COVID-19 Related Updates

  • Vehicle Admission Sticker is REQUIRED. When the park office is closed, daily or annual park stickers may be purchased at the self-registration station.
  • Bathrooms are OPEN.
  • Camping is available. ALL campsites are reservable.
  • Face coverings are required when inside any building if you are not vacinated.

For more information visit:

Please be considerate to all. Practice social distancing. Stay Well!

History of the Park

Governor Dodge State Park is named after Henry L. Dodge, a pioneer resident of this area and first governor of the Wisconsin territory. Over 7,000 years ago, Native Americans inhabited the park. As they hunting the area for food, they used the natural shelters of the bluffs for camps. Marquette and Joliet probably passed near the park in the late 1600's on their way to the Mississippi River.

By 1820, the area was the population center of Wisconsin, largely as a result of the booming lead mining operations centered in southwestern Wisconsin. Much of the land that Governor Dodge now occupies was farmed from the mid-1800's until 1948, when the park was established.


Iowa County Conservation Committee chose the Cox Hollow area as a possible site for a lake.


Iowa County Board of Supervisors approved the donation to the state of 160.5 acres for a park.


Conservation Commissioners voted for a park in the Cox Hollow area. This is the "birth of the park."


Commissioners approved a western road entrance into the park. Work commenced on the road.


The park was officially named Governor Dodge State Park after Henry Dodge. Park road was also completed.


Conservation Commissioners approved dam and spillway plans. Work started on the dam and spillway.


Beach area and boat landing completed.  Lake started to fill. Northern Pike and Bass planted. Melvin "Mike" Thomas assumed duties as Park Manager. Fire broke out in the northeast corner of the park causing limited damage. Electricity brought to the park. Newly created lake called Cox Hollow Lake.


No fishing allowed on lake. Lake completely filled.


Fishing opened June 1st. Bathhouse construction started.  New park roads construction started.


Bathhouse completed and opened for public use. New roads completed.  First camping area completed. Unwanted bluegills dumped into lake.


Beginning of state parks admission sticker fee.


Work started on a new addition to Cox Hollow campground. Iowa County received approval for a second dam and lake in the park (the future site of Twin Valley Lake). New dam project started.


Cox Hollow campsites 49-117 open to the public.


Construction on additional park roads started. Second dam completed.  Lake started to fill. Aerators installed in Cox Hollow Lake.  New beach area started and completed near new lake. Northern Pike and Bass planted in new lake.


Construction commenced on new bathhouse. New boat marina completed.  Fishing opened on new lake. Snowmobiles allowed in park.


New park entrance opened. Construction started on new visitor center.


Visitor center completed. Concession stand opened near Cox Hollow Lake. Work started on service building. Work started on new 90 unit camping facility. Cox Hollow lake drained.


Control tower valve in Cox Hollow Lake closed. Cox Hollow Lake restocked with trout and bass. Fishing allowed on Cox Hollow Lake. Service building completed.


Muskies were first planted in Twin Valley Lake.


Cross-country ski trail was developed. New camping area; "300 series" was opened in the Twin Valley camping area. This added 55 new units to the existing facilities.


New group camp area opened.


New amphitheater constructed.


New Mill Creek cross-country ski trail and bridge constructed.


New Meadow Valley hiking-ski trail developed (7.5 miles).


Three new picnic shelters constructed.


Visitor Center remodeled and expanded.


160 acres purchased from the Cassidy family.


Newly constructed shower/toilet building opened at Hickory Ridge Group Camp.


New boat dock installed at Cox Hollow boat launch.
Memorial flagpole erected at the park office.
The park grew another 80 acres with the purchase of land from the Rundhaug farm.


Dedication of the new Stephens Homestead area and Trail.


June 29th, two tornadoes swept through the park causing significant damage.  One tornado damages parts of the group camp area and northern portion of the horse trail.  The second tornado cuts a swath through the southern portion of the park damaging trees and completely blocking trails including Pine Cliff, Lakeview, Mill Creek, the Military Ridge Access Trail and portions of the southern section of the Outer Horse Loop.  Luckily, no injuries or structural damage was reported in the park.


Clean-up of tornado damage completed including salvage harvest of downed trees and slight re-route of Pine Cliff trail near Lakeview trail.  Clean-up completed by park staff, private contractors and the help of the Friends of Governor Dodge and many volunteers.


New pit toilets installed in Hickory Ridge group sites F and H to replace older toilets.


Repair work done to Cox Hollow Dam.


New pit toilet installed at the horse day-use area.
​New camping reservation system and alteration to campsites. 21 previously non-electric sites in Twin Valley Campground were converted to electric sites. Several other sites were switched to reservable.