Here’s How to Go Camping in Wisconsin State Parks

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A sunset on a river in Wisconsin where you can camp in a beautiful state park.

You’re planning your summer adventures and considering visiting northern states for pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Have you checked out Wisconsin camping? State parks provide great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, whether you’re a solo traveler or a family traveling with kids.

Let’s take a look at five specific Wisconsin camping state parks that offer memory-making experiences for everyone.

Why Camping in Wisconsin in Awesome

One of the most enjoyable experiences in the midwest is Wisconsin camping. State parks are usually well-kept and offer beautiful views and many outdoor activities. The lakes, rivers, cliffs, and other Wisconsin landscapes really bring the outdoor experience to life.

You can also book a specific site. If you’re looking for a waterfront site, one near a boat launch, a site near a dump station, you can easily book it. The weather is usually pleasant in the spring, summer, and fall. You can enjoy the great outdoors without freezing or getting too hot. But if you’re into skiing and ice fishing, Wisconsin camping provides numerous opportunities to enjoy these outdoor winter activities as well.

Wisconsin welcomes you sign with words 'recreation' 'industry' and 'agriculture' carved into the frame.

When Is the Best Time to Go Camping In Wisconsin?

Wisconsin state parks are open year-round. But if you’re not prepared for severe winter weather, you should avoid camping from November-February. Great outdoor winter activities are available, but most campsites don’t offer full hook-ups. So unless you’re prepared with solar and extra batteries, your stay may not be as enjoyable during those colder months.

Summer is prime camping season in Wisconsin. This means the areas are more crowded, but you experience pleasant weather and lots of outdoor fun. More campsites are available in the non-winter months since the park system only clears a handful during the winter.

How Many State Parks Are in Wisconsin? 

More than 20 million guests visit Wisconsin state parks every year. These visitors enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping, as well as water activities like boating, fishing, swimming, and canoeing. In the winter, guests go skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. Devil’s Lake State Park is the largest and most popular.

Wisconsin has 66 state parks that also include state recreation areas. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages the parks and state forests. The state parks and recreation areas cover over 60,500 acres, and the state forests cover over 471,000 additional acres.

How Much Does It Cost to Camp at Wisconsin State Parks?

There are more than 6,000 campsites within the state park system. These locations offer limited hook-ups but are prime areas for Wisconsin camping. State parks in Wisconsin require vehicle admission stickers, so make sure to buy one of those online or once you arrive. Annual Wisconsin resident stickers are $28, stickers for Wisconsin residents over age 65 are $13, and out-of-state visitor stickers are $38. Daily stickers range from $8 to $20, depending on the residence and the state park.

Stays between May 15 and October 31 require a minimum two-night reservation. Holiday weekend stays require a minimum three-night reservation. There are no first-come, first-served campsites. It’s $20 per night to make a reservation for a standard campsite. Many accommodate tents, truck campers, pop-up campers, and RVs.

How to Make Camping Reservations for Wisconsin State Parks

Go to the booking website to reserve a state park campground. On the home page, you can select a specific campground, or if you’re flexible, select “Wisconsin State Parks” to view all availability. Fill out the information with your check-in and check-out dates, equipment, and party size. You can also filter to search for electric or waterfront sites.

Once you’ve clicked on the search button, it’s easy to find open sites using the color-coded map. The availability legend shows green dots for available sites, purple dots for partially available sites, yellow dots for sites with restrictions (this means the sites don’t match all of your search filters), and red dots for unavailable sites. If your dates are flexible, you can change them to reserve a partially available site if it’s in a desirable location.

Once you’ve chosen your campsite, follow the directions for payment. You’ll receive an email confirmation. The process is easy and convenient to complete online in a few minutes.

The webpage for the Wisconsin state parks camping reservations page.

Best Wisconsin State Parks for Camping

All of the parks are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. A vehicle admission sticker is required for entry. Whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, or swimming, there’s something for everyone at these Wisconsin state parks. Let’s take a closer look at five of the best locations!

