Camping options in Wisconsin are plentiful. There are literally 6,000 unique campsites in the Wisconsin State Park System, plus private camping zones, rentals (like VRBO) and more. Seasoned outdoorsy types looking to unplug and die-hard RV fans alike can find a spot. The key is planning ahead so you know what you’re signing up for—and you do have to sign up because campsite reservations are almost always required. The busy season for camping in Wisconsin is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Some parks are open year-round, so if you want to ensure you don’t run into many other people, try snagging a campsite in April or October or pick a more secluded area. No matter where you go, be sure to pack swimsuits and sturdy hiking boots.
The Best Camping in Wisconsin—18 Spots to Sleep Under the Stars (or Under a Roof)
Do I need a permit to go camping in Wisconsin?
While you don’t necessarily need a permit to camp, you do need a reservation. You can reserve campsites on the Wisonsin Department of Natural Resources website. Use their filters to find the perfect site for your group, equipment and needs. The cost to reserve a campsite varies depending on these same factors. You’ll typically pay $20 to $45 per night for a standard campsite. There are some parks with remote campsites that don’t require reservations or fees. Call the specific park to find out whether you need a permit if this is your plan.
Most parks also require vehicle passes for cars. These cost $8 to $16, depending on the park and whether or not you’ve got Wisconsin plates. If you plan on camping multiple times this year or visiting a few different parks, it might be worth getting an annual vehicle pass for $28 (or $38 for out-of-state plates).
Some activities actually require permits! Anyone age 15 and older will need a fishing license to fish. Biking, horseback riding, in-line skating and cross-country skiing all require state trail passes for those age 16 and older in some parks. You don’t need a permit to hike, walk, or build and burn a campfire in a designated fire pit, so bring s’mores ingredients!
Types of campsites
Know thyself when choosing a campsite. Setting up a tent and going to the bathroom in the woods responsibly is not for everyone. Here are a few different types of campsites to choose from:
- Standard or family campsites: These make up most of the Wisconsin State Park System sites. You’ll typically get a picnic table, a fire pit, road access and a natural, wooded setting. Hook up an RV or set up a tent. Often there’s a camp host and facilities are maintained. Sleeps up to six people.
- Primitive campsites: Very secluded sites usually without any modern amenities, but they’re maintained and reservations are needed.
- Remote campsites: No reservations or fees required. No vehicles allowed. Not maintained by park rangers. Often only accessible by water.
- ADA Accessible campsites: These are sites (and cabins) with paved pathways and accessible amenities for people with disabilities and their guests.
- Group campsites: Group sites accommodate anywhere from 10 to 200 people. Most only allow tents but come with picnic tables and fire pits.
- Glamping: When luxury and camping come together, you get glamping darling!
Can I bring my pets camping?
According to the Wisconsin DNR, state parks and forests allow pets. However, they typically aren’t allowed in buildings, on beaches or along marked nature trails. Plus, you’ve got to keep them on leashes no longer than eight feet the whole time (not ideal when your pup wants to run free, but it’s the rule). That said, some parks are more pet-friendly than others, so take that into consideration when choosing your locale.
Without further ado, here are 18 of the best camping spots in Wisconsin. We start in the southern area of the state and move north—way north.
- Location: East Troy, WI; About 1 hour southwest of Milwaukee
- Type: Glamping (no set up required)
- Amenities: Electricity, firewood and ice for purchase, fire starters, flush toilets, A/C (select units), showers, flush toilets, propane grills
- Sleeps: Up to 8
- Permit: Reservation required (prices vary)
- Activities: Boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, breweries
- Open: Late May through October 1
- Ideal for: Groups, unique stays, glamping experience
Glamping is quickly becoming an ideal getaway vacation. You can be in the wilderness without sacrificing too many comforts. Camp Kettlewood offers campers a cozy bed (whether in their large tents, vintage trailers or refurbished airstream) plus working kitchens, cutlery, bedding, coffee and more. With tons of registered trails and beaches nearby, plus a host of restaurants and breweries in East Troy, there’s no shortage of stuff to do (though the hosts recommend unplugging, which is why they don’t provide WiFi). Dogs are allowed for a fee.
