Located north of Washington Island, Rock Island State Park Beach is one of the best beaches in Door County, offering visitors a beautiful sand beach and a great respite during a camping trip. While it can be challenging to get to the beach, the journey is well worth it, with visitors also having the opportunity to visit the boathouse and the Pottawatomie Lighthouse.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the amenities available at the beach, safety considerations visitors should keep in mind, the cost of visiting the park, and answer some commonly asked questions about the park. Whether you’re a local looking for a new place to explore or a visitor planning a trip to Door County, read on to learn more about this unique and beautiful beach.
Rock Island State Park Beach: General Description
Rock Island State Park Beach is truly a hidden gem in Door County. Although it’s a bit of a challenge to get there, visitors who make the effort are rewarded with a stunning natural setting and an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The beach is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Its crystal-clear waters offer a serene and peaceful environment to relax and unwind.
The beach is also surrounded by lush greenery and dense forests, providing a picturesque backdrop that’s perfect for nature enthusiasts and photographers. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along the shoreline or explore the nearby trails and campsites, which offer a wide variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking.
In addition to the natural beauty of the beach, visitors can also explore the historic boathouse and the Pottawatomie Lighthouse, which dates back to the late 1800s. The Pottawatomie Lighthouse is a picturesque red-and-white structure that has been standing guard over Lake Michigan for over a century. It’s a popular spot for taking photos and enjoying panoramic views of the lake.
Overall, Rock Island State Park Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates natural beauty and history. Its serene and peaceful environment, combined with its fascinating history and outdoor activities, make it a perfect respite during a camping trip to Door County
Amenities at Rock Island State Park Beach
Rock Island State Park Beach offers a variety of amenities to ensure that visitors have a comfortable and enjoyable experience. There are changing stalls and restrooms available for visitors to use, making it easy to freshen up after a swim in the lake or a hike on one of the nearby trails. There is also drinking water available, so visitors can stay hydrated during their visit.
For those interested in exploring the lake, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available. These watercraft provide a fun and exciting way to explore the waters of Lake Michigan and take in the stunning scenery surrounding the beach. Visitors can paddle around the rocky shores of the island and look for wildlife.
In addition to these amenities, visitors can also purchase souvenirs at the park’s gift shop. From t-shirts and hats to postcards and magnets, there’s a variety of options available to remember your visit to Rock Island State Park. However, it’s important to note that there are no concessions available at the beach, so visitors should bring their own food and drinks or plan to grab a meal before or after their visit.
Overall, the amenities available at Rock Island State Park Beach provide visitors with everything they need to make the most of their time on the island. Whether you’re looking to explore the lake, take a hike, or simply relax on the beach, you’ll find everything you need to enjoy your visit.
Getting to Rock Island
While worth it, getting to Rock Island requires some advance planning. Most visitors will need to take the Washington Island Ferry from Gills Rock on the Door Peninsula to Detroit Harbor on Washington Island.
From Detroit Harbor on the south side of Washington Island, you will need to travel to Jackson Harbor on the north side. This is about an eight-mile trip. You can walk this distance, and some people do. But, you will probably want some sort of wheels, as you will be traveling on roads. Most people take their cars to Washington Island, but a less expensive option is to leave your car at Gills Rock and take a bicycle to Washington Island.
From Jackson Harbor on Washington Island, you will take Rock Island Ferry to Rock Island. The vessel that makes this passage is a small, passenger-only ferry.
You can take your own boat to Rock Island but exercise much caution. Only the most experienced and well-outfitted boaters should attempt to make this passage, as these waters are extremely treacherous; you will be crossing the infamous Death’s Door. While sea kayakers will be able to pull their vessels up on land, motor boaters will need to pay for mooring on Rock Island, and reservations are not available.
Rock Island State Park is one of the few Wisconsin State Parks for which a vehicle admission sticker is not required, because, well, you can’t drive to Rock Island.
When visiting Rock Island State Park Beach, it’s important to keep safety in mind. The beach does not have a lifeguard on duty, so visitors should practice the buddy system and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
One potential hazard to be aware of when swimming in Lake Michigan is hypothermia. Even on hot summer days, the water can be quite cold, which can lead to dangerous drops in body temperature. To avoid this, it’s important to limit your time in the water and wear a wetsuit if you plan to be in for an extended period.
Another safety consideration is sun exposure. The sun’s rays can be intense on the beach, so it’s important to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes. Be sure to reapply sunscreen regularly and seek shade if you start to feel too hot or dizzy.
It’s also important to be aware that the waters of Lake Michigan can become very violent, especially during storms or high winds. Visitors should avoid swimming during these conditions and be mindful of any posted warnings or advisories.
Lastly, it’s important to be aware of water quality safety when swimming in Lake Michigan. While the water is generally safe for swimming, there are times when bacteria levels can rise due to runoff from nearby agricultural areas. Visitors can check the Wisconsin DNR beach advisory map to stay up-to-date on any potential water quality concerns.
By following these safety guidelines, visitors can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at Rock Island State Park Beach.
One of the great things about visiting Rock Island State Park is that admission to the park is completely free. However, it’s important to note that getting to the island will generally require a fee.
Most visitors to Rock Island will need to take two ferries to get to the island. The first ferry takes visitors from the mainland to Washington Island, and the second ferry takes visitors from Washington Island to Rock Island. Each ferry ride has a fee, which can vary depending on the time of year and other factors.
In addition to ferry fees, visitors should also consider other costs such as transportation to the ferry docks, parking fees, and any equipment rentals they may need. However, despite these costs, many visitors find that a trip to Rock Island State Park is well worth the expense.
Overall, while there may be some costs associated with visiting Rock Island State Park, the experience of exploring this beautiful island and its stunning beach is truly priceless.
Frequently Asked Questions
To get to Rock Island State Park Beach, visitors will generally need to take two ferries. The first ferry takes visitors from the mainland to Washington Island, and the second ferry takes visitors from Washington Island to Rock Island. Each ferry ride has a fee, which can vary depending on the time of year and other factors. Visitors should also consider other costs such as transportation to the ferry docks, parking fees, and any equipment rentals they may need.
Yes, there are several amenities available at Rock Island State Park Beach. These include changing stalls, restrooms, drinking water, kayak and standup paddleboard rentals, and souvenirs. However, there are no concessions available on the island, so visitors should plan to bring their own food and drinks.
While there is no lifeguard on duty at Rock Island State Park Beach, it is generally safe to swim there. However, visitors should be aware of the cold water temperatures, especially in the early and late parts of the season. Visitors should also practice sun safety, be aware of the potential for violent waters during storms or high winds, and check the Wisconsin DNR beach advisory map for any potential water quality concerns.
Summary: Rock Island State Park Beach
- Rock Island State Park Beach is located on Rock Island, north of Washington Island, and is known as one of the best beaches in Door County.
- The beach is a sand beach and is a great place to take a break during a camping trip to Door County.
- Visitors to the beach can also visit the boathouse and the Pottawatomie Lighthouse.
- Amenities at the beach include changing stalls, restrooms, drinking water, kayak and standup paddleboard rentals, and souvenirs.
- There is no lifeguard on duty at the beach, so visitors should practice the buddy system and be aware of water safety and sun safety.
- Admission to Rock Island State Park is free, but visitors will generally need to take two ferries to get to the island, each with a fee.
- Visitors should also be aware of potential costs such as transportation to the ferry docks, parking fees, and equipment rentals.