedane.com, calling the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730, or at electronic pay stations at some locations - visit our Where to Purchase Permits webpage for more information.

At most sites, this is allowed.  Keep in mind that there is a limit of 2 vehicles per site and all vehicles and trailers must be parked on the gravel pad that is provided at each site.  Please contact park staff or campground hosts with questions or concerns or visit our online reservation system for a list of parks and their campsite parking pad sizes.

No.  Campers must occupy the site the first night of their stay.  You cannot hold a site without occupying it.  Dane County Parks cannot be responsible for property left unattended in the parks.

Two (2) vehicles are permitted per site.  After-hours parking of additional vehicles requires a yellow parking pass and must be parked in a separate parking area.  Please contact park staff or the campground host for a parking pass and directions as to where to park additional vehicles or trailers.  Please visit our online reservation system for a list of parks and their campsite parking pad sizes.

You may go online at www.reservedane.com and edit your existing camping reservation and change your campsite for a $5 fee (Login and then go to My Account, Changes). You may contact the Parks Office during business hours if you need assistance.

You may contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for all parks questions, comments, and concerns. The office has extended phone service Memorial Day through Labor Day:

  • Mon-Thurs 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Fri 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Sat 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Sun Closed

If you need to reach park staff after hours, please find the campground host and they can call the park ranger on duty.

To contact the police, call 911 (Emergency) or (608) 255-2345 (Madison Police non-emergency dispatch).

You may access your account online at www.reservedane.com to view your reservation (Login and then go to My Account, History). You may also contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 during normal business hours or email dane-parks@danecounty.gov to confirm reservations. Please contact park staff or a campground host once you arrive if you have any questions or concerns.

The campground at William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park is the closest campground to the Alliant Energy Center (AEC) at 3 miles. Babcock is 6 ½ miles, Mendota is 11 miles, Token Creek is 17 miles and Brigham is 30 miles from the AEC.

The campground at William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park is the closest to the UW Campus at 5-7 miles. Easy access off road bike trails to connect to University and Downtown Madison. Mendota is 7-9 miles, Babcock 9-11 miles, Token Creek 12-15 miles and Brigham 29-31 miles.

The campground at William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park is the closest campground at 5 miles.  Babcock Park is 9 miles and Mendota is 8 miles. Token Creek is approximately 10 miles to the Capitol Square.

From
Campground

Destination

Approx. Distance
(miles)

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Alliant Energy Center

3

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Capitol Square

5

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Camp Randall

7

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

UW Madison Campus Area

5 - 7

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

UW Hospital

8

 

 

 

Mendota

Alliant Energy Center

11

Mendota

Capitol Square

8

Mendota

Camp Randall

7

Mendota

UW Madison Campus Area

7 - 9

Mendota

UW Hospital

6

 

 

 

Babcock

Alliant Energy Center

6.5

Babcock

Capitol Square

9

Babcock

Camp Randall

10

Babcock

UW Madison Campus Area

9 - 11

Babcock

UW Hospital

12

 

 

 

Token Creek

Alliant Energy Center

17

Token Creek

Capitol Square

10

Token Creek

Camp Randall

11

Token Creek

UW Madison Campus Area

12-15

Token Creek

UW Hospital

13

 

 

 

Brigham

Alliant Energy Center

30

Brigham

Capitol Square

31

Brigham

Camp Randall

28

Brigham

UW Madison Campus Area

29 - 31

Brigham

UW Hospital

29

 

 

 

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Babcock

6.5

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Mendota

13.5

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Token Creek

16

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Brigham

32

Babcock

Mendota

17

Babcock

Token Creek

15

Babcock

Brigham

34

Mendota

Token Creek

15

Mendota

Brigham

26

Token Creek

Brigham

45

Not directly but there are some sites that are close by.  Babcock Park is on a lagoon area off the Yahara River and Lake Waubesa, in McFarland, along US Highway 51.  Mendota Park is on the shore of Lake Mendota, in Middleton, along County Hwy M.  William G. Lunney Lake Farm Park campground is ¾ of a mile from Lake Waubesa and the Lake Access boat launch on Libby Rd.  There are woods between the campground and the lake so the lake is not visible from the campground.  Token Creek and Brigham campgrounds are not located on a lake.  Token Creek Park is named for the trout stream “Token Creek” flowing through it.  There is an ADA fishing pier located within the park.

The access to Mendota is a shallow unimproved launch site next to the beach area and is only a designated Lake Access Area in the winter months for accessing the lake when frozen.  Most park patrons launch from nearby Middleton’s Lake Street Launch or Marshall Park at 2101 Allen Blvd., Middleton, WI  53562 (Lake Access fee/permit required) or at Governor Nelson State Park, 5140 County Hwy M, Waunakee, WI  53597.  A state park sticker is required to use the boat launch at Governor Nelson.

