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Governor Dodge State Park

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G Dodge Ice 
Group Camp A 
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Lonely Boulders 
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From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Governor Dodge State Park  

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 43.0266, -90.1041 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 580,156
Administrators: Doug Hemken, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Tom Anderson-Brown on Jan 2, 2003
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You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [6 people like this page.]
An icy January day, with extensive snow brooming r...


Governor Dodge State Park has numerous rock features. Some are suitable for climbing, and some (perhaps most) are not. The overarching consideration for anyone climbing at Governor Dodge should be climbing only on formations that can hold up to the abuse. The rock here is Sandstone, and some of it is solid. Much of it, though, is fragile or crumbly and should be left alone. The rocks came before the climbers, so the rocks have the right to remain. Climbers aren't exactly adored by the DNR, so be overly considerate of the rock and other park users. The climbing history at Governor Dodge is not nearly as storied as it is at Devil's Lake, so we as climbers can take nothing for granted (not that you should at the Lake, either). There are some bolted routes at Governor Dodge. When the DNR found these it did not make them happy, so further bolting of routes is not acceptable. That said, enjoy!

See Qual Wall for the bolted routes, Deutschlander Wall for TR's and the remainder are bouldering areas.

Travis Melin FA on "It's Oral Over" V6 @ The Complex
The early crux.
The early crux.

John Dobbe on "Open Season" V4/5 @ Barrel Boulders
Big ups
Big ups

Katie on Highly Executed, Group B east side of Backbone Ridge.
Katie.  So strong.
Katie. So strong.

Getting There 

From Madison, take Hwy 18/151 to Dodgeville. Turn right (north) on Hwy 23 until you come to the entrance a few miles up the road. The park is on the east side of Hwy 23.

Please Note: 

Current issues:

1. Climbing is not disallowed at the park, we are simply another user group. Please do not do anything to jeapordize our relations with the park.

2. If climbing near a campsite, do not park at that site if there are people camping there or hike through if they are at their site. Find another way to the rock. Most areas have alternate directions.

2a. Please note the new parking recommendations for the Qual Wall and Lonely Boulders noted on the Qual Wall page.

3. No fixed anchors may be installed, ie. no bolts.

4. Holds break at the Dodge but please don't climb if it's obviously wet!!!

Climbing Season

Weather station 4.2 miles from here

333 Total Routes

['4 Stars',15],['3 Stars',116],['2 Stars',144],['1 Star',54],['Bomb',1]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Governor Dodge State Park:
High Anxiety   V0+ 4+     Boulder   Group Camp B : Plan B Area
The Good Times Are Killing Me   V2-3 5+     Boulder   Box Canyon Boulders : Godfather Boulder
Face Left of Wright's Arete   V3 6A     Boulder, 15'   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
Another Day Dream   V3 6A     Boulder   Lonely Boulders
The Godfather   V4 6B     Boulder, 15'   Box Canyon Boulders : Godfather Boulder
Only the Lonely   V4 6B     Boulder   Lonely Boulders
Get the Hell Outa Dodge   V4 6B     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : East Side- Backbone Ridge
Out Past Curfew   V4 6B     Boulder, 15'   Boat Landing Boulders
Nameless   V5- 6C     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
Venom   V5 6C     Boulder   Group Camp B : Plan B Area
Grounded For Life   V5 6C     Boulder, 10'   Boat Landing Boulders
Hangman   V5 6C     Boulder, 15'   Backbone Ridge : East Side- Backbone Ridge
All In The Family   V5 6C     Boulder   Box Canyon Boulders : Godfather Boulder
It's Oral Over   V6- 7A     Boulder, 15'   The Complex
Illusions of Paradise   V7- 7A+     Boulder   Danny's Imaginary Boulders : Illusions Area
Highly Executed   V7 7A+     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : East Side- Backbone Ridge
Sandstone Violence   V8 7B     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
Strong Men Also Cry   V8 7B     Boulder, 25'   Steve's ZZ Boulders
A Red Recollection   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 60'   Qual Wall
Secret Agent Man   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 65'   Qual Wall
Browse More Classics in Governor Dodge State Park

Featured Route For Governor Dodge State Park
Good Day face.

