Home Camping Adventures Camping Adventures in Wisconsin: Best Places to Go Camping
Camping Adventures in Wisconsin: Best Places to Go Camping

5 min

September 8, 2023

  • Meta description: From waterfront vistas to wooded sanctuaries, Wisconsin offers a diverse camping experience. Read on for the best places in Wisconsin for camping!Welcome to your one-stop guide for awesome camping spots in Wisconsin! Who doesn’t like sitting by a big lake or maybe even tucked away in a shady forest spot. 

    Whether you’re new to camping or you’ve been doing it for years, Wisconsin has something special for you.

    How about paddling a boat to a quiet island and sleeping right on the beach? Or maybe you want a place that’s not too far from the city? From family spots to hideaway places, we’ve got the scoop on where to go. 

    With so many lakes, forests, and cool trails, picking a spot can make your head spin! But don’t sweat it—we’ve picked the best places for you to check out!

    Best Camping Spots in Wisconsin: At a Glance

    The best camping spots in Wisconsin include: 

    1. Rock Island State Park
    2. Peninsula State Park
    3. Devil’s Lake State Park
    4. Camp Kettlewood
    5. Wyalusing State Park
    6. Cooper Falls State Park
    7. Koehler-Andrae State Park
    8. Wildcat Mountain State Park
    9. Jack Lake Campground
    10. Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
    11. St. Droid National Scenic Riverway
    12. Mirror Lake State Park
    13. Buckhorn State Park

    Rock Island State Park

    Rock Island State Park is a remote island paradise located at the northern tip of Wisconsin’s Door County, accessible only by ferry. Known for its rugged beauty and historical landmarks, it offers a true escape into nature. 

    The island, which spans about 900 acres, has no vehicles, making it a quiet, peaceful place for outdoor activities. 

    With its varied terrain featuring limestone cliffs, sandy beaches, and wooded areas, Rock Island is a natural sanctuary waiting to be explored.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Pottawatomie Lighthouse: One of the island’s key landmarks, the lighthouse offers guided tours that shed light on its history.
    • Hiking: The Thordarson Loop Trail is a 5.2-mile loop that takes you through some of the island’s most scenic spots.
    • Beach Picnic: With no shops or restaurants on the island, pack a picnic and enjoy a meal on one of its secluded beaches.
    • Boating: Since the island is only accessible by boat, consider renting a kayak or canoe for an intimate experience of the surrounding waters.
    • Fishing: Cast a line in the bountiful waters surrounding Rock Island; you might catch some walleye, bass, or northern pike.

    Those who love star-gazing are in for a treat. With minimal light pollution, Rock Island offers an incredible night sky, perfect for astronomy enthusiasts. 

    Peninsula State Park

    Peninsula State Park, also situated in Door County, is a contrast to Rock Island in many ways. It’s one of Wisconsin’s most popular and largest state parks, covering 3,776 acres. 

    This park offers a range of camping options, from family-friendly campgrounds to more secluded spots. With its stunning bluffs overlooking Green Bay, eight miles of shoreline, and a variety of landscapes including forests, meadows, and wetlands, Peninsula State Park is a haven for outdoor lovers.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Eagle Bluff Lighthouse: Built in 1868, you can take a guided tour and enjoy the breathtaking view from the top.
    • Golfing: The park features a 6-hole golf course that provides a challenging yet fun experience.
    • Biking: With over 20 miles of designated bike trails, cycling is one of the best ways to explore the park.
    • Swimming: Nicolet Beach is a great spot for a swim or to simply relax by the water.
    • Theater Experience: Don’t miss the Northern Sky Theater’s outdoor performances held in the park during summer months.

    The park is also home to White Cedar Nature Center, which offers educational programs and displays about the area’s natural history. For an unforgettable dining experience, head to the nearby Fish Creek, a charming village offering a variety of dining options, from waterfront seafood to cozy cafés.

