With the well-known water borders of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Mississippi River, and the natural wonders of The Dells, stunning island sea caves, and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the hardest part about camping in Wisconsin is deciding where to go.
There are over 5,000 campsites in the state park system, and many more options for remote rustic camping, family campgrounds, and wilderness cabins. It’s important to think about what kind of experience you want. Trust that the Badger State will live up to its outdoor recreation reputation – but for those looking for a tame trip camping in Wisconsin’s forests, hopefully not its nickname.
Factoid: Wisconsin got its nickname, The Badger State, because of lead miners in the 1800s that often lived in tunnels burrowed in the hillsides to shelter in the winter. The miners were nicknamed “badgers.” Actual badger encounters are incredibly rare in Wisconsin.
For those who might be mildly disappointed by the lack of badger action, you’re probably the type looking for a rustic wilderness experience. Some of the best options for more remote camping in Wisconsin include Bagley Rapids Campground, Kettle Moraine State Forest, Rock Island State Park, Big Bay State Park, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
One of the most visually stunning and unique places to experience in Wisconsin is the Apostle Islands archipelago off the southern shore of Lake Superior, with camping available on 19 of the 21 islands. Great options are available for all levels of tent or wild camping, with traditional sites, group campsites, and remote backpacking zones. One of the main attractions is the sea caves. They’re best viewed by a kayak, and unless you know the area, it would be smart to get a guide or take part in a tour to find the best spots, and more importantly, stay safe amongst the spectacular geological formations, sculpted by the same unpredictable water that needs to be respected when visiting the area.
If you’re looking for the true family fun experience while camping in Wisconsin, that doesn’t necessarily require wilderness survival skills, check out the Wisconsin Dells. This 5-mile glacially formed gorge is carved in sandstone on the banks of the Wisconsin River, with incredible naturally formed sculptures and canyons. The area has become one of the primary destinations in the state for outdoor recreation and family fun. There are a multitude of Wisconsin Dells cabins available for a memorable trip to “The Waterpark Capital of the World.”
When you’re looking for Wisconsin Dells cabins to rent, there are several cabin resorts boasting nearby outdoor activities, access to the Dells, and comfortable accommodations. Pay attention to the actual distance between your accommodations and The Dells, and be aware of the wide ranging term “cabin”, as some might not fit your definition. Just remember, go for the scenic views and natural beauty, stay for the water slides and food.
When camping in Wisconsin, it’s hard to go wrong with the state or national park system, with so many options and levels for all types of campers. With state’s like Wisconsin that have such variety, stick with us at The Dyrt for on-the-ground information about the region.
The #1 Camping App
Camp with confidence with the highest-ranked camping app for both iOS and Android. Search more than 500,000 listings, reviews, and tips for campsites across the U.S.
Enter your phone number to get the app.
Big sites. Nice campground!
Rock Island is so amazing!! It is very secluded because you have to take a ferry over (actually, two!) and the campsites are hike-in only.
We would highly highly recommend! Our campsite was absolutely perfect, up on the cliff right over the water in a wooded area with a path down to the water.
It was great, we would hike all day and then come back to watch sunset over the lake. The stars were also incredible!
We had lots of friends (deer, snakes, toads)!
We also enjoyed seeing the lighthouse and boathouse. We did self-tours of both and it was so fun learning the history and looking around!
We were visiting the Apostle Islands last summer when we stopped at Madeline Island and found Big Bay State Park!
We didn't camp overnight here, but we did hike around through most of it and it was wonderful! The trails were well maintained and the view of Lake Superior was gorgeous.
It is definitely a ways out there as you have to take a ferry in and all - but well worth the trip if you are in the area!
We went to Wyalusing in May and were originally a little worried about it being a bit chilly, but the weather was great!
There were nice paths and it was not too crowded. We saw some beautiful wildflowers and fun creatures all around. I would love to go back in the fall because I am sure the overlook is amazing with all of the trees below. Looking forward to a trip back sometime soon!
We love Governor Dodge! There is so much to do and see. It is easily our favorite place to visit at all times.
There are so many hiking trails that all have different views, you will never get bored! We love to go to the waterfall for sure! But I love that you can swim, hike, hammock. everything you could want in a campground.
The sites are all amazing. Our favorite though is the Cox Hollow because you are close to the lake and the hiking trails. Although, you can't go wrong anywhere!
Mirror Lake is just up the road from Devil's Lake, so if it's too busy there - make sure to go check out Mirror Lake!
Although we didn't actually camp here, we did hike a lot of the trails. We came across lots of fun nature (toads, snakes, bunnies!). The trails are well maintained and a nice woodland area.
Copper Falls was absolutely amazing!! I have lived in WI my whole life, and was so disappointed that 2018 was the first time visiting it!
We stayed in one of the South Campgrounds, which turned out to be really nice. We liked the loop because it meant more privacy with the woods between. And it was great for finding kindling! We also brought our bikes which was convenient because we were able to bike down to the hiking trails rather than driving and parking.
We went to Copper and Brownstone falls the first day and the second day went to Red Granite Falls and it was so stunning! We couldn't believe there were waterfalls like that right in WI!
It was so beautiful and the trails weren't crowded at all. Not sure why, with views like this! Although it is quite a drive from Madison or Milwaukee, it is definitely worth it!
We love Devil's Lake! It has incredible views and is absolutely breathtaking in the fall. It is also wonderful in the summer to go swimming and hike around.
We've never camped overnight here, but have taken many trips to hike around. With it only being 45 minutes from Madison, it's a great day get away!
Only drawbacks to Devils Lake are the crowds. It's popular (and for good reason!) so I would suggest hiking earlier in the day to avoid the larger crowds of people. I would also avoid going there when the mayflies have hatched because it can be unbearable.