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Amnicon Falls State Park, WI – Everything You Need to Know (I Had a Great Stay There)

Lovely wide shot of campsite at amnicon falls state park

Touring Amnicon Falls State Park 

I recently went on a road trip starting in Montreal, Quebec and travelling across North America to the west coast. Driving through Michigan is… quite frankly, extremely boring. Nothing but trees and trees and trees and road. 

So when we happened upon the Amnicon Falls State Park, we were so thrilled to find a place that was beautiful, peaceful, shaded (darn you east coast humidity!) and just such a lovely place to visit. This is the perfect place to regain some energy on a long toad trip, or to stay for the long weekend with your family. 

Amnicon Falls State Park is a gorgeous location that surrounds a series of waterfalls and rapids that are part of the Amnicon river water way. In the park are over 2 miles of beautiful hiking trails along the river. 

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This article is going to go through all that you could possibly need to know about Amnicon Falls State Park in Wisconsin. Through the geological history, the things that you can see there, and all of the details about camping in and visiting this wonderful park. 

How do you Get There? 

Amnicon Falls State Park is in the state of Wisconsin. It is is Douglas County, which is about 7 miles west of the Superior City limit. 

Camping in Amnicon Falls State Park 

Campsites 

Camping at Amnicon Falls is the perfect blend of rustic and convenient in my opinion. There are 36 available campsites arranged in a loop within the park that are either partly or entirely covered in shade by lovely tall trees. 

Each campsite has its own picnic table and fire ring, and there are 3 different bathroom facilities and water faucets that are just a couple minutes walk away from each campsite. There is also a campsite available for those with disabilities close to the parking lot. 

Though there are no electric hook ups, no showers, and no dumping stations (this place is not designed for those who are staying for a while) they have very clean bathrooms and potable water for drinking. 

There is also a large field area that is wonderful area for larger family activities where there is a swing set and sandbox. There are picnic tables and permanent grills scattered throughout the park for easy picnics as well. 

Nice view of picnic tables and fire pit at amnicon fall campground

Camping Availability 

This particular state park has standard campsites, meaning that they are in a natural setting with easy road access. Each has a fire ring and picnic table and is suitable either for car camping or tent camping. 

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In order to enter the park you must purchase a vehicle admission sticker, as well as paying for the campsite fee. You can either purchase a $8 USD daily vehicle admission sticker, or an entire season for $15 USD. Campsites are an additional $14 USD/night. 

It’s a good idea to reserve your camping spot online during busy seasons at the Wisconsin State Parks website, but we had no problem just showing up and getting a site. 

Camp Ground Rules 

Much like any other state park, there are some easy to follow rules that each visitor should abide by. 

  • no more than 2 vehicles per campsite
  • check out is at 3pm 
  • maximum length of stay of 14 consecutive days 
  • park is closed to non campers between 6am and 11pm 
  • leashed pets are allowed 
  • only certified firewood or firewood obtained within 10 miles of the park is permitted on the grounds (in order to prevent spreading  of invasive species) 
  • pack it in, pack it out 

Activities to do in the Park

Crouching by the river bed at amnicon river

Nature Observation 

Amnicon Falls State Park is a gorgeous wildlife area comprising of forests, fields, and beautiful natural waterways. There are all sorts of different tree and plant species to be seen, with some mushrooms scattered around depending on the time of year!

Observers will also happen upon many different bird species. They are best to spot in the early morning if you walk quality along the trails and look around the shrubs, smalls trees, and up in the tree tops.

There are also deer, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, otters, minks, beavers, porcupines, and ruffed grouse in the area. It’s best to keep your distance from these, so keep an eye for tracks, dens, sounds, feeding signs, and any other animal presence evidence.

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Hiking

Within Amnicon Falls State Park, visitors have access to 1.8 miles of trails both short and long that follow the edges of the river, offering gorgeous views the whole way through. These self guided nature trails are mostly flat and accessible to everyone. 

There is the Thimbleberry Trail which is more of a nature watching trail where you can see plant and flowers, birds, and small animals. This 0.8 mile trail leads to a brownstone quarry pond. 

