Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Enjoy a Free Fun Weekend in your Local Parks

January 17, 2024
Land & Water Resources

Activity Permit Fees are Waived January 20 and 21 in Dane County and City of Madison Parks

MADISON, WI - January 17, 2024 - Dane County and City of Madison Parks are offering a permit-free weekend Saturday and Sunday, January 20 and 21, 2024. Winter activities that normally require a permit will be free so Dane County Park visitors can try out new recreation options.

“Dane County offers a variety of options for outdoor recreation opportunities during the winter months,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “We encourage everyone to make the most of this free permit weekend. From winter hiking and snowshoeing to ice fishing and cross-country skiing, there are many activities residents can take part in to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with friends and family.”

Dane County residents and visitors can explore the following recreation options for free January 20 and 21:

Dog Parks: The Dane County Park system has eight off-leash dog parks, totaling 268 acres, each with its own unique features and terrain. All dogs must be legally licensed with their municipality, vaccinated and follow all dog park rules.

Biking & Mountain Biking: Dane County has over 100 miles of shared-use bike trails that connect communities, parks and natural resource areas. We offer single-track mountain bike trails at three locations throughout the year (including winter).

Lake Access: Dane County lakes offer abundant opportunities for ice fishing. There are several lake access sites where you can park to easily access the ice. This weekend is also the Wisconsin DNR’s Free Fishing Weekend so it’s a great opportunity to try ice fishing.

Cross-country Skiing: The Dane County Park system has several parks with groomed cross-country ski trails. Trails will be groomed if there is at least four inches of snow and consistent freezing temperatures. If we get sufficient snow, the trails will be opened and groomed for the weekend. Trail status can be found on our Trail Conditions webpage:

Other activities that never require a permit:

Snowshoeing & Winter Hiking: Snowshoeing and winter hiking is allowed on or off-trail at all Dane County Park properties except on designated cross-country ski trails when snow is present even if they have not yet been groomed. Some parks have signed snowshoe trails to help with navigation.

Sledding: The Dane County Park System has four parks with public sledding hills. These range from short and gentle slopes that are great for younger kids to steeper hill. For your safety, and to uphold the quality of our landscapes, please do not use the sledding hills without sufficient snow base.

The Dane County Park System does not require an entry fee and is always free to visit. Some activities require a permit and the fees help us maintain amenities for those activates. If you try out a permitted activity this weekend and enjoy it, you can purchase a daily or annual pass online from

For more information, please visit the Winter Recreation page at and Madison Parks Winter Fun at    

Media Contacts:

Joleen Stinson
Parks Director
(608) 422-0657

Lael Pascual
Engagement & Visitor Services Manager        
(608) 220-7509 

About Dane County Parks:
The Dane County Park System is made up of 17,000 acres of land that features the best of Wisconsin’s natural beauty. Our Parks do not require an entry fee and offer countless opportunities to get away from it all to unwind, spend time outdoors, and make memories with friends and family. Dane County Parks takes an active role to enhance and preserve the county’s finest natural resources. We strive to create welcoming spaces, events and educational opportunities for park visitors of all backgrounds and ability levels.


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