AMNICON FALLS STATE PARK
Amnicon Falls State Park features a series of waterfalls and rapids along the Amnicon River. You can view them from a covered foot bridge or 2 miles of trails along the river. The park is a place to picnic, camp, walk in the woods and learn about the Douglas Fault, the geological formation that created the falls.
Among the attractions at Amnicon Falls State Park is the 55-foot long bridge that spans the river at the Lower Falls. Originally it had no covering and was a highway bridge that crossed the Amnicon River not far from the park.
The bridge, called a Horton or bowstring bridge, is historically significant due both to its age and unusual construction. In 1897 and 1898, Charles M. Horton, while working in Duluth and Superior, obtained a number of patents for bridges that he claimed made them stronger, lighter and more durable. In addition, he said his design would allow workers to quickly assemble the structure without expensive machinery, tools and labor. His method called for using arched beams secured with hooks and clips rather than rivets and bolts.
In 1899, Horton moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he established a business and began erecting bridges on a small scale. Perhaps he was attracted to the area because of a severe flood in the spring of that year that forced the replacement of many bridges.
It is not known how many bowstring bridges of Horton's design were built or when the bridge that now serves park visitors was constructed. Today only five other Horton bridges are known, and they are also owned by the Department of Natural Resources at the Van Loon Wildlife Area in La Crosse County.
In 1930, our bridge was moved to its present location so park visitors could get to the island around which the river flows. Members of the Brule Civilian Conservation Corps added the roof in 1939.
The roof was replaced in 1941 after collapsing from heavy snows and again in 1971 when it was destroyed by a fire set by vandals. Today the covered bridge serves not only a practical necessity, but as a picturesque attraction as well.
A Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks, forests and recreation areas, please visit the VEHICLE ADMISSION STICKERS
Amnicon Falls State Park offers a quiet, mostly rustic campground, with tall trees partly or fully shading all the sites. There are no electric hookups, showers or dump station. No generators may be operated in the park.
Amnicon Falls State Park has 36 campsites, including one that is accessible for people with disabilities and two walk-in sites, 100 and 150 feet from the parking area. There are a swing set and sandbox in the campground, as well as a large field perfect for family activities.
While swimming and wading are permitted, caution is urged. Water levels and flows fluctuate and river conditions change from day to day. Rocks may be slippery. Never allow children to swim unsupervised. Amnicon Falls State Park has no designated beaches and no lifeguards.
No diving or jumping. Jumping from rock walls into the river is dangerous and not permitted. River levels vary, resulting in unknown water depths and current changes. In addition, rocks fall from the gorge walls and are hidden in the dark water.
Although better known for its scenery than its fishing, the Amnicon River sometimes produces excellent catches. A warm water stream, it flows north into Lake Superior. Below the park, it changes from a fast-flowing river to one that is slow, wide and meandering. A variety of species that live in the lower river and Lake Superior migrate up the Amnicon to spawn each year. The best fishing is downstream from the Lower Falls. All anglers 16 years and older must have a fishing license. In addition, anyone fishing for or keeping trout must have a trout stamp.