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Contact information
For information, contact:
Whitefish Dunes State Park
3275 Clark Lake Road
Sturgeon Bay WI 54235
920-823-2400

Whitefish Dunes State Park Nature Center

Adult and child at display table.
Children learn by doing at an interactive table in the Whitefish Dunes Nature Center.
DNR Photo

Come in and explore the exhibit room and its interactive displays. Learn more about Whitefish Dunes' unique environment by visiting the park's nature center, walking on a self-guiding nature trail or taking part in a guided hike or other program. A naturalist is happy to answer your questions about plants, animals or geology at the park.

Hours

The nature center is open during the summer 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., daily and during the winter Thursday- Sunday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. The nature center is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. Adults and children of all ability levels can see and use the exhibits.

Things to do

Join the naturalist on a guided hike to the wetlands, a sandy beach walk to discover the dunes or a snowshoe hike through the park in winter. There is a program for everyone. See the Get Outdoors! Events Calendar for a list of all nature programs and events.

Watch the 13-minute video, "People of the Dunes," to gain an understanding of who lived here and why.

2012 Wisconsin Explorer patchesBecome a Wisconsin Explorer and discover the natural world. Pick up a booklet at the nature center. The booklets are full of hands-on, exciting and educational activities for days on the beach, rainy days at home or starry nights. Complete at least half of activities and return it to any state park, forest or recreation area. Receive a patch and certificate for completing the activities.

Field trips

Annual events

Throughout the year, several special events are held.

  • A candlelight ski is typically held in January.
  • The first weekend (Saturday and Sunday) in June is free fishing weekend. Fishing licenses are not required this weekend.
  • Open house day for all state parks is the first Sunday in June and admission is free.
  • A summer candlelight beach walk is typically held in August.

Village site

Just outside the nature center, take a step back in time and discover the lives of three different periods in human history. Two archaeological digs, in 1986 and 1992, revealed that Whitefish Dunes has been occupied at eight different time periods during the 3,000 years that the sand dunes have been here. A village site has been recreated to show what life used to be like at Whitefish Dunes.

  • Discover glimpses of life in past times as you view these recreated village sites.Middle Woodland: These people were the first known settlers at the park. They lived here around AD 100. Evidence shows that they spent spring and summer in the park fishing for sturgeon and many other fish in the lake.
  • Late Woodland: A large summer village once stood here during this occupation (AD 500 – 900). As many as 50 wigwam lodges may have been constructed here, probably made of maple sapling frames, basswood lashings birch bark and cattail mats. Besides fish, local animals were a large part of their diet.
  • Oneota: The Oneota people lived here in about AD 1300-1400. These people did some gardening in addition to the hunting, fishing and gathering of food that the earlier peoples did. Corn and squash were cultivated nearby.

To read more about the digs and the people who lived here, pick up a "People of the Dunes" booklet at the nature center.

Bookstore

The Friends of Whitefish Dunes operate a bookstore filled with education and nature-related books for all ages. Represented are award-winning authors and titles such as "Julie and the Wolves," "Paddle to the Sea," and "Stickeen" for younger readers and "Round River," "Sand County Almanac," and "Siftings," which appeal to adult readers. The store features an excellent variety of regional field guides of all kinds. The bookstore also provides a wide assortment of books about the geological history of the Great Lakes.

Last revised: Friday October 17 2014