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Experience winter in a new light with DNR Candlelight Events | WI DNR

Washington County, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites the public to celebrate the outdoors this winter at any of the several candlelight events happening across Wisconsin. These events kick off on Jan. 6, 2024, and are scheduled at different locations through March 2024.

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“Winter candlelight events are some of the most popular activities at Wisconsin state parks, forests and trails,” said Steve Schmelzer, DNR Parks and Recreation Management Director. “Many events have become a long-standing tradition at some of our properties, with hundreds or even thousands of attendees.”

These free-to-low cost events typically begin around sunset and offer a variety of ways to enjoy the winter scenery after dark, including hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Many will include activities such as bonfires, hot chocolate, cider and other refreshments available for sale or by donation, and some will have open warming shelters.

Share your candlelight adventures using the hashtag #OutWiGo on social media.

Those who would like to participate by hiking and snowshoeing do not need to have any experience. These events offer no-commitment opportunities for first-timers and can help build connections with other outdoor winter enthusiasts, those you can learn from, during the time of year when many people stay indoors.

Although the amount of gear needed varies, warm clothing with layers is recommended for all events. Trekking poles are optional. A headlamp or flashlight is recommended. Some properties may have other equipment, such as snowshoes or an outdoor track chair, available to check out. Contact the property to see what is available and to make reservations.

Most properties will require a 2024 Wisconsin state park admission fee and/or a state trail pass unless otherwise noted. A state park daily admission pass may be available to check out for free at participating libraries.

2024 Candlelight Events

Additional events may be added.

Jan. 6

  • Mirror Lake State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe

Jan. 13

  • Wildcat Mountain State Park Candlelight Hike/Snowshoe/Ski
  • Rib Mountain State Park Candlelight Snowshoe Hike

Jan. 14

  • Havenwoods State Forest Candlelight Hike

Jan. 20

  • Point Beach State Forest Candlelight Ski and Hike
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit Candlelight Hike and Ski

Jan. 26

  • Red Cedar State Trail Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe

Jan. 27

  • Whitefish Dunes State Park Candlelight Ski and Hike

Jan. 28

  • Lake Wissota Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe

Feb. 2

  • MacKenzie Center Candlelight Snowshoe Hike

Feb. 3

  • Peninsula State Park Candlelight Hike/Snowshoe/Ski
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit Candlelight Ski/Hike
  • Black Rover State Forest Candlelight Ski and Hike
  • Mirror Lake State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe

Feb. 10

  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit Candlelight Hike
  • Interstate Park Candlelight Night
  • Governor Thompson State Park Candlelight Hike and Ski

Feb. 17

  • Rib Mountain State Park Candlelight Snowshoe Hike

Feb. 24

  • Hartman Creek State Park Candlelight Hike and Snowshoe
  • Hank Aaron State Trail Urban Candlelight Hike
  • Wyalusing State Park Candlelight Hike

March 9

  • Big Foot Beach State Park Candlelight Hike

Find the full and additional details on the DNR’s Event Calendar

Some events are weather-dependent; visitors are encouraged to check the DNR Events Calendar or call properties directly to confirm if an event will be held.

Wendy Wendorf

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