Enjoy Wisconsin Camping–Plan Ahead

statepark_story1The Wisconsin state park system has nearly 5000 campsites, ranging from spots with electrical hookups and private showers to backcountry walk-in areas. In Wisconsin, alone there are  thousands of parks, campgrounds, rivers and lakes, wilderness and wildlife refuges, and other outdoor attractions. Many new ones are being added every year!
Choosing among all of these choices for a vacation or a quick get-a-way is made simpler by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website and the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website.
Holiday weekends – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day – always fill up earliest and require advance planning. Most parks keep a number of first-come, first-served sites that give last-minute planners a chance to get in. If you are counting on a walk-up only site on a busy weekend, consider leaving work early on Friday or taking the day off altogether. Calling ahead will give you an idea if there is a race on for the last site. The best days of the week are Monday through Thursday, and in spring and fall when school is in session.

Whether going for a weekend or a week long vacation, keep it simple: food, clothes, shelter and a simple first-aid kit. Planning for the weather, of course, depends on the season. Plan for bad weather. Bring along a plastic tarp, just in case of rain. Have clothing along that allows one to dress in layers, just in case that July day turns into 50 degrees with no sun.
images (1)Keep a clean campsite. Pick up all litter, even on the edge of the campsite. Messy campsites attract raccoons and other animals and bugs that can create problems.
All pets in parks must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times. Some places such as picnic areas, beaches, nature trails and playgrounds don’t allow them at all; some parks offer pet swim areas. Check each park’s page on the DNR website for specific pet rules.
State park campsites are very public places with many campers, other pets and wild animals wandering around. Dogs that bark at other visitors, pets generate complaints and should probably be left at home. Do not leave your pet alone.
In addition to a camping fee, be prepared to pay for entry to all state parks in a motorized vehicle. Annual vehicle admission stickers are $25 ($35 for nonresidents); additional vehicles in the household are half price. The daily rate is $7, so the annual fee becomes a smart investment quickly. Buy one at the park office on your first visit (credit cards are accepted), a DNR service center or order by phone at 888.936.7463. If you get a new car midway through the year, take all or part of the sticker to a park office and fill out a new form.
If you are a disabled veteran or former prisoner of war, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. You must take an application to your County Veteran Service Officer and then turn it in to the DNR for an ID you can present to park officials for a courtesy pass.