Explore Wisconsin’s wetlands
The best way you can get to know wetlands is by getting your boots wet while exploring them. Whether you like strolling on boardwalks or getting chest-deep in your waders, Wisconsin’s wetlands are ready for your discovery.
How can I tell if I’m standing in a wetland?
Wetlands are found all across Wisconsin and come in many different sizes and types. Some wetlands, like large open marshes, are obvious. Some wetlands, like forested ephemeral ponds, may be harder to spot. Here are a few tips for recognizing a wetland:
- The presence of water-loving plants: Look for plants that love wet soil or water, like cattails, sedges, marsh marigold, and more
- Wetland soil: The soil in a wetland often appears darker than upland soils. The soils may also show rust spots or be grayish or bluish gray. While many wetlands have muck or peat soils, wetland soils can also be comprised of silt, clay, and sand.
- Hydrology indicators: If you are in a low-lying area with standing water or soggy soil, you’re likely in a wetland.
- Clues from surrounding trees: Shallow root systems and water mark stains on tree trunks can mean you are in a wetland, even if the ground is currently dry.
Visit a wetland
To help you find a healthy wetland to explore, we’ve highlighted 100 special wetland spots in Wisconsin and created a guide to each place. We call these places Wisconsin’s Wetland Gems®. Use the boxes below to find a one-page, printable guide to these wetlands, sorted by the regions of Wisconsin. You can learn more about these sites and how they were selected by reading our introduction to the Wetland Gems® program.
Southeast Coastal Region
Kohler Andrae Dunes
Mink River Estuary
Miscauno Cedar Swamp
Peshtigo River Delta
Point Beach and Dunes
West Shore Green Bay Wetlands
Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Lower Chippewa River Delta
Lower St. Croix River Corridor
Lower Wisconsin River Wyalusing
Oak Ridge Lake
Trempealeau River Sedge Meadow
Upper Miss. Trempealeau River
Van Loon Bottoms
North Central Region
Bear Lake Sedge Meadow
Flambeau River State Forest
Hunting River Alders
Jump Mondeaux River Floodplain
Kissick Alkaline Bog
Savage Robago Lakes
Toy Lake Swamp
Kakagon Bad River Sloughs
Nemadji Floodplain Forest
Outer Island Sandspit and Lagoon
Pokegama Carnegie Wetlands
Red Cliff Raspberry Bay
St. Louis River Marshes
Stockton Island Tombolo
We have also highlighted ten valuable wetlands providing a variety of natural benefits to our communities, waters, and wildlife. These workhorse wetlands are listed below and their fact sheet includes information about how that wetland provides a key benefit.
Spoehr’s Marsh: Fishery Habitat
MMSD Greenseams Program: Flood Attenuation
Halfway Creek Marsh: Water Quality Protection
Oconto Marsh: Shoreline Protection
Pheasant Branch: Groundwater Connections
Mead Wildlife Area: Recreation & Education
Wetlands of International Importance
Wisconsin has many beautiful, valuable wetlands. To celebrate these wetlands and ensure their long-term protection, we’ve worked to nominate some of Wisconsin’s most special wetlands for designation as Wetlands of International Importance. This designation is awarded by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international organization that encourages wetland protection. We’re proud to participate in the nominations of many of Wisconsin’s special wetlands. Use the links below to learn more.
Wisconsin’s Wetlands of International Importance include:
Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Wetlands
Kakagon/Bad River Sloughs
Door Peninsula Coastal Wetlands
Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain
Lower Wisconsin Riverway