Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wisconsin State Parks

Camping season is here!  I’ve been camping since I was 2-3 years old.  My parents took us kids all the time and I loved it and still love it.  Something about sleeping in a tent while it is raining outside that is so calming (until you realize you have to pee).  Or sitting by the campfire on a cool night mesmerized by the flames.

My parents would take us for a week to Big Muskellunge Lake at the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest group site 10G.  We would camp with my parent’s friends and there would be about 30 of us.  This site was always fun with our own private beach and it was huge!  At least to a kid it seemed that way.  It’s north of Rhinelander and West of Eagle River.

Big Muskellunge Lake

As a kid and an adult I’ve been to Devil’s Lake in Baraboo. This park is probably one of WI’s most popular state parks due to the deep lake which people use for scuba diving and also the hiking trails that come in many difficulty levels.  The high bluffs create some difficult hikes and for rock climbing, but the views at the top are awesome. I’ve camped at the single sites and also at the group sites.  The single sites are more open to other campers, but they are closer to the lake and trails.  The group sites are nicely wooded and are on the opposite side of the lake but there is one trail nearby that will take you to the more populated areas.  This is a great park to visit for a day of hiking.

Devils Lake

Mirror Lake is another park nearby Devil’s Lake which I’ve camped at with my girlfriends.  I don’t think I’ve actually been to the lake at this site, just camped.  The sites are wooded and fairly big for a single.  It doesn’t have a lot to offer, but it’s close to Devil’s Lake so we could make a quick drive over and do some hiking.  It’s also just down the road from Ho-Chunk Casino which is a fun activity if it’s raining. 

Mirror Lake

Jamie and I camped with some friends at Lake Kegonsa.  Jamie’s cousin was getting married near Madison and I decided we should go camping near there instead of getting a hotel room.  Some of you probably think I’m crazy, but the bathrooms had electricity so I was able to shower, do my hair and makeup and then leave straight for the wedding.  This had nice wooded sites and I believe hazelnut trees, since Brian’s girlfriend got hit on the head with a nut that fell from a tree and she had quite a bump.  We went in October, so we didn’t check out the lake.

Lake Kegonsa

One of my favorite camping spots is Merrick State Park.  This is right on the Mississippi and we like to get the walk-in sites 78-80.  I’ve been here with my family when we reserved all three sites and Jamie and I have gone with friends.  It takes a few hours to get there, so I prefer if we can camp from a Fri – Mon to make use of our time.  This site is literally on the river and you can fish right from your campsite.  The walk-in isn’t too bad, flat and easy enough to get your supplies in.  I prefer site 80 so other people aren’t passing by throughout the day.  I highly recommend checking out this park if you have the time but I would go mid-late summer. Oh, and watch out for poison ivy, Mike got this one year.

Merrick State Park closeup

Another one of my favorite camping spots is at the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit. This park is very large and we’ve camped at Ottawa Lake and Pinewoods. 

Ottawa Lake is our preferred spot.  We have done both the regular sites and also the walk-ins.  The regular sites are nice, some more private than others, we’ve liked sites 381 & 388. This is where we took the little guy for his first camping trip (he was only 9 months old).  We have done both walk-in sites 334 & 335.  These are very far away from the other sites, about a 1/4 mile up hill.  We bring a dolly to lug all our supplies up to the sites.  When we do the walk-ins we also like to get a regular site (333) so we can use the walk-in for our party site and 333 for our sleeping site.  That way we can stay up late if we want and not bother those that are trying to sleep.  The lake here is really nice for swimming.  I really didn’t catch much fish, but you will see lots of fishing off the pier.  There is also a nice play area for the kids.  It’s not showing on the map, but the lake is on the bottom left side.


At the pinewoods site I’ve booked the group sites.  These are large and wooded.  Site D is flatter and I would say more dirty.  Site C is actually a walk-in site, so best to be prepared but it was nice and private.  This is located in the Southern Unit and it is a short drive to get to Ottawa Lake.


(I’ve been to the northern unit once and I don’t remember enough about it to make a good review) 

Last year we went with a big group to High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago.  The group sites were in a field with no big trees around.  Unfortunately we went on a really hot weekend and had no shade.  Even napping in the tent was too hot.  But the lake was great!  It is shallow, about knee height, for at least 100 ft before getting deeper.  So it’s great for little kids.  But bring water shoes or wear sandals because it was a bit rocky. 

High Cliff

Last weekend we went to Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan right off Lake Michigan.  I got the last site (87) but it was in a really good location.  There was a pit toilet very close, but the flush toilets and showers were just a short walk away.  We brought our bikes and took them out several times during our short stay.  The beach area looked really nice, but it was too cold to go in.  There is also a really nice play area for the kids and the swings were also great for adults.  I would definitely go back here again.


Well, that just about covers all the state parks we have been to.  What state parks have you been to? 

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Nice post Shelly! That took some time to write. We got a state park sticker this year and we did check out Kohler Andre in Sheboygan back in April. We also had a short visit (10 min) because it was cold. But we are going to make a day trip there sometime this summer on a hot hot day! Also, thanks for bringing back the memories of Mirror Lake! What a fun camping trip that was! You didn't mention the run in with the Ranger that we had!!