Wisconsin is home to over 60 state parks that encompass scenic forests, glacial landforms, rivers, and lakeshores. They also cover some Native American cultural sites and National Historic Landmarks. From secluded spots along the Mississippi River, to popular hot spots along Lake Michigan, there is a state park in every corner of the state.
Our Favorite Wisconsin State Parks for Camping
Most state parks in Wisconsin require a state parks admission sticker. Daily and yearly park passes are available, and camping fees are additional. Popular campgrounds tend to fill up during summer weekends. But, if you can plan ahead, reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Wisconsin is notorious for its brutal winter temperatures, so camping in Wisconsin is typically a warm weather affair. Although, many Wisconsin state parks keep a small port on their campground open for winter campers.
Here are some of our top choices for camping in Wisconsin state parks.
Devil’s Lake was formed when a retreating glacier trapped the Wisconsin River in the Baraboo Hills. The result is a gorgeous blue lake surrounded by rocky bluffs, with no visible inlet or outlet. With three campgrounds and over 400 campsites, Devil’s Lake State Park is the largest and most visited Wisconsin state park camping area.
No motor boats are allowed on Devil’s Lake—making it the perfect spot for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding adventures. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking are also popular activities in the park. Plus, the 1,200-mile, statewide Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through the park.
Comprised of eight miles of Green Bay’s shoreline on the Door County peninsula, Peninsula State Park is another Wisconsin gem. It is home to 3,776-acres of rocky bluffs, coastal wetlands, and maple and beech tree forests. Peninsula State Park has five campgrounds, all with flush toilets and shower facilities. The South Nicolet Bay Campground is available on a first-come, first-serve basis only, and all other campsites are reservable in advance.
Park highlights include the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, the 180-foot Eagle Observation Tower, and the 9.6-mile Sunset Bike Route that weaves around the peninsula’s marshlands. However, perhaps the main draw of the park is the 18-hole Peninsula Golf Course—one of the most scenic golf courses in Wisconsin. Peninsula also maintains 16 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, plus designated hiking and snowshoe trails in the winter.
Surrounded by bluffs at the confluence of the Mississippi and Trempealeau Rivers, Perrot State Park offers some of Wisconsin’s best views of the Mississippi River. The park’s centerpiece is the trail to the top of Brady’s Bluff, a 500-foot climb through cedar forest and sandstone cliffs. Brady’s Bluff is considered a sacred landmark by several Native tribes in the area. Moreover, some earthwork mound sites made by ancient Native cultures can still be found in the park.
The Perrot State Park Campground has 102 campsites, 38 of them with electric hookups. Flush toilets and showers are also available. The Great River State Trail is a 24-mile trail of crushed sandstone, which is built on an abandoned railroad line. It stretches from Onalaska to Marshland, Wisconsin, passing directly through the park. You can even hop off the trail and grab dinner at the nearby Trempealeau Hotel.
Located five miles north of the city of Hudson, Willow River State Park is home to one of the state’s most scenic and unique waterfalls. Flowing through a narrow gorge in the Willow River, Willow Falls is an impressive multi-tiered waterfall. This spot is especially gorgeous when it becomes frosted over in the winter. Swimming, boating, fishing, rock climbing and hiking are all popular activities in the park. Plus, visitors have three different campground areas to choose from. Together they feature approximately 200 campsites, some with electrical hookups, and all have access to flush toilets, and hot showers.
Situated at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, Wyalusing State Park is one of the more scenic Wisconsin state parks for camping. The campground is situated on the bluffs above the river valleys. And the campsites along the ridge have fantastic views of the Mississippi River.
Hiking, canoeing, and bird watching are the most popular summer activities in the park. Alternatively, during the winter, many of the park’s trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Wyalusing State Park also contains a significant number of ancient Native American burial grounds. Some of which include effigy mounds shaped like deer, bear, and birds. The Huser Astronomy Observatory located in the park offers free astronomy programs to the public, from May through October.
Other Noteworthy Wisconsin State Parks
For the best fall colors, visit Copper Falls State Park or Rib Mountain State Park. For the best paddling, check out Newport State Park and Big Bay State Park. For hiking and trail running, Governor Dodge and Kettle Moraine State Parks offer the most extensive network of trails.
Although no camping is available, urbanites love Governor Nelson State Park. This park is located on Lake Mendota, just outside the state’s capital city, Madison. Governor Nelson is also a big hit with dogs since it features a designated dog beach with a ramp to help dogs get in and out of the water.