Go, See, Explore: Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in Grafton, WI

Wisconsin’s tropical destination. The schools are opening soon, are you ready? Our time in the water in Madison was cut short this summer when we learned about bacteria issues. But I have some exciting news for you. Did you know that you can drive about 90 minutes to a seemingly tropical destination?! Many families haven’t been to the Lake Michigan shoreline… and it’s not that far (and beautiful!).

My daughter and I had an opportunity to explore Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, located in Grafton, WI. This park has been on my bucket list for years and I had already seen how the gorge looks from social media pictures, but I had no idea it would revive my soul!

Location and Hours

511 High Bluff Dr, Grafton, WI

Lion’s Den is open year-round from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The park features a 7262-foot sandy beach that is accessed by hiking trail and a long set of stairs. Parking and bathroom facilities are only located at the entrance to the park at High Bluff Drive.

You do NOT need a sticker to get into this park – it is free to the public.

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is a great place for fishing, bird watching, hiking, and picnicking. This park offers fantastic views; we started hiking from the boardwalk across the parking lot, enjoyed a gentle hike on a wheelchair path. We went under the bridge over the gorge, the trail led us to the stairways, and the big waves of Lake Michigan greeted us.


Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is not just any park you run into in Wisconsin – it’s like a tropical destination in the Midwest. If you are craving an island vacation – Lion’s Den Gorge is definitely worth a drive!

I’ve heard it gets busier on the weekend; so take advantage and go check it out during the week, if you are able. It was an unbelievable experience; we had the entire beach to ourselves, the trail to the lakeshore is less than a mile. You can pack a lunch or bring a picnic basket for the day.

The grounds are well maintained, there are benches along the way to rest, and it offers stunning views. I can go on and on about this area! There is a limited parking lot, you might have to park on the street if the parking lot is full.

It’s hard to believe this is in Wisconsin – it was an epic adventure for us. The bluff overlooking the lake was breathtaking; this park is dog-friendly and wheelchair accessible. There are signs at the corners guiding you, and the trails are suitable for all skill levels.

When you are done with this adventure, you can check out the Water Street Brewery – they are family-friendly and a sweet spot to relax and plan another trip to the gorge!

I hope you can see this park before school starts! It’s a great road trip for children, be sure to bring lots of snacks, and changing clothes (in case you get wet!).


Dineo is a full-time mom and writer who was born in South Africa but now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and their daughter. For the past 6years, she has been an ambassador for Hike it Baby, a non-profit organization that connects families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. As part of this, Dineo spends much of her time outdoors, once hiking 21 miles in 8 hours and she is keen that her daughter spends as much time outside as is possible. Dineo’s other passion is for writing children's pictures and she currently has 5 books in circulation. Adventure Day, Sunset Hike, Spring hike, Summer Camping, and Christmas from both worlds, these books features diverse characters and are dedicated to nature and were created to inspire children to get out into the fresh air. They both contain exciting and diverse characters that children love. In her free time, Dineo loves reading nature books to her daughter, cooking, and baking. She enjoys running, camping and hiking whenever the opportunity arises and her ambition is to be able to travel the world, volunteering her time to help the needy and using the experiences she gains to write even more children’s books.


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