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“Lots to do at all times of the year”
Review of Elver Park

Elver Park
Ranked #51 of 105 things to do in Madison
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Attraction details
Owner description: Favorite place for residents and visitors to play in the winter with open skating, hockey, sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Reviewed December 27, 2013

I grew up on the Southwest side of Madison so I watched Elver Park take shape starting in the late 1970s and have spent a lot of time there over the years. When I return to Madison for a family visit, I almost always include a trip to the park for one reason or another . . . sledding, hiking, jogging.

There is a lot to do at Elver Park . . . summertime visitors may enjoy Frisbee golf, basketball and tennis courts. July 4 fireworks are an annual "happening". There are a number of soccer and softball fields. A "splash park" is in the plans and as of the time of this review, it is expected to open in late summer 2014. Wintertime visitors may enjoy the finest sledding hill in Madison, hockey and skating, and cross country skiing (included some trails that are lighted at night). Hiking is a year-round option through the varied terrain . . . flat lowlands and hills (from which you can see the Wisconsin State Capitol), pine and deciduous forests, meadows, ponds. Winter hikers should be considerate by not damaging the grooming of the cross country ski trails.

A little more detail on the sledding hill: it is delightful but can be dangerous, especially if the snow gets packed down and then there's either freezing rain or liquid rain that subsequently freezes, making the slope in essence a downhill ice skating rink. I am frankly (pleasantly) surprised that in our era of nanny government that they allow it. The sledding hill is theoretically open only dawn to dusk, but there is enough spillover light from the ice skating rinks that you can sled well into the evening. I recommend sledding when it is less crowded; that way if your sled twirls around you can enjoy going backwards without having to worry as much that you're going to hit somebody.

Though the park is wonderful, there are a few shortcomings which, if addressed, could serve to make this a world-class 5-star park.

* The park does not fully realize its aesthetic potential . . . there is very little in the way of manicured grass or landscaping, and the ponds seem like they could be a more prominent part of the park experience.
* The playground is kind of lame.
* It is regrettable that the park is not more dog-friendly; you'd think Madison's largest park (227 acres) could incorporate an off-leash dog area.
* It is disappointing that the city does not clear snow from the paved trail that extends from the warming shelter to the old Gammon Road "stub"; a lot of people incorporate this stretch of trail into their jogging or bicycling routes, but it becomes unusable for such purposes when there is snowcover (where the ski trails cross this path, perhaps they could leave just enough snow to facilitate crossing it on skis).

3  Thank kwa829
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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8 - 12 of 17 reviews

Reviewed May 20, 2013 via mobile

It's a nice park. My kids favorite park to sled in the winter, it gets really crowded during that season. It's beautiful to just walk thru on a summer day. It has a huge disc golf area that my son loves. As far as playground equipment goes not much to rave there and there are questionable kids at best always hanging around over there and many that need to be supervised which aren't. Aside from that aspect it is a nice park. They always have fire works there on the Fourth of July which are spectacular if you're looking to stay away from very overpopulated downtown on that day.

1  Thank Blmor78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2013

I rented skis here for $9 and spent a few hours on the trails. I had a great time. The other skiers were of all ages and skill levels. I am a beginner and stayed on the easier trails. There is also a sledding hill and a skating rink.
I will go again. If not for the skiing, then for the skating.

1  Thank PaperTiger67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

Fabulous hill that allows some major speed! Not for the faint of heart, the broken sled pike near the bottom tells the tale. Also at the park is skating, hockey and cross county skiing. Very reasonable rental rates for all equipment except for sleds, you must bring your own. Bring cash, credit cards not accepted. 5 kids in our group chose to return here for a second day rather than go skiing!

Thank Jaime K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2012

This is a terrific park! There is fun to be had here in all seasons. There's ample room for picnics and large group barbeques. There's a basketball court here that never gets crowded. There's also very clean on site bathroom facilities maintained well by the city. They're well lit and safe. One of my favorite things about this park is the very steep hill at the rear of the park. It's terrific for a hill-climb workout in the spring, summer or autumn. Many people visit this park just to workout on this hill. In the winter it's probably the most popular place in the city for snow sledding. You'll feel like part of an Olympic bobsled team with the speeds you can attain on this long sloping hill. Best park in Madison.

Thank gadgetguy63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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