Potawatomi State Park is located in Door County of northeastern Wisconsin. For those of you not familiar with WI, it’s the peninsula or thumb pointing into Lake Michigan. Door County is known as a great vacation place with many wineries, a lot of artistic influence and very crafty shops. You will not find any fast food restaurants north of Sturgeon Bay which is essentially the doorway to Door County, even though it really starts south of Sturgeon Bay. You also will not find any big box stores such as Walmart north of Sturgeon Bay. It is a very quaint location.
With that said, Potawatomi State Park is located just southwest of Sturgeon Bay, only a couple miles out but you’d never know you were so close. The park is completely wooded and borders a channel that goes between Green Bay and Lake Michigan as a shortcut for shipping into the city of Green Bay, although not too many ships actually go through there anymore.
The campground of the park is relatively flat with paved roads for easy wheelchair maneuverability. They have many electric sites available but you would have to be sure to book early (6 months or more ahead) to get a reservation. Two of those electric sites are “handicap accessible” located within about 100 feet of handicap restrooms. They also have a handicap cabin in this park which has its own personal handicap restroom and shower along with kitchen, etc. much like one of my previous reports on Wisconsin State Parks. The cabin was occupied when I was there so I wasn’t able to get inside to take pictures.
The site alone is completely paved. Here you can see where my buddy and I set up our tents just off the pavement but there is plenty of room for a pull-behind camper or RV if that is your preference. Our site was #1 and the closest I’ve ever been to a rest room. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not because there is a lot of walking and vehicle traffic so if that doesn’t bother you, it’s a great spot. Site #2 has the same amenities of all pavement and electric but is another 50 feet away.
The rest of the electric sites and non-electric sites available in the park are all very doable for anyone with a wheelchair. The crushed gravel driveways wouldn’t be too difficult to get around on.
The restroom / shower building has a separate handicap accessible room that is locked and you can get a key at the main office. Here are a few photos to show the inside. There is plenty of room for moving around, even for me using an electric scooter. The only complaint I have about that is the sink is a bit high.
Hiking Trails and Things to Do
As for the rest of the park, there are a lot of trails through the woods but I wouldn’t recommend them for a wheelchair. It is all ground and there can be roots in the way. There is the main campground path and the lakeshore road which offer a relatively flat stroll. They also have a viewing tower at the top of a hill but that isn’t accessible at all. I’ve crawled up towers before but this one has 4 levels and if I made it to the top, I’d probably want to just roll back down and that wouldn’t be pretty.
There is also a biking/hiking trail within about 5 miles called the Ahnapee Trail which is also part of the Ice Age Trail (a hiking trail that goes throughout Wisconsin). The Ahnapee Trail is an old railroad bed and is mainly crushed limestone and very doable for a wheelchair without narrow wheels. There are a couple of low spots that got a little soft in the part I was on with my bike but I didn’t have any problems and it had been pretty wet there.
As for the surrounding area, Sturgeon Bay is very accessible at all businesses. As for the rest of Door County, there could be some places that you may have some difficulty getting into with a wheelchair or scooter because it is very old-fashioned. Some places may not have access to the main door but a back door may be available so don’t be afraid to ask. It’s a beautiful area of Wisconsin, not that the rest of Wisconsin isn’t, but there can be a lot to offer if you love wineries, crafts, and fresh cranberries and cherries, which are abundantly grown there. This area is also really nice in the summer months as a little bit cooler area. When I visited, the rest of the state had 90+ degree weather, but since Door County is surrounded by Lake Michigan, its cooler water kept it a little more comfortable temperature.