Both Babcock and Mendota Parks offer a boat mooring pier for registered campers on a first-come, first served basis.  Mendota Park has several boat camping slips but they are only available if you camp on your boat, not at the campground.  The Mendota sites can be reserved online at www.reservedane.com or calling our Parks Office at (608) 224-3730. 

You may search for campsites that are shaded online at www.reservedane.com.  Babcock, Brigham and Mendota are older campgrounds with larger, established trees. William G. Lunney Lake Farm is a newer campground so there is little to no shade. Token Creek campground is wooded, with some open sunny areas. 

You may search for campsites that have shower access online at www.reservedane.com. There are showers facilities at Babcock, Mendota, Token Creek, and William G. Lunney Lake Farm campgrounds. Shower use is included in your camping fees. Brigham Park campground is a rustic campground with no showers. Shower facilities are available to State Park Patrons at Blue Mounds State Park, which is close to Brigham. 

There is one handicapped accessible site in each of the Dane County campgrounds, except William G. Lunney Lake Farm, which has two handicapped accessible sites. These sites are held for persons with disabilities until the campground is full, at which time they are available to everyone. The sites are normally located close to the restrooms/shower rooms, and have a paved parking surface. You may search for campsites that are ADA Accessible online at www.reservedane.com. The sites can be reserved by disabled campers or used on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park campground is located within the Capital Springs Recreation Area.  William G. Lunney Lake Farm is owned and operated by Dane County and is the only campground within the Capital Springs Recreation Area.  Capital Springs Recreation Area is a joint venture between the State of Wisconsin and Dane County.

See the list of County Parks at for more information and pictures. See chart below for a short comparison between campgrounds.

 

 

William G. Lunney Lake Farm

Babcock

Mendota

Token Creek

Brigham

Setting

Large prairie setting campground with Disc Golf course, hiking trails, state bike trail, dog park, and boat launch nearby on Lake Waubesa.

Small urban RV campground with boat launch.

Park and campground are located between Hwy 51 and Lake Waubesa in McFarland.

Small urban RV campground.

Park is located on Lake Mendota in a residential & commercial area in Middleton.

Large rural RV and tent campground close to the Interstate with Disc Golf course, equestrian & hiking trails and dog park.

Small rustic

campground in a rural setting near Blue Mounds.

No showers. Electricity available at a few campsites.

Noise level

Slight noise from Hwy 12/18

Traffic noise

From US Hwy 51

Some urban traffic noise

Slight Hwy noise from Interstate

Quiet

# Electrical sites

39 Elec sites

25 Elec sites

30 Elec sites

24 Elec sites

4 Elec sites

Amp Service

50 amp

30 amp

30 amp

30 amp & six 50 amp sites

50 amp

# Non-Elec sites

15 Non-Elec

sites

N/a

N/a

11 Non-Elec sites

21 Rustic sites

Size of Park

328 acres

36 acres

19 acres

427 acres

112 acres

Proximity to water

Campground is set back approximately

1 mile from Lake Waubesa

Park is located

on a lagoon off of the Yahara River & Lake Waubesa

Park is located on Lake Mendota

Token Creek (with ADA fishing pier) is located nearby

None

Sunny/Shady

Little to no shade.

Prairie setting

Mostly Shaded

Mostly Shaded

Mix of Shade/no shade

Mix of Shade/no shade

Bike Trails

Capital City State Trail

short city street connection to Madison bike trails

None

None

Military Ridge State Trail

Off-leash Dog Park

Short distance to campground

No

No

Yes

No

Assets

Conveniently located to Alliant Energy Center and downtown Madison; easy access to Hwy 12/18; lake access; disc golf course; off-leash dog park located within the park.

Conveniently located; great for fishing and lake access.

Conveniently located to downtown Madison and UW campus; Veterans Hospital and UW Hospital.  Short distance to boat launch.

Easy access to and from Interstate; disc golf course; equestrian & hiking trails. Off-leash dog park located within the park.

 

Quiet, rural setting; close to Blue Mounds State Park; beautiful vistas and hiking trails.

The establishments below may be able to accommodate you if you wish to stay in the Madison area for an extended period of time.

1.  Badgerland Campground 
http://badgerlandcampground.com/
2671 Circle Dr.
Stoughton, WI  53589
608-873-5800
Email:  info@badgerlandcompground.com          

-Located near the entrance to Lake Kegonsa State Park
-2 miles off of Hwy 39/90
Open Spring - Fall

2.  Viking Village     http://www.vikingvillagecampground.com/
1648 County Hwy N
Stoughton, WI  53589
(608) 873-6601
Email:  vikingvillage@sbcglobal.net

Open Spring - Fall

3.  Madison KOA
http://koa.com/campgrounds/madison/  
4859 County Road V
DeForest, WI  53532
(800) 562-5784 Reservations
(608) 846-4528 Information

Open April 1 – October 1

4.  Oak Park Terrace
http://oakparkterrace.net/
571 Banding Lane
Madison, WI  53704
(888) 817-5098

**This is a mobile home park in an urban area with seasonal rates for RVs

Wisconsin RV World at 5920 Haase Rd in DeForest has a dump station. When they are open for business, customers may come in to use the dump station. Winter hours are limited. Wisconsin RV World phone number is (608) 244-6228.

