As someone who loves the outdoors and spends many weekends camping all around Wisconsin, I have found myself being asked “where do you recommend I camp for my first time” or “what are some of your favorite state parks to visit in Wisconsin” by a lot of friends and college students. So, as people start to plan camping trips, I have created a list of the top Wisconsin State Parks, based on my own personal experience and research.
Please note, that to enter some state parks, a state park pass or a fee at the entrance may apply (a yearly Wisconsin State Park pass will range from $28-$38 depending on resident status, and a daily fee is typically $10-$15 depending on residence).
If you choose to spend the weekend, weekend fees will apply (usually around $15-$35 per night) and reservations can be made online the day of, however it is recommended that you reserve a campsite at least the week before your planned stay.
Here is a list of the top state parks to visit in Wisconsin, along with a little information about each one
Devil’s Lake is one of the best-known state parks in Wisconsin and offers a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy. Devil’s Lake is best known for its beautiful bluff views over the lake and has rustic cabins you can stay in for the weekend. People may also know about Devil’s Lake State Park because of its famous landmark of Pewit’s Nest, which serves as a common area for swimming and photography. Personally, Devil’s Lake is one of my favorite places to visit, but I do advise that if you are looking for somewhere that is quiet, this isn’t the place for you. Devil’s Lake is one of Wisconsin’s top visited state parks, and gets crowded on most weekends. It is definitely worth the visit, just expect lots of people!
Kettle Moraine State Forest is another well-known state park in Wisconsin. It covers over 55,000 acres and spans across southern Wisconsin, making it an easily accessible state park. This state park is highly recommended by all its visitors, as its size allows there to be a wide variety of activities you can do here. The Kettle Moraine Southern Unit is in Eagle, Wisconsin which is a short 30-minute drive from my house, making this the perfect quick getaway or day trip. You can expect to find me here on weekends when I want to get outside! There is a lot of beautiful woods to see here, with there even being a butterfly sanctuary for visitors to walk through. However, like Devil’s Lake, Kettle Moraine State Forest is highly traveled, especially by trail runners. So, expect a lot of people on the weekends when it’s nice outside!
High Cliff State Park is known for its amazing views that look over Lake Winnebago, the largest lake in Wisconsin. Covering 1,147 acres, this state park offers activities ranging from fishing, to rock climbing, to walks along the shore. High Cliff State Park is located in northern Wisconsin, meaning that it isn’t as traveled as Devil’s Lake or Kettle Moraine State Forest. For those who want to be one with nature and take a break from their busy life, this is the place to go. Make sure to bring your camera, as you will want to get tons of photos of this breathtaking view!
Mirror Lake State Park offers amazing views of the famous sandstone bluffs you see in the Wisconsin Dells. This park is best known for its fishing, and scenic kayaking, making it a great option for water lovers like my family and I. I visit Mirror Lake almost every summer with my family, and love it every time. It’s a little less traveled due to Devil’s Lake being right by, this make it a great place for those looking to stay in south western Wisconsin for a quick weekend getaway!
Wyalusing State Park is located on both the Wisconsin and Mississippi River, making it the perfect place to visit if you’re a water lover! This state park is best known for its river valley views and the nationally recognized Native American burial grounds that visitors can view. I haven’t spent much time here, as when I visited, it was mainly just a quick drive through, but what I did see is some amazing photography opportunities and not a lot of people! I put this one on my list because it’s one with great camping reviews, and one I want to spend a weekend at sometime soon!
Blue Mound State Park has a lot to offer its visitors. With over twenty miles of hiking and off-road biking trails, this park is perfect for those who love the outdoors. This park is just the right distance for a day trip if you live in southern Wisconsin. But, if you’re looking for a weekend getaway, they also offer a wide range of campsite options, such as rustic cabins, campsites, bike-in campsites, and backpacking campsites. Cave of the Mounds isn’t located too far from here either, being one of the many reasons why I love visiting this state park. If you plan on stopping by, I highly recommend taking a moment to check out the Cave of the Mounds, and the breath taking views.
Point Beach State Forest offers six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline full of breath-taking views and dunes that visitors can enjoy. This state park offers year-round activities, from biking, hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling. You won’t regret visiting and getting the full Wisconsin experience in during any season! This forest definitely makes you feel like you’re not in Wisconsin, and is a great way to escape your everyday life for a weekend!
Governor Dodge State Park offers a lot of activities for its visitors year-round. They also offers hiking trails, biking trails, horseback riding and so much more! If you live in southern Wisconsin or are here for a visit, locals will tell you that Governor Dodge Sate Park is one of the best places to visit for fishing, hiking and reconnecting with nature. Being in a similar area as Devil’s Lake, you still get those bluff views and great rock formations, but with less people. I 100% recommend visiting!
*Please make sure to make reservations if you plan on horseback riding, and to contact Doby Stables Inc. (the Governor Dodge State Park horseback riding company) about additional fees and information on their COVID-19 response. You can visit their website at https://dobystablesinc.webs.com/
Peninsula State Park is located in Door County Wisconsin, making it the longest drive on this list. However, this park has some of the most famous views that Wisconsin has to offer. With over eight miles of Green Bay shoreline to visit and scenic views, it is common to find photographers up before sunrise to get photos at Weckler’s Point or Eagle Tower. If you are someone who has been to the Door County Peninsula in the past and loved it, it is highly suggested that you make another trip up to camp at this beautiful state park. This is my favorite park to visit, as it is the ideal place to be if you are looking for water views and to experience Door County in a different way!
Perrot State Park offers over 1,243 acres of scenic views overlooking both the Mississippi and Trempealeau River. This park is the second longest drive on this list, but is worth the drive if you love hiking the bluffs that Wisconsin has to offer. This park is also best known for its wide range of natural, archaeological, and historical resources, all of which are highlighted at Brady’s Bluff Natural Area where visitors can learn about the history of Perrot State Park.
Overall, the Wisconsin State Park system has a lot to offer. The list above, only covers nine of the sixty-six state parks that are in Wisconsin, leaving you with so much more to explore! Don’t underestimate the fun that can be had in your own state and remember to get outside of your comfort zone every once and a while.
For more state parks or outdoor recreational areas to visit in Wisconsin, go to https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/.
All images were found on google.