- Location: Bagley, WI; 2 hours west of Madison
- Type: Family campsites (109), Indoor and outdoor group campsites, electric campsites (48), ADA accessible campsites, RVs
- Amenities: Showers, vault and flush toilets, laundry, drinking water, concessions
- Activities: Hiking, canoeing, historical sites, boating, biking
- Busy Season: June to September
- Ideal for: Incredible views, scenic hiking
Bring your camera and get ready to capture incredible views of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers at Wyalusing State Park. Some campsites are 500 feet above the rivers, so you can wake up overlooking the 2,628-acre forest. On hikes, try to spot one of the 90 bird species living in the area, check out the Native American burial mounds or picnic alongside the river. At night, the Lawrence L. Huser Astronomy Center offers a chance to look through telescopes at the night sky.
- Location: Baraboo, WI; 1 hour northwest of Madison
- Type: ADA accessible campsite, family campsites, electric campsites, RVs
- Amenities: Boat/canoe/paddle board rentals, showers, flushing toilets, concessions, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Swimming, canoeing, hiking
- Busy Season: June through September (Winter camping available)
- Ideal for: Views, hiking, rock climbing
Devil’s Lake State Park is a very popular campground in Wisconsin, likely due to its ample amenities and three unique campground options. You pay a little more to park here ($13 to $16 per day), but it’s worth it. Book early to ensure you snag the site you want during the busy season (or be ready to come back in wintertime). The Ice Age Campground offers a more secluded experience. While at Devil’s Lake, check out the views from 500-foot quartzite bluffs or rent a paddleboard for an afternoon. Daredevils may want to try rock climbing, though we recommend using a guide or instructor if you’re new to it.
- Location: Baraboo, WI; 1 hour north of Madison
- Type: Primitive campsites, electric campsites, group campsites, ADA accessible cabin, RVs, family campsites
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, drinking water, boat rentals, firewood for purchase
- Activities: Swimming, hiking, canoeing, biking
- Busy Season: June through October (Winter camping available)
- Ideal for: Families, groups, canoeing
Choose from three separate campgrounds and 151 campsites at Mirror Lake State Park, a 2,200-acre area named for its calm-as-a-mirror lake. The Sandstone Ridge and Cliffwood campgrounds have many electric sites available. The Bluewater Bay campground doesn’t have electricity but offers seven group campsites for large parties. Stroll through tall pines and paddle canoes on glassy Mirror Lake. You can even rent a cottage designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Location: La Farge, WI; 2 hours northwest of Madison
- Type: Primitive campsites (25)
- Amenities: Established firepits
- Sleeps: Up to 10
- Permit: Campsite reservation and permit required ($10-$15 per night)
- Activities: Hiking, canoeing, biking, hunting, fishing
- Open: Year-round (hiking/camping); May 1 to November 15 (biking)
- Ideal for: Totally unplugging and roughing it
Choose from one of 25 primitive camping sites at Kickapoo Valley Reserve to totally unplug and live in nature for a while. Some are vehicle accessible, while others require you to hike, bike or canoe into them. Definitely stop by the visitor’s center for a quick history lesson about the Kickapoo Valley Reserve while you’re there. (“Kickapoo” is an Algonquian Native American word meaning, “he who goes here, then there.”) Beware of weather conditions as some trails close after heavy rains. Visitors need permits for most activities to ensure the preservation of the land. If you need, there’s a bathroom and potable water at the Visitor’s Center.
- Location: Belgium, WI; 40 minutes north of Milwaukee
- Type: ADA accessible cabin and campsite, kayak campsite, electric campsite, primitive campsite, RVs, group campsite, family campsite
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, laundry, drinking water, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Swimming, hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing
- Busy Season: June through September
- Ideal for: Star gazing, kayaking, families
The family- and group-friendly Harrington Beach State Park offers up grasslands, wetlands, lakes and swamps. Activities abound, including astronomy evenings hosted by The Northern Cross Science Foundation. Quarry Lake Trail is accessible for wheelchairs and the group campsite allows up to 30 people. Kayak fans can reserve a kayak-up site on Lake Michigan. There’s also a full mile of beachy coastline to use, so bring a suit or two.