You may cancel your camping reservation online at www.reservedane.com (Login and then go to My Account, Cancel a Reservation).  You also may contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 or by email at dane-parks@danecounty.gov.  A refund will be given, minus a $25 cancellation fee, when a cancellation is received before 3:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on the first day of the reservation. The refund will be credited to the credit or debit card used to place the reservation.  You may edit your Camping reservation online for a $5 change fee (Login and then go to My Account, Change a Reservation).

What are the fees for reserving a shelter?

Shelter have different rates for weekends (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) vs. weekdays. See our Fees webpage for prices.

Shelter reservations are made in our online reservation system or by calling the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730. In order to place a reservation, payment in full is required.  Online and phone orders must be paid for with a credit/debit card.

Please view our Cancellation & Change Policy webpage.

Reservations are not required, but recommended it you want to be sure the facility is available, cleaned and restrooms doors are unlocked.  If a park shelter is open (with no reservation card posted on the wall of the building) and no one is currently using the shelter, the shelter is available to use on a first-come-first-serve basis. It should be noted that the restrooms may be closed if there is no reservation. Patrons can check shelter availability online at www.reservedane.com or by calling the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730.

Shelter reservations for the upcoming season (the following year) can be made starting November 1st following the close of the shelters. If November 1st falls on a weekend then it will be the Monday following. Visit our Facility Opening & Closing Schedule webpage for information about the opening and closing dates of facilities including shelters.

Each shelter has a different capacity.  Please visit our online reservation system for a list of parks and their shelters to see the capacity limits, amenities/restrictions and photos. Please note that the capacity listed is for the shelter and the grounds surrounding the shelter plus capacity inside the shelter.  We encourage you to visit the shelter before placing a reservation to ensure that the shelter meets your needs and expectations.

Each shelter may have a different number of tables that are included in the shelter reservation.  Extra tables are available and can be requested in sets of 6 at a charge of $60 per set.  Request must be made at least 3 days before the event but a week’s notice is preferred.  The tables will be delivered and set up before your shelter reservation starts.  Each table can seat approximately 6 adults. You may search for shelters by their amenities/features (including number of tables) at www.reservedane.com.

What size are the picnic tables at the shelter?

  • At least one (1) ADA table that is 5’x8’ to accommodate wheelchairs.
  • All standard tables are 5’ x 6’
  • The seats are nine inches wide by six feet long
  • The table top is 28 inches wide by six feet long.
  • There is no size difference between the aluminum or wood tables.
  • Tables can be all aluminum or all wood and sometimes a mix of both.

If you reserved a shelter, you may move or remove tables from the inside of the shelter as long as you return them upon completion of your reservation. Dane County Parks staff will not move or remove tables for shelter reservations or special events.

Each shelter has different amenities.  Please visit our online reservation system for a list of parks and their shelters to view and search by the amenities at each shelter.

Shelter reservations are from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.  We require that the shelter be vacated by 9:30 p.m. so park staff have time to remove garbage and clean the restrooms for the next day’s patrons.  All Dane County parks CLOSE at 10 p.m.

If you would like to start setting up your event earlier than 10 a.m., please contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 to make arrangements.

Shelters may have a fire ring located near the shelter area, while others may not have these amenities.  Please visit our online reservation system for a list of parks and their shelters to see the amenities at each shelter.

The parks close promptly at 10 p.m. It is required that all shelters must be cleaned-up and vacated no later than 9:30 p.m.

All reservable shelters have electricity except Donald County Park, Scheidegger Forest, and Shelter #3 at Festge County Park.  Each shelter may have a different number of electrical outlets. Please visit our online reservation system for a list of parks and their shelters to see the amenities at each shelter.

Please contact park staff or the park ranger.  Contact information should be provided on the reservation name card that is posted on the wall of the shelter when it is reserved for your event.  Ranger and park staff contact information should also be available at most information kiosks in the parks.

Bathrooms will be unlocked and remain open until 9:30 p.m. for your event. Some restroom facilities may stay open depending on the park, these dates may differ.  Please check our Park Opening & Closing Schedule for current information on when each park is open/closed for the season.  Bathrooms may be locked during the regular season if there are utility issues, but this should be clearly marked on the outside of the building.

Yes. We ask that you do not damage or deface the facility. Ask the parks staff if you have a question the use of nails, screws, or other more permanent fixtures.  Anything that is put up should be taken down by 9:30 p.m.

Special Event Permits may be required for larger events or any other activity where there are special needs or amenities are going to be used that are not normally provide in a Dane County Park. Events may include weddings, races, fundraisers, or other events requiring special accommodations and/or requests. Please visit our Special Events & Weddings webpage for more information.

Alcohol permits are included with a shelter reservation for groups under 300 people. If your event is over 300 people, a Special Event Permit and an Alcohol Permit will be required.