Good Day Governor V3 6A  WI : Governor Dodge State Park : Boulder 401 Area
A must do if your in the area. Start low in vertical crack and work your way into double pockets on face. Make a big lock-off move to crimps. Top-out....[more]   Browse More Classics in WI

Photos of Governor Dodge State Park Slideshow Add Photo
Stephen's Falls, October 2009.
Stephen's Falls, October 2009.
Cool ice on the frozen river downstream of Stephen...
Cool ice on the frozen river downstream of Stephen...
A field of purple near Stephen's Falls.  June 2010...
A field of purple near Stephen's Falls. June 2010...
Ice curtain behind Stephen's Falls.  Amazing day o...
Ice curtain behind Stephen's Falls. Amazing day o...
The boy at Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP.  Ap...
The boy at Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP. Ap...
Boulder Bash 2014
Boulder Bash 2014
The Boy at Stephen's Falls.  New Year's Day 2009.
The Boy at Stephen's Falls. New Year's Day 2009.
Vinny, in deer season style. Vests lent to us by t...
Vinny, in deer season style. Vests lent to us by t...
Here is an overview of the climbing areas location...
BETA PHOTO: Here is an overview of the climbing areas location...
Cool ice downstream from Stephen's Falls. March 20...
Cool ice downstream from Stephen's Falls. March 20...
Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP.  April 08.
Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP. April 08.
Look at the overhang you can barely see through th...
Look at the overhang you can barely see through th...
Undiscovered rock looking the off the opposite sid...
Undiscovered rock looking the off the opposite sid...
Blackberries are in. 8/6/08...
Blackberries are in. 8/6/08...
Sweet looking bluff off the short end of Twin Vall...
Sweet looking bluff off the short end of Twin Vall...
Boulder bash 2013
Boulder bash 2013
Stephen's Falls.  New Year's Day 2009.
Stephen's Falls. New Year's Day 2009.
Ike didnt want to get shot out at group B...
Ike didnt want to get shot out at group B...
Air Dodge
Air Dodge
Yet another Stephen's Falls shot with the Boy.
Yet another Stephen's Falls shot with the Boy.
A spot to Deep Water Solo?  No, it's only a few fe...
A spot to Deep Water Solo? No, it's only a few fe...
Rock and Ice.
Rock and Ice.
...or for some, out.
...or for some, out.
Ever wonder what the inside of the horse barn look...
Ever wonder what the inside of the horse barn look...

Show All 29 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Governor Dodge State Park Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 20, 2014
By sweatpants
From: Broomfield, CO
Jun 19, 2008
One flaw i have found in this site is the inability to change details on climbs. for instance if someone loads a new climb as project no one but the person who initially reported it can change the name or grade. for instance that highball at Camp B that someone gave a grade of 6+ that's a v2. it would be nice to be able to change something like that so it doesnt mess people up in the future going to the area for the first time. Also it would be nice to be able to change a name once an FA is done. For instance the bulge project at camp b has 2 variations. when it's done it will then prolly have 2 names and 2 grades where at that point it would be nice to adjust it accordingly. just some thoughts...
By Jay Knower
From: Campton, NH
Jun 20, 2008
Sweatpants, I'd be happy to make any changes that you see fit. Just email me and let me know.

As for ratings, some disagreement is normal and healthy for the site. However, if the original poster is waaay off (like calling a V2 a V6+) then, it might be the case that the op didn't climb the route. I'd just reassign it to someone who has. Just let me know what you think.
By Dobbe
Mar 17, 2009
If you are climbing at Governor Dodge please respect the fact that this is sandstone. DO NOT CLIMB on flakes or crimps that look weak till every thing is dry. Be smart about what you are climbing, not climbing some thing for the day so that it can be there for years is a no brainer.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Mar 23, 2009
The following several comments are in response to a comment about bolting new routes that has since been deleted.

Correct me if I am wrong, but AFAIK bolting is not allowed at any State Park in WI, or MN for that matter right? Devils Lake and Interstate Park have no bolts. Same for Blue Mound and Tettegouche in MN. The bolts at the Dodge were installed in former times and the park has said no more. IMO we're lucky they're still there.
By SteveSchultz
Mar 23, 2009
You are correct sir! No bolting on DNR land I believe. Oh well. No Biggie. Keep in mind that much of the longer routes at Dodge turn into pure choss most of the time.
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Mar 23, 2009
The routes that are established are good enough. It is too bad we can no longer bolt, but all the more reason to seek out more boulders-am I right!
By Tradoholic
Mar 23, 2009
Just so it's clear please do NOT bolt anymore at G Dodge. If someone does it will risk closing the entire park to climbing. Seriously!
By Tradoholic
Apr 12, 2009
We had a talk with the Rangers today about climbing and the following issues came up;

-Anyone caught installing anchors will at least severely damage climber relations with the park staff. And perhaps arrested I think, but consequences were not discussed.

-If there are campers in Group Site B do NOT walk through the site!!!! Please either park at the paved parking lot with the multiple bathrooms and walk up the hill or park in the gravel parking lot and head down the road a bit and then up the hill. They were VERY concerned about this!