The most popular trail is the main Waterfall Trail is only 0.25 miles, but it gives you a spectacular view of the three main falls; the upper falls, lower falls, and the snake pit. 

Wide shot of the campground at amnicon state park

Hunting, Trapping & Fishing 

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park only during the Wisconsin State parks hunting and trapping time frame. These activities are not allowed within 100 yards of designated use areas. 

Though fishing isn’t the main attraction of the park, folks are sometimes able to get a good catch (as long as they have the proper fishing permit!). The falls running through the park are a warm water stream that flowers into the northern side of Lake Superior. 

There is an area below the falls that slows into a wide meandering river portion, and several fish species live here and migrate up the river to spawn each year. This calm area is where people fishing experience the most success. 

Swimming

Swimming is permitted in the falls, but great caution is urged as there is no lifeguard on duty. The water levels of the river fluctuate quite a bit from day to day, so take care that you’re not entering an area with a strong current.

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There is absolutely no diving or jumping permitted as there is no area of the falls where the water is deep enough to do so. Wading is recommended, but take care here too as the waters can be quite slippery. 

Winter Activities 

All the fun doesn’t always happen in the summer! Amnicon Falls State Park is also wonderful for snowshoeing or winter hiking – you can decide what you prefer depending on the amount of snowfall at that time of year.

There is a 1.5 mile snowshoe trail within the park, though it does not bring you alongside the river. It is fairly flat with some more steep areas, but it is a low difficult hiking trail. 

The History of Amnicon Falls State Park

Beautiful scene of amnicon falls state park water falls

When I visit a place, I really enjoy learning all that I possibly can about that area – hence why I wrote this article! The places that we camp almost always have a fun and interesting story behind them, and things to see that we might now have always expected! 

Geological History

We have the Douglas fault to thank for the Amnicon falls. If you aren’t familiar with that environmental event, the Douglas fault was a series of earthquakes that occurred over 1 billions years ago, resulting in a huge fault line that spans from Ashland to the twin cities of Minnesota. 

Geologists note that Amnicon Falls State park is the best site to observe the geological formation of this event. As you’re looking at the falls, remember that you are seeing over a billion years of geological activity.

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There is known evidence of volcanic eruptions, movement of great oceans, and the formation of sandstone. There is dark basalt at the upper falls that are the solidified remains of laval flower from 1 billion years ago.

The lower falls are formed rom sandstone, which formed with sand deposits from streams flowing into a great ocean that spanned across all of Wisconsin (mind you this was over a million years ago that Wisconsin was Atlantis 2.0). The sandstone formed into horizontal layers which are easily visible at the falls. 

Walking along the waterfalls with a dog at amnicon park

Human Influence History

Humans have been interacting with the Amnicon river long before the paddling and splashing that we do now. Ever since the last glaciers melted, indigenous people have been walking, foraging, and hunting along the riverbanks of the Amnicon. 

The first peoples to do this were nomadic hunters that travelled along the retreating glaciers around 9000 years ago. With the ice gone, Native Americans would settle here for seasons for the abundant food in and around the river. 

It is said from 5000 BC to 500 AD, the Ojibwa (also known as the Chippewa) Native American peoples lived around these areas. Around 500 AD was when the first European settlers started to infiltrate the area, and they would buy or steal the fur that the First Nations trappers obtained. 

As more and more European colonizers arrived, the treaty of 1842 was formulated and the land surrounding the Amnicon river became United States property. From here, copper miners moved to the area expecting to find mineral wealth, of which there was little. 

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The state of Wisconsin was established in 1848 and the federal government provided great blocks of land to promote settlement. To enable this, a rail line was established. From here lumberjacks migrated to the area to chop down the large pine trees.

They would cut the large pine trees and send them down the river towards Lake Superior with all of the spring snowmelt. From there, they were brought to sawmills and the wood was used to build the towns of Superior and Duluth.

