Check Out Wisconsin’s State Parks at your library

Pilot Program Plans to Increase Park Access

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Mercer Public Library announced a pilot program to make state park and forest vehicle admission day passes available to library card holders at the Mercer Public Library.

Library card holders at 20 libraries across Wisconsin can check out a pass for free admission for one vehicle at any state park, forest, or recreation area where admission is required. The pilot program ends March 1, 2023.

“The DNR is continually looking for innovative opportunities to bring more people to state parks and forests and to ensure everyone in Wisconsin has access to our incredible natural resources,” said Steve Schmelzer, Director of the DNR Bureau of Parks and Recreation. “By partnering with Wisconsin’s library system, we can reach households who may not be as familiar with the wide array of opportunities Wisconsin’s state parks and forests offer.”

The pilot program, Check Out Wisconsin’s State Parks at Your Library, 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.

“I’m delighted to be participating in this program,” said Mercer Library Director Teresa Schmidt.  “We have so many fantastic state properties within a short distance of Mercer, and I hope this helps people get out and explore them. We are excited to add park passes to our Library of Things and help people make connections to the beautiful place where we live.”

Along with the day pass, the cardholder will receive an informational kit of state park system materials and maps, a Wisconsin Explorer Program book, stickers, accessibility information and more. The program’s goal is to expand access to the Wisconsin state park system to new park visitors. The Mercer Public Library received 50 passes, each with a one-time use.

Based on participant feedback and funding, the DNR plans to continue the program in 2023. Each pass includes a survey link so the DNR can gather information about who used the passes and how they enjoyed their park experience. After using the pass, participants who complete the survey will be eligible to win one of ten 2023 annual state park and forest vehicle admission stickers paid for by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.

Learn more about the Mercer Public Library and how to get a library card at or by calling 715-476-2366. For more information about the pilot program, visit

Photo of Interstate State Park by Mick Haupt on Unsplash


Not sure where to explore? 

Check out all of the properties within one hour of each participating library.