The best DRIVE IN camping near
Apple River , ILLINOIS

256 Reviews63 Campgrounds

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Most Recent Apple River Camping Reviews
Breathtaking

Cute little campground with a breathtaking view. The campground is situated on the smaller mound of bluemounds. A perfect place to star gaze or watch a storm roll in. You can see for miles and miles. The cool breeze rolls up over the mound at night, keeps you cool on your tent.

Amazing for Fall camping

Beautiful campground with amazing views for Fall. The hike to the caves is about 3 miles with gorgeous landscapes/colors in October. The caves are incredibly well maintained and organized with fun themed tours. Our theme was Halloween so we could purchase “Trick or Treat” bags and collected cool rocks in the caves handed out by employees along the tour.

Great relaxing weekend

Yellowstone Lake is great for hiking and fishing. They even have a swimming area. But a must is the small ice cream shop that has even lunch menu. The wife and I just loved the small town that was a drive away as well

A nice alternative to Blue Mounds State Park

In 2021, this is one of two Dane County Campground that will allow tents. Token Creek will allow tents, all others (Babcock, Mendota and W. G. Lunney Lake Farm County Parks) will be RV only with self-contained restroom facilities and no tents allowed!

This 232-acre county park is located northeast of the Village of Blue Mounds. Blue Mounds State Park is just up the road and is home to a national landmark cave. If you can't camp at the Blue Mound State Park this would be a good alternative. 

This campground has 23 rustic campsites, two shelters, a picnic area, play equipment, a nature trail, and hiking trails that connect to the Blue Mound State Park. There is a 1.3-mile paved shared-use trail where mountain bicycling is allowed. The campground is only served by pit toilets. This campground does not have a dump station. There are electric sites throughout. Permits and reservations are purchased at ReserveDane.com 

I did not camp here but spent a while walking around the park and campground to get a good idea of what camping here might be like. The first group of campsites is between the main road and a farm field. They are directly across from the park shelters and picnic area. There is no privacy in front of or between campsites. 

On the other side of the loop, however, campsites are much more secluded with under-story between sites. These also back up to the woods, which makes for a much nicer overall camp experience. 

If you have your choice, I would recommend sites 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20.

Small, close to 2 busy roads - there are nicer options in Southern Wis.

Throughout the summer of 2020, I camped at a number of Wisconsin state parks in the southern part of the state but hadn't gotten to camp at this one yet. While driving through the area I visited the park in December- photos won't show its summertime beauty but my walk through the park identified some ideal spots for camping. 

The state park is open year-round, camping open May - October. The first thing I visited were the walk-in campsites. There is a loading zone parking lot with limited time parking. Access to the 14 walk-in sites is via a single trail with campsites on either side of the trail. There is a decrepit but functional pit toilet. All the walk-in sites have a picnic table and each is tucked off the trail into the woods.

The downside to the walk-in sites is their proximity to a major highway. While walking through the campground I could easily hear the road noise. If I were looking to get away from civilization, or at least pretend to be far away from it all, that road noise would be a constant reminder that I wasn't. The further down the walk-in site trail I got, the closer I got to the highway and in fact, car headlights showed right up the trail as I was approaching the last set of campsites.

When looking at a map and choosing a site, the walk-in campsites on the same side of the trail as the toilet are a little more private and secluded, and back up to expansive woods. The sites on the other side of the trail are nice but they are a little closer to the freeway and don't have as much forest coverage behind the campsites. The furthest walk-in site is at least a 4-minute (slightly downhill) walk from the parking lot. The centrally-located restroom is no more than 2 minutes from any of the walk-in campsites. Sites are between 40 and 1,000 feet from the walk-in loading zone.

If walking to your campsite isn't your thing there is also a family campground with 17 drive-in (not drive through) sites located along a typical one-way paved road system. Unfortunately, this side of the state park is bordered by a different and only slightly less traveled road than the walk-in sites. Some campsites are sandwiched between the loop road and the main road, are lit by nighttime traffic headlights lights. As the campground road continues toward the group campground it veers away from the main road and offers a bit more privacy. These are the sites I'd select if I were to camp here.

Of the group campsites, 55 and 56 are in a nicely wooded area with shade. 52 53 and 54 are in an open area with no shade. The family campground is serviced by two pit toilets centrally located to the campsites.

Due to the very small size of this state park, lack of much to do except one hiking trail through it, and proximity to two main roads, I would not recommend the state park. There are many others in southern Wisconsin that have far more to offer. 

Seriously, if you're looking for a Wisconsin state park in this neck of the woods, check out Yellowstone Lake or Blue Mound State Park instead. See my review of the latter for specific spots that would be awesome for tent camping.

Fun place to go

We have only been to this campground one time because we wanted to try something new. We had a lot of fun there playing in the water on the beach however my son who was five at the time got a really bad bacterial rash from the water. Other than that we had a really good time and the campground was very clean and everyone was really nice. We were definitely go back but not to swim in the water LOL

Busy but quiet

I stayed here for two nights in September in a tent. Almost all the sites were taken when I arrived around 2pm on a Friday. They do take reservations. The campground was nice with pit toilets and water available. It wasn’t loud even with a lot of people.

Beautiful and popular

Over 5,000 acres, featuring two lakes and some truly beautiful trails. It’s best to get reservations early. Twin Valley campground is split into upper and lower. Lower being better for larger RVs while upper has more shaded, cozier sites better for smaller rigs and tents. Cox Hollow campground is more open and may have some pull through spaces. Nearby are the kitschy House on the Rock and Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Taliesin home and studio. Recommend the Jumping Jupiter General store outside the park for all your camping needs.

Great for canoeing/ kayaking

Winnebago County does a great job of maintaining their Forest preserves and campgrounds. They charge a fee for non-residents, but it's worth it. Not spectacular, but very pleasant and relaxing. Sites are open, but well spaced. Plenty of shade. Hike-in sites are on the riverbank, about 200 yards from parking.
 The Sugar river is scenic, and easy to paddle up or down, so you can do round trips without having to arrange drop-offs. 
The Pecatonica river is nearby as well. A good day trip is Monroe, Wisconsin, home of the National Cheese Museum and Alp & Dell Chees works, a great place to shop for chees lovers. Van Eyck Orchard is a great stop as well.

prett and well maintai ned campground

 Off the beaten path, most people who come to this area will likely go to the much larger and better known Rock Cut State Park. This is a small forest preserve with lovely picnic areas, a picturesque creek and an outcropping of bluffs ( about 3 storeys tall).
 The campground is well maintained, with the cleanest pit toilets I've ever seen. (also ADA accessible).
 There are about 40 sites, ranging from primitive tent to full size pull-through RV.  30 and 50 amp elec available. Prices based on what you choose. Reservations are recommended a week ahead through the Winnebago County Forest preserve website. There is a small fee for non-residents, but it's worth it.
 we went in November, so I can't say what it's like during peak season. But sites are well spaced, though they are all open to each other visually.
 Nearby are bike trails and the Pecatonica river, with other forest preserves for day trips out of the camp.
 This is one of three campgrounds run by the county. We have stayed at another, Sugar River, and enjoyed it as well.