On April 29, an enthusiastic crowd of horse and park lovers, state officials and dignitaries gathered to witness the official ribbon cutting at the long-awaited equestrian campground at Governor Dodge State Park.
The event marked the culmination of seven years of intensive planning and fundraising by the Friends of Governor Dodge State Park, and fulfilled an element of the park’s 1984 Master Plan to build a “20-site 80-occupant horse campground” on the park’s peaceful and scenic north side. Led by the Friend’s Equestrian Committee, over $625,000 was raised since June 2018 to fund the project. Hundreds of individuals, horse groups, foundations and businesses from across Wisconsin and beyond pitched in to donate money, award grant funds, provide event sponsorships and in-kind donations, buy raffle tickets and trail passes and attend fundraisers to make this vision a reality.
The new campground features spacious level easy-entry sites designed to accommodate today’s large living quarters horse trailers and offers desired amenities such as electric service at 18 sites. A fully ADA accessible campsite, made possible by a grant from the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks, ensures that riders or their family members with mobility challenges will not be left behind. A centrally located group gathering area with fire ring and patio was made possible by a generous donation from Kathy Gruentzel, a Dodgeville resident and recently retired long-time superintendent of Governor Dodge State Park. A grant from the Alliant Community Foundation added funding for benches and picnic tables, with an open-air picnic shelter to be built when fundraising allows. After a long day of riding, two sturdy 12×12-foot Priefert pens at each site ensure a good night’s sleep for equine and human campers thanks to HHP Farm and Ranch Supply of Dodgeville.
The layout of the campground, designed by landscape architecture firm Parkitecture and Planning of Middleton, and built by Rule Construction of Dodgeville, highlights the natural beauty of Governor Dodge State Park with expansive views in all directions. Many mature trees were preserved during construction thanks to “field adjustments” by the skillful Rule Construction crew in collaboration with Parkitecture and Planning engineers. The future landscape will be further enhanced by 100 trees and bushes planted by volunteers in April.
The new campground is already attracting much positive attention from the equestrian community and sites are being reserved for getaways throughout the season.