If you’re an outdoor enthusiast or simply looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, camping in Wisconsin might be just what you need.
With over 15,000 lakes, 48 state parks, eight State Forests and Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin is a haven for camping enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. From rustic backcountry camping to RV parks with all the amenities, Wisconsin offers something for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the best places to go camping in Wisconsin, along with tips for making the most of your trip. Whether you’re looking to fish, hike, or simply relax in nature, Wisconsin has the perfect camping spot for you.
Let’s jump in.
Wisconsin Camping Guide
Before you head out to pitch your tent or park your trailer, it’s good to have an understanding of your camping options in Wisconsin.
The following sections provide all the basic information you need to plan your trip, so keep reading to learn the basics of camping in Wisconsin!
Where can I camp in Wisconsin?
There are tons of opportunities to camp in Wisconsin, ranging from private RV campgrounds to developed state park campgrounds, and even free, dispersed camping. Public lands that permit camping in Wisconsin include:
- Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
- Wisconsin’s 48 State Parks
- State & County Forests
Of course you’ll also find lots of private RV campgrounds scattered throughout the state, with many of them being located near the public lands described above.
In the next section we’ll dive in to all of the best camping Wisconsin has to offer!
The Best Camping in Wisconsin
Campsite Types: Walk-in tent sites only
Crowds: Moderate (busy in the summer)
Nestled in the tranquil waters of Lake Michigan, Rock Island State Park boasts some of the most picturesque camping spots in all of Wisconsin. As the only Wisconsin state park located on an island, Rock Island offers a unique camping experience that’s sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
The campground at Rock Island is tucked away in a serene forest, surrounded by sparkling blue waters and a rugged shoreline. These are tent-only sites, so best for those who prefer a rugged experience. You should expect about a 15-minute walk from the ferry drop off to your campsite, so be sure you’ve packed light!
Campsites are basic and feature a picnic table and fire ring. Be sure to make your camping reservations early here, as the campground is often full during the busy summer months.
Campsite Types: Tent sites only
Located off the northern coast of Wisconsin, this stunning National Lake Shore features 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland shoreline, each with their own unique natural wonders to explore. 18 of the islands feature camping along with a single campground located on the mainland.
Similar to Rock Island, described above, all the camping at the Apostle Islands is tent only without any direct vehicle access to the campsites. For some this will be a deal-breaker, but for those looking for a tranquil escape, you can’t get much better than the Apostle Islands!
During the day, there are endless opportunities to explore the park’s natural wonders, whether it’s hiking through the lush forests, kayaking along the rocky shoreline, or taking a dip in the refreshing waters of Lake Superior. And as night falls, gather around the campfire with family and friends to share stories and stargaze under the brilliant night sky.
Advance reservations are required for all of the campsites at Apostle Islands, so be sure to reserve well in advance!
Campsite Types: 69 site family campground, group site, kayak site
One of our favorite off the beaten path campgrounds that is perfect for families is Harrington Beach State Park. This hidden gem is tucked away on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, just an hour or so north of Milwaukee.
Harrington Beach State Park offers several campground options to suit any style including a 69-site family campground (31 sites have electrical hookups), a group site that can accommodate up to 30 people, a kayak to site on the shores of Lake Michigan, and an accessible cabin for people with disabilities.
Reservations can be made in advance here, which we recommend during the summer camping season.
The park boasts over a mile of pristine sandy beaches, inviting you to take a dip in the refreshing waters or simply soak up the sun while listening to the gentle rhythm of the lake. Additionally, there are miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through the forest, offering glimpses of Lake Michigan through the trees.
Campsite Types: 112 site family campground, group site, accessible cabin
Located on the north-east shores of Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park offers a perfect family camping getaway. With over 1,200 acres of natural beauty, this state park offers tons of activities while also being close to the town of Appleton for all of your creature comforts.
There is a large family campground here with 112 total campsites, 32 of which have electric hookups. In addition, there are also eight group sites and a single accessible cabin. Facilities at the High Cliffe State Park campground are excellent with shower building that includes flush toilets. There is also a dump station available for those who need it.
Outside of the excellent campground High Cliff State Park is home to a wonderland of outdoor activities, including hiking trails, a scenic beach where you can swim or enjoy a picnic, and boat launches where you can launch your kayak or canoe and explore the lake’s calm waters.
