Named after World War II ace pilot Maj. Richard Bong, this 4,500-acre state recreation area was once destined to be a U.S. Air Force base. Those plans were abandoned in the late 1950s when the military decided to consolidate its facilities. The land was subsequently turned over to the state, who decided to turn the area into a wildlife preserve and outdoor recreation destination. In the future, the area may be incorporated into the larger Hamatack National Wildlife Refuge, a multi-state, non-contiguous collection of historic prairies, wetlands and forests. The area welcomes a variety of both family-friendly and thrill-seeking outdoor activities, making it an ideal outdoor destination for kids of all ages.
The best way to enjoy some outdoor play time at Bong State Recreation Area is by setting up camp at one of its two campgrounds: Sunrise and Sunset. Together, they offer more than 200 tent and RV sites, just 6 miles southeast of Burlington. Some sites provide electrical hookups, and a few are ADA accessible. Both campgrounds provide drinking water, flush and vault toilets, showers facilities. The Sunrise site is located on the east end of the recreation area, near Wolf Lake. Nearby, visitors have access to a nature center, fishing pier, playground, picnic areas and hiking trails. The Sunset site is located on the west end of the park, near several ponds and a horse trail. Dogs must remain leashed, and are only permitted in campgrounds and on some hiking trails. Campsite rates range from $15–$35/night.
Whether you like to recreate on the land, in the water, or in the air—yes, in the air—there’s plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors at the Bong Recreation Area. For keeping your feet on solid ground, there are 41.5 miles of hiking, horseback and mountain biking trails available. This includes two short nature trails, one in a forested area, and one in open prairie near the lake; both are excellent for birdwatching. In the area that was to be the airfield’s runways, there are two ATV and dirtbike loops. For fun at the water, there is a small swimming beach and fishing pier, or you can put in your canoe, kayak or SUP for some paddling around Wolf Lake. For airborne recreation, a Special Use Zone in the park allows model airplane flying and rocket launching, as well as launching hang gliders and ultralight aircraft.
The park itself is really nice with unique areas to explore. The sites are nice with good privacy and the bathrooms and showers are clean. What we did not like was the rangers who seemed to never leave us alone. We definitely felt targeted since we were a small group of 20 something's. We were very quiet, went to bed early and didnt cause any issues besides at one point having one too many vehicles on the site when we were unloading kayaks. We apologized to the ranger but told them we were already going to move to the over flow lot. From then on we were visited by the ranger every night coming into our site to see what we were doing. Very annoying but overall a nice place to camp.
We stayed close to the campsite majority of the time so did not go out exploring much of the grounds. Bathrooms and showers were decent though.
We camped during the early spring so the bathrooms/showers weren’t open. But our campsite was great, lots of trees and a good spot to put up your tent.
The Weekend we were here they had a free Kids fishing weekend and John the naturalist was amazing!! There is a ton to do at this park the nature center has activities all weekend long
great for relaxing or calming walks, great open view, small lake, enjoyable.
This campground wasn’t heavily booked and had great sites. Richard Bong State Park is huge with tons of hiking, nice fishing and kayaking. There is a launch pad for model rockets which my kids loved.
we had a nice time tent camping here! the property is HUGE and most things are about a 10 to 15 min walk from the campsites. lots of hiking, boating, swimming fishing and more! a great place for anyone!
Used to stay at this campground every year after watching shows at Alpine Valley. We always stayed on a group site which isn't by any other sites which was really nice. Just had to worry about our group and not others around us.
It was easy to get reservations to this campground. We picked it because it was an hour and half from Chicago. We went for the ATV track. We took our bikes down by the pond and park. They have flush toilets and showers.
Wisconsin’s first and largest recreation area has a wide variety of opportunities available. A collection of grassland, prairie, savanna and woodland provides volunteer opportunity as well as hiking, camping and even dog training.
The ranger staff was enthusiastically helpful. The first person at the gate directed me to the inside to register. This ranger collaborated with another to advise me on a site that was less buggy and still let me have sun access for the solar panel. They settled on a site in the sunrise campground. Besides the host, I was the only one in this loop.
The campsite is very large. However the trailer length would be a deciding factor on your choice of sites. Site 28 gave enough space for my trailer and car before the bumper stopped vehicles. Beyond the bumper grassy area expanded to give me more room than I would need. I quickly set up the screen room since mosquitos were all over me. Once settled in, a peaceful tone took over. My mind blanked out the sound of vehicles and let the chirping birds resound.
The visitor center has live animals and displays. 16 miles of hiking trails through a variety of ecosystems - one is a self-guided interpretive trail. Watercraft have a place on Vern Wolf Lake.
Be prepared for the bugs while you stay here.