    Devil’s Lake State Park

    Devil’s Lake State Park, situated in the Baraboo Range in eastern Wisconsin, is arguably one of the state’s most iconic natural treasures. 

    Covering over 9,000 acres, the park is renowned for its impressive 500-foot quartzite bluffs that flank a 360-acre lake. The rich biodiversity, picturesque scenery, and variety of recreational activities make it a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Swimming and Beach Fun: Two large sandy beaches provide plenty of space for sunbathing and water fun.
    • Boating: Canoe, kayak, or paddleboard on the serene waters of Devil’s Lake.
    • Bird Watching: Spot ospreys, eagles, and many other bird species.

    Camp Kettlewood

    Located in southeastern Wisconsin, Camp Kettlewood offers a different vibe altogether. It’s an ideal spot for organized group camping, youth retreats, and even corporate events. 

    With its open fields, wooded areas, and basic facilities, this camp focuses on traditional camping experiences and outdoor education.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Campfire and Storytelling: The site offers several fire pits perfect for evening gatherings.
    • Local Attractions: Check out nearby towns for farmers’ markets and local festivals.
    • Team-building Activities: Many opt for the camp for organized group events.

    If you’re looking for a “no-frills” camping experience focused on community and educational activities, Camp Kettlewood is for you. However, remember to bring all necessities with you, as shopping options might be limited.

    Wyalusing State Park

    Nestled at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, Wyalusing State Park is a gem that offers stunning bluff views, lush greenery, and a variety of outdoor activities.

    The park’s history is rich with Native American heritage, including ancient mounds and petroglyphs. Nighttime brings a different kind of beauty with star-gazing events, thanks to the park’s low light pollution.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Treasure Cave and Wisconsin Ridge: Two scenic overlooks that provide stunning panoramic views.
    • Fishing: The rivers are ripe for angling, with species like walleye and bass commonly found.
    • Canoeing and Kayaking: Explore the backwaters and sloughs for a serene paddle.
    • Hiking: Over 14 miles of trails offer exploratory ventures through forests and along riverbanks.

    Cooper Falls State Park

    Cooper Falls State Park is one of Wisconsin’s lesser-known parks, providing a peaceful getaway without the crowds. Known for its namesake waterfall, Cooper Falls, the park offers campers an authentic outdoor experience complete with hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

    The lack of crowds often turns into a perk for visitors looking for a quiet escape. If you’re planning a romantic getaway or simply need some ‘me time,’ Cooper Falls State Park provides the serenity you’re seeking!

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Cooper Falls: A short hike leads to the park’s centerpiece, a beautiful waterfall that’s a must-see.
    • Nature Trails: Wander through the trails surrounding the falls for a full immersion into Wisconsin’s diverse flora and fauna.
    • Photography: The natural beauty of the park provides ample opportunities for landscape and wildlife photography.
    • Local Farms: Take a short drive to visit nearby farms and pick up some local produce.

    Koehler-Andrae State Park

    Koehler-Andrae State Park, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, offers a unique coastal camping experience in Wisconsin. The park is famous for its sandy beaches, dunes, and woodland areas, providing a diverse setting for outdoor activities.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Beach Time: Enjoy the sun and waves at one of the best beaches Wisconsin has to offer.
    • Dune Cordwalk: A unique elevated boardwalk that takes you through some of the state’s most fragile dune ecology.
    • Biking: Paved trails offer cyclists a scenic tour of the park’s diverse landscapes.

    If you’re interested in botany, keep an eye out for some rare plant species that inhabit the dunes and woodlands. The park also has several campsites close to the beach, so you can go to sleep and wake up to the soothing sounds of Lake Michigan’s waves. 

    And don’t forget to check out the Sanderling Nature Center for interactive exhibits about the area’s natural history.

    Wildcat Mountain State Park

    Perched on a steep ridge overlooking the scenic Kickapoo River Valley, Wildcat Mountain State Park offers 3,603 acres of sheer bliss for the outdoor adventurer. It’s the ultimate playground for those who love heights, hikes, and a hefty dose of natural beauty.

