Description - Once designated to be a jet fighter base, Bong State Recreation Area is fittingly named after Maj. Richard I. Bong, a Poplar, Wisconsin, native who was America's leading air ace during World War II. The project was abandoned three days before concrete was to be poured for a 12,500-foot runway. Local citizens had the foresight to protect this open space for future generations. In 1974 the state bought the land and it became the state's first recreation area. Of the 4,515 acres only 280 are heavily developed. The other acreage is managed for fish and game management, nature study, prairie restoration, and low impact recreation such as hiking.
Copyright: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Bong State Recreation Area
- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers state recreation areas that feature many more recreations than traditional state parks and state forests.
Bong State Recreation Area offers two family campgrounds with 217 sites of which a quarter have electric hookup. The reservable sites are located in both sun and shade areas with most sites accommodating larger RVs. (Contact information listed below.) Modern bathhouses are available. Six group campsites can accommodate 150 campers. The park does sell firewood.
Fishing is available at several locations including Wolf Lake where one may snag northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, or pan fish. There's a handicapped pier near the swimming beach and a large dock located on a small pond adjacent to the visitor center. The pond is seasonally stocked with trout. Boating on Wolf Lake is restricted to electric motors only; a ramp is available north of the beach. Please follow regulations pertaining to Eurasian water milfoil.
Bong State Recreation Area has 41 miles of trails designed as a series of loops enabling users to lengthen or shorten their routes. Trail Usage: 16.3 miles of hiking trails, 1.6 miles of interpretive nature trails, 10.3 miles of off-road bike trails, 17.7 miles of horse trails, 14.7 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, 10.3 miles of trails for snowshoeing, 11.6 miles of snowmobile trails, and 7.1 miles of all-terrain vehicle trails.
The day use area at the park has sprawling open space for picnicking, game playing, dog trials (check with office for necessary permits), model airplane flying, rocket launching, and hot air balloon lifts. Ball diamonds, horseshoe pits and a narrow 300-foot unguarded beach are offered as well. The park's visitor center is considered one of the best in the Wisconsin Park System with features that include an auditorium, interpretive dioramas, extensive display of mounted fish, live tanks, a children's touch area, and an outdoor amphitheater.
Ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sled dog training is pursued in winter. The trails are open all year and the park does provide a warming house.
Pets are not permitted in buildings or on trails, picnic areas or beach.
Recreation - Different from a Wisconsin State Park or State Forest, the state recreation area offers many more activities. Bong State Rec Area invites you to hunt, hang glide, enjoy amateur rocketry, fly your model airplane, launch your hot air balloon, ultralight fly, land sail, train your field dog, ride an ATV or dirt bike, horseback ride, camp, swim, canoe, fish, picnic and hike. Winter sports include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Climate - Southeast Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. January's average temperature is above 16 degrees F (-9 degrees C). Average July temperature is 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Southeast Region can range from 20 - 50". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.
Bong State Recreation Area is located seven miles southeast of Burlington off State Highway 142.