You may contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for all parks questions, comments, and concerns. The office has extended phone service Memorial Day through Labor Day:

  • Mon-Thurs 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Fri 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Sat 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Sun Closed

If you need to reach park staff after these hours, please contact the Park Ranger in the area by calling the phone number listed on the shelter reservation card.

To contact the police, call 911 (Emergency) or (608) 255-2345 (Madison Police non-emergency dispatch).

Camping is not allowed at the shelter areas.  Camping may be available at the park where the shelter is located but is not included in your shelter reservation.  Camping reservations, if available, can be added to your order at the time of making a shelter reservation at www.reservedane.com. We do offer Group Camping at Brigham, McCarthy Park, Token Creek, Scheidegger Forest and William G. Lunney Lake Farm.  Supervised Youth Groups may also group camp at Indian Lake Park.

Yes. There is a “large structure” fee (larger than 12’ x 12’ or anything with stakes that would enter more than 6” into the ground) for a fee added to your shelter reservation fee.  Visit our Fees webpage for more information. Park staff will mark all electric lines near the shelter when placing large structures on the property.  It is also required to show proof of liability insurance as Dane County Parks cannot be liable for injuries, etc. that may occur.  Certificates of Insurance can be provided from the rental company.  Dane County Parks must be listed as the additional insurance holder and Insurance must be covered up to $1,000,000.  Please contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 for more information.

Yes.  A ‘Large Structure’ fee is required for any structures that are larger than 12’ x 12’ and/or that have stakes that will enter the ground more than 6” - see our Fees webpage for more information. The large structure fee will added to your initial shelter reservation.  Park staff will mark all electric lines near the shelter.  Please alert the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 if you need the Park Ranger to contact you concerning placement of your tent.

Please leave the ashes in the pedestal grills, fire rings, or fireplaces, making sure that they are extinguished before leaving the area.  Park staff will remove the ashes when they check the shelter after your reservation.

Please contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 with your parking concerns. We will have the Park Ranger contact you to make arrangements for additional parking if necessary. 

The annual dog permit is in the form of a small dog tag and must be attached to your dog’s collar whenever they are at a Dane County park property. The collar should also contain the dog’s municipal license and an ID tag with your contact information.

Dogs from outside the area are welcome with a daily dog park permit and a license from your municipality. Be prepared to show proof if asked by a Park Ranger. A daily dog park permit may be purchased at electronic pay stations (available on-site at all of the dog parks) or online at www.reservedane.com.

IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY AT THE PARK, CALL 911 

If there is an in-progress non-emergency that needs immediate response, call the Police and Fire Dispatch non-emergency line at (608) 255-2345. You can also use this number to report animal bites.  

If you encounter a problem at one of our dog parks, such as downed trees, broken facilities, trail damage, vandalism or other incidents, you can use this form to report it. If you file a report with the sheriff, please also notify us using this form.

Yes. All dogs that enter the dog park need a dog permit. This is our way of making sure all dogs entering dog parks are up to date on their rabies vaccination.  We do waive permit fees for some animals as described below.

ADA Service Dogs: permit required - fee waived
As defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. A permit is required to ensure the service animal is licensed with the local municipality and is up to date on their rabies vaccination however the permit fees are waived for ADA service dogs in the act of helping someone with a disability. To request the fee waiver, please contact Dane County Parks at (608) 224-3730.

Dane County Parks is committed to providing services that are accessible to everyone. Information about accessibility in parks can be found on our Accessibility webpage.

Emotional Support Animal: permit required – fee not waived
Dog handlers that bring their emotional support dog to the parks are required to purchase a permit. Emotional Support Animals are not considered service animals under the ADA. 

Foster dogs: permit required – fee not waived
Foster dogs are required to have a permit. The permit may go with the dog to its forever home, or it may be kept within your household for a new foster dog. If the permit goes with the dog to its forever home and you foster another dog within the same calendar year, you must purchase a new permit for the new foster. If you foster multiple dogs at a time, each must have their own permit.

Several Dane County Dog Parks and other dog parks within the cooperative system have small dog exercise areas to provide a safe space for smaller dogs. Only dogs that are shorter than 18 inches, measured from the top of the head while standing or sitting, are allowed in Dane County Parks' small dog areas. Serious injuries and death can result from the injuries inflicted to a small dog by a larger dog. This policy is based upon feedback from small dog area users who are uncomfortable with large dogs in the small dog area even if they are timid or geriatric. Violation of the park rules may result in a citation.

A list of dog parks with small dog areas is available in our dog park brochure (PDF).

All dogs entering a Dane County Dog Park must have a Dane County Dog Permit (daily or annual). To obtain a dog permit, your dog must be up to date on its rabies vaccination and be licensed with your local municipality. You will need the license number when purchasing a dog permit. Puppies that have their municipal license and Dane County Dog Permit are allowed in the dog parks.

