Hikers rejoice. You’ll find the 16-17 rustic sites quite awesome at Newport State Park. Camp right next to the water even.
We hiked just after a 3” rainfall, so unfortunately the trails were washed out. But we made do.
It’s a beautiful park, and looks to be well kept. Close to Uncle Tom’s Candy Store and a short drive to Ellison Bay for supplies or a fish boil.
Well compared to the human petting zoo and three ring circus at Peninsula State Park, and by not settling and pressing on, I found what I consider to be the perfect park. Newport State Park in Elison Bay, WI is secluded, pristine and quiet with just a handful of primitive campsites all on the lakeshore with 30 miles of ungroomed, heavily wooded trails which abound with wildlife (kinda, not really).
There is a stretch of open beach with lots of shoreline and a ranger station unmanned with self-registration. There were only two campsites available for one night only so I went with lucky 13 because it was remote, not near any other campsites and on the rocky cedar grove crowded with rocky shoreline.
It was a four mile loop to backpack to the campsite on Rowley's Bay Trail. I had been walking everyday for weeks leading up to this trip to strengthen my legs and toughen up my feet. The preparation worked as I performed very well even for a fat old guy. My feet are meat.
When you backpack in and out you are thinking about what you need and what will fit in the pack. Efficiency is key unless in this instance you forget to pack a few sheets of toliet paper (luckily I didn't need it). I was able to fit a sleeping bag, Luke's green Northface Nebula Strata tent, Mary's green "tights", Joey's Hulk pillow and blanket, a Pink Floyd shirt from Walmart for the irony, waterproof matches, a hatchet for protection, two cuties, four bottles of water and a bag of trail mix.
More to come…..
Ok, I'm back. I had to find Wifi and a place to charge my phone because my charger in the car is really slow for some reason. I thought going back to Al Johson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik was as good as any other place and I learned a few things from the staff and more experienced patrons while I was there charging my phone. I also ate a proper breakfast for the first time in a long time - it was damned good.
Al Johnson opened his restaurant 70 years ago and ran it up until his passing a few years ago. He rode his bike to work and waited tables, cooked, wiped down tables, hosted and even fed the goats.
There are a total of five goats and they get on the roof using a ramp in the back of the restaurant; there are also two webcams on the roof in caae you want to watch goats graze on a Swedish grass roof top 24/7 or check the weather.
The restaurant is packed everyday from open to close, year round. Butik is a Swedish word for the French word "boutique" or small shop. Some of the staff are actually fron Sweden. Swedish meatballs sound relatively easy to make given the simplicity of the ingredients (100% beef, onions, milk, salt and pepper) and they are even more delicious if you haven't eaten anything but fruit and trail mix for days.
Next up, the Washington Island Ferry and staying the night on the island before catching the Rock Island Ferry (the Karfi) tomorrow morning.
Newport State Park is a 2,373-acre Wisconsin state park at the tip of Door Peninsula near Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. Protecting 11 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, Newport is Wisconsin's only wilderness-designated state park. In 2017, the International Dark-Sky Association named Newport a Dark-sky preserve.
Newport State Park, WI continued… I packed my hatchet for protection and from my tent I shouted into the darkness, "I got a gun you son of a bitch!"
With my backpack packed and feeling a little anxious, as if I was up for the two hour hike to campsite 13, it was at the Rowley's Bay Trailhead that I noticed that my phone battery was dead which meant no pictures and no measure of time. Oh well. I didn't see any wildlife along the hike but I did notice a sign for that invasive flowered plant, Garlic Mustard, that I saw at Big Knob Campground in MI (UP).
I reached the shoreline and the cedar groves crowding the rocky shore rivaled those of the ones I've seen at Rock Island. It was only a few more paces until I got to campsite 13. It was tucked away in the woods with a fire pit, two wood benches, two flat areas for tents and a metal animal box to protect food. It was perfect, or so I thought - the plot thickens.
I set up the tent and went to the shoreline to relax in the sun. The view looked east over Rowley's Bay and there were no waves; just ripples lapping up on the rocks. With no concept of time, I sat there until the sun passed over me to the right (west) and I figured it was getting close to dusk and enjoyed the golden hour.
I thought about all sorts of stuff and recognized how noisy my mind was even in such a quiet and tranquil setting. On these solo trips you can cover a lot of ground seeing stuff and you can talk to yourself out loud and disagree most of the time with what you are saying. But I never really win that many arguments with myself, so I did what I always do - walk around, eat and sleep.
