This is the account of our fourth and final visit to a state park during our week-long stay in Door County, June 4 through June 9, 2023.
Probably the most important feature of Newport State Park is its location. Since its northern end is only a couple of miles from the tip of the Door Peninsula and since there’s not much in the way of civilization anywhere nearby, it gets very dark in the park at night. This has led the powers that be to designate it as a Dark Sky Park. I don’t think this designation comes with any real benefits other than drawing more tourists to the site.
It got us to go there twice in one day.
Newport by Day
We were staying in Ellison Bay, which is just 5 miles away on the other side of the peninsula. So it only took about 10 minutes to get to the park.
The park stretches about 5 miles along the eastern side of the peninsula, but the main action for us took place near the third and final parking lot at the end of the road.
A short walk from the lot to the beach gave us this view of Newport Bay to the north (left) and to the south (right).
In that area are several structures, including this (clothes) changing building. No one was swimming while we were there. It was a rather cool morning. The DNR site doesn’t actually mention swimming as a park activity, though this may be an oversight.
Between that building and the water is this sign.
Note that there isn’t a picnic table in sight. You’d really have to be determined and strong to drag or carry a table into this area. Perhaps it had been a problem at one time…?
Between that sign and the water is this kiosk, as I saw it called somewhere. It tells of some of the history of the area.
In addition to the kiosk, this plaque tells more of the history of the area.
Closer to the parking lot was this handmade map of the park, which I thought was rather well done. The same bulletin board was topped with two of these cutouts which apparently are there to emphasize the Dark Sky Park designation.
There are many trails in Newport State Park. We chose one of the shorter ones, the Lynd Point Trail.
Side note: Farther north is Europe Lake and Europe Bay (with the northernmost section of Newport State Park in between). Why? If the intent was to confuse, goal accomplished.
Along the trail were these plaques. Sadly, the robin’s egg was missing from the right side of the Critical Landscapes sign.
We didn’t do the limbo at this point, but I’m calling this the Limbo Log anyway.
It didn’t take too long to get to Lynd Point which juts out into Lake Michigan. (Beyond it is Europe Bay.) We didn’t actually hike all the way out to the point. We turned around at this spot and looped back to Parking Lot 3.
To complete the loop we wanted to take, we figured we had to head towards campsite 1. We knew we were on the right track when we saw this sign.
Near that sign was this little building. Nice to know it was there for the campers.
I don’t have any pictures because we didn’t actually see them, but we could hear quite a variety of birds as we hiked. They stayed well-hidden in the trees.
Newport at Night
Having scouted out the place (as the DNR suggests) in the daylight, we felt confident enough to return that same night to see just how dark it really got.
It was a good night for this because the moon wouldn’t rise until early the next morning and there were no clouds in the sky. (Actually, there had been very few clouds and no rain in most of the county for about a month at this point.)
This is a view of the water from the same beach area we visited during the day.
And this is the bay to the south.
We weren’t the only ones there on this chilly evening. There were at least 30 people, including some children, there.
That’s a huge (Orion brand) reflector telescope at the front right (below). We were invited to look through it, but the owner hadn’t actually pointed it at anything interesting by the time we decided to leave.
There wasn’t anything especially spectacular to see while we were there. Venus was visible – away from the beach – just over the tops of the trees.
And I did manage to get my camera and tripod situated properly to get this shot of the Big Dipper. Yes, you can see the Dipper elsewhere, even in Milwaukee, but not as clearly and easily as this. The photo may not do it justice.
If I lived in the area, I would make this night trip quite often, I think. If you’re in the area and especially if you live in a major city where it’s hard to see the stars, trekking to Newport State Park for a night view like this is definitely worth the effort.
Gills Rock, Wisconsin (5 miles)
Nearest Emergency Facility
Sister Bay, Wisconsin (11 miles)
6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round
Vehicle admission sticker required