-Please do not cut branches or try to establish trail. Park staff have been moving logs in the way to try and stop new trails from being worn in. They have better things to do with their time. TREAD LIGHTLY!!

-Do NOT drive around closed gates!!! The number one negative incident they remembered about climbers was when someone (who shall remain nameless) drove around the gates to Camp B. This was a MAJOR issue because it interfered with their sharpshooting!

Generally speaking, follow the park rules and there won't be any issues. They were very friendly to us and didn't have any hostility towards climbers but they have many user groups to manage and have to compromise appropriately.
By Tony Brengosz
Apr 12, 2009
In addition to group camp B, I think that would apply to Twin Valley North and The Complex as well.

As far as installing anchors does that apply only to permanent anchors or does it effectively mean no toproping either?
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Apr 12, 2009
Nothing permanent (ie. bolts). Similar to the Lake, TR is fine, but try for minimal impact at the top of course.
By dannyolboy
From: crystal lake il
Apr 21, 2009
Any info on the rest of the bluffs thought the park? choss? bad lines? access issues? Ive been to the gov about a dozen times and the recent development is great!
By TravisMelin
From: Roanoke, VA La Crosse, WI
Apr 22, 2009
danny, I would say that a good majority of the obvious bluffs have been explored (mostly choss). All the good rock I have ever come across is posted on this site. That said there are still a bunch of less obvious spots that are in need of exploration, and may yield some sweet new boulders. If you want to do some exploration, let me know, and I will point you in the direction of some areas that might have some good stone...
By Paul Dieterle
From: Pasadena, CA
Apr 25, 2009
So today I saw a lot of people (a dozen maybe) climbing on the dripping wet Qual Wall. for future reference, do you guys think i should confront them?
By Tradoholic
Apr 26, 2009
Yes, people climbing on wet sandstone should be politely reminded that it can easily break ruining it for future climbers.
By John W. Knoernschild
From: Wisconsin
Sep 14, 2009
Funny how I can mention that very thing Paul just stated, but I got flamed here on MP for even mentioning making people aware of the dangers of climbing on wet sandstone. So where are those people now??? Thx for pointing that out Paul, I for one agree with you.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 14, 2009
John I hear ya-- I sort of remember that exchange. I think Steve's point (pretty sure it was Steve) was that some of/most of the sandstone at GD is friable and stuff breaks even when bone dry. At Red Rocks, they say no climbing for 48 hours after rain for this reason. I don't know where the reality lies for the Dodge. I think some reasonable exercise in self-control is warranted. If holds are obviously wet, I say don't climb. Plus it's no fun then anyway. If it's been a day or two since the downpour and stuff seems dry...
By Michael Bartosek
From: Los Angeles
Sep 20, 2009
My wife and I climbed out there yesterday for the first time (just moved here from California) and we were the only people at the crag!! Did we miss a memo? A beautiful day for climbing and some gorgeous routes, yet not one other climber in the area...wow. Anyway, we did the 10's on Qual wall and I thought all of them were good routes worth a climb. We'll be heading back soon to start working that 5.11a lieback, that thing looks awesome.
By Tradoholic
Nov 23, 2009
I dropped off a check for $250 from Boulders Climbing Gym's fall Halloween comp/fund "razor" to the park today. Park staff was very appreciative! I will be planning a spring clean up in the park, stay tuned...
By Langlois
From: NYC
Nov 24, 2009
Awesome! Thanks for putting that comp together Rhoads
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Nov 24, 2009
Wow!, yeah, word Nick.
By John W. Knoernschild
From: Wisconsin
Nov 24, 2009
Nice nick!
By Tony Brengosz
Nov 25, 2009
I don't know if this is already your plan, but when you organize the clean up, it may be worthwhile to get the park involved in it before the clean up happens, versus just stopping by after the clean up and showing them the trash.
By Mr. Mix
From: Sauk City, WI
Nov 30, 2009
Great work Nick and Boulders, you should drop a note to the editors' of the Madison papers. It would be great to get a good will story out there about climbers giving back to the parks-positive pr.
By mike glass
Apr 7, 2010
Has anyone seen the giant spiders on the rocks over by the big cave? they are out in the summer. The body is fist size of an adult person and the legs on these guys are at least 5-7 ". no kidding. first time I saw 'em was 2 years ago and of course I left my camera at home. posted 4/10
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Apr 7, 2010
The cave by group B or the cave by Twin Valley? Sounds impressive. Personally I worry more about the damn ticks.
By TheBirdman
From: Eldorado Springs, Colorado
May 20, 2010
Anyone want to climb on Sunday? I'll be at Twin Lakes campground site 278 bouldering by my lonesome. 732-299-8582.
By Sam Daley
From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nov 22, 2010
I would love to visit Governor Dodge on a bouldering expedition this upcoming weekend. Is there enough southern exposure/ protection from the wind for winter bouldering to still be enjoyable? It looks like the temps will be nice on Saturday. Will anyone else be getting out there?
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Nov 23, 2010
Sam, hit Group B. Highest concentration of good stuff and if it's windy, one side should be sheltered. Barrel Ridge would be ok too, and good concentration of stuff. The Lonlies are always fun too, but not as much to do.
By glclimber
Mar 27, 2011
Hello wisconcin folks...Im planning a visit to this area and was fishing for advice. Never been to this park, plan to treat it with the utmost respect, but als plan on getting lost. Is there a map of the bouldering anywhere? 10 minute hikes can turn into epic never-finds at some places, is the dodge like this? whats the best plan of attack to find the problems in general?
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Mar 27, 2011
Hey glclimber, go to the park office and ask for a map of the park. Sometimes they just give you a little newspaper like publication with a map in it, but ask for the one-page park map with trail updates(free), it's better. Each major area on MP has nice little hand drawn maps which are super usefull if your new to the park, print those off if you can. Most areas are fairly easy to find like Group Camp B, Box Canyon and the Boat Landing Boulders. Some are a little trickier like The Complex, Barrel Ridge, Boulder 401 area, etc. Good luck, and have fun.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Aug 24, 2011
Nick were the stolen biners zip tied?

