Warmer temperatures in the last week and little snow so far this season have winter snow enthusiasts hoping for a cool down and some timely snowfalls before to get trails ready for the more than 30 candlelight events scheduled for this winter at Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area and trail properties.
“Winter candlelight events are some of the most popular activities at Wisconsin State Park System properties,” said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director. “We have had candlelight skis and hikes in the last few winters that have attracted hundreds and even over a thousand visitors. They have also become a long-standing tradition at some of our properties. This will be the 29th year for candlelight events at Pike Lake and Newport and the 27th year for the Flambeau River State Forest.”
More than 35 candlelight events are scheduled this winter at Wisconsin State Park System properties. While the events are labeled “candlelight” some properties use Tiki torches or other luminaries.Photo credit: DNR
This winter’s candlelight events kick off January 5 with Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks holding events. The largest number of events will be held January 19, February 2 and February 9.
Events at Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center attract so many visitors that all of the available parking fills. Horicon offer shuttles from other locations and Lapham Peak encourages people to car pool. Parking vouchers are required prior to arrival at the Lapham Peak event.
The park system plans on again using the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Twitter social media platform to alert people when an event has reached capacity or has been cancelled due to inclement weather. Event visitors are encouraged to post photos on their Twitter and Instagram accounts using the hashtag #OutWiGo, the park system’s new initiative — pronounced “Out-We-Go” — to promote activity and good health through the great outdoors.
Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others offer just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
Many of the events include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.
People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword “candlelight.” Some friends groups had not finalized details for events this winter, so additional events will be added as they are finalized. For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords “find a park.” 2019 Wisconsin State Park admission fees and trail passes apply for the events unless otherwise noted.
While most events will not be cancelled due to lack of snow, they still could be cancelled if conditions are icy, extremely cold or have severe wind chills, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if threatening weather is in the forecast.
2019 Winter Candlelight Events at State Parks, Forests and Trails
Saturday, January 5, 2019
- Blue Mound State Park – Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
- Mirror Lake State Park – Candlelight Ski, Hike, and SnowshoeSaturday, January 12, 2019
- Lake Kegonsa State Park – Candlelight Ski
- Wildcat Mountain State – Candlelight ski, snowshoe, hike and winter star gazingSaturday, January 19, 2019
- Governor Dodge State Park – 20th Annual Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
- Heritage Hill State Park – Luminary Walk $
- Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center – Candlelight Hike
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit – Candlelight Ski and Hike
- Lake Wissota State Park – Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
- Rib Mountain State Park – Candlelight Snowshoe HikeFriday, January 25, 2019
- Red Cedar State Trail – Annual Candlelight Ski and HikeSaturday, January 26, 2019
- Brunet Island State Park – Candlelight ski, snowshoe and family sledding party
- Hartman Creek State Park – Candlelight ski, hike and snowshoe
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit – Friends of Lapham Peak Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike
- Point Beach State Forest – Candlelight Ski and Hike
- Whitefish Dunes State Park – Candlelight Ski and HikeFriday, February 1
- MacKenzie Center – Candlelight Snowshoe HikeSaturday, February 2, 2019
- Big Foot Beach State Park – Candlelight Hike
- Black River State Forest – Candlelight ski and snowshoe
- Flambeau River State Forest – 27th Annual Flambeau River Candlelight Ski and Hike
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit – Candlelight Ski/Hike
- Mirror Lake State Park – Candlelight Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe
- Peninsula State Park– Candlelight Ski, Hike, and SnowshoeSaturday, February 9, 2019
- Copper Falls State Park – Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe
- Devil’s Lake State Park – Candlelight Snowshoe
- Interstate State Park – Candlelight Night in the Park
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit – 29th Annual Pike Lake Candlelight Ski and Hike
- Newport State Park – 29th Annual Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
- Richard Bong State Recreation Area – Return to Romance $Saturday, February 16, 2019
- Brule River State Forest – Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe
- Governor Thompson State – Candlelight Ski and Hike
- Willow River State Park – Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
- Wyalusing State Park – Candlelight hike and astronomy viewingSaturday, February 23, 2019
- Hank Aaron State Trail – Urban Candlelight Hike
- Rib Mountain State Park – Candlelight Snowshoe Hike