‘Check Out’ Wisconsin’s State Parks, Literally. Twenty Libraries to Offer Free Passes Starting Nov. 1, More to Come in 2023

By Christina Lorey

October 19, 2022

Books, newspapers, magazines, movies, and… state park passes?

Starting Nov. 1, card holders at 20 Wisconsin libraries will be able to check out vehicle admission day passes, good for free admission to all Wisconsin state parks, forests and recreation areas.

The pilot Check Out Wisconsin State Parks program will initially run through March 1st.

Along with the day pass, cardholders will receive maps, a Wisconsin Explorer Program book, stickers, accessibility information, and more.

The goal is simpleExpand access to Wisconsin’s state parks and encourage new visitors. The 20 participating libraries were chosen based on economic and social variables and include both rural and urban areas across the state. Each will receive 50 day passes.

Daily admission passes usually cost $8, $10, or $14, depending on the park, and $3 for residents 65 and older.

Participating libraries:

Argyle Public Library, Beloit Public Library, Deer Park Public Library, Edgerton Public Library, Farnsworth Public Library (Oconto), Franklin Public Library, Grantsburg Public Library, Hales Corners Public Library, Hedberg Public Library (Janesville), Irvin Young Memorial Library (Whitewater), Kenosha Public Library, McMillan Public Library (Wisconsin Rapids), Mercer Public Library, North Shore Public Library (Glendale), Oak Creek Public Library, Platteville Public Library, Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library (Hayward), Shorewood Public Library, Wauwatosa Public Library and Winter Public Library.

Not on the list? The DNR plans to launch phase two of the program this winter, with hopes of making it permanent in 2023. 

The pilot program is a collaborative effort between the DNR, Wisconsin Library Association’s Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Nicolet Federated Library System and Southwest Wisconsin Library System underwrote the cost of the day passes.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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