Perfect Camping for You in Wisconsin!
The Badger State provides a spectacular backdrop for some of the most scenic campgrounds in the country. But do you know which campgrounds offer the most privacy? Which are the best for first-time campers? Veteran outdoors writers Kevin Revolinski and Johnny Molloy have traversed the entire statefrom the shores of Lake Superior to the surprisingly hilly terrain of Sidie Hollowand compiled the most up-to-date research to steer you to the perfect spot!
Best Tent Camping: Wisconsin presents 50 private, county and state park, and lakeside campgrounds, organized into four distinct regions. Selections are based on location, topography, size, and overall appeal, and every site is rated for beauty, privacy, spaciousness, safety and security, and cleanlinessso you’ll always know what to expect. The new full-color edition of this proven guidebook provides everything you need to know, with detailed maps of each campground and key information such as fees, restrictions, dates of operation, and facilities, as well as driving directions and GPS coordinates.
Whether you seek a quiet campground near a fish-filled stream or a family campground with all the amenities, grab Best Tent Camping: Wisconsin. It’s an escape for all who wish to find those special locales that recharge the mind, body, and spirit. This guide is a keeper.
About the Author
Kevin Revolinski was born and raised in Marshfield, Wisconsin. As a child he was fascinated by the Northwoods and Lake Superior whenever he visited his grandparents in Ashland. He is also the author of The Yogurt Man Cometh: Tales of an American Teacher in Turkey, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Madison, and Wisconsin’s Best Beer Guide. He has written for Rough Guides guidebooks, and his articles and photography have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune, the Wisconsin State Journal, and the Miami Herald. He has lived abroad in several places, including Italy, Guatemala, and Panama, but he currently makes camp back in the homeland in Madison, Wisconsin. He maintains a travel website and accompanying blog at themadtraveler.com.
Johnny Molloy is an outdoors writer based in Johnson City, Tennessee. Born in Memphis, he moved to Knoxville in 1980 to attend the University of Tennessee (UT). During his college years, he developed a love of the natural world that has since become the primary focus of his life. It all started on a backpacking foray into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That first trip was a disaster; nevertheless, Johnny discovered an affinity for the outdoors that would lead him to backpack and canoe-camp throughout the United States over the next three decades. Today, he averages nearly 200 nights out per year.
After graduating from UT with a degree in economics, Johnny spent an ever-increasing amount of time in the wild, becoming more skilled in a variety of environments. Friends enjoyed his adventure stories; one even suggested that he write a book. He pursued that idea and soon parlayed his love of the outdoors into an occupation.
The results of his efforts are more than 50 books. These include hiking, camping, paddling, and other comprehensive guidebooks, as well as books on true outdoor adventures. Johnny has also written for numerous publications and websites, as well as his local paper, the Johnson City Press. He continues to write and travel extensively to all four corners of the United States, exploring a variety of outdoor activities. For the latest on Johnny, please visit JohnnyMolloy.com.
Read an Excerpt
Sandy Beach Lake Campground
Beauty 4 / Privacy 4 / Spaciousness 3 / Quiet 4 / Security 4 / Cleanliness 4
The campground at this good swimming lake rarely fills.
- Contact: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 715-385-2727, dnr.wi.gov /topic/StateForests/nhal; reservations 888-wi-parks, reserveamerica.com
- Open: Wednesday before Memorial Day– Tuesday after Columbus Day weekend
- Sites: 33
- Each site: Picnic table, fire ring
- Assignment: By phone; internet; or first come, first served
- Registration: Campground host will register you
- Facilities: Vault toilets, pump wells
- Parking: At campsites only
- Fee: Wisconsin residents, $20; nonresidents, $25; plus vehicle admission fee (Wisconsin residents, $8; nonresidents, $11; Wisconsin residents age 65 and older, $3); $9.65 reservation fee
- Elevation: 1,600'
- Pets: On leash only
- Fires: In fire ring only; firewood must be purchased in state within 10 miles of campground
- Alcohol: At campsites only
- Vehicles: No restrictions
- Other: 21-day stay limit
Northern Highland–American Legion State Forest was established in 1925 to protect the headwaters of many Wisconsin rivers. This area has the most abundant and closely concentrated group of lakes in the state. From this agglomeration of more than 900 lakes flow the Wisconsin, Flambeau, and Manitowish riverways. One such protected headwater lake is Sandy Beach Lake, which feeds the Flambeau River. After seeing Sandy Beach Lake, you may think that it was protected for its scenic beauty alone. Spruces, firs, pines, and white birches ring the shoreline of this undeveloped lake, and its dark waters contrast with the tan sand for which the lake was named. Being distant from the North Country tourist towns keeps it a quiet tent-camping destination in this vast, 222,000-acre state forest.
The campground sits on a level parcel of thick forestland adjacent to Sandy Beach Lake. The first set of campsites in the loop, 1–13, is situated away from the lake. A dense forest of paper birches, spruces, firs, maples, and hemlocks shades from above. The woods are even thicker between the campsites than they are over them, making for great campsite privacy. Campsite 11 has a pair of shady spruce trees in the middle of the campsite. Campsite 12 is the only sunny site here. The loop curves around and reaches the three walk-in tent campsites, 14–16. Sites 15 and 16 are directly lakeside. Just past the walk-in sites are the coveted lakeside sites. The lakeside sites are large, accommodating a tent, bