Horicon Marsh: Exploring Wisconsin’s Bird Paradise with your Family

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The Horicon Marsh & National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent, nearby option for your family to get up close and personal with the thousands of waterfowl & wildlife who come to visit its waters. This birding paradise was first created by glacial activity in Wisconsin. Throughout the years, the area was inhabited by native tribes and then settled by hunters and farmers looking to make a living off of its rich water and land resources. Today the marshland area is restored to its original state and, as the United State’s largest cattail marsh, serves as a sanctuary for the wildlife of all kinds. Come weave your way through the marshlands, whether by hiking trails, boardwalks, a special ‘Ternpike’ auto tour road, or by paddling, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Horicon Marsh.

About the Marsh

The Horicon Marsh & National Wildlife Refuge encompasses more than 30,000 total acres. The Horicon Marsh consists of two parts: the northern, larger portion of the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area to the south. The Horicon Marsh is also home to three visitor/nature centers: The Horicon Marsh Education & Visitors Center, located in Horicon, the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, in Mayville, and the Marsh Haven Nature Center in Waupun.

Plan Your Visit: Horicon Marsh Education & Visitors Center

  • Address: N7725 Highway 28, Horicon
  • Hours:
    • Monday – Friday: 9 am – 4 pm
    • Saturday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
    • CLOSED Sundays in December through February
  • Explorium
    • Hours:
      • Monday through Friday: 9 am – 4 pm
      • Saturday & Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm
      • Closed all major holidays
    • Admission:
      • General: $6
      • Children (5-17 years): $4
      • Children (4 and under): FREE 
    • Special Annual and other passes available

Be sure to stop downstairs to check out the amazing Explorium! Here you and your kids will use sight, sound, smell, and touch to learn about the history of the marsh: how it was formed, how it was used, how it changed over the years, and how it is being preserved today.

Tips To Enjoy Your Visit With Little Ones: The Horicon Marsh Education & Visitors Center is an excellent place to begin your adventure with little ones. You can enjoy the indoor learning center area, gift shop, Explorium, and easily access the boardwalk (stroller friendly when not snow-covered) all from the Center. Dress in layers for the weather and consider waterproof boots for hiking trails. If you are planning a family paddle, make sure each child is wearing a well-fitting life preserver as well.

Recreation Opportunities throughout the Horicon Marsh

  • Pets: Leashed dogs are welcome, but please clean up after them.
  • Hiking Trails: Check out the trail map to choose a hike that’s the right fit for your family.
    • Boardwalks: The marsh is home to 1400 feet of the boardwalk for you to get a better look at it all. You can access one boardwalk from the south, just behind the Horicon Marsh Education & Visitors Center, and one from the north near Waupun and the Marsh Haven Nature Center.
    • Pro Tip: Watch for ice in the wintertime and bring bug repellent for summer.
  • From your bicycle or the car: The Horicon Marsh map highlights both bicycle and autoroutes from which to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Be advised that the ‘Ternpike’ auto tour road is closed during the wintertime.
  • Canoe/Kayak: The Horicon Marsh Paddle Trail offers 6.5 miles of paddling for your next adventure! Reference the paddling guide to find the route and available boat launches.
  • Fishing: Bring along your fishing gear! You can use the banks/piers on Peachy Road, Ledge Road and Main Dike Road.
  • Snowshoeing: Snowshoes are available to rent in the Horicon Marsh Education & Visitors Center when snow levels permit!

Nearby Food & Ice Cream

  • Ice Cream Station, 518 E Lake St, Horicon
    • Open seasonally for all your favorite ice cream flavors, cakes, and other yummy snacks.
  • D&D Pub Pizza, 41 Main St, Kekoskee
    • You have to try their Dippers!
  • Mateo’s Restaurant, 435 East Main St, Waupun
    • Fill up on an amazing breakfast before hitting the Marsh!
  • Guth’s Candy, 928 E Main St, Waupun
    • Coffee, ice cream, popcorn, and candy—a treat to please everyone!

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