Best Campsites in Wisconsin

by Amy Myers

Once the weather warms and lakes thaw, Wisconsin natives and visitors flock to the 6,000 campsites throughout the state to rid themselves of winter cabin fever. Finally to shed those winter coats, Badger State adventurers hit the trails, paddle the lakes and soak up every last drop of the sun.

Unbelievably, there are 15,000 lakes within Wisconsin, making any trip to the back country a waterfront destination with plenty of ways to cool off and enjoy incredible landscape views of glassy waters and lush green forests. Even better, Wisconsin has plenty of campsite options to choose from, meaning you won’t need to sacrifice comfort for adventure if you so choose.

If you plan on staying in one of Wisconsin’s state parks or forests, you’ll need to reserve your spot, unless it’s a backcountry site. Luckily, reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. You’ll also need a Wisconsin State Parks System sticker for any vehicle accompanying you to the campsite, as well as a trail pass for adventurers 16 and older planning on any trail-based activities beyond just walking and hiking.

Check out the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for more info on permits, passes and stickers required for Wisconsin’s wilder parts.

Hot tip: Add #OutWiGo to any pictures you post on Facebook and Instagram of your Wisconsin adventures.

Twin Valley Campground in Governor Dodge State Park

For the backcountry beginners.

  • Location: 4175 Highway 23 N, Dodgeville, WI 53533
  • Campground contact: (608) 935-2315
  • Park hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., year-round
  • Campground website

Home to two lakes, deep valleys and 5,000 acres of backcountry beauty, Governor Dodge State Park is the perfect introduction to the wonders of camping, and Twin Valley Campground gives you a front-row seat to all that Wisconsin wilderness has to offer without overwhelming you. While staying at one of Twin Valley’s campsites, you’ll have direct access to popular attractions like Twin Valley Cave and Lake. Also on site are plenty of front-country comforts like hot showers and even a place for the kids to play. So even if it’s you’re first time staying in a tent or a camper, you won’t feel too far out of your comfort zone.

Campground breakdown:

  • 78 electric campsites: $28 to $30 per night
  • 66 standard non-electric sites: $15 to $20 per night
  • 6 walk-to tent sites: $20 per night
  • 6 backpacking sites (located at Hickory Ridge): $20 per night
  • 8 group campsites (located at Hickory Ridge): $20 per night

Between Twin Valley and Cox Hollow campgrounds, Governor Dodge State Park has a whopping 300 campsites in its vicinity. That said, you’ll likely be sharing the campground with plenty of other backcountry fanatics from spring to fall. There are also roughly 30 campsites that remain open during the winter, for those looking for a snowy escape from the front country.

Twin Valley amenities: playground, showers, flush toilets, vault toilets, potable water and sanitation dump station.

Reserve a Twin Valley site here.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Campgrounds

For the paddlers.

  • Location: Apostle Islands National Park, Bayfield, WI 54814
  • Campground contact: (715) 779-3397
  • Campground website

Sometimes, you just need a getaway with your kayak, paddle and tent. And for that reason, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an absolute must-see, must-go-to, must-everything. Accessible only by sea kayak, motor boat, sailboat, shuttle service or water taxi, these islands are reserved for avid adventurers that don’t need a lick of electricity and almost all modern amenities during their stay.

There are 21 Lakeshore islands, and 18 of them have campsites dispersed about their sandy shores. Solitude and tranquility are the prime attractions at the 48 campsites throughout the Lakeshore, and all of them have fantastic paddling opportunities that rival any tropical destination.

Campground breakdown:

  • 48 non-electric campsites: $15 per night
  • 15 primitive camping zone: $15 per night
  • 9 group sites: $30 per night
  • 12 docking sites: $15 per night for boats under 40 feet, $30 per night for boats over 40 feet

Of course, the pristine condition of these views and seclusion rests in the hands of the campers. Be sure that when you stay at one of the Apostle Islands you pack out all trash and use the bear-resistant food lockers.