I will donate new biners to the cause. Not sure when I will get out there on a rope again though. Unless of course the folks who accidentally cleaned them with their draws would like to fess up and return them. Or just return them.
By Tradoholic
Aug 25, 2011
Yes, zip tied, so not thief proof but it was obvious they were meant to stay there.
By Kale K
Dec 3, 2011
Has anyone been by Stephens Falls lately to know if ice is forming yet? I live in Chicago, and would love to get some info from locals to avoid a 7hr round trip drive just to see. Looking forward to a great ice climbing year. Be safe.
By Paul Campbell
From: Waukesha, WI
Dec 4, 2011
I imagine not yet. Really no days under freezing so far.
By Eero46
Feb 28, 2012
would anyone be willing to draw up a map of the boulders locations
By Tradoholic
Feb 29, 2012
Dude, look around a bit before asking questions. Quite a few topos have been posted already and I think they cover almost the entire park. If some are missing there are clear directions to every area to which you could visit and draw a topo for the rest of us. Thanks!
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Feb 29, 2012
As usual the Ninja simply says what everyone is thinking to themselves. Eero, I have thought about doing an overview of the park bouldering areas, but you would still need the directions since it would be way too "bird's eye" to be useful for navigation.

As Nick said there are topos for most of the main individual areas. The ones that are kind of hard to find include the ABC boulder (@ Barrel Ridge), the Complex, and the 401 boulder, as well as to a certain extent Steve's ZZ boulders. However, you seriously would have to be busy for weeks to months at the rest of the park to run out of stuff and feel compelled to go looking for the more obscure areas. Have fun and don't park where it's stated not to park.
By Eero46
Mar 4, 2012
Sorry I am just heading up there in May and want a good experience.
By Josh Olson
From: madison, wisconsin
Mar 5, 2012
You will, the rock is great. When time gets closer, ask on here for a "guide."
By AdamH
Mar 19, 2012
For anyone who wants I added a photo with the location of climbing areas at Dodge. This should hopefully clear up any confusion. Again these are approximations based on where I have been. Good luck!
By Kris Litchfield
Dec 16, 2012
Found a nice green wool cap on the backbone ridge at group camp B on dec 13, can leave at boulders.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 19, 2014
boulder bash 2014 next weekend at governor dodge! Check out the promo video:

By Doug Hemken
Oct 20, 2014
Thank you to the LE ranger who took the time yesterday to chat with the climbers at the Plan B area, about various climbing management issues. That was very helpful.
By KurtH
Oct 20, 2014
We were also approached by a very friendly Ranger this weekend at the Qual Wall. He mentioned that they had caught wind of reports (from Mountain Project) of plans to replace anchors on the sport routes. He mentioned that the current bolts are in illegally, and that replacing bolts / adding new ones could result in closing the rope climbing here. That said, he was polite, said they were open to dialogue about safety concerns of aging hardware, but until a formal conversation has been started / policy in place, any action could harm access. We all appreciated them going out of their way to talk to climbers and the ranger expressed their desire for climbers to fully enjoy the park. I'm not form the area, so I thought local leaders in the climbing community should know! Looks like this may not be something new though...
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