The 8 Best Campgrounds In Wisconsin For Camping

Wisconsin is a place that tends to make headlines for its dairy products or its football team. But in the warmer seasons, this northern state is also a camper’s paradise. With frontage on two Great Lakes, a network of national and state forests, and 15,000 freshwater lakes to explore and fish, it offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. (Not to mention, it has a healthy population of black bears to keep things interesting.) Here are 8 of the best campgrounds in Wisconsin.

Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake in the Baraboo Hills of southern Wisconsin is one of the best campgrounds in Wisconsin, and is also the state’s most-visited park. Its forested bluffs are a big draw for climbers and hikers while the clear waters of its namesake lake are ideal for swimming and fishing. The park has a beach and expansive picnic area at both the north and south ends of the lake. There are also canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals plus a pet swim area.

Unfortunately the park’s campgrounds aren’t near the lake but they do offer a variety of wooded and open sites. In addition to a group camp, Devil’s Lake has three campgrounds with a total of 423 sites. Walk-in sites are available but reservations are recommended (which fill up far in advance).

Where: Baraboo

Sites: 3 campgrounds with 423 sites, plus 1 group camp

Reservations accepted? Yes

Peninsula State Park

This park in scenic Door County is the state’s second most popular park. It’s a forested peninsula surrounded by the cold clear waters of Green Bay with plenty of overlooks to catch views of the water. It’s also full of activities and amenities including: miles of hiking and biking trails, an 18-hole golf course, outdoor theater, swimming beach, boat rentals, and a historic lighthouse. For campers, it offers three group camps and 468 campsites.

Where: Fish Creek

Sites: 468 sites, plus 3 group camps

Reservations accepted? Yes

Mirror Lake State Park

This state park is close to the hustle and bustle of Wisconsin Dells and the legendary Ishnala supper club. Enjoy the area’s attractions during the day and head back to a peaceful campsite at night. The 2,200-acre park includes a lake (perfect for swimming and fishing), wetlands, hiking trails, picnic areas, and scenic 50-foot cliffs. It also has a few different overnight options including 151 campsites and 7 group sites. There’s also an ADA-accessible cabin and a cabin that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Where: Baraboo

Sites: 151 sites, 7 group sites, 1 ADA-accessible cabin, 1 additional cabin

Reservations accepted? Yes

best campgrounds in Wisconsin - mirror lake state park

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore includes the 21 islands that stretch into Lake Superior from Bayfield, Wisconsin plus 12 miles of shoreline on the mainland. Two of the islands can be reached by ferry, but most can be reached only by boat or kayak. (Madeline Island, which isn’t technically part of the national lakeshore, can be reached via car ferry and is home to Big Bay State Park.) Backcountry camping is allowed on 19 of the 21 islands, but permits must be purchased in advance. Due to COVID-19, no overnight camping is allowed on any of the islands in 2020. But make your plans for next year and beyond!

Sites: Varies (some of the islands have zoned backcountry camping)

Reservations accepted? Required

Kickapoo Valley Reserve

The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is a wildlife and recreation area that cover more than 8,000 acres in southeastern Wisconsin. The small, scenic Kickapoo River winds through the reserve as it passes sandstone cliffs and forests. Depending on conditions, the river tends to be good for beginning paddlers. The average summer depth is between 3 to 5 feet. There are 25 primitive sites throughout the reserve that are first-come, first-serve. About half the campsites are vehicle accessible while the rest are paddle-in or hike-in only. Permits are required and must be purchased at pay stations within the reserve.

Where: Southeastern Wisconsin between La Farge and Ontario.

Sites: 25 sites (drive-in, paddle-in, hike-in, plus horseback riding sites)

Reservations accepted? First-come, first-serve only

best campgrounds in Wisconsin - Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Lower Wisconsin Riverway

This is another camping option on our list that doesn’t take reservations but that’s because you don’t need them. The Lower Wisconsin Riverway is the 92-mile section of the Wisconsin River that runs from Prairie du Sac to the Mississippi River. Throughout this stretch, the river has a sandy bottom and is full of sandbars where anyone is allowed to camp for free. The sandbars are generally only accessible by canoe or kayak so the camping here is essentially paddle-in, paddle-out. But the work to reach these sandbars is worth it. There’s very little development along this part of the river and the sand is usually a clean, mosquito-free place to pitch a tent.

Where: Prairie du Sac to Wyalusing State Park (at the Mississippi River)

Sites: No official sites

Reservations accepted? Not applicable

Wyalusing State Park

The Lower Wisconsin Riverway ends at Wyalusing State Park where the river joins the Mississippi. This small park doesn’t have a huge number of campsites but there are a few that offer incredible views of the river valley below. There are also miles of wooded hiking trails in the park that include stops at a few sandstone caves carved into the cliffs. There’s also a boat launch where boaters and paddlers can begin their adventures in the Mississippi backwaters. (Plus there’s a canoe trail that eventually meets the main channel of the Wisconsin.)

Where: Bagley

Sites: 2 campgrounds with 109 sites, 1 outdoor group camp, 1 indoor group camp

Reservations accepted? Yes

Point Beach State Forest

Point Beach State Forest is a 3,000-acre forest that includes 6 miles of sandy shoreline on Lake Michigan. All the family campground’s 127 campsites are within walking distance to the beach (though the natural sand dunes prevent any of the sites from having lake views). There are two rustic campsites: one is kayak-accessible only, the other is hike-in and is located just off the Ice Age Trail (which runs through the state forest). There is also both an indoor and outdoor group camp.

Where: Two Rivers

Sites: 127 sites, 2 rustic sites, 1 outdoor group camp, 1 indoor group camp

Reservations accepted? Yes

Looking for travel destinations in other states? Check out our guide to the 12 best places to camp in Texas, our guide to camping in Utah, and our travel guide to the Great Lakes.