What do you do when you want to camp but don’t have much time off from work? Camp near your work! That’s just what we did at Lake Kegonsa in Stoughton WI. Here we will review this wonderful state park just outside the capital city of Madison but far enough away to feel like you’ve actually gone somewhere remote.
The campgrounds are split up between regular and group camping. The group camping site was down the road from regular camping and consisted of a big parking lot, toilet facilities, recreation areas, and a large open area for 2 groups to camp. It was far enough away that if a group was partying late into the night it wouldn’t disturb the regular campers.
Both campgrounds shared a “shower house” complete with 3 shower units and about a half dozen toilets and 3 sinks(at least on the“female” side). There were also handicap private rooms with toilet and shower bundled together. Facilities were clean enough and toilet paper seemed to always be stocked. My husband had reported that he only needed to press the shower button twice for hot water to start flowing. I however had to press it about 7 times. I think it really depends on when the shower was last used. Takes a while for the hot water to reach your stall. Showers stayed on for about 20 seconds before you needed to push the button again. The shower heads could all use a little TLC but they were functional. Wearing shower shoes is recommended. There were NO soap dispensers so make sure you bring your own toiletries.
Adjacent to the shower house was a nice wooded picnic area with playground equipment for the kids. There was also a trail path the lead down the lake. You could also find the firewood station here but we never were able to catch the people selling the firewood at the station. They always seemed to be driving through the campground to make their sales. This seems like a nice service since you don’t have to haul the wood in your own vehicle but when we wanted wood there was nobody to be found. We ended up going about a half mile down the road to purchase wood from a house that had it bundled up in a self serve stand. Wood here was only$5 a bundle and was full of hardwood and a much better deal than the campground wood. Bonus: They invite you to recycle the orange plastic bags by returning them to the stand on your way out.
We reserved one of the many “double sites” the campground offers as we were camping with our daughter and needed to setup two tents and have enough room for 3 vehicles. The double sites include two picnic tables as well. We easily had enough room for two tents, 1 screen room, 1 shower room, a large truck, SUV and a car. We were in sites#13 and couldn’t be happier with our choice. I had done a drive through before reserving the site on the state camping website so I knew which ones would work for us. Site #18 would have worked as well. There are 96 sites to choose from in all and even on the weekend there were still a few open spots. Lots of spots can handle RVs and there were drive through sites so you don’t have to back in if that’s beyond your skill set. A third of the sites offered electricity and there was a dump station near by. Water spigots and pit toilets were spread out to make them convenient from almost any site. I've included some pictures of other campsites so you can get a feel for what to expect.
One of my requirements when camping is some level of privacy between sites and the majority of sites in this campground provide that. Its heavily wooded, sites are nicely spaced and we weren’t bothered by the camp hosts at all. We stayed 3 nights but did not have 1 visit from the hosts even to clean out the fire pit. By the end our pit was full of ashes! Our fire grate was a little beat up and did not have a smooth surface like I saw at some of the other sites but it did the job. I was able to put a pot of water on to boil when needed and it was relatively stable.
The campground is somewhat close to the interstate and rural highway roads so there is some traffic noise but relatively quiet by night time. What was NOT quiet on Thursday night was the freight train that came through around midnight and then again at 2 am. The first train only blew its horn a few short times. The second train acted like someone was laying on the tracks and was a little excessive for 3 am! Luckily we did not hear trains Friday night(or we slept through them) and we only heard 1 on Saturday night. The park is adjacent to more than one crossing so if this will disturb you I recommend finding another place to camp.
The park includes a beach and boat launch to help you enjoy Lake Kegonsa. It was also pet friendly with pet trails and a pet beach of their own. There were signs posted to keep pets on a leash when not in the water but people were not following that rule. Nor were they following the rules on the“people beach” which posted no pets but yet there they were. The beach area was very small but it was enough for the kids to enjoy or to get your paddle board or kayak out on the lake. Keep your eyes out for the “bonus swings” found throughout the park. My daughter and I enjoyed swinging on one near the beach and my husband and I enjoyed one near the shower houses.
There were also multiple trails scattered throughout the park. Everything from a quick half mile trek to loops that allow you to put on a couple of miles. Even though it had been raining prior to our visit the trails were not mud pits. Trails were well groomed and enjoyable. And we escaped without a million mosquito bites but were mildly bothered by gnats. We did spray our campsite with a backyard fogger and this may have helped because other reviews tell tales of being eaten alive. We did not see much wildlife so if that is what you’re after its best to pick a more remote location.
Overall I enjoyed the park and would visit again if I had to be in the area. The only standout negative was the trains. Any site you pick should be a winner and contribute to a great camping experience.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time, and on this trip I tested the Wenzel Blue Jay 25 Degree sleeping bags.
My husband and I are outdoor enthusiasts and have slowly collected our gear over the years. Some quality items have lasted the test of time and other items have fallen apart rather quickly. One of the items we are still lucky to have are our sleeping bags that we purchased for our first camping trip over 20+ years ago. Unfortunately, those bags were made for the extreme cold Wisconsin is famous for. They work well in early spring and fall and have held up to many years of use….. but we find we can’t possibly use them for summer camping. We have taken to unzipping one bag and using it as a mattress cover and simply using sheets or light blankets on top.
