Year-Round Adventures at Bong

8/9/2017 - Tricia Steele Andrews

Family-Friendly, Sports & Outdoors
Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County Wisconsin
Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County Wisconsin
Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County Wisconsin
Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County Wisconsin
Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County Wisconsin
Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County Wisconsin

Are you seeking a place where the whole family can be entertained with all of their various interests? A location that will provide you with peace and excitement all in one day? A place to relax and take in the scenery, while still having a great time? Well look no further than Richard Bong State Recreation Area located in Kenosha County on State Highway 142. Open year round, you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful destination with so much to offer in our corner of Wisconsin.

If your family is into camping and hiking you must make a point to visit this awe-inspiring State Recreation Area. In these parts, it is affectionately known simply as “Bong”. The area is named after Major Richard I. Bong, a Wisconsin native, who was America’s leading air ace during World War II. The area was originally slated to be a jet fighter base but plans were abandoned days before the runway was to be constructed. Thankfully local citizens decided to protect the area. Now, generations later, local residents and visitors alike enjoy all that the 4,500+ acres have to offer. Depending on how long you plan to stay at Bong, there are daily or annual admission passes (per vehicle entering the park). Whether you decide to stay and camp the night (or several), or you are just visit for the day, there is a plethora of activities for everyone to enjoy year round.

Your first stop needs to be the Molinaro Visitor Center. There you can gather all the information you need for your visit, as well as take in the hands-on exhibits, displays, and live animals. Be sure to watch the fantastic array of birds that visit the feeders just outside the info center. In addition, this is the location of all the great programming that is put on almost every weekend year round. This is the place to be when planning your time at Bong.

My family has spent many a day and night at this recreation area, taking advantage of all the great activities available. Of course camping is at the top of our list. There is nothing like sitting in front of a glowing camp fire at night, telling stories, and roasting marshmallows. Whether you are pitching a tent, have a camper, or driving a RV, there is room for everyone at Bong. There are various camps sites throughout the property and you can choose sites that provide electricity, showers, and even playgrounds depending on what your top priorities are or how ready you are to “rough it”. There is even a fully accessible cabin for individuals with limited mobility that can be reserved. In addition, there is an accessible fishing pier and observation ramp, as well as a wheelchair sand rover at the beach. (Told you – something for everyone.)

Looking to go hiking? There are over 30 miles of trails to take in and explore. You can see grasslands and prairies, as well as wetlands, forests, vistas and the beautiful Wolf Lake. Along the way, you will undoubtedly stop to take photographs, enjoy the views, watch the sun set (or come up), birdwatch or have a picnic at one of the many rest areas.

Looking for a little more action during your visit? Well, if you like things that go up in the air but must come down… they have you covered. You can fly rockets and model airplanes in their Special Use Zone (SUZ). Prefer to get around on wheels? Bong offers over 6 miles of ATV trails – the only trails in Southeastern Wisconsin – as well as over 8 miles of off-highway motorcycle/dirtbike trails for you to cruise on. And many of the hiking trials also allow bicycles on them. It is a fun way to see the area at a little faster pace. Check out this video from the Wisconsin DNR featuring Bong's SUZ!

Love your pet dog or horse and want to bring them with? This is the perfect place. The recreation area offers 13 miles of trails for horse lovers to enjoy year-round. (Note: there are NO horses on site to commission for rides, this is only available if you BYOH – Bring Your Own Horse!) Dog lovers can bring their pups along, as the park is dog-friendly. We enjoy bringing our dogs along with us for hikes and overnight camping. They are allowed on the hiking trails and at the camping sites. And you can use the SUZ to train hunting and sledding dogs, as well as to train falcons. Keep your eyes peeled to catch others training animals! How exciting is that – it’s like a free show!

Let’s not forget the water activities! A beach, which includes a bath house and picnic area with playground equipment, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits is available to use. Swimming is a must during the summertime. If you are into personal watercraft sports, you can bring your kayak, canoe, or small boats out for some fun. If fishing is up your alley, you can cast a line at Wolf Lake and the urban fishing pond (just be sure to have your Wisconsin Fishing License!). Plus, anglers of any age can check out basic fishing equipment FREE of charge at the park office – making this a great place to learn a new hobby.

If you have an interest in hunting, Bong offers a space for this, too. All species with a hunting season in Wisconsin can be hunted at this property. There are learn to hunt and mentoring programs available for all ages, as well as hunting areas for those with limited mobility. (Note: There are hunting regulations and hours that must be adhered to.) So whether you like to use a crossbow or shotgun, there is a hunting opportunity for you.

And don’t think that Bong is just fun to visit during the summer or fall months. They have programs and activities to keep you busy year round. The spring is beautiful with the earth emerging from its winter slumber and all the new growth and baby animals arriving. Come visit in the fall when the air is crisp and the leaves are turning into a myriad of beautiful colors. The winter provides a serene feeling with snow covered trails perfect for skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing! When frozen enough, Wolf Lake also provides the opportunity for ice fishing & ice skating, too. There are easily a year’s worth of activities to enjoy at Bong!

You name it, Richard Bong State Recreation Area has it. If you and your family are looking for a great, beautiful, and affordable location to visit any time of the year that provides endless activities, fun, and memories to last a lifetime - then you have found it. Take in the fresh air, the gorgeous views, and stay awhile. 

Tricia Steele Andrews

Community Blogger

Devoted Mom & Wife. Fourth generation Kenoshan. Lover of all things natural & organic. Passions include time with family & friends, gardening, country music, libraries, art, animals, & ancestry!