I ate half the bag of trail mix and drank two bottles of water saving the rest and the two cuties for tomorrow. I turned in early without using those cool waterproof matches and opted not to make a fire.
I fell a sleep quickly to the sounds of the ripples and in the middle of the night I was startled and woke in a panic. I heard something or someone stalking around the tent. Was it an animal, a ranger, a serial killer, my ex-wife, or worse both my ex-wives or the creepy guy that I met in the parking lot at the trailhead? My mind was racing and I grabbed the hatchet that I always keep in the tent under my pillow for moments exactly like this one.
I must have stayed motionless for 30 minutes running through all the horific scenarios in my head and debated with myself what would be my first move. I definitely did not imagine the foot steps and I was now prepared to seriously fight.
I chose to stay in the tent and maintain a defensive position but I thought I should send a warning. I gripped the hatchet and from my tent I shouted into the darkness "I got a gun you son of a bitch!". There was nothing but silence, however, I could still hear the footsteps pacing further from the tent now but definitely still on the campsite.
I continued to think of my options but leaving the tent to confront the threat was an unnecessary risk. I laid motionless in complete silence with the hatchet in my hand until I fell a sleep.
When I woke up to the sound of the now familiar ripples it was early morning, the hatchet was still in my hand and I was alive. The hatchet is a gun? It's the same thing to me if it scares off a threatening son of a bitch or a imposing walking tree.
I really was scared…
My boyfriend and I have gone camping at Newport the last 5 years in a row. It is ALWAYS a unique experience. We’ve stayed at sites 10, 7, 9, 12 & 4. They were all unique and had their good and bad qualities. In order from my favorite to my least favorite: 12, 9, 4, 10 & 7. This was tough since 10 & 7 were basically a tie. 12 was the longest walk at just under 2 miles. But it had a view of the water through a cove of trees that fit both our hammocks. And the cove it was in was GREAT for swimming. 9 didn’t have as much of a “beach” area, but my BF and I packed some goodies in a dry sack and swam out to the point where we spent the day sunning, swimming, and fishing (caught nothing lol). The privacy here was great. Site 4 was a shorter walk (3/4 mile). Had a sandy beach area and some decent hammock trees. VERY close to site 3. Not very private. 10 provided great swimming past a mucky shoreline. And is the only site we caught fish at! Just a few little smallies, but still… This site was also right ON the trail. Not much traffic but still pretty exposed to anyone passing through. Site 7 was wooded so the shade was nice. But it was a fairly open understory which I don’t necessarily prefer. Not a very good spot for swimming and also a longer walk. Side note- we had A LOT of bad luck staying at site 7 so I’m a bit bias. Examples: tent-pole string broke, BFs backpack frame bent and punctured the pack, hammock string snapped (while in it!), and we couldn’t get a fire going to save our lives!! All the wood was wet and the humidity was about 100% so it was not happening for us at this site. Lol. Fluke year! Overall the sites are beautiful, the lake is cool and refreshing! Great for snorkeling!! A much more scenic/private Door County experience. [photos are of site 12] PSA: watch out for snakes!
Camped at site 1. Easy hike in. We were there with a younger child and for 4 nights so decided to pull some of our stuff in via a cart which was no problem so we could have a cooler, table, small chairs, etc. So peaceful. Did not encounter anyone except when on hikes. Short walk to beach which we had to ourselves nearly the entire time. Beach was covered in crushed shells so shoes a must. Water shoes even better if you want to wade in. Wild flowers and butterflies were amazing as was night sky; mosquitos not so much. They were intense. Bring alot of repellant. Next time we go we'll probably permethrin our clothes to help. Pit toilet was fine but bring your own toilet paper. Only place we found garbage receptacles was in parking lot of service building. We didn't find showers anywhere so went to peninsula state park to shower one day.