    A little hack for campers here: early morning is the best time to spot wildlife, so set that alarm and grab your binoculars.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Hiking: Ascend the trails leading to the summit for a bird’s-eye view of the valley.
    • Horseback Riding: Over 15 miles of horse trails for equestrian lovers.
    • Canoeing: Navigate the winding Kickapoo River, known as the “crookedest river in the world.”

    Jack Lake Campground

    Located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, Jack Lake Campground is a small but captivating campground, featuring pristine Jack Lake and encompassing woodlands. It’s a sweet spot for family getaways, where modern amenities meet good old-fashioned outdoor fun.

    Local legends claim that the lake has a resident “water monster,” affectionately named “Jackie.” Don’t worry, she’s said to be friendly!

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Swimming: The lake has a designated swimming area with a sandy beach.
    • Mountain Biking: Traverse the specially designed mountain biking paths.
    • Boat Rentals: Canoes and kayaks are available for exploring the lake.
    • Winter Sports: In colder months, enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling, and even skiing.

    Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest

    Covering a whopping 236,000 acres, the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest is a camping behemoth. It offers a multitude of recreational opportunities in a setting that ranges from lakes and wetlands to forests and meadows.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Multi-Sport: Enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, and even ATV riding in designated areas.
    • Bird Watching: Spot raptors, songbirds, and waterfowl in this avian haven.
    • Wildlife Photography: Keep an eye out for deer, otters, and even the elusive American Marten.

    St. Droid National Scenic Riverway

    For anyone interested in waterway adventures, St. Droid National Scenic Riverway is your kind of paradise. Traversing along beautifully pristine rivers, it offers a unique blend of tranquility and excitement. Here’s a tip: pack an inflatable raft or paddleboard. 

    The riverway is less crowded than other water hotspots, making it an ideal location for trying out different kinds of watercraft. Don’t forget a waterproof bag for your essentials; you’ll be on or near the water most of the time!

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Fossil Hunting: The riverbanks have been known to reveal ancient marine fossils.
    • Scenic Drives: There are routes along the river that provide gorgeous overlooks.
    • Cultural Experiences: Check out nearby historical landmarks and Native American heritage sites.

    Mirror Lake State Park

    Mirror Lake State Park offers a different vibe—quiet, smaller, and almost ethereal. The lake is so calm that it often perfectly reflects the surrounding landscape, living up to its name. 

    For a unique experience, bring a night sky map and take advantage of the park’s low light pollution to stargaze from the quiet of your campsite. A hammock is a great addition here; the park’s numerous trees provide the perfect setup for an afternoon snooze.

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Geocaching: Use GPS to find hidden treasures around the park.
    • Mountain Boarding: A fun alternative to traditional mountain biking.
    • Nature Walks: With less foot traffic, you’re more likely to spot local wildlife like foxes and owls.

    Buckhorn State Park

    Buckhorn State Park is the go-to place for a varied experience, with a landscape that includes marshlands, woodlands, and sandy beaches. 

    A unique hack for this park is to bring a pair of waders; the shallow waters are home to a variety of interesting aquatic plants and animals. This is a great way to get up close to nature in a way that most visitors wouldn’t experience!

    Best Things to Do Nearby

    • Archery: The park has a dedicated archery range; perfect for honing your skills.
    • Astronomy Events: Join in on telescope evenings to view celestial events.
    • Beach Picnics: With dedicated picnic areas by the beach, you can enjoy a meal with a view.


    From the solitude of Rock Island to the bustling community of Peninsula State Park, each location offers a unique blend of activities and scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, there’s a corner of Wisconsin’s wilderness calling your name. 

    It’s time to pack your bags, gather your loved ones, or simply bring a good book to read by the campfire. Whatever your camping style, Wisconsin is a playground of natural wonders waiting for you to explore.

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