Folks would also harvest the sandstone (which is known in construction as brownstone) and it was a very popular building material in the late 1800’s. The brownstone from the Amnicon river is what made a ton of the fine old buildings that you can still see today in the town of Superior, as well as all throughout Chicago, Omaha, Duluth, and Minneapolis. 

Horton Covered Bridge 

When you’re walking around the lower falls, you will also notice that there is a lovely covered bridge. This bridge is 55 feet long that spans over the river. It is called a bowstring bridge and it is significant because of its age and unusual construction.

The bridge was built by Charles m. Horton in 1897. He was a man from Duluth who was very curious about building bridges hat were lighter, stronger, and more durable that allowed for quick and easy assembly. 

The Horton covered bridge is assembled using arched beams that have been secured with hooks and clips instead of rivets and bolts, which most other bridges have. You’ll also notice that the wood is burned.

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I originally thought that the wood had been burned by means of preservation, but it turns out that the bridge was unfortunately burned down by some hooligans a few decades ago and a large portion of it had to to be rebuilt. 

Beautiful image of waterfalls and amnicon state park

And there you have it! Hopefully you have just as wonderful of a time as I did in this quiet, refuge of a place. I’ll remember it for it’s tall trees, the delicious pasta I made on the campfire, and the lovely sunset falls walk I had after with my dog and good friend.

Happy camping! 

FAQs

Can I bring my dog to Amnicon State Falls? 

This state park allows leashed animals into the park. If you’re anything like me, I take any opportunity that I can to let my dog off leash because she’s super well mannered and has great call back. The park was not-busy enough that I felt comfortable letting her run around a bit.

Just be careful as you are approaching the falls, especially if you have a dog that isn’t too great at swimming. Some areas of the falls are pretty powerful and a dog could easily get swept away if you’re not looking. 

How long can I stay at the Amnicon Falls State Park?

During the busy season, the park asks that you only stay camping at the park for a maximum of 14 consecutive days. I asked the folks at the office, and they said that as long as there aren’t any reservations, guests can request to stay past that limit. 

Is the camping free at Amnicon Falls State Park? 

Amnicon Falls State Park is a paid campground, though it is very reasonably priced. The campground is wonderfully maintained and you feel happy to contribute to the efforts. You’ll need a vehicle pass which is $8 USD per day, as well as a $12 USD per day camping fee. 

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Are the campsites crowded at Amnicon Falls?

The campsites on the campground are wonderfully spaced apart. You can still see the folks next to you, but there are a few metres of space between each of the sites that are filled with thick trees, so you feel like you have plenty of privacy when you’re there. 

Can you swim in the waterfalls at Amnicon?

Swimming is permitted in the falls, but great caution is urged as there is no lifeguard on duty. The water levels of the river fluctuate quite a bit from day to day, so take care that you’re not entering an area with a strong current.

There is absolutely no diving or jumping permitted as there is no area of the falls where the water is deep enough to do so. Wading is recommended, but take care here too as the waters can be quite slippery. 

Are there ticks at Amnicon Falls State Park?

One thing to be aware of when visiting the park is that there are known to be deer ticks throughout the summer months. Though this isn’t unusual for eastern states in the summer time, be diligent about checking yourself, your family, and your pets for ticks at the end of the day. Using bug spray is another way to help prevent those little buggers from latching on! 

Can you have campfires at the Wisconsin State Parks? 

Each camp site that has a fire pit allows campfires, though there are a couple of things to abide by if you’re going to do so. The first is understanding that if there is a fire ban in effect or high fire danger, you cannot build a fire.

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Secondly, within the state of Wisconsin you are not allowed to travel with firewood. This is in an effort to prevent the spread from invasive species. You can either purchase firewood on site, or firewood that has been obtained within a 10 mile radius of the vicinity. 

How do you get to Amnicon Falls State Park?

Amnicon Falls State park is in Douglas County, which is about  7 miles east of the Superior city limit.  The google maps GPS location can be found here.

Are there rangers are Amnicon Falls State park?

There are no rangers at the park, but there are people who work at the office at the park.