Whitefish Dunes State Park: Everything You Need to Know

Door County is known for its concentration of state parks. These gems protect vital habitats and serve as access points to the peninsula’s natural beauty. Whitefish Dunes State Park is a must-see for the rare ecosystems it protects and the gorgeous waters of Lake Michigan it gives access to. Here is everything you need to know about Whitefish Dunes State Park as you consider or plan a visit.

Whitefish Dune State Park is just one of the incredible state parks in Door County. Make sure to check out our comprehensive post on all Door County State Parks to learn about some of the other great natural gems in this amazing vacation destination.

Things To Do at Whitefish Dune State Park

Whitefish Dunes State park has many things to do. Here are some of them:

Hiking

hiking trail
Via Hello Door County

Whitefish Dunes State Park has about 14.5 miles of hiking trails available. Hello Door County’s favorite trail is the yellow/green trail just on the other side of the dunes from the Lake, between the Dunes and Clark Lake Road. This trail will lead you through an area between sand dunes, a rare topography and ecosystem not experienced in many other places in North America. In addition to the unique topography and plant life, it offers a unique and beautiful topography with a peaceful ambiance.

Swimming at Whitefish Dunes State Park

beach
Via Hello Door County.

Swimming is permitted on the beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park. A couple of tips about swimming at Whitefish Dunes:

First, you will probably only want to swim here from mid-July through mid-August, when the air temperatures are high and the water has warmed up as well. Before this time, you will probably want to swim on the Green Bay side of Door County. However, when it gets hot, this is a wonderful place to cool down.

Second, Whitefish Bay is susceptible to strong rip currents in certain wind conditions. Keep a close eye on conditions, and pay special attention to children and weak swimmers.

For more information about this great beach check out our comprehensive post on the Whitefish Dunes Beach.

When the conditions are right, the beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park is a wonderful place to swim. However, if you need to find somewhere else to swim, make sure to check out our post on the best beaches in Door County. This is the most comprehensive listing of Door County beaches on the internet!

Biking

Several trails are available for off-road biking at Whitefish Dunes State Park. However, some trails are off-limits to bikes, as is the beach. Make sure to obey all posted signs.

Dog Beach

Dogs are not only permitted at Whitefish Dunes State Park. They are accommodated here!

Whitefish Dunes State Park has a designated pet swimming area. However, you should know that the dog beach is about a mile hike from the parking lot and requires navigating a long staircase down to the shore. Dogless dog lovers will enjoy hiking the trail to the dog beach, as on hot days it will give you the chance to meet lots of friendly dogs and their owners.

Cross Country Skiing

During the winter months, three trails at Whitefish Dunes State Park are groomed for cross-country skiing: the green, red, and yellow trails. These afford many miles of skiing opportunities.

Snowshoeing

One trail is open for snowshoeing at Whitefish Dunes State Park: the black trail. This trail is 2.8 miles long.

Shipwreck Exhibit

  • Shipwreck placard at Whitefish Dunes State Park
  • Shipwreck exhibit at Whitefish Dunes State Park.
  • anchor

Door County is famous for its shipwrecks, and a shipwreck even lies off the shore of the park. Within the park, near the picnic area, is a shipwreck display in which you can view the “skeleton” of a wooden schooner along with a few other artifacts from the wreck.

Nature Center

building - nature center at whitefish dunes state park
Via Hello Door County.

Whitefish Dunes State Park contains a nature center with hands-on, interactive exhibits to learn more about the unique ecosystems this property protects. In addition, it also will help you to learn more about the original, native inhabitants of the area.

Boating

Whitefish Dunes does not have a boat launch, but paddlers with small boats like kayaks are able to carry them to the shore and launch. However, given the challenges of paddling on Lake Michigan, it is advised that only well-outfitted and experienced paddlers attempt this. This area sees high wind and wave action which also produce strong currents.

Fishing

Fishing is available at Clark Lake via the Clark Lake spur trail. Whitefish Dunes State Park also has fishing equipment to borrow for free.

Picnic Area

Picnic tables and fire pit.
Via Hello Door County.

Tucked under majestic fir trees, Whitefish Dunes State Park has a shady and peaceful picnic area with tables, grills, and a reservable shelter.You’ll have an unforgettable meal here, right along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Village Site

Dwelling at the village site at Whitefish Dunes State Park.
Via Hello Door County.

Whitefish Dunes State Park also has a “village site” where you can learn about the dwellings and a bit about the life of Door County’s first, native inhabitants.

Camping Near Whitefish Dunes State Park

Camping is not available inside Whitefish Dunes State Park. Those looking to camp inside a state park in Door County should look instead to Potawatomi, Peninsula, Newport, or Rock Island State Parks.

However, there are also some private campgrounds in the vicinity of Whitefish Dunes State Park. Our comprehensive post on camping in Door County can help give you guidance as to the best campground for your needs and wishes.

Cave Point County Park

While visiting Whitefish Dunes State Park, another must-visit spot is Cave Point County Park.

Cave Point County Park is, essentially, “surrounded” by Whitefish Dunes State Park. However, they have completely separate facilities, and admission to Cave Point County Park is free. No vehicle admission sticker is required.

Make sure to read our post on Cave Point County Park to learn more about this natural wonder.

Other State Parks in Door County

Whitefish Dunes State Park General Information

Address

3275 Clarks Lake Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Phone

920-823-2400

Website

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/whitefish

Admission Fees

Like most Wisconsin state parks,Whitefish Dunes State Park charges vehicle admission fees. Check the state Department of Natural Resources website for the most up-to-date information about the fees.

However, there are ways to visit Whitefish Dunes State Park for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you swim at Whitefish Dunes State Park?

Yes. Swimming is permitted at Whitefish Dunes State Park. However, be aware that some sections of the beach are closed at all times to swimming and that conditions might not be favorable for swimming. Air and water temperatures, wind, and wave action may make other beaches a better place to swim.

Are dogs allowed at Whitefish Dunes State Park?

Yes. Dogs are allowed at Whitefish Dunes State Park. There is even a designated pet swim area.

Are there sand dunes in Door County, Wisconsin?

Yes. There are sand dunes in Door County, Wisconsin. Whitefish Dunes State Park is a good place to encounter and explore sand dunes.

About the author
Mark Stoneman
Hi! My name is Mark! I have been a resident of Door County for almost ten years now, and I'm glad to help you say "Hello" to Door County. I believe that travel helps to change lives, and because of that, I want to help you improve your life through travel.