Though this grand mountain is actually one of the oldest geologic formations on earth, Rib Mountain is not volcanic in nature, as the shape of the terrain might suggest from some angles. As local geologists like to point out, "Rib Mountain is not volcanic in any way, shape or form". In reality, Rib Mountain is a large block of quartzite that has stood tall while the other sedimentary rock of the area has weathered away.
In the pursuit of county highpointing, Rib Mountain is widely considered the hardest county (Marathon) highpoint in Wisconsin. While the scramble to the top of the quartzite outcrop is probably only class 3, it certainly beats the socks off of walking through a muddy corn field.
Since Rib Mountain State Park was established in 1934, the park has grown to nearly 1,600 acres. On the north side of the mountain is the Granite Peak Ski Area, one of the best ski runs in the midwest. The state park has developed shelters, an observation tower and decks, picnic areas and an amphitheater for the benefit of visitors.
Take Exit188 from US 51 for Rib Mountain State Park (not Exit 190 for Rib Mountain Ski Area). Follow Rib Mountain Drive to the west towards the state park. There is a vehicle admission fee required for the park. You can drive almost the whole way to the top if you wish, or you may stop at either the Yellow Trail trailhead or take the paved walkway next to the road and hike up to the summit rock, which has a 60' observation tower next to it, as well as the USGS Benchmark nearby.
Daily or annual vehicle admission fees are required to enter the state park. To avoid getting your car towed away, please be careful to park only in appropriate spaces. For the latest information on the entry rates, click on this link:
Any other restrictions will be posted at the park. Additionally, COVID restrictions are in place at Rib Mountain and all other state parks in Wisconsin until the pandemic is over. For questions, call 1-888-936-7463, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. An alternate phone number is: (715) 842-2522.
The state park is open for hiking all year. However, careful hikers should check the latest weather conditions. For the latest weather conditions and forecast for Rib Mountain:
Annual hunting seasons do affect portions of many Rib Mountain trails, thus may affect hiking plans. The map below, courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR, shows exactly what to expect. You may download a DNR pdf map at:
While most hikers access the Rib Mountain State Park trail system through the state park, a few use the Turkey Vulture trailhead, located at the south end of Grouse Lane, which is accessible from County Road Nn (Exit 190 from US51). A few hikers also hike up to the summit area through the Granite Mountain Ski Area, also on Road Nn.
Marathon County also provides a link for area camping: