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Greg Peck: National Parks? In Wisconsin?

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Greg Peck
July 21, 2014

It sounds real good. The National Park Service released a report Friday that said 320,000 people visited Wisconsin's national parks in 2013, spent $29.3 million and supported 451 jobs.

That led me to one important question. What am I missing?

I enjoy nature, and that often means hiking in or otherwise exploring parks. In the past decade, my wife, Cheryl, and I have visited many national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Yosemite and all five national parks in southern Utah. I'm a Wisconsin native and pride myself on my knowledge of the Badger State, though I admit I have lots of nooks and crannies yet to explore.

Still, I wondered. Where are these parks?

Well, as the news release explained, Wisconsin's national parks are Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Saint Croix National Scenic River.

OK, maybe not “parks” in the traditional sense, but if these sites bring tourism and boost our state's economy, we'll take it.

The release also stated, in part: “The national parks of Wisconsin attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a year from across the country and around the world,” said Patricia Trapp, acting director of NPS' Midwest Region, which includes Wisconsin and 12 more states.

“Whether it's a day trip of a long family vacation, they come for a great experience—and they end up spending a little money along the way, too. This new report confirms that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. This reality makes parks tourism an important factor in Wisconsin's economy, as well. It's a result we all can support.”

Cheryl and I, in fact, have visited the Apostle Islands. More than 15 years ago, we enjoyed a weekend of special tours to the lighthouses on these outposts. I loved Bayfield. We took the ferry over to Madeline Island and explored it by bicycle. It was a wonderful weekend and one of those miniature vacations I wouldn't mind repeating.

Can't say that I've spent any time at on the Saint Croix, however. Maybe we'll have to add it to our Bucket List.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.



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