Once designated to be a jet fighter base, Richard Bong State Recreation Area is fittingly named after Major Richard I. Bong, a Poplar, Wisconsin, native who was America's leading air ace during World War II. The project was abandoned three days before concrete was to be poured for a 12,500-foot runway. Local citizens had the foresight to protect this open space for future generations. In 1974 the state bought the land and it became the state's first recreation area.
The recreation area encompasses 4,515 acres of rolling grassland, savanna, wetlands and scattered woodland. Richard Bong State Recreation Area is open year-round and has 41.1 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and dirt bike riding.