Apostle Islands amenities: picnic table, fire ring, bear-resistant food lockers, nearby privy, boardwalks and tent pads.

Reserve an Apostle Islands site here.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin. (Photo by: David Underwood/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Crystal Lake Campground in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest

For the all-around adventurers.

  • Location: 10145 County Rd N, Boulder Junction, WI 54512
  • Campground contact: (715) 542-3923
  • Park hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., year-round
  • Campground website

Listen, it’s a long name for a forest, but it’s one you won’t soon forget. The Northern Highland American Legion State Forest has adventures in store for all types of campers, and the popular Crystal Lake Campground has the amenities to match. Along with a variety of campsites for all types of visitors, the campground has direct access to swimming, biking, hiking and paddling opportunities. Not to mention, there’s also a nature center located at the picnic area that takes you through a wide range of habitats and terrain. With all there is to do, you’ll need at least a two-night stay to appreciate what Crystal Lake has to offer.

Instead of distinguishing prices by campsite type, the NHALSF splits the fee into two categories. For residents, the price to stay at one of these sites is $20. For non-residents, the nightly fee is $25.

Campground breakdown:

  • 86 electric campsites
  • 8 group/double sites
  • 6 walk-to tent sites
  • 2 ADA sites

Crystal Lake amenities: nearby swimming beach, reservable shelter, picnic area, a paved bike trail, nature center, vault toilets, one-flush toilets, hand-pump drinking water, sanitation dump station and garbage and recycling stations.

Reserve a Crystal Lake site here.

Point Beach State Forest’s Family Campground

For the families.

  • Location: 9400 County Highway O, Two Rivers, WI 54241
  • Campground contact: (920) 794-7480
  • Park hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., year-round
  • Campground website

Located along the western coast of Lake Michigan, Point Beach State Forest is a popular choice for families looking to enjoy some bonding time rather than screen time. With sandy shores, wooded trails and a historic lighthouse, there are plenty of ways to explore the state forest in a low-key environment. Back at camp, you can choose between electric and non-electric campsites, depending on how immersed you want your little ones to be in the elements. No matter which you choose, though, you’ll have access to running water and hot showers before turning in or toasting marshmallows.

Campground breakdown:

  • 70 standard electric campsites: $30 to $32 per night
  • 37 tent-only sites: $20 per night
  • 1 ADA site: $30 to $32 per night
  • 2 rustic sites: $15 per night

Point Beach amenities: flush toilets, shower buildings, sanitation dump station, and garbage and recycling stations.

Reserve a Point Beach site here.

North Nicolet Bay Campground in Peninsula State Park

For the beach-bound campers.

  • Location: 9462 Shore Rd, Fish Creek, WI 54212
  • Campground contact: (920) 868-3258
  • Park hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., year-round
  • Campground website

Volleyball courts? Check. Swimming beach? Check. Plenty of room to spread out and watch the night sky? Check and check. A stay at North Nicolet Bay along Wisconsin’s peninsula is everything you could hope for both a beach and backcountry getaway. The campground ties together the rugged joys of camping with the relaxing atmosphere of a sandy shore and inviting waters. Unlike the four other campgrounds at Peninsula State Park, Nicolet Bay has the only swimming beach available, as well as a public boat launch, giving you the freedom to choose your waterfront adventure.

Campground breakdown:

  • 42 non-electric campsites: $20 to $22

While there are hot showers and running water at this campground, there aren’t any hookups for campers or trailers. But between the beachfront amenities and access to both Minnehaha and Lone Pine trails, you won’t have time to miss any front-country comforts.

North Nicolet Bay amenities: running water, hot showers, flush toilets, cold water bathroom, swimming beach, additional showers at the beach area, public boat launch, two sand volleyball courts, playground equipment, a camp store, boat and bike rentals.

Reserve a North Nicolet Bay site here.

Beach along Minnehaha Trail, Green Bay, Rocky beach along Green Bay. (Photo by: David Underwood/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)