Preserve Hours

OPEN 4 AM - 10 PM daily

Parking lots are also open from 4 AM - 10 PM. Vehicles parked beyond this time may be ticketed.

Reserve a Fire Circle

An outing to Picnic Point has long been a tradition for many Madisonians. There are six reservable fire circles on Picnic Point for visitors to enjoy a warm fire or cook a picnic meal.

An early 20th Century family cooks out Picnic Point. Visitors cook lunch over a fire at Picnic Point (1977). Visitors enjoy an evening fire on Picnic Point.
Click on images for larger version.

Before you reserve a fire circle, please review Visitor Etiquette.

  • Fires are only allowed in designated fire circles.
  • Wood is provided for free at racks found between fire circles. Please be conservative with wood use.
  • Do not bring wood into the Preserve; it may harbor destructive insects or diseases.
  • Do not collect wood from the Preserve to burn; woody debris is essential for healthy woodlands.
  • Each fire circle is equipped with a cooking grate.
  • Vehicles may not be used to transport people or supplies to fire circles. The main Picnic Point path is wheelchair accessible.
  • Fires must be extinguished by 10PM, when the Preserve closes. Please take the time to completely put out your campfire, it could prevent a wildfire.

To make a fire circle reservation: visit the Campus Event Services/Wisconsin Union website.

Campus Event Services will respond to your submission within 2 business days. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of the date, time, and site number. Since reservations are not required, the site may be in use when you arrive. You may politely ask that party to leave and show them the print out of your confirmed reservation.

Campus Event Services/Wisconsin Union
Hours: 8am-5pm, Mon-Fri
Address: Union South, Room 233, 1308 W. Dayton St.
Phone: 608-262-2511
Email: events@union.wisc.edu

How do I choose a fire circle?

fire circle locations on Picnic PointFire circles are numbered 1 through 6 from the base of Picnic Point to the tip. The distance from the entrance to Picnic Point to fire circle #6 is approximately 0.75 miles (1.2 km); it’s about a 15 minute walk.

Fire circle #1

Max. capacity 15.
Click on thumbnail for larger image.

fire circle 1

Fire circle #2

Max. capacity 30.
Adjacent to small lawn area.
Click thumbnail for larger image.
fire circle 2

Fire circle #3

Max. capacity 10.
Adjacent to sand beach.
Click thumbnail for larger image.
fire circle 3

Fire circle #4

Max. capacity 15.
Combine with #5 for max. capacity 30.
Click thumbnail for larger image.
fire circles 4 and 5

Fire circle #5

Max. capacity 15.
Combine with #4 for max. capacity 30.
Click thumbnail for larger image.

fire circles 4 and 5

Fire circle #6

Max. capacity 80.
Click thumbnail for larger image.
fire circle 6


Swimming

Swimming is only allowed at the Memorial Union swim pier.

Ice Safety Information

Is it safe to go out on the frozen lake? Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website for ice safety tips.

  
Photos: Early 20th century family (CLP-U0011l); Visitors cook over a fire (University of Wisconsin Madison Archives); Evening fire by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison; Fire circles 1-6 by Bryn Scriver.