Campsite Types: Five campgrounds totaling 468 individual sites + three group campsites
A list of the best camping in Wisconsin wouldn’t be complete without including Peninsula State Park, the state’s most popular camping destination. Here you’ll find some of the best camping options in the Midwest, nestled in the heart of Door County, Wisconsin. With over 450 individual campsites spread across five different campgrounds, there is something for every camping style here.
Here is an overview of the different campgrounds at Peninsula State Park:
- North Nicolet Bay: 44 sites (no electrical hookups), sand swimming beach.
- South Nicolet Bay: 143 sites (53 with electricity), sand swimming beach.
- Tennison Bay: 188 sites (97 with electricity)
- Webord Point: 12 sites, all have electricity
- Welcker’s Point: 81 family campsites, no electricity
- Group Sites: Three, tent-only group sites are available.
No matter which camping option you choose, you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of the park. Spend your days exploring the park’s hiking trails, fishing in the crystal clear waters of Green Bay, or simply lounging in your campsite and taking in the stunning scenery.
Campsite Types: Two campgrounds totaling 55 individual sites + one group campsite
Located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, Copper Falls State Park offers some of the most remote and breathtaking camping in Wisconsin. The park features over 5,000 acres of pristine forests, waterfalls, and crystal-clear lakes.
At Copper Falls State Park, you’ll two relatively basic campgrounds:
- North Campground: 32 sites (28 with electricity)
- South Campground: 23 sites, no electrical hookups
The North Campground is the more developed of the two and best for those with RVs. Tent campers will likely prefer the smaller and more secluded South Campground, which has 23 sites without electricity.
For those interested in exploring deeper into the Northwoods, check out the single backcountry campsite in Copper Falls State Park. It’s only a two mile hike in, but you’ll enjoy camping on the banks of the Bad River in complete isolation.
Campsite Types: Three campgrounds totaling 151 individual sites + seven group campsite
Mirror Lake State Park is a true gem of the Wisconsin State Park System, offering peaceful family camping just north of Madison. Situated in the rolling hills of the Baraboo Range, this park boasts over 2,000 acres of beautiful forests, sparkling lakes, and stunning rock formations.
At Mirror Lake State Park, there are plenty of camping options to choose from, with three camgprounds that can accommodate everything from tents to RVs:
- Sandstone Ridge: 68 sites with a mix of electric and non-electric.
- Cliffwood: 35 sites, 29 with electricity.
- Bluewater Bay: 63 non-electric campsites
All of the campsites feature basic amenities such as picnic tables and fire rings. If you’re looking for additional amenities, the Bluewater Bay Campground has a playground, sand volleyball court, and large field!
You’re also not far from the Wisconsin Dells here, so perfect for a family camping trip!
Campsite Types: 69 family campsites, backpack/car-in campsites, group sites
Buckhorn State Park is another under the radar Wisconsin camping area that is great for families or those looking to enjoy the tranquility of a backcountry campsite. The park encompasses over 8,000 acres and several unique camping options.
If you’re looking for a true backcountry experience, primitive campsites are available throughout the park. These sites can either be backpacked to, or several are considered ‘cart-in’ site which allow you to experience a backcountry campsite without the logistics of backpacking.
For those who prefer a bit more comfort, Buckhorn State Park also offers modern campsites, 17 of which have electrical hookups.
Kettle Moraine State Forest (Northern Unit & Southern Unit)
Southern Unit: Four Campgrounds, plus walk-in sites and backcountry shelters
Northern Unit: Four Campgrounds and backcountry shelters
It is difficult to classify Kettle Moraine into a single entry gives the wide variety of camping options available in both the Northern and Southern Units. We’ve picked our top four below:
- Ottawa Lake (Southern Unit) – This campground is located on the eastern side of the forest and offers 100 campsites, 65 of which have electric hookups. You’ll find showers, flush toilets, and a dump station here as well.. There are also hiking trails and a beach nearby.
- Pinewoods (Southern Unit) – This campground is located on the northern side of the forest and offers 101 campsites, none of which have electric hookups. There is also a playground and access to the Ice Age Trail.
- Whitewater Lake (Southern Unit) – If you’re looking for a more rustic camping experience, then check out Whitewater Lake. The campground has 63 rustic campsites, none of which have electric hookups. There are vault toilets available, but no shower facilities.T
- Long Lake – This campground is located on the western side of the forest and offers 200 campsites, showers, flush toilets, and a dump station. There is also a beach, boat launch, and fishing pier nearby.
In addition to these campgrounds, there are also several backpacking campsites available for those who want to explore the forest on foot. These campsites require a permit and are located along the Ice Age Trail.