No. Dane County Parks does not provide drinking water for dogs and discourages users from letting their dogs drink out of communal water bowls or standing water in the park. This policy is based on guidance from the UW School of Veterinary Medicine. Community water dishes can build up a biofilm of potentially harmful bacteria if they are not cleaned on a regular basis and can also spread kennel cough (Bordetella), salmonella, or leptospirosis. Dog park visitors are encouraged to bring water for their dog(s). Park staff may remove water dishes left at the park.

Yes, visit Dogs in Parks for a list of Rules & Recommendations and our Park Use During Hunting Season webpage for more information on which properties allow hunting.

Dane County Parks uses a number of tools to help control invasive species in our park system. The type of management required depends on the species and location. Management options could include cutting, prescribed fire, mowing, herbicide, and biological control. Typically a mix of management options combined with seeding or planting the area in native plants after the invasives are removed provides the most successful and longest lasting benefits.

Herbicides are one tool for managing undesired and invasive plants in natural areas. When used with caution and precision, herbicides do far more good than harm for natural areas. Herbicides are only applied by staff or volunteers who have obtained a Wisconsin Pesticide Applicator certification. For woody invasives, such as buckthorn and honeysuckle, they are spot applied directly to cut stumps to minimize the quantity used. When herbicides are used at a dog park, the park will remain closed through the duration of the Restricted Entry Interval (REI) as indicated on the herbicide label. Signs are posted in areas where chemicals have been applied to notify the public.

A dog park will be closed if large equipment (e.g. mowers, brush cutters) or herbicides are being used. This helps ensure that off-leash dogs don’t run into the work area and get injured. If herbicides are used, the park will remain closed through the duration of the Restricted Entry Interval (REI) as indicated on the herbicide label. If volunteers are working with hand tools, including gas powered hand tools, the park will remain open but the work area will be shut down temporarily. If you see a closed trail, please chose a different path within the park for your and your dog’s safety.  Full park closures will be posted in advance on the Dane County Parks website. Smaller work area closures will be posted on trail barricades on-site during the work but not on the Dane County Parks website.

We are losing our dark skies at a rate of 2% per year which has several negative impacts to human health, wildlife migration, nighttime pollination, and energy usage (Dark Sky Initiative). Many Dane County Parks are located in rural areas where existing light pollution is limited. Dane County Parks recognizes the importance of maintaining dark night skies and is committed to reducing light pollution throughout our park system by using lighting sparingly.

There may be park facilities, especially in more urban settings, where field lighting may be added to provide greater recreational opportunities and safety to users. The property master plan that has gone through a public planning process helps guide whether exterior or field lighting can be considered as a future addition. Example may include a lighted trail or sports complex. 

No. Dane County parks does not plow or remove snow or ice on the trails inside the dog parks. Park staff will use dog safe sand at entrance areas as needed. Parks has explored and tested many different winter maintenance options (including plowing, grooming the trails, closing the parks when icy, among others) but all of them made things worse. We recommend that dog park users wear grippers over their shoes and boots if they would like to use the parks in the winter time.

Why is a Permit Fee Required?

The intent of this permit is to appropriately charge programs that are generating a profit for their use of the park. Permit fees help offset the cost of staff time to maintain park properties and facilities used by these programs.

No. As long as it is the same program, you do not need an additional permit.

Each individual participant is counted once per day.

Example #1: An organization holds a program from 9:00 -11:00 a.m. with 6 youth and another program from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. with 8 different youth. The total number of participants for the day is 14. If the hold those programs once a week for 4 weeks the Cumulative Participant Number is 56 (14 x 1 x 4 = 56).

Example #2: An organization holds a program from 9:00 -11:00 a.m. with 6 youth and another program from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. with the same 6 youth. The total number of participants for the day is 6. If the hold those programs once a week for 4 weeks the Cumulative Participant Number is 24 (6 x 1 x 4 = 24).

No, but you may need a Special Event Permit or a shelter reservation depending on your field trip needs.

  • If your Cumulative Participant Number changes enough to push you into a different fee tier (see table), please contact our office via phone (608) 224-3730 or email, to adjust your permit prior to the start of your session.
  • If your Cumulative Participant Number is lower than expected, no prorated refunds will be given.

If your program is canceled for one or more day, resulting in a lower than expected Cumulative Participant Number, no prorated refunds will be given.

I’m trying to login but the online system says that the phone # or email is already in use. What should I do?

This message means that you already have an account in the system that was set up by you or the Park Office staff.  To determine your username and password you have these options below in preferred order:

  • Try logging in using your email as the username and your 10-digit phone number as the password (no hyphens)
  • Try using your email as the username and reset your password
  • Email the Parks Office at dane-parks@danecounty.gov with your name and phone # and staff will unlock your account and email you a new password.
  • Call the Parks Office. If you get voicemail, please leave your name, email, and phone #; staff will unlock your account and email you a new password.
  • (Preferred) Email the Parks Office at dane-parks@danecounty.gov with your name and phone # and staff will unlock your account and email you a new password.

