Buckhorn State Park is a paradise for water enthusiasts, hunters, hikers, campers and nature lovers. The park and two adjacent state wildlife areas cover more than 8,000-acres on a peninsula in the Castle Rock Flowage of the Wisconsin River and along the connecting Yellow River. Family and group campsites, unique cart-in camping, a cabin for people with disabilities, canoe trail and an accessible fishing pier, are all available at Buckhorn State Park. The park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.The park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Activities and recreation
The 1600-acre Buckhorn Wildlife Area and the 2,200-acre Yellow River Wildlife Area next to Buckhorn State Park offers many additional recreation opportunities, including different hunting seasons and access to the Castle Rock Flowage.
Four miles of trail start from the south picnic area. The trails course through wetlands, oak woods, jack pine thickets, shoreline and a small prairie. Look for signs of wildlife as you hike the park's trails. The Oak Barrens nature trail in the center of the park is 1.5 miles and has an ecobox, colored interpretive signs, an observation tower and the Ranger Rick geocache trail.
Check out the 0.4-mile Turtle trail across from the park entrance to reach the kid’s fishing pond and continue your hike on 2.86 miles of trails past a large sand blow, through oak and pine forests or pick up the trails from a parking lot on 30th St.
Visitors can stop at the park office to check out a handheld GPS unit that is preloaded with geocaches at both Buckhorn and Roche-A-Cri state parks. There are also packets to check out with local caches.
There are 68 family campsites that can accommodate tents or trailers. Each family site has a picnic table and campfire ring. Camping is available year-round at sites 8, 9, 16, and 26-29. Family sites A1-A8 are located in the group camp.
The new 60 unit campground is off 19th Ave, north off Launch A within the park. Access is through the main entrance by the park office. The new campground features drive-in campsites, pull through sites, 7 standard electric sites, 1 accessible electric site, a shower/toilet building and a dump station near the park office. A 0.53-mile crushed rock path winds through the woods and near the water from the campground towards the day use area for walking or biking. Sites 26-29 have been relocated and are tent only, walk-in shore sites with a central pit toilet and carts available.
Campsite 8 near the south picnic area is accessible for people with disabilities and has an electrical hookup. A charcoal grill and fire ring are included on this site. An asphalt path provides a level surface to the parking lot, rest room and campsite.
Backpack, cart-in campsites
Buckhorn State Park offers carts to campers at our backpack sites. These carts are available for sites 1-7, 13-15, 17-19, 26-29, 34-38 and 43-45. A shared cart is available for sites 10-12, 23-25, 30-33 and 39-42.
This type of camping offers opportunity to enjoy nature in a secluded wilderness setting without the effort and weight limitations of backpack camping. No special gear is required. Campers can also get their gear to the sites by boat or canoe.
All the backpack sites are in small clusters and most are secluded and near the water. The individual sites are further apart than traditional campsites. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and bench. A portable toilet is available for each cluster of sites. A small pit toilet is available for sites 26-29.
Three group tent camping sites (B1, B2 and B3) on the park's east side can accommodate up to 40 people each. Water and vault toilets are available, but no electricity. RV's and pop-up units must park on the gravel in the parking area. The group camp area has a volleyball court and a horseshoe pit. Horseshoes and volleyballs can be checked out at the park office free of charge.
A rustic shelter was built in 1995 for use by campers in sites 10 through 12 and 25. The shelter is intended for day use only and is equipped with a picnic table and screened windows. Campers may use it to escape the mosquitoes or to cook food out of the rain.
The campsites near the shelter are only a few hundred yards from a parking area and can be reserved. A cart, which is shared by all the campsites, is available to haul in camp gear. The shelter is very popular with the campers at these sites.
Buckhorn has two picnic areas with grills, tables, water pumps, picnic shelters and playground equipment. Both shelters can be reserved. The north picnic area is fully accessible to mobility-impaired visitors. Asphalt paths lead to the shelter, toilets and picnic grills. Accessible picnic tables can also be found at the shelter and the beach picnic area.
Volleyball nets are set up at the beach/picnic area and at the outdoor group camp. You can check out a volleyball for the day from the park office. Horseshoe pits are found near the north picnic shelter and at the outdoor group camp. Horseshoes can also be checked out for the day. Please return equipment to the park office at the end of your stay.
The marked 300-foot swim area has an all-sand bottom. No lifeguards are on duty at the beach. Swim at your own risk and be sure children are supervised at all times. There is a cold-water rinse shower near the beach. A beach wheelchair is available for people with disabilities.
Boating, canoeing and kayaking
The open waters of the Castle Rock Flowage are the domain of every type of watercraft imaginable. Bass boats, sailboats, ski boats, pontoon boats, jet skis and even houseboats can be seen in constant motion.
The park and wildlife area have five boat ramps. The park has a canoe launch on the peninsula's east side in a quiet slough that leads to the main part of the flowage. Canoeists should remain near shore to avoid rough water when the wind is blowing. A self-guided 10-stop canoe interpretive trail will help you learn about Buckhorn's wetlands.
The Castle Rock Flowage has earned a reputation as an excellent fishery. The wide variety of fish species found in the flowage offers anglers year-round action, in a vast number of areas. The best places to catch fish from Buckhorn's shores are off the 90-foot accessible fishing pier by the north picnic area, along the shore by the Buckhorn bridge and from the shoreline by the canoe launch. A fishing license is required for all anglers 16 years of age and older.
The Boat Launch A ramp area has a floating boarding pier, accessible for people with disabilities. Boat Launch C also has an accessible pier on the west side of the causeway bridge.
A kids' fishing pond with pier is north of the park entrance on the Turtle trail. The Friends of Buckhorn stock the pond. Parking is allowed on the side of County Highway G for visitors to hike the 350 yards in to the pond. A small picnic shelter with tables is available near the pond.
Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.
Hunting and trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties.
Two wildlife areas are adjacent to the park. Hunting seasons vary between the Buckhorn Wildlife Area, the Yellow River Wildlife Area and the park.
The park has an accessible two-story wildlife observation/hunting blind. There are also two accessible waterfowl hunting blinds in the wildlife area. People with disabilities can reserve a blind a day before they go hunting. If it is not reserved, the blind is first-come, first-served.
Buckhorn State Park and the Buckhorn Wildlife Area are in zone 1. The Yellow River Wildlife Area, Zone 1, allows turkey hunting for all six spring periods and for fall turkey hunting.
Many wintertime visitors enjoy skiing the hiking trails. The relatively flat terrain makes the trails a good location for family outings. About 6.5 miles of trails are groomed when there is enough snow. An accessible sit-ski is available in winter to use on the cross-country ski trails. Snowshoes are available to check out for free at the park office to use in the park.
Ice fishing is also very popular. Some ice fishing equipment is available to check out at the park office. Be extremely careful, as ice conditions change rapidly on the flowage.