Water Enthusiasts, hunters, hikers, and anyone who enjoys the outdoors will find solace in Buckhorn State Park. Situated within the heart of Southern Wisconsin, this park and an adjacent wildlife reserve showcases over 9,000 acres of unspoiled midwestern wilderness. At the end of the Wisconsin and Yellow Rivers, this park is famous for the large man-made reservoir it occupies. The intensity of nature here is staggering. The park prominently exhibits dense, green wetland forests, exposed prairies, and sand-swept dunes. The sandy landscape found in certain areas are the result of glacial erosion and sand deposits left after the last global Ice Age.
Westward expansion caused massive amounts of damage to the surrounding region. Before European settlers came, the region housed over 4.1 million acres of barren pine and oak forests. Today, less than 10,000 acres remain standing; a stark contrast to the once thriving wonderland. Thankfully much of this acreage is now protected, and serves as a hugely popular area for tourists and visitors to recreate year-round.
The park is most famously known for its large wetland flowage, owing to the poor soil conditions of the region. Subsequently, kayakers and small-craft boaters visit to spot flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the state. The flowage fills just enough every year to accommodate and protect a number of endangered species, including the Karner Blue Butterfly, and the state-threatened Osprey.
Aside from bird watching and unparalleled views of wetland nature, the park also offers up a 300 foot sand beach complete with volleyball nets, picnic shelters, horseshoe pits, and recreation areas perfect to recreate under the sun. Outside of the beach, fishing is one of the most popular attractions, as the slough houses delicious Bluegill, Salmon, and Wisconsin Trout.
Camping in Buckhorn State park is similar to many other state parks. There’s a handful of rustic sites facing west that line the length of the wetland overflow. This is perfect for catching multicolored sunsets that pain nearby water surfaces hues of pink, orange, red, and purple. On the opposite eastern end of the park lies campsites perfect for catching the sunrise, if you’d prefer. There is also a cabin available for reserve, and various bird-blinds for use placed strategically throughout the park. You’ll need a vehicle admission sticker to end, and all Wisconsin Camping and Fishing fees apply.
Site 12 - pack in was perfect! 12 yr old boys being BOYS all weekend- sun up to sun down. Clean showers - very rustic amenities but gorgeous park! Bugs late August were fine…
This was my first time camping next to a lake and we loved listening to the water falling asleep and waking up in the morning. The sunrise was absolutely gorgeous. The main swimming area of the beach had a nice sandy bottom and clear water. We stayed at backpack site 21. I was a little apprehensive doing a backpack site pregnant and with a toddler but there was a wagon shared between 3 campsites available at the parking area to carry your gear to your site. There was a nice picnic table and a couple benches as well as a fire pit with a moveable grill top. There was also a porta potty shared for sites #20-22. Our campsite was fairly secluded. It was also quite a hike from the heart of state park so we ended up driving to trailheads and to the playground and beach. The first night we were there the flies were horrific and biting at dusk and it was miserable being outside. Just going into our tent quickly caused at least 30-50 flies to sneak in. The second night was windy and we had no flies. After reading some reviews the flies can occasionally be a nuisance in mid to late summer. We were there end of July. We would absolutely camp here again, the sunrises were breathtaking. I think next time we will try for the other side of the lake.
We stayed at site 17 which is a backpack site about a mile walk in from the nearest parking lot. The walk to the site was on a very nicely maintained trail, however we almost didn't make it there as we were all nearly carried away by mosquitoes. It didn't get much better when we got to our site, as they were everywhere.
Aside from the bugs, this was a great site withe a private beach access and great water to swim in on Castle Rock Lake. We didn't really treat this as a "backpack" site and we had enough gear for our family of 6, water toys and other accessories. That was a long walk with all that equipment.
For traditional backpackers, this would be a fantastic site, just make sure to bring the OFF spray.
My husband and I picked this park because of it's friendliness towards kids. We took our 2 9 year old nieces on their first tent camping adventure. We chose site 28 because it was a walk in site and on the water. When we arrived and checked in we grabbed one of their pre-loaded GPS units for Geocaching; It's something the park offers for free. They give you a bag, GPS and information book on all the Geocaching sites. We drove to the site and started loading up the cart to walk in. We walked past a very open campsite that was right next to ours, could be bad if you have loud neighbors but ours were great. There are 2 other sites in this location but far enough away and they don't walk past your site to get to them. The site was spacious and has a great fire pit for cooking. There is a small trail leading to the water with an extremely small beach front but it was enough to keep the girls entertained. Set up camp and started our geocaching fun. We hiked to the kids fishing pond & the tower. Trails are easy and well groomed. Following hiking we made our way to the beach; unfortunately, the algae was in bloom so the water was caked green! However, it doesn't do any harm so we made our way out into the more clear portion of the water and had a blast! The beach area has showers and a great area to have a picnic. The evening presented itself with an amazing sunset from our beach and lots of crickets chirping. It made for a peaceful night. In the morning we took the girls fishing off the dock and then over to the kids pond; the park also offers free poles and tackle. We ventured into the campground area for fresh water. From what we saw the sites were spacious and fairly private. The shower area was well maintained and is also accessible for anyone with disabilities. We will be coming back to this park; it was great! We didn't run into any issues with mosquitoes or other bugs while there.
Gorgeous campground in the middle of no where Wisconsin! Perfect place to camp if you like to climb at Necedah! There are a few lake entrances and at one of them we saw a couple large gorgeous cranes!
Truly enjoy a walk in site! Although the site we stayed at didn’t have a lake view, we explored a little and found some sites we want to stay at next time- right on the shore!
Hiking paths were great, the check in was seamless and we will be back!
We took an extended weekend to camp at Buckhorn. There is a bar that has live music close by and you can hear it at night. We were not on the sites closest to the bar so it wasn’t unbearable. We bug bombed the site when we first arrived and didn’t have many issues Friday Saturday. However, Sunday night when there were a lot less campers the biting flies became a problem. They were horrible!!
The bathrooms were rather clean easily accessible the showers were clean, private and free- however the water pressure was pretty bad - could only have 1/4 of your body in the water at a time.
There are many activities you can do : you can rent bikes kayaks canoes plus it is right on an inlet for the Wisconsin River and there are boat landings etc. There are some hiking trails but they are not overly scenic or require much effort.
If you’re looking for a campsite that transports you away from the usual Midwest fare, this is the place to be! The site we stayed at was beyond perfect. Only a short walk from the parking lot, it was entirely heged in by trees and completely separated from the nearby sites. The real gem however, is the miniature private beach that sits literally on the edge of the campsite! This particular spot had a small bench which boasted a phenomenal view of the sunset over Castle Rock Lake. The lake itself is clean, large, and the sandy shore extends probably a solid quarter mile into the lake if not farther. But let me tell you about the sand. It’s perfect. It is so soft you will forget you’re in Wisconsin and think you’ve been transported to some remote island (especially since this small section of beach is surrounded by trees and separated from the pitiful “lake access points” that belong to the sites on either side of this glorious nook).
The rest of the park is lovely as well and there are several hiking trails to choose from which have an abundance of wildlife and pretty views to see. There is a good selection of both primitive and electrical sites with nearby water stations and bathrooms.
My boys and I loved the hike in site we stayed at right on the water. Just far enough to feel adventurous but short enough to use the provided pull carts. Fun place across the water for a meal as well!
My friends and I go every year in July and grab a spot on the west side of the peninsula at one of walk-to sites 0.6mi in. Beautiful sunsets! Pretty secluded sites on the water. The water is shallow, warm and the bottom is very soft sand.