Campsite Types: 58 campsites
Located on Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands, Big Bay State Park is a wonderful place to go camping in Wisconsin. There are 58 campsites here, all within walking distance of Barrier Beach on Lake Superior.
The amenities are basic and include flush toilets and showers in addition to picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite.
However, what you’ll really enjoy about camping here is the stunning natural environment. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and other wildlife while you’re kayaking on the pristine shoreline of the Apostle Islands!
Campsite Types: 26 campsites
For a simple camping experience without the crowds or amenities of a full-service campground be sure to check out the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
Located in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, Kickapoo Valley Reserve has 26 campsites and include sites for cars, canoe-in sites, hike-in, and bike-in campsites. These are all primitive campsites, where the main attraction is connecting with nature. You won’t find a water source or restroom facilities at any of the campsites, although both are available at the visitor center.
During the day enjoy hiking on one of the Reserve’s many trails, canoe down the Kickapoo River, or do some fishing for the areas well-known trout.
Campsite Types: 40+ campgrounds
Preserving over 1.5 million acres of wilderness and woodlands in Wisconsin, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a favorite camping destination for many in Wisconsin. You’ll have over 40 different campgrounds to choose from throughout the forest, many of which can accommodate RVs.
Whether you seek the solace of a secluded hideaway, nestled amidst a cathedral of towering pines, or the camaraderie of a campground alive with the laughter of fellow adventurers, Chequamegon-Nicolet offers a spot to suit every preference. A few of our top recommendations include:
- Lost Lake Recreation Area
- Boulder Lake Recreation Area
- Chippewa Campground
- Wanoka Lake Recreation Area
Regardless of which campground you choose you’ll enjoy incredible access to this beautiful National Forest, and one of the Midwest’s best kept secrets.
Campsite Types: 116 site campground + two group sites
If you’re looking for great lakeside camping in western Wisconsin look no further than Lake Wissota State Park. Located a short drive from Chippewa Falls, the large campground here has 116 family campsites. Of those, 58 sites have electric hookups.
In addition, there are two tent-only group sites that can each accommodate up to 100 people.
Amenities are fairly standard for Wisconsin State Parks and include flush toilets, showers, and a large children’s play area. The real attraction here is the lake itself, which is a popular destination for boating and fishing.
Campsite Types: Four modern campgrounds, 14 rustic campgrounds, and primitive backcountry camping
The Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is a vast and diverse natural area located in northern Wisconsin and covering an expansive 236,000 acres. As you can imagine, with a protected area that size there are TONS of excellent camping opportunities. This includes everything from fully developed modern campgrounds to rustic backcountry retreats.
If you’re after a true wilderness experience be sure to explore the possibilities of camping at one of the remote water access campsites or if you’re looking for more amenities, the Clear Lake campground with its swimming beach, water ski area, and boat launch is a great option.
Regardless of the camping experience you’re after, Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is likely to have something for you. The forest is home to over 900 lakes, including some of the most picturesque and clear water bodies in the state.
Campsite Types: Rustic, dispersed campsites
Potato River Falls is a wonderful, rustic camping area located in Iron County Forest. The falls themselves are nearby and a beautiful sight to take in, while the “campground” features five very basic campsites. There are also several hiking trails in the immediate vicintiy that are perfect to explore this tucked away corner of the state.
If you’re looking for more remote dispersed camping in Wisconsin, Iron County Forest is a great option. In addition to Potato River Falls there are a few other camping areas that provide some basic amenities. Additionally, all of the County Forest is open to camping, provided you don’t stay over two weeks.
Best of all, dispersed camping in the Iron County Forest is free and there are no permits required!
Campsite Types: Two family campgrounds, indoor & outdoor group campgrounds
Wyalusing State Park is a tranquil park located in southwestern Wisconsin, near the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Encompassing an area of over 2,600 acres the park is a popular camping destination in this part of the Wisconsin.
There are two family campgrounds at Wyalusing including both tent and RV sites. Some campsites offer electric hookups, and amenities such as showers and flush toilets are available. In addition, you’ll find both an indoor (yeah, we’re not sure how that works either) and outdoor group campgrounds.
When you’re not at your campsite you can explore the rugged bluffs that overlook the rivers, venture out on one of the many hiking trails, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful vibes at this wonderful State Park.
Have a great trip!
That’s it! We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a great camping trip in Wisconsin.
Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!