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What are Some Outdoor Activities in Madison, Wisconsin?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Madison is Wisconsin's capital city. Many of the outdoor activities in Madison take place around lakes such as Monona, Mendota, Yellowstone, Blackhawk and Wingra. There are over 200 parks in and around Madison, most of them surrounding the lakes, and outdoor activities are often available year round.

Yellowstone Lake State Park has some year-round campsites, and many people enjoy fishing at this park. Along with regular lake fishing for walleye, crappies, muskies, northerns and blue gill, ice fishing is often done here in the winter months. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are other popular outdoor winter sports. The park is known for offering summer nature programs as well as for having hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty.

Tenney Park at Lake Mendota also has year-round outdoor activities. The beaches offer areas for swimming in the summer and outdoor skating is usually allowed on the lagoon in the winter. Tenney Park is also known for its pleasant landscaping and for walking, bicycling and rollerblading.

Villas Park, one of the oldest parks in Madison, is known for bird watching for species such as blue herons. It also has areas for tennis and baseball. Fishing and swimming in Lake Wingra are popular water activities at the park. Lakeside jogging is another popular activity here.

Cave of the Mounds, in Dane County, offers some unique outdoor activities in Madison, such as digging for fossils and searching for gemstones. The cave was opened by a mining quarry in 1939 and beautiful crystallized rock formations were found inside. Cave of the Mounds is a National Natural Landmark and is considered important to the area's geography.

Blackhawk Ridge offers hikers trails that overlook the Wisconsin River valley. The Blackhawk Lake recreation area has boating, fishing and camping facilities. Perch, bass and walleye are some of the common fish found in Blackhawk Lake. Other activities available at this recreation area include seasonal sports such as beach volleyball and cross-country skiing.

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