Door Bluff Headlands County Park
Location: 12900 Door Bluff Park Road near Gills Rock
Door Bluff Headlands is undeveloped except for an access road to its interior. The park is characterized by vertical limestone bluffs rising up from the waters of Green Bay, a variety of tree species, numerous species of ground vegetation, and varied topography. It is a delight for the naturalist with its scenery, flora and fauna, and relative remoteness. The park receives limited usage because it is not developed for active recreational use.
In a limited biological inventory of Door Bluff County Park by the Nature Conservancy of the Door Peninsula and Green Bay Watershed Project completed in 2007, 46 species of birds and 92 species of flora were identified in the park. In a 1996 study, 18 species of land snails were identified in the park.
Featured in the 1993 Summer/Fall edition of Voyageur magazine, Native American paintings—rock art—was found on the cliffs at the Door Bluff Headlands in 1991 by amateur archeologists, Doug Bohjanen of Michigan and his brother. Bohjanen discovered red painted canoes and numerous other figures that dated to 1000-1499CE . The site is either the famous “Death’s Door Glyphs,” or a new site altogether. Green Bay Indian Agent Samuel Stambaugh first documented the art in 1831 and described its location as the bluff of Death’s door passage at the tip of the peninsula. Lichen was obscuring the art found by Bohjanen five to ten feet off the surface of the lake. In 1993, the pictographs were listed in the National Registrar of Historic Places.
The schooner Fleetwing, a shipwreck of 1888, is located in the waters next to the park. The ribs and keel can be seen lying on the bottom of the bay.
Edwin and Grace Walker, Ino Walker and William and Anne Duncan sold 123 acres to the county for $1 in 1944. In 1977, William and Lyn Swift and William and Miriam Over also sold 33 acres of adjacent land to the county for $1 with the premise that the “land be forever used as a park.” According to an article in the Door County Advocate on February 15 1977, the donation of the 33 acres of land marked the first major land donation to the county park system since the original 123 acres. Work to develop the park—building restrooms, trails, a well, and a picnic area with grills was halted. In 1970, only a scenic road was created as it was decided to keep the park in its natural state as a sanctuary.
The park was previously named Death’s Door Headlands Sanctuary.
The Headlands are unique in their structure and appearance, being one of a few such formations in this county. It is reputed that it was at this point where the Washington Island Indians (Iroquois), fought the mainland Indians (Potawatomi).