OR

  • Call the Parks Office. If you get voicemail, please leave your name, email, and phone #; staff will unlock your account and email you a new password.

Yes, but the fastest method is through the online reservation system. The main Parks Office experiences high call volume throughout the day and you may receive a voicemail message. Note that calls are returned in the order in which they are received.

The online system has the most current information.  You can view sites using a calendar view or a list view by changing the Display Option to Calendar or Detail, respectively.  The calendar view is especially helpful to determine if a specific range of dates is available.

For available sites, the shopping cart will be blue square with a white basket. For unavailable sites the shopping cart will be a gray square with a black basket. Note that the “Filter by Availability” selection can be used to show “All” sites or only those sites that are “Available Only.”

No, all campsites must be reserved online. If you arrive at a campground without a reservation, you may reserve a site online at that time ONLY if there are campsites available.

View campsites in a list view (you may use Display Option:  Listing or Detail) and you can see the pad size in the Description column for each site. To narrow your list you can select campground, dates, features you would like. Currently, there is no option to sort by pad size.

Yes. Online confirmations are sent via email after your reservation has been made. If you fail to receive, try:

  • Checking your spam folder for an email from daneparkreservation@rectrac.com
  • Login to your account, click on “My Account”, and confirm your reservation is under “My History” or Reprint Receipt(s)
  • Check to make sure your email address is entered correctly under “Household Details”

Certified Land Stewards

What training and/or skills do I need to be a Land Steward?

A wide range of skills, knowledge, and experience is accepted. Many Land Stewards have no prior background in land restoration and have built up their knowledge through experience. 

  • Seasonal trainings are provided throughout the year. New trainings are hosted based on volunteer need and interest.  
  • Attending a workday hosted by staff or another Land Steward (invasive weed removal, seed collection, tree and brush removal, etc.) is the best way to receive thorough hands-on training. There are many weekday and weekend opportunities throughout the year. 
  • Staff are happy to visit a Land Steward's site to conduct hands-on training (excluding prescribed burns) as needed. 

All information related to the Certified Land Steward position can be found in the Natural Areas Volunteer Handbook (PDF).

Certified Land Stewards hours have ranged from 5 to 800 hours a year depending on interest and availability. There is no set volunteer hour requirement. The goal is to eventually work towards site restoration outcomes and may include an annual workplan which can be used as a guide throughout the season.

Typical involvement is year-round, with the focus on seasonal restoration needs. For example:

  • Spring/summer: invasive weed removal
  • Fall: seed collection
  • Fall/winter: brush cutting/piling

 

 

It is preferred for Land Stewards to adopt a main site within a Dane County Park property, as this helps more work to be done in that area over time. Natural Areas staff can be available to assist at a volunteer site. This helps to continue restoration work even when the volunteer is not available at certain times of year. 

However, if a volunteer does not want to adopt a site but still wants to become a Land Steward, they are invited to do so and join at regularly scheduled restoration workdays.  

Leading Workdays: 

There are immense gains that come with hosting workdays alongside other volunteers. As part of the Land Steward Orientation, staff talk over the importance of planning a successful workday, working with other volunteers, and working with the two conservation crews from Operation Fresh Start that work in the parks year-round. Many Land Stewards begin working just by themselves or with friends at a site, but then transition to leading workdays once they feel comfortable doing so. By bringing together a group size you are comfortable with (2 or more folks), you are helping to encourage more volunteers to help with restoration efforts within Dane County Parks. 

  • Staff will help you to recruit volunteers for a workday, provide supplies, and offer workday guidance. You're not alone! 

Independent Volunteering:

Not all volunteers wish to lead groups; volunteering as a solo Land Steward is great as well. 

Natural Areas staff ask that Land Stewards focus on the projects that best fit the season and are time-sensitive. For example:

  • tackling invasive weeds before they go to seed and spread elsewhere in the park or onto other lands
  • collecting native seed before it has dropped/blown away
  • cutting, treating, and stacking brush in the fall/winter (unless there are no herbaceous invasive weeds at a site)

Each winter, staff work together with Land Stewards to put together an appropriate annual work plan that guides volunteer efforts at a specific site.

The Dane County Parks Volunteer Program provides Personal Protective Equipment (PPE such as: leather/rubber gloves, eye protection, ear plugs, etc.) at two pick-up locations in North and South Madison. There are also a limited number of tools to lend out during the season, which are provided through a check-out system. 

Materials, Tools, and Small Engine Equipment

  • Backpack sprayers
  • Re-fill water jugs 
  • Herbicides, herbicide labels, and herbicide application signs and stakes 
  • Parsnip Predators from The Prairie Enthusiasts 
  • Stihl brush cutters
  • Chainsaw parts and chain sharpeners
  • Chaps, helmets with ear protection and face shield
  • Billy Goat mower 
  • Leaf blowers and brush pile burning materials 
  • Variety of hand tools
  • And more!

