Governor Nelson State Park

5140 Cty Hwy M
Waunakee, WI 53597


Located on 10,000-acre Lake Mendota, recreation and nature mingle Locationwithin sight of the State Capitol. Governor Nelson is a day use park offering a sand beach, boat launch, fish cleaning facility, picnic areas and playground equipment, prairie restorations and over 8 miles of trails. Native American effigy mounds can be seen on the Woodland Trail.

Activities and recreation

In spring, summer and fall, hike 8.4 miles of trails through many diverse ecological communities including oak woodland and savannah and mesic and wet prairies. Wildflowers are abundant along the trails. Various animals can often be seen while hiking the trails. Also found on the hiking trails are two accessible viewing platforms with information panels.

Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend the 500-foot sand beach will be marked with buoys for swimming. No lifeguards are on duty. No boats, sailboards or personal watercraft are allowed within the marked swim area and boaters must go slow-no-wake, within 100 feet of the swim buoys.

From mid-May through September, flush toilets are available at the beach and boat landing. October through mid-May, flush toilets are available at the boat landing. A pit toilet is available year-round in the Wakanda area.

Boating, canoeing and kayaking
The park has a four-stall boat launch.

Picnic areas and playgrounds
Grills are provided in the picnic area. Fires are not allowed at the park. If you bring your own grill, please use the receptacles in the picnic areas for your hot coals.

Game fish and panfish are plentiful in Lake Mendota, allowing for year-round fishing. An accessible fishing pier next to the boat landing provides visitors with a great place to fish or just relax and enjoy the feel of the lake. A fish cleaning station is available in season.

Winter activities
In the winter, trails are tracked for diagonal skiers and groomed for skate skiers. Most are easy to moderate in difficulty. A few trails have hills with difficult turns. Hiking is not allowed when snow conditions are favorable to cross-country skiing.

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