Did you know that Wisconsin was one of the first states to have a state park? In 1878, the state formed “The State Park” in northern Wisconsin. Now there are dozens of places protecting the Badger State’s natural beauty, history, and culture. Let’s look at eight of the best Wisconsin state park camping locations, from the shores of Lake Michigan to the forests of the interior. The hardest part will be deciding which state park to make your reservation. Let’s dive in!
How Many State Parks Are in Wisconsin?
Currently, there are 66 state parks, including recreation areas. There are also 44 state trails covering more than 1,700 miles. Over 20 million people visit the state parks, trails, and other locations in the Wisconsin State Park System annually.
What’s the Most Popular Wisconsin State Park?
Devil’s Lake State Park is the most popular Wisconsin state park, with roughly 3 million yearly visitors. It protects 500-foot quartzite bluffs overlooking the 374-acre lake. Guests enjoy hiking nearly 30 miles of trails, setting up a picnic along the lakeshore, enjoying water recreation like swimming and paddling, and attending naturalist programs year-round. Devil’s Lake is one of the Wisconsin state park camping locations on our list below!
Pro Tip: Head to one of these 7 Best Door County Campgrounds for an amazing camping experience.
Are Wisconsin State Parks Good for Camping?
With wooded campsites, sandy beaches, and waterfront scenery, Wisconsin state parks offer beautiful places to pitch a tent or park your RV. In the summer, travelers relish the comfortable temperatures and outdoor recreation. Lakes, rivers, cliffs, and forests surround many of these state parks where hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, paddling, and camping are popular activities.
8 Best State Parks in Wisconsin for Camping
The Badger State has 48 state parks, but eight offer particularly beautiful locations and hours of outdoor activities. Some of these campgrounds include electric hookups while others also provide a gravel pad with a fire ring and picnic table. Let’s look at which Wisconsin state park camping location is best for you!
1. Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo has 423 campsites. You must make reservations even if it’s on the day of arrival. While the Quartzite campground is open year-round, the Northern Lights and Ice Age campgrounds are typically open April-October.
Quartzite also has the most spacious campsites, so RVers with big rigs tend to camp here. There are electric and non-electric sites in the Quartzite and Northern Lights campgrounds and only non-electric sites in the Ice Age campground. Dump stations, restrooms, and showers are onsite.
2. Governor Dodge State Park
Governor Dodge State Park is another location with hundreds of campsites. Electric hookups are available at 80 of over 300 sites. The Twin Valley and Cox Hollow campgrounds have showers, restrooms, dump stations, and playgrounds. This state park also offers equestrian camping and backpack camping.
While the park is open year-round, only 39 campsites are available during the winter season. The staff plows ten of them. The 5,000 acres of hills, valleys, lakes, and bluffs at Governor Dodge State Park make this a prime location for picnicking, hiking, canoeing, biking, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
3. Kohler-Andrae State Park
Resting along the shores of Lake Michigan, Kohler-Andrae State Park has 137 campsites, 52 with electric hookups. There are no water or sewer hookups, but potable water and a dump station are available onsite. This campground is open year-round. Biking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and swimming are all popular here. This state park protects the majestic dunes, beaches, pines, and wildlife along the western shoreline of Lake Michigan.
4. Wyalusing State Park
Wyalusing State Park sits along the Iowa-Wisconsin border near the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. It’s one of Wisconsin’s oldest state parks, protects Native American burial mounds, and provides recreational activities like bird watching, fishing, boating, bicycling, picnicking, hiking, and canoeing.
There are two campgrounds: Wisconsin Ridge and Homestead, with 109 campsites. Electric hookups are available at some campsites. Vault toilets, flush toilets, showers, restrooms, potable water, and a dump station are onsite.
Pro Tip: You’ll love camping along these 8 Wild and Scenic Rivers So Beautiful They’re Under Special Protection.
5. Harrington Beach State Park
Another Wisconsin state park along the shores of Lake Michigan is Harrington Beach State Park. This diverse 715-acre park protects white cedar and hardwood swamps, old field grasslands, wetland ponds, and a limestone quarry lake. There are monthly public viewings for stargazers and opportunities for hiking, sunbathing, bird watching, fishing, and fishing. The family campground has 69 campsites, 31 with electric hookups. A dump station and potable water are onsite. Showers, flush toilets, and laundry facilities are available during the summer season.
