News from our favorite naturalist: Whitefish Dunes State Park’s Carolyn Rock

Signs of spring from Whitefish Dunes State Park’s Carolyn Rock. The park is just a 3.5 mile hike down the beach from Glidden Lodge. Sound enticing? We think so too!

Question:  Can you name this early spring flower? It generates its own heat to melt the snow around it.
Answer: Skunk cabbage
You’ll find this flower near swampy places poking up thought the snow. This plant can actually generate enough heat to melt the snow around it! The skunk cabbage blooms long before any other spring wildflower. It also looks very different from most other wildflowers. Instead of having petals, there is a single leaf-like looking sheath called a “spathe.” It is hood-shaped and maroon streaked with greenish-yellow. This plant gets its name from its stinky odor that attracts bees, flies, and gnats which pollinate it. Large leaves emerge later and grow to the size of rhubarb leaves.

skunkcabbageQuestion: What are the three earliest frogs to sing in Wisconsin?
Answer: Shortly after the ice leaves the ephemeral ponds, listen for the high pitched peeps of the tiny spring peepers with the cross on their backs, the “quack” of the black-masked wood frogs, and the rattle, like running your finger nail over a comb, of the striped boreal chorus frogs.


Whitefish Dunes State Park Naturalist Events

April 26, 2014
Bird Exploration
Join amateur birders Bill and Sarah Krouse for a morning of birding.  This adult focused program will allow participants to explore a variety of habitats for migrating birds. Meet at the nature center for this longer program. Dress for the weather.
7:30 AM

Work Play Dune Day
Grab your rake, put on your gloves, and join the park staff and Friends of Whitefish Dunes for a day of sprucing up the park. Bring your friends and family for a whole day, morning or afternoon of fun. Crews of all levels of ability, strengths and ages are needed. Children under the ages of 16 must work with a parent.  Inside and outdoor work available, there is something for everyone. Lunch provided for those who sign up.  Morning session begins at 9:00am. Lunch is at noon and the afternoon session begins at 1:00pm. Make a difference in your park. Join today. Co-sponsored by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks; Call to sign up 920-823-2400.
9:00am – 3:00 PM

May 10, 2014
Shipwreck Exhibit Grand Opening
Celebrate Wisconsin Archeology Month at Whitefish Dunes State Park. Explore the history behind the largest wooden sailing ships on the great lakes and discover the role a turkey dinner plays in a ship’s sinking. The event will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newest nature center exhibit and unveiling of new signage at the outdoor shipwreck exhibit. The event will be hosted by Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Friends of Whitefish Dunes State Park. A ceremony in the nature center auditorium will feature speakers from the Historical Society and Wisconsin State Parks. Wisconsin Maritime Archaeologist, Tamara Thomsen, will present about shipbuilder James Davidson, the creator of the world’s longest wooden vessel. Participants will then stroll to the shelter building for refreshments provided by the Friends of Whitefish Dunes State Park. Carolyn Rock, Whitefish Dunes State Park Educator, will be onsite at the outdoor shipwreck exhibit interpreting the displayed shipwreck pieces.
1:00 p.m.

Saturday May 17
Spring in the Dunes
Feel the soft sand between your toes on this hike of discovery.  Walk the beach side of the dune to explore the spring flora then continue the search in the forested dunes.  Dress for the weather; meet at the nature center for this longer walk. 10:00 AM
What about the Forest?. Take a walk into the recent harvested areas of the park to understand beech bark disease. Learn about the American beech tree and how to identify signs of BBD infection. Dress for the weather; meet at the nature center for this longer program.
1:30 PM

Saturday May 24
Spring Revealed
Stroll along to uncover signs of spring along rocky edges and in forested dunes. Uncover the unique history and stories behind different spring ephemerals. Catch these fleeting plants in this short distanced walk.  Meet at the nature center for this awakening program.
10:00 AM

What about the Forest?
Take a walk into the recent harvested areas of the park to understand beech bark disease. Learn about the American beech tree and how to identify signs of BBD infection. Dress for the weather; meet at the nature center for this longer program.
1:30 PM

Saturday, May 31
Spring Exploration
Join Dale and Mary Goodner for an exploration of nature. Learn about the flora and fauna found along the rocky shores, forest floor and sunny openings. Gather for this meandering walk that is short in distance but full of discoveries. Walk begins at the Nature Center.
10:00 AM

Spring in the Wetland
Have you seen the wetland in spring? Come discover the animals and plants that call the wetland home. Dip your net into a magical world. Dress for the weather and for getting damp. Meet at the nature center for this longer program.
1:30 PM

Saturday and Sunday,  June 7 & 8
Free Fishing Weekend
Pack up the family or call your friends and head to the water. No fishing pole? No worries!  The park office has fishing rods and equipment to share.  Every year, the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June are designated as Free Fishing Weekend when you can fish without a license throughout the state of Wisconsin. All the waters of the state are open, including state waters of the Great Lakes and rivers bordering Wisconsin. Residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a fishing license (or trout or salmon stamps) over these two days. However, all other fishing regulations (length limits, bag limits, etc.) apply.
All Day

State Park Open House Day 
Enjoying Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, Trails and Recreation Areas is always a good value but on the first Sunday of June they are an exceptional value, as entrance to any state park, forest, trail and recreation property is free. With opportunities for bicycling, hiking, canoeing, boating, fishing, and horseback riding at various locations statewide Wisconsin boasts unique and diverse landscapes to interest all travelers. On State Park Open House Day, no admission stickers are required on vehicles entering state parks, forests and recreation areas, and trail passes are not required for bicyclists, in-line skaters, or horseback riders using state trails that normally require a trail pass.
All Day

It’s spring, come visit us at the beach!
Phone: 920-746-3900 or 1-866-454-3336. Or email us at You’ll be happy you did!

Posted in Area events, Calendar of events, Discover our Beach!, Glidden Lodge