top of page



Rib Mountain is the third highest point in Wisconsin at 1,942 feet above sea level and, at 741 feet above the surrounding terrain, is the tallest hill in Wisconsin. It was formed as a state park in 1927 and dedicated in 1934. A purchase of 257 acres from 3M Corporation in 2001 increased park area to approximately 1600 acres. The top of the 60-foot observation tower is about 800 feet above the surrounding terrain and offers spectacular views.

The formation of Rib Mountain began some 1.5 to 2 billion years ago with the violent fusion, through intense heat, of sand into mammoth chunks of quartzite. Beginning 1.5 billion years ago, the surrounding plains started eroding away. The incredibly hard quartzite, however, resisted this erosion. Over the succeeding hundreds of millions of years what remained rose higher and higher over the surrounding area, and is now called a “monadnock” by geologists.  Rib Mountain is one of the oldest geologic formations on earth. For more information, see this Geology page by Dr. Keith Montgomery of the University of Wisconsin – Marathon County.


Generic statement at the top thanking everyone who has contributed over the years to enhancing the park or write-up a description of each improvement including contributors?  Do we include any ski area improvements?


1922 or 1924 120 acre purchased (Kiwanis)

1927 officially designated a State Park

1934 road from NN to top was complete & Rib Mountain State Park was dedicated (Kiwanis)

1936 ROW widening to 200’? (Kiwanis)

1937 40 acre purchase for ski area (Kiwanis)

1937 ski area opened to the public

1939 historic stone 10th Mountain Chalet constructed (Marathon Civic Corporation)

1959 look-out tower was complete (Kiwanis & others)




















1970 606 acres

1982 860 acres

1983 north observation deck complete (Kiwanis (& others?))

1996 amphitheater complete (Kiwanis (& others?))






???? quarry lands acquired?...other expansion years?

Communications building?

Communications towers (see 2020 writeup from that gentleman Ned Westman?)?

Hiking trails expansions?

CCC Gazebo?

CCC trails?

Ranger Station?

Concession stand?


Campsites removed?

Northern Vista Shelter?

Interpretive Panels?

Native flower gardens? (Friends of WI State Parks Grant? & Master Gardeners?)

Study Guide (Friends & others)

Nature Center Master Plan (Friends & others)

Friends Gathering Space? (many donors)


2020? Gathering Space parking lot expansion (Friends & others?)

2020? Reprinting of interpretive panels (Friends & others)

2020? Reprint amphitheatre sign (Friends & others)

2020? Upper picnic area split-rail fence (DNR & Eagle Scout?)

2021 Friends “Love Rib Mountain” yard signs (Friends)

2021 upper picnic area playground (many donors)

2021 WAEGOs $1400 trail signage donation in honor of their outgoing leaders which includes Karen Graff

2022? salt & sand shed (County Materials, Friends, & DNR)

In every walk with nature
one receives far more than he seeks   JOHN MUIR
bottom of page