We have been camping at this park for decades. There are 16 sites scattered throughout the large park on Lake Michigan and Europe Lake. The nature of the sites changes with the changes in the Lake… what once might have had a sandy beach might now be a mucky shoreline with scrubby growth. Others, higher up are more stable in their feel but also lack some of the immediacy of the water. Always there is solitude and wonderful hiking for miles. However even the trails change as storms down swaths of the forest, low lake level of the last decades encouraged tree gowrth where there was once water but the water level is now high again and the trees are in the water and dying. It might not be beautiful but it is a powerful reminder of the cycles in nature that we are privileged to walk amongst. We have very definite opinions of the sites as they are currently - #'s 7,8,16 are on the water with an experience of the water that has enough rock to allow you to be near the water without being in muck or brush. 3,4,5, used to have beautiful sandy beaches but now are mucky. 10 and 12 have a lot of brush on their pebble beaches, 11 is similar but it is also right on the trail (although not much traffic but…) 9 seems like it would be great being right on Varney Point but the water access is VERY limited. 13 is on the inland side of the trail so not on the water but not far from it either and there the shore is rocky ledges so that's kind of nice. 6 is totally landlocked so that's kind of odd - not a bad site but for a lake focussed park having no access to the lake is odd, 1&2 are also inland but there is lake access via a short trail, and 14 and 15 are on Europe Lake is a small lake experience is what you want. All have outhouses or pit toilets. There are no wagons to carry gear so it's on your back or on a bike or you can boat in if you like. Star gazing is superb and the staff is very helpful.
This is my favorite state park campground in WI! With the hustle and bustle of Door County this park is a huge contrast with solitude and peace abounding…
Beautiful, quiet sites which are spread out nicely (even the couple that are 'close together' didn't feel crowded at all) The sites are all hike in (ranging from 1 mile to 2.5 miles). Each site has some type of pit toilet-type facility near. Site 2 is set off the water a bit, but still easy to take a 2 minute walk and be right on Lake Michigan. Firewood is in abundance- lots of down trees to use.
Many hiking trails along the lake and throughout the state park. Nice walks along the water ranging from rocky to a sandy area. Small lake in the park as well!
I cannot wait to go back to this park!
*The sites here are hard to get now! I recommend reserving VERY early :)
This is a really nice park and I love that all the campsites were backcountry sites so it was nice and quiet and secluded. I took the slightly longer way to my campsite, but going the shortest route would have been under 2 miles. There are lots of trails in the park, which is mostly flat - I hiked ~15 miles the second day I was there. It was a bit cold in May to hang out on the beach, and I did build a fire each night for warmth. Highly recommend visiting during a new moon if possible - there are SO many stars. There was shore access from my campsite so I could filter water for cooking, etc. There is also potable water at the ranger station as well as flush toilets that are open even when the ranger office is closed.
My husband and I stayed at Newport State Park April 12-13th, 2019. We hiked to site 16 but ended up hiking back to site 1 because there was still quite a bit of ice on Lake Michigan by site 16. Both campsites had a fire ring, camp bench seats and bear boxes. The privy by campsite 16 was preferable because it had a half wall instead of being enclosed. Campsite 1 shares its outhouse with campsite 2. The hiking was very easy with minimal elevation change. Lake Michigan was beautiful to look at. Being early spring in Wisconsin it was still slushy and was depositing ice on its shores. A great place for people looking to backpack/hike in. We will be going back.
This campsite on the south side of the park is a mile and a half hike in from the nearest parking lot. The trails are nice, sometimes wide enough to walk side by side. Lots of rocks and roots along the paths, so watch those feet and ankles.
The campsite was great (site 10), right on the shores of Lake Michigan, could easily walk to the water for drinking water, or to rinse and wash dishes. The shoreline is mostly rocks and pebbles. This site didn't have a lot of tree coverage for shade, or trees for placing a hammock.
In May there is an abundance of flies that were swirling around. Found out later these are seasonal "may flies" and they are everywhere. Spiders were also a bit of a surprise at this site, and the number webs that would pop up overnight on every trail we hiked.
All that aside, we hiked over 26 miles of trails at this park and everyone was beautiful. However we were slightly disappointed that there weren't more views of the lakes, as most of the trails were set in just far enough off the coast to obstruct all views. All the trails were well kept, marked and easy to follow.
Newport State Park is one of five State Parks as well as the northern most park on the peninsula in Door County Wisconsin . Out of the four this is my personal favorite! This park is nestled on the "quiet side" of the park on Lake Michigan. The park is more for the "rustic" type and offers many hiking and biking trails as well as swimming in the chilly Waters of Lake Michigan! The park has a beautiful park headquarters building with modern restrooms and drinking water. The park offers camping but there is no campground and all sites need to be hiked to. Some are a short distance and some may be more than a mile. Check out the map ahead of time via the website to plan your hike. You can book some of these in advance, but I have always taken my chances when I get there and pick my campsite then. When arriveing at the headquarters you will be able to see which sites are available as well as a map of where the campsites are located.
There is plenty to do in the area and modern conveniences and entertainment are not far away. If you want solitude in Door County Wisconsint, this is the place to find it!