Heavy Equipment 

Individual volunteers are not allowed to drive heavy equipment (such as ATVs, skid steers, tractors, etc.) in the parks. Exemptions are made to Park Friends Groups who hold liability insurance. 

Youth Volunteers for Conservation (YV4C )

  • Participants MUST have a parent signed YV4C Waiver prior to joining us at any events. Complete the YV4C waiver and email to parksvolunteer@danecounty.gov. Or, print off and bring to the event. Once we have your signed waiver on file you are cleared to participate in any number of our Dane County Parks volunteer events.  
  • You must register for each event on the YV4C sign-up page.  
  • Workdays can be cancelled due to weather. Cancellation notices will be emailed to registered participants and are also updated on the YV4C sign-up. 

Wear clothing that you feel comfortable working in and you do not mind getting dirty. Participants must wear closed-toed shoes at all events. Long sleeves/pants are recommended.  

  • Seed Collection: Consider dressing for “Chilly” times starting in September.
  • Seed Cleaning: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dusty.
  • Seed Spreading: Dress for “Cold/Extreme Cold” weather.
  • Invasive Weed Removal: Dress in breathable material and protect from the sun.
  • Invasive Brush Removal: Dress for “Cold/Extreme Cold” weather. Wear non-synthetic clothing, as we may light brush pile fires and there will be embers. 

See weather.gov/safety/winter for tips on being outdoors in the winter time.  

We supply all tools and materials needed for workdays, unless specified. The best way to learn what you need is to do the activity and learn from it. Ask questions if you have them!

  • Bring a full refillable water bottle so you can stay hydrated.
  • Whatever you need to be comfortable working outdoors:
    • sunscreen
    • a hat
    • a snack
    • insect repellent
    • up to you!

General Hunting

Where can I find a list of public hunting properties located within the Dane County Park System and maps of each area?

Information about hunting in the Dane County Park System can be found on our Hunting webpage. 
Opportunities include:

  • Dane County Wildlife Areas
  • Archery Permit Lottery Program
  • Trapping Limited Access Program

Please visit our Archery Permit Lottery webpage for information. Maps of the properties can be found under the Properties tab.

Gun hunting (any legal type) is ONLY allowed in designated Wildlife Areas.

Archery is allowed in all Wildlife Areas and under a special permit within designated Recreation Parks and Natural Resource Areas. Visit our Archery Permit Lottery webpage for information. Maps of the properties can be found under the Properties tab.

Hunting in the Dane County Park System follows the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) designated Hunting Seasons.

It’s our goal to create accessible opportunities for all park users. Dane County Parks tries to accommodate special access requests as long as they don't create a safety hazard or cause damage to natural resources. Hunters may request a special permit to take a powered chair, cart, or vehicle onto a Dane County Park System property. Please contact the Parks Office at (608) 224-3730 during normal business hours or email dane-parks@danecounty.gov for more information.

No. Currently, there are NO designated areas for target practice or to “sight-in” in the Dane County Park System.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office annually sponsors a Hunter Sight-In Program.

There are also a number of conservation clubs and public ranges available that have both gun and archery ranges:

Yes, but note that park ordinance requires all firearms to be unloaded and within a case when in a county park not open to hunting. This rule does not apply to patrons with a Concealed Carry Fire Arm Permit.

Visit our Hunting webpage for information on general rules and regulations. Special hunting restrictions that may apply are listed on property webpages and posted onsite.

Dane County Natural Resource Areas are NOT open to public hunting. There are select Natural Resource Areas included in the Limited Access Archery Permit Program. Visit our Hunting webpage for more information.

Wildlife Areas have the most markings to make sure that users stay on public lands. For each property, an aerial map of the entire site is available that includes the designated access points. At the property, an effort is made to make sure you can see from one sign to the next sign delineating the boundary. In addition, in wooded or brushy areas, the boundary is painted on trees to highlight the boundary in dense cover.  In marshes, where you may see the signs in grass and cattails, it is double posted to raise the signs up in the air, plus a PVC pipe is added to the post to make it stand out. Regardless of signage, it’s up to the user to know if they are on public lands as signs often fall due to conditions or removed by ill-intent.

Recreation Park boundary signing varies, based on the property and adjacent landowners. These signs are typically yellow.  Recreation parks in general don’t allow for public hunting. Special access permits may be provided for some parks. The permittee is required to make sure they know the boundaries of the property. Maps of the properties can be found under the Properties tab on the Archery Permit Lottery webpage.

Sign Types:

Generally, there is no hunting from a bridge or park facility. Streams may be open to hunting if they are navigable, that is they can take a boat down them and hunt from that boat without shooting game over the park property. In most situations, this cannot be done. This is another example of State Waterway Laws.  State waterways are open to public use as long as you stay in the water and keep your feet wet.