6. Big Bay State Park
Big Bay State Park is within the Apostle Islands archipelago on Madeline Island. A ferry ride is required to access the park. This remote area has a 1-mile boardwalk, a swimming beach, and hiking trails. They offer naturalist programs during the summer season. The campground has 60 campsites, 21 with electric hookups. Showers and flush toilets are available during the summer season. Madeline Island Airport has a dump station.
Pro Tip: Use our Ultimate Weekend Guide to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to plan your adventure.
7. Mirror Lake State Park
Visitors know Mirror Lake for its calm waters and reflections of the wooded shoreline. The 2,200-acre state park is a prime location to view wildlife, enjoy beautiful scenery, and participate in outdoor recreation. Biking, fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming are popular activities.
Mirror Lake State Park also has three campgrounds: Sandstone Ridge, Cliffwood, and Bluewater Bay. There are electric and non-electric sites available. Guests also have access to a boat ramp, fishing pier, swimming beach, playground, dump stations, showers, and restrooms.
8. Peninsula State Park
The last location for the best Wisconsin state park camping is Peninsula State Park, which is probably the state’s most popular camping destination. Five campgrounds offer 468 campsites altogether. There are electric and non-electric sites available.
Depending on the location of the campground, guests have access to a fishing pier, boat launch, and swimming beach. The dump station is near the Tennison Bay campground. Peninsula State Park also has a summer theater, an 18-hole golf course, bike trails, a lighthouse, and 8 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
How Do I Make Camping Reservations for a Wisconsin State Park?
You can make reservations for all Wisconsin state park camping online. Choose the state park from the drop-down menu, set your arrival and departure dates, provide your party size and equipment type, and then search for what is available. Even with more than 6,000 campsites, you’ll want to make reservations as early as possible since Wisconsin is a prime summer destination for camping.
The nightly rate varies by residency, electricity, amenities, location, campsite type, day of the week, and season. Most of the Wisconsin state park campgrounds have a $20-40 nightly fee.
Pro Tip: You’ll love camping at one of these 5 Best Campgrounds for Visiting Wisconsin Dells Waterparks.
When Is the Best Time for Camping in Wisconsin?
Like neighboring Michigan, Wisconsin is an ideal summer vacation location due to its mild temperatures. Travelers looking to escape the heat of the South or Midwest find respite in the Badger State. This is also the time when everything is open. Rentals, campgrounds, and park programs are all available.
However, many of the Wisconsin state parks permit winter camping. The winters are harsh, so if you want to explore the area and participate in winter recreation, make sure you’re prepared.
Do I Need a Vehicle Admission Sticker for Wisconsin State Parks Camping?
Your camping reservation doesn’t include the vehicle admission sticker. This sticker is a requirement for all motor vehicles stopping in state parks, forests, or recreation areas. You can purchase this in advance or when you arrive. You’ll need a sticker for every day you’re camping inside the state park. Depending on the length of your stay, you might consider an annual sticker. However, you don’t have to pay for a second sticker for towed vehicles.
Residents of Wisconsin can buy an annual sticker for roughly $28, while out-of-state visitors are usually charged $38. Daily admission stickers cost approximately $8 for Wisconsin residents and around $11 for out-of-state residents. Stickers for Devil’s Lake, Peninsula, and Willow River are slightly more expensive. Adults aged 65 and over living in Wisconsin get a discounted rate on daily and annual vehicle admission stickers.
Enjoy the Beauty of the Badger State This Camping Season
The Badger State offers something for everyone. There are towering bluffs, serene lakes, dense forests, and more. Whether you camp on the shores of Lake Michigan or underneath the cover of whispering pine, the natural landscapes of Wisconsin will have you coming back for more camping adventures.
These Wisconsin state park camping locations offer opportunities for all kinds of outdoor recreation no matter which seasons you visit.
Which state park will you book first for your summer vacation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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