Where Should Visitors Park?

Where Should Visitors Park?

So let’s face it, this has become a farce. Those in charge of managing Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area have simply abdicated or given up. What’s more, they have created a trap for visitors by not providing adequate parking.  This is a very old problem and it seems the bucks are passing faster than migrating sandhill cranes.

I could rant on about the destruction going on in Pewit’s Nest as well as Parfrey’s Glen state natural areas here in Baraboo.. and I have.. (Poor Norman Carter Fassett must be rolling in his grave!) In the end if we don’t act, the earth will shrug us off and move on. Until then we’ll simply allow these special places to be flattened by abuse & overuse because, “It’s not my problem.”  Then our community will wonder where all the visitors went, shocked and amazed to learn that “nature” was the real attraction all along.

Typical trash at Pewit's Nest

Typical trash & fire remains at Pewit’s Nest

But I’m sidetracked. My little rant today is actually about ticket trapping visitors that all started when someone said, “Let’s create an inadequate parking area at Pewit’s Nest.” I’ve even heard suggestion that inadequate parking was intentional to keep numbers down. If true, that planner should be fired! What it did do was force people to park up and down a dangerous corner to get access to a very popular local outdoor destination. In fact just last Saturday cars were parked so far down the road, that they were beginning to park up a further side road as well. How crazy is that?? Sure, we could say that the drivers are at fault and that they should just follow the laws and come back later.. But frankly we all know better and you can’t hide behind the letter of the law when you need a long-term solution.

While locals often visit during the week, most weekend visitors have made a special effort to visit. They may only have this one Saturday or one weekend to visit. Do we expect them to drive by? Really?

Here’s one snippet from a TripAdvisor review,

“We were going to visit on another day a month or so ago, but turned around because there are only 8-9 parking places and the 12 or so cars on the road all had parking tickets on them.” – Read the rest of the reviews here.

We, our community, our state, told them “Come! Visit! It’s A Must See!”. Then we didn’t provide them parking. To add insult to injury we pass out parking tickets as well. On any given Saturday, Sauk County patrol officers can basically harvest visitors with parking tickets at will around Pewit’s. It’s no secret locally. It just is. Pewit’s Nest on summer Saturdays reminds me of one of those private wedding parties you drive by, where cars are lined up and down the side of a  busy highway and you’re just waiting for someone to get hit trying to get into their car.  Just crazy.

Even a Wisconsin Trails article mentions tickets. Not ideal advertising.

Here in Baraboo, these beautiful natural areas are ours. Yours and mine. We need to care more. We also need to realize that the visitors to these areas are our guests and they help us pay the bills. The answer isn’t to close these areas to the public as some have suggested. We simply need deal with the issues of being popular, invest in the infrastructure to match our visitor needs & numbers, provide appropriate law enforcement and for Pete’s sake, provide adequate parking!

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

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  1. Sara

    This park needs major upgrades including a better driveway, garbage service, parking, trail maintenance, law enforcment, etc. Myself &/or friends have encoutered groups doing drugs, others involved in intimate acts, human feces, found clothing & sleeping bags, picked up extreme amounts of garbage including packaged steaks, helped a lady who was beaten up by boyfriend, underage drinking, people in ditch die to the driveway, and people hurt from jumping. When the problems are this big we can’t continue to ignore them. I would hate to see much more parking added, park beyond the signs and walk, afterall didn’t you go there to hike? Rant on, I am hearing you but the state is not.

  2. Reedsburg Girl

    I agree that it was poor planning to make that parking area so small. It’s definitely an accident waiting to happen. I am sickened by the way this beautiful place, like most beautiful places, is treated by some of those who visit. Weren’t we the generation who were going to clean up the environment? What happened to that? This weekend we camped on a sandbar on the Wisconsin River. It was a beautiful spot that someone thought was a good dump site for their empty beer cans. Nothing wrong with a few beers, but that your cans with you when you leave. We did – along with all the others we found there.

  3. Mighty Mighty T-Birds

    I don’t think more parking is the answer at all. This spot simply isn’t the type of place that can handle so many visitors. It used to be a “locals only” nature lovers hidden gem, until it became advertised too much. Now it’s frequented by weekend warriors and people who just don’t “get it” who don’t care about how they leave it or about those who call it home.
    My advise would be to do everything in our power to keep the numbers of visitors down. The people that are causing the problems are not contributing a dime to the local economy. With all due respect these smaller off the beaten path places that we locals love, don’t need to be advertised so heavily. Let the tourists get their outdoor fix at Devil’s Lake where they have the resources to deal with the riff raff.

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