  • See Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations
  • Municipal ban (safety issue) regarding the discharge of a fire arm
  • A hunter cannot trespass on private land
  • A hunter can wade or boat around a lake, but cannot go up on shore.
  • A hunter cannot hunt or shoot and retrieve game from private land without the owners consent.
  • A hunter must be at least 100 yards away from any building that may be occupied before they can discharge a firearm – most areas around more urban lakes have too high a density of houses to allow hunting.  If there is a house within 100 yards of a hunter, the hunter must have permission from that landowner to discharge a firearm.
  • Example: Hunter is hunting on Lake Kegonsa east of Fish Camp County Park in the Door Creek Wildlife Area. The hunter must be at least 100 yards away from the buildings at Fish Camp County Park and outside the boundary of the designated park. 
  • Example: Hunter is hunting on Lake Waubesa and is wading or in a boat off of W.G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park. We do not have any jurisdiction to restrict the hunting if they are not within the park. The hunter still must be at least 100 yards from any building and they cannot hunt over the park land.  They can launch from the County boat launch and they can come and go without worrying about county park hours. Park hours do not apply to anyone engaging in a fishing or hunting activity.

Bodies of water that are considered navigable are open to public use as long as the person using the area stays in the lake or stream (keeps their feet wet).  This is how trout fishing patrons move up and down streams, or someone floats a canoe down a river.  You are also able to hunt in the public waters but there are other rules that apply. These may include:  if you are hunting from a boat you may be required to be touching the shore, then if you are on private property that may restrict the hunting. If you are wading and you stay in the water, the riparian owner cannot prevent you from walking the shoreline. You still may not be able to discharge a firearm as you must be at least 100 yards away from any building that may be occupied or used by another person. You can get permission from the owner of the dwelling to hunt or shoot within the 100-yard buffer.

Dogs can be off-leash and do not require a dog permit in Dane County Wildlife Areas ONLY if they are actively being used for hunting during a designated Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Department (WDNR) hunting season. If not being used for hunting, dogs must have a valid dog permit and be leashed with a 6-foot static leash except in designated Dog Parks. Visit our Dogs in Parks webpage for more information.

During hunting season you and your dog should wear blaze orange. Visit our Park Use During Hunting Season webpage for more information.

Yes. Dane County follows the same guidelines as the Wisconsin DNR. Wisconsin DNR regulations state that it is illegal to “Possess or use any type of lead or toxic shot while hunting mourning dove on DNR managed land”. 

Dane County Parks onsite posted rules state, All Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunting rules apply at this site unless otherwise posted. Some signs may even list the use of non-toxic shot is required for hunting waterfowl and mourning doves.

 

Tree stands are allowed in areas open to hunting. Dane County Parks does NOT allow anyone (except approved by use – disabled permit holder) to leave a tree stand up or on county property overnight. Any unoccupied tree stand must be labelled with contact information or with a WDNR customer number. Trees cannot be damaged as a result of tree stand placement.

Yes, trail cameras may be placed ONLY in areas that are open to hunting and must be labelled with either contact info or WDNR customer number.  Dane County is not responsible for loss or damage. No trees or structure can be damaged as a result of a camera.

Dane County Parks offers an Archery Permit Lottery Program to award a Limited Access Archery Permit to hunt deer and turkey in select county properties. The lottery includes an online application process and computer-generated random lottery drawing to select permit winners. Check the Archery Permit Lottery webpage for information on how to apply, lottery dates, properties and more. The lottery opens for applications in July of each year.

Limited Access Archery Permits

Each year, Dane County Parks selects dates to open the lottery and for the first and second drawings, for more information please visit the Archery Permit Lottery webpage. Interested hunters sign up online when the lottery is open. Once the lottery has closed, the first drawing is completed using the following process:  each applicant receives one entry into the lottery which is used to create a list. If the applicant entered the lottery in the prior year and did not win, then a second entry for that applicant is added to the list.

A computer program then loops through the list and randomly selects applicants and adds them to a “potential winners” list.  For each applicant in the “potential winners” list the program attempts to match the applicant’s selection criteria with an available property. The program looks at the property selection criteria in order, trying to match the applicant’s 1st choice, then 2nd, and finally 3rd. If a property is available the applicant is placed in the “winners list” and the slot for the property is removed. The program then moves on to the next potential winner. If a match cannot be made (no slots available for the applicant’s property choices) it moves on to the next potential winner. This process continues until all the slots have been filled.

The second drawing is completed using available permits that have not been purchased from the first drawing. The program uses the same applicant list used in the first drawing except it excludes applicants that have already won for the current year. If there are still permits available after the second drawing, the number for each property is posted to the web and will be available to purchase first-come first-served via phone.

Below are some options that will increase your odds of being selected for the archery permit lottery.

  • You will automatically get an extra entry into the lottery if you entered the prior year and did not win (this is based on your Wisconsin DNR Customer #).
  • If you are willing to hunt different properties, select a different 1st, 2nd, and 3rd property choice.
  • It could be helpful to review the information for the prior year’s hunt including the number of permits and applicants for each property. Properties that have many applicants and lower number of permits will have a reduce chance of winning.

Yes.