The best HIKE IN camping near
Scales Mound , ILLINOIS

93 Reviews11 Campgrounds

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Most Recent Scales Mound Camping Reviews
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

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.

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.

Relaxing and quiet with river/bridge views

We paid 15$ online to reserve a spot for the night but I’m not sure if a different part of the park was free or not as advertised here. But it was very quiet and our spot (55) was right on the river and a bit tucked in the woods which was great and had an amazing view of the bridge. It had a fire pit but is rustic so no bathrooms near by. We were the only ones on that side of the campground (full map online) which was very peaceful. Be careful of spots 56,57,58 because they can flood. Overall good stay for us!

Great state park

Great park in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. Not far from the house on the rock and Taliesin. Great open hiking trail. Well laid out sites with lots of space.

Only ding is the price of a state park pass. Not pro rated and they expire at the end of the calendar year.


Loved this place! So many trails , 3 nice camp areas, clean bathrooms, dog friendly, and beautiful views . I went mid week while it was freezing ,so not to many ppl , but Friday night rolled around and it sure did fill up fast . I will definitely go back in the summer for kayaking .

Fun weekend getaway

I came here at the beginning of October for 2 nights tent camping, site 20, with some friends. Our fire pits grill grate was mostly smashed and didn't hold a skillet while other sites had nice grates on a swivel. Plenty of space apart from other sites and fun, hilly hiking trails nearby. The lake is beautiful and we fished a bit from the dock, didn't catch anything. Nice views of the leaves changing. Very limited cell service which was welcomed. Bathrooms were kinda rough and the showers were on a different side of the park.

We reserved our campsite online and paid for a parking sticker at the park office but since no one was there we left the money in the pay box with our receipt. Same with firewood.

A+ camping experience

Tl;dr: shower house is great. Nice campers, rangers and camping vibes. Go to Blue Mounds Grocery on the way in. easy access to hiking, mountain biking, and running trails - including Military Ridge Trail.

Camped here with 2 friends during a cross country road trip. We had site 5 and were tent camping. When we showed up it was raining and it was unseasonably cold, but other campers in adjacent sites looked like they were having a great time - lots of family groups. This kept our spirits high as we set up camp, made a fire, and made dinner. The site was standard with a big picnic table, tent platform, fire pit, and room for our car. The bathroom and shower house was a really great amenity and there were spots for cars to drive over there if their spots were far. A very nice camp ranger came by to say hi and let us know that campers are expected to quiet down at 9ish and not be cognizant of that. Campers were being respectful of socially distancing and wearing masks for the most part. Seems like there is a great bike/hiking trail network all around. A couple of us are runners also a friend from Madison met us and we ran on the military ridge trail in the morning. There is very easy access to that. Also, insider note, on the way in, go to blue mounds grocery for anything you need (esp firewood). The cash register gave us some great camping advice.