- Location: Sheboygan, WI; 1 hour north of Milwaukee
- Type: Family campsites (157), electric campsites (52), group campsites (capacity 50), RVs, ADA accessible cabin
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, laundry, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Swimming, nature education, hiking, biking
- Open: Year-round
- Ideal for: Beach lovers
Fond of sand dunes and swimming in Lake Michigan? Head to Kohler-Andrae State Park. Not only is there ample shoreline for beach lounging, there are several nature trails full of wildlife and plant life to peruse. Start out at the Sanderling Nature Center to learn about the area, then head out on a walk or hike. Bring your bike—or your horse—to ride along the Black River Trail.
- Location: Plymouth, WI; An hour or so north of Milwaukee
- Type: RV gated park, rental cabins
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, playground, RV storage, laundry, WiFi
- Permit: Required - Prices vary
- Activities: Swimming, volleyball, mini golf
- Busy Season: June to September
- Ideal for: Families with young children, RVs
The Plymouth Rock Camping Resort is the ultimate RV experience. Park your giant or modest RV at one of 690 sites and get ready for a raucous time. Kids will love the playgrounds, pools, mini golf and water sport rentals. There’s even a dining/dance hall and outdoor movies on the weekend. If you want to bring your tent or rent a cabin instead of driving an RV, go for it! Road America Racetrack, Indian Mound Park and Kettle Moraine State Forest are all nearby in case you want to explore beyond the resort.
- Location: Sherwood, WI; 45 minutes south of Green Bay
- Type: Electric campsites, ADA accessible cabins, group campsites, RVs, family campsites
- Amenities: Flush and vault toilets, showers, recycling/garbage station, playground, drinking water
- Activities: Horseback riding, hiking, biking
- Busy Season: June through September
- Ideal for: Views, history buffs
Nestled directly on Wisconsin’s largest lake, Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park is named after the giant limestone cliffs in this 1,187-acre park. Definitely get a pic from the observation tower overlooking the lake. History buffs will enjoy touring the lime kiln ruins from the late 1800s and hiking Indian Mound Trail which leads to a 12-foot statue of Winnebago Indian Chief Red Bird. There are multiple ADA accessible routes and 112 campsites in total available to visitors.
- Location: Black River Falls, WI; 2 hours northwest of Madison
- Type: Primitive campsites, group campsites, electric campsites, ADA accessible campsites, remote campsites, family campsites
- Amenities: Showers, flush and vault toilets, firewood for sale
- Activities: ATV trails, canoeing, hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling
- Open: Year-round
- Ideal for: ATV riders, winter campers
Black River State Forest is located near Black River Falls and offers tons of opportunities for camping around the area. Hike through the 68,000-acre pine and oak forest or go for an ATV ride on designated trails (be sure to register your ATV and obtain a permit). Unlike some campgrounds, this one may actually be more fun in the winter! Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities here.
- Location: Chippewa Falls, WI; 3 hours northwest of Madison
- Type: Family campsites (115), electric campsites (58), group campsites (2), RVs
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, playground, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking
- Open: Year-round
- Ideal for: Active families and groups
Rent a canoe or BYOB (bring your own boat) to Lake Wissota State Park. The 6,300-acre lake is ideal for summertime fun, as are the many nearby trails. Ride bikes (or your horse) or hike designated trails before hopping into the water at Lake Wissota Beach to cool off. Near the beach is the fishing pier, boat landing and a baseball diamond for pick-up games. Winter activities are also available during snowy months and it’s just a 15-minute drive from Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company.
- Location: Fish Creek, WI; 90 minutes north of Green Bay
- Type: ADA accessible campsite, electric campsite, RVs, group campsites, family campsites
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, concessions, boat rentals, public boat launch, playground, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Golf, biking, swimming, hiking, beach volleyball
- Busy Season: June through October
- Ideal for: Almost glamping
Peninsula State Park provides way more than woodsy, picturesque campsites. You can golf 18 holes at the Peninsula Golf Course, watch live shows at the Northern Sky Theater or participate in outdoor skills classes at the White Cedar Nature Center. There are 468 campsites over five campgrounds. Yes, you can pitch a tent and sit by a fire pit, but if you’re looking for a super remote camping experience, this isn’t it.