1. Kohler-Andrae State Park 

Address: 1020 Beach Park Ln, Sheboygan, WI 53081

About: A family campground, group campground, and cabin rentals are available. The family campground includes electric hook-ups but no sewer or water. There’s a fire ring at each site and a picnic table. It’s open year-round. Only tents are allowed in the group campground.

Kohler-Andrae State Park is home to animals like white-tailed deer, red foxes, raccoons, hawks, and sandhill cranes. This unique landscape includes river marshes, pine and hardwood forests, long beaches, and sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.

The walkway leading to Lake Michigan in Wisconsin at Kohler-Andrae State Park.

2. Peninsula State Park 

Address: N7630 State Park Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

About: Peninsula State Park is located on the northern tip of Wisconsin’s peninsula. Some of the best features of this state park include the sightseeing adventures available. From beautiful views of Green Bay to the Blossomburg Cemetery historic burial site to Memorial Pole (the final resting place of the last Powhatan chief), there’s so much to see at Peninsula State Park. Lighthouse tours are also available.

There are plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, hunting, golfing, picnicking, swimming, skiing, snowmobiling, and tubing for the outdoor enthusiast. Five family campgrounds providing hundreds of sites and a group campground are available. Some offer electricity, but many don’t. Dump stations, laundry facilities, and bathhouses are located throughout the different campgrounds. All sites are a short five-minute walk to the shoreline.

The water and bay at Peninsula State Park in Wisconsin.

3. High Cliff State Park 

Address: 9462 Shore Rd, Fish Creek, WI 54212

About: Located on Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park offers over a hundred sites at the family campground and eight group campsites. A few sites offer electric hook-ups. Shower facilities, restrooms, and dump stations are located throughout the campground.

Boating, canoeing, kayaking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, hunting, swimming, and winter outdoor activities abound at High Cliff State Park. Make sure to also visit the 12-foot tall statue of Winnebago Indian Chief, Red Bird, that overlooks the lake. The lake’s eastern shore showcases limestone cliffs, creating a beautiful landscape of the rocky shoreline.

Snowy cliffs and a path at High Cliff state park in Wisconsin.

4. Big Bay State Park

Address: 2402 Hagen Rd, La Pointe, WI 54850

About: Big Bay State Park has four miles of Lake Superior shoreline, a one-mile boardwalk, swimming beach, and hiking trails. Located on Madeline Island, this state park has 2,350 acres to explore the ancient culture of the Chippewa Indians and outdoor recreational activities like boating, canoeing, fishing, hunting, and swimming. Take a bus tour, visit an art gallery, or play a round of golf during your stay.

The camping facilities include 60 campsites, 21 of them with electricity. The five sites available for winter camping have electric hook-ups. There’s also a group campground about a half-mile from the family campground.

Kayakers on the water in Big Bay State park in Wisconsin.

5. Merrick State Park

Address: S2965 State Road 35, Fountain City, Wisconsin, 54629

About: While the other state parks on this list are situated on lakes, Merrick State Park is located on the Mississippi River. The north campground has 25 sites, most of which have electricity. The south campground has 35 campsites, most of which are waterfront. Tent sites are located on Island Campground. Showers are only available on the north campground property.

Water recreational activities are popular at Merrick State Park. Large parking lots are available at two boat launches, and a canoe launch sits adjacent to the lower boat landing. Two miles of hiking trails wind through the park. During the winter, visitors enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing along the Mississippi River.

A snowy scene on the Mississippi river in Merrick State Park in Wisconsin.

Add the Badger State to Your Camping Destination

Making reservations at these Wisconsin camping state parks is easy and convenient. The most difficult part of the process is deciding which state park to visit first. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll enjoy outdoor activities and beautiful scenic views during all seasons. Definitely add the Badger State to your list of camping destinations. Which state park will you visit first?

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