So when we received our invite from Wenzel to review some of their equipment it was an easy choice to go with their Blue Jay 25 Degree sleeping bags. This weight seems perfect to handle a cold summer night and just what we need to round out our sleeping bag weather choices.
Wenzel shipped the bags fast and they were packaged individually and arrived intact. I love the fact that they came with their own stuff sacks. It was easy to unroll and reroll the bags and fit them back in the sack. That is something our colder bags don’t have. We have to roll them and tie with an attached string and store them in giant trash bags. I like this design much better. These bags are also more lightweight so they take up much less room than our old bags. This has become very important as we recently gave up our mini van and now have a midsized SUV. Space is now a premium and these fit the bill.
The fabrics are quality and everything seems well stitched together. I don’t feel like its going to unravel and let the filling bunch up unevenly. The flannel lining is soft and handled moisture well. The embroidered logo on the bag was a nice touch. The zippers on any equipment are usually where things go wrong first but these seem well made and easy to open and close. And the bag unzips fully if we wanted to use it as a blanket making it very versatile. The weight of the fill was perfect for this early summer camping trip. Not too hot yet kept us warm enough when temps dipped into the upper 40s. I’d say it was the perfect summer weight for a sleeping bag in our area.
The price point was very competitive and makes these bags a great value for the quality product you get. I look forward to having these bags on all our summer trips from now on. I also look forward to shopping Wenzel again when considering a camping gear purchase. To easily find this bag just follow this link: https://wenzelco.com/blue-jay-25/
We hiked in a little over 3 miles to site 3L2. Hike was moderate as there was some climbing up hill before hiking back down to the river. Along the way we saw giant grizzly tracks on our trail to camp. To get to the site (or any of the other sites besides 3L1) you need to ford the river. It was late August so the water was only shin deep. I hear the water level in spring can be quite different. The site was nice and private and surrounded by water on 2 sides. There is a buffalo that likes to hang out and we watched him while we ate dinner. There is a bear pole to hang your food and supplies. A nice tent spot back in the woods provided a soft pine needle floor. Fire/cook area had multiple "bones" piled up. As soon as night fell we started hearing growling. We didn't get much sleep that night as it sounded like we were in the middle of a zoo. I think with the population of wildlife on the river I will choose to camp elsewhere for a more restful night sleep. River did provide a good water source.
Setup basecamp at Norris and then hiked to backcountry campsite 4D2 on Ice Lake. Very nice wooded hike around the lake to get to camp. Campsite was VERY private and very spacious. We were able to setup our tent far away from the food/fire area. Forest floor was a soft bed of pine needles. If you have a sub par sleeping pad you will still sleep like a baby. Bear poles are provided to string up your gear. Campfire area was nice but we were unable to have a fire due to the fire ban they had for backcountry sites. Lake was clean and a good water source. The night was very peaceful. All we could hear were the owls hooting. Highly recommend this campsite!
If you're looking to have the kids entertained this campground is fine. If you're looking for a true camping/wilderness experience…..look elsewhere. Sites are close together with nothing in between. No privacy. Campground is FULL of kids which means full of noise and activity. Its a good place to take the kids but I wouldn't recommend staying here if you really want to camp or need peace and quiet.
This was a really nice campground. Nice and quiet for its medium size. Wooded sites are nicely spaced (but never far enough away). Facilities were clean and maintained. Liked all the possibilities for hiking and the proximity to other State parks in Northern wisconsin. We visited Cooper Falls as well. Took a trail path out of the campground to the most amazing water fall. Showers available in season. Pit toilets but nicely maintained.
This campground is about 20 minutes from our home and provides a quick getaway when needed. Less than 30 campsites so it is small and private. Sites are heavily wooded and some offer a bit of privacy. No showers here but we never stay long enough to truly need them. Trails are nice but a lot of the miles are in open prairie instead of forest. Lake is nice but there is no launch from within the park…only beach access. Launch your boat across the lake at the private bar. Campground is close to medical facilities if needed. Unfortunately I know this from experience. My 5 year old hooked me in the leg while fishing on Pike Lake and a trip to the ER was needed along with a tetanus shot.
Liked this campground a lot. Its nicely wooded but I do wish the sites had more privacy. Not sure why National Parks put the sites so close together. We had site #82 which met our needs. Each site has a bear box for storage. Loved the proximity to the Norris Basin for hiking. Took a 5+ mile hike through some of the most gorgeous thermal features. Bison visit the campground daily. Big plus is the flush toilets and the camp sink. Quick trip to Canyon campground for showers. There were sites right along the Gibbon river but they were all taken. Campground is first come first serve and you should get there early. Try driving through to get a feel for what sites you might like. 3 different loops are available. Ice and firewood were available on site. Everything else is a short ride over to canyon (gas, showers, food, store, etc).
Loved this campground. Not very large so its quiet and the sites are well spaced and wooded. We stayed in site #11 which had a nice buffer of woods between the sites (9&11 together would make a good combination for 4 people with max privacy). Toilets are pit which is a downside but they were maintained pretty well. Wish there were showers to clean up after hiking but hey….you're in the woods! Loved how the trails were located right off the campground loop. The 303 stairs to the top lookout is a workout and worth the trip for the view. We hiked almost 5.5 miles through this beautiful state park. Proximity to the Dells and other parks make this an ideal home base to explore what Central Wisconsin has to offer. Only downside would be the noise from the highway but that is only during the day. Its very quiet at night!