- Location: Ellison Bay, WI; 90 minutes northeast of Green Bay
- Type: Hike-in, primitive campsites
- Amenities: Pit toilets, fire pit, food locker, solar water pump
- Permit: Campsite reservation required
- Activities: Hiking, biking trails, star gazing
- Busy Season: June through October
- Ideal for: Quiet, remote experience, star gazing
The International Dark Sky Association designated Newport State Park as a Dark Sky Park, which basically means the starry nights are so awesome here that they’re protected by a dedicated nonprofit! So, after a day backpacking the 30 miles of trails that run through 2,370 acres of forest, you might want to lay back and enjoy the night sky. There are 17 hike-in campsites and one group site. Newport State Park has a completely accessible trail (Fern Trail) and a visitor center with audio panels for the hearing impaired.
- Location: Washington, WI; 2 hours northeast of Green Bay
- Type: Primitive campsites
- Amenities: Vault toilets, drinking water, firewood
- Activities: Hiking, swimming, historical sites
- Busy Season: Memorial Day through Columbus Day
- Ideal for: Peace and quiet, privacy
Situated on Rock Island off Wisconsin’s northeast peninsula is Rock Island State Park. You’ve got to take two separate ferries (a combined price of $25 for anyone 11 and up, $13.50 for kids six to 11, and $0 for anyone five and under) to get there and no cars are allowed on the island. Choose from 40 primitive campsites, each complete with a fire pit and picnic table. Hike the entirety of this picturesque island in about two hours, then take a dunk in Lake Michigan. Don’t miss the Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island’s northernmost tip!
- Location: Hazelhurst, WI; TKTK
- Type: Electric campsites (30), RVs, water-front campsites, family campsites
- Amenities: Showers, flush toilets, fish cleaning station, laundry
- Permit: Campsite reservations required ($30-$40); Parking fee $5
- Activities: Hiking, fishing,
- Busy Season: May to September
- Ideal for: Waterfall hikes
Hike through the pine forest, along waterfalls and throughout the 7,000-acre Willow Flowage scenic water area near Cedar Falls Campground. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy tossing a line into the Tomahawk River and using the fish cleaning station on the campground to prep their meal for the night. There are 42 campsites in total, which means just the right amount of distance and privacy. Though a boat landing is nearby, the river along the campsite is a no-wake zone, so you’ll have some peace and quiet.
- Location: Boulder Junction, WI; About 3 hours northwest of Green Bay
- Type: RVs, primitive campsites, family campsites, group campsites, remote campsites, ADA accessible campsites
- Amenities: Showers, vault toilets, grills, picnic tables, hand-pumped water, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Biking, hiking, boating, fishing, bird watching
- Open: Year-round
- Ideal for: Water-based activities, overnight canoe trips
There’s something for everyone at the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest. Take a canoe or kayak into one of the 900 lakes or 300 miles of river flowing through the forest. In fact, some campsites are only accessible by water and you can even do overnight canoe trips here at one of the 70 designated canoe campsites. Bike, hike, fish and swim amidst 236,000 acres of land and wilderness.
- Location: Mellen, WI; 5 hours north of Madison
- Type: Family campsites, electric campsites, ADA accessible campsites, group campsite (capacity 40), RVs
- Amenities: Concessions, carts for gear, showers, drinking water, vault and flush toilets, pet-friendly zones
- Activities: Hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding
- Open: Year-round
- Ideal for: Winter camping, water fanatics
Fans of waterfalls and water activities will love Copper Falls State Park. Rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore Loon Lake. The campgrounds are noteworthy for being close to nature but secluded from public areas. Hike along the Bad River and follow Doughboys Nature Trail to the Copper and Brownstone Falls. Lots of folks camp out in the winter months too, as Copper Falls offers great spaces for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
18. Apostle Islands
- Location: Bayfield, WI; 90 minutes east of Duluth, MN
- Type: Primitive campsites, group campsites, ADA accessible campsites
- Amenities: Picnic table, fire pit, food locker, privy
- Permit: Reservation required; $15 for Individual sites or Primitive zones, $30 for Group campsite
- Activities: Kayaking, fishing, birdwatching
- Busy Season: Mid-June through September
- Ideal for: Sailors, kayakers, seasoned campers
The Apostle Islands are made up of 21 small islands in the northernmost part of Wisconsin; camping is allowed on 18 of them. RVs and cars won’t get you to these sites. You’ll have to kayak, boat or water taxi. (Extra permits are required to dock, though sailboats can anchor free of charge.) The designated primitive camping zones offer no amenities at all, so be prepared to rough it. Check out historic lighthouses on several of the islands. Kayaking between islands offers a chance to pop into sea caves and explore different beaches.