Sunday, August 7, 2011

Natural Bridge State Park

A couple of days ago I visited the most unassuming state park that I have ever seen, Natural Bridge State Park. Wisconsin State Park System, the state’s brochure, even makes it seem like more than it is. It calls the park’s claim to existence “a breathtaking natural sandstone arch created by the eroding effects of wind and water.”

It’s In Sauk County, somewhere between and west of Sauk City and Baraboo, in the beginning of the Baraboo Hills. It’s small, apparently unstaffed (unless the staff office is in the pit toilet building, which it isn't), and without amenities beyond a parking lot and the aforementioned pit toilet building. Oh, and a small box that invites us to pay money into it. In my opinion, these characteristics are all positives while being a bit surprising to one who is used to the more elaborate state parks in Door County. No park office. No picnic tables. No campground. No recreational water. Yes woods and a few trails. A few small signs.
The park is about a natural formation in a rock outcropping like those at Wisconsin Dells, that is a natural bridge or a big hole in the rock formation, depending on how one thinks about it. It’s beautiful, hidden in the woods so the hiker doesn’t see it until he/she is right in front of it. I stood there looking at it and thinking about what this would be like if it was right in the middle of Wisconsin Dells instead of in the quiet overgrown rural woods. In the Dells, promoters might at least run a little train around it and offer parachute drops off the top, which is thirty-five feet high.
It’s a very good, unusual formation. It’s not surrounded by tourist hype. The park boasts nothing else except a log building in disrepair and a small stone building, both along the road. People who need to have their entertainment provided will be puzzled here and maybe say, “But there’s nothing to do…”
I drove about an hour to find this little park. I thought I was the only person in it until I returned to the parking lot and found a man there using his cell phone. Very undisturbed. I like it. has more information.

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