Willow River State Park, Wisconsin (WI)


Willow River State Park, Wisconsin
United States
45° 0' 45" N, 92° 40' 59.88" W

Settlers moved in to Willow River State Park, and by 1830 logging and wheat farming were common in the Willow River Valley. The river was invaluable for the former, as logs were floated downstream to the St. Croix. A German immigrant, Christian Burkhardt, realized the river could also be harnessed for the latter industry, and built a grist mill here in 1868. Burkhardt became a wealthy landowner and followed developments in water-powered industry. Burkhardt eventually built four power plants and dams on the river, which provided electricity to Hudson. Northern States Power purchased Burkhardt's power company in 1945 and operated its sites until 1963, when damage to one of the plants from a lightning strike prompted the company to liquidate their Willow River holdings. In 1967 Northern States Power sold the land to the Wisconsin Conservation Commission for a state park, and stabilized the dams at a financial loss. The state park opened in 1971. Some of the dams were removed in the 1990s to improve the scenery and trout fishery, and now only one remains. What also remains is some amazing rock climbing opportunities.

Climbing Routes

Above the Falls- 5.9 You must cross the river to reach this dolomite rock.

  • ???- 5.9 A difficult climb with some tricky clip moves and a possible bouldering problem. (Sport)

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood- 5.11a-5.12a Conditions in this area are constantly changing.

  • Pride and Prejudice- 5.12a The top out holds some loose rock and great views. (Sport)
  • Double Trouble- 5.11a Be careful of more loose rock and unstable bolts. (Sport)
  • Speedy Delivery- 5.12a Do not try to top rope this route and be ready for a challenge. (Sport)

Main Amphitheater- 5.9-5.14c This location is host to the some of the hardest rock in Wisconsin as well as some of the steepest climbs in the Midwest.

  • Jar of Flies- 5.9 A dirty corner with a chance for falling gravel. (Sport)
  • Cain- 5.14c With big roofs and a rough start, this steep climb has only been sent a time or two, especially on the first try. (Sport)
  • Daily Grind- 5.11a Sustained and pumpy, this route starts on a corner and passes a large roof. (Sport)
  • Doppler Effect- 5.12a This vertical rock definitely needs a stick clip and the belay bolt may be hard to find. (Sport)
  • Genesis Effect- 5.12d This dynamic route can get a little chossy at times. (Sport)
  • Leftovers- 5.11d The crux is low but once you get past that it is a long, strenuous and fun route. (Sport)
  • Midsummer Daydreams- 5.12c A nice overhang leads to a great knee bar. Definitely a tough one. (Sport)
  • Midsummer Selection- 5.13a This route ends with a great roof pull. (Sport)
  • Natural Selection- 5.12b A long beautiful line, sustained and pumpy. (Sport)
  • Radioactive Man- 5.13b Beware of the rope drag along this climb. (Sport)
  • Rejection and Mercy- 5.13a This crack ascends through a twelve foot horizontal roof. (Sport)
  • Sudden Daydreams- 5.12a Joining two routes, this climb is a fun challenge. (Sport)
  • Sudden Shock- 5.11d This route has deceptive holds and may take a few tries. (Sport)
  • Tsunami- 5.13a A fun climb with great sequencing. (Sport)
  • Unknown- 5.13a This is a fun dyno route with a wicked roof. (Sport)
  • Water Music- 5.12a Beware of unstable rock on this climb. (Sport)
  • White Noise- 5.10d Two roofs and big holds create fun and sustained moves. (Sport)

Willow River State Park Campground
1034 County Highway A
Hudson, WI 54016
Phone: 715-386-5931

Take exit 4 off of I94 and follow the signs to the park. Go past the main entrance to the small parking lot about 400 yards further. Follow the trail down the long gradual hill and to the bridge where you will see the amphitheater.

Latitude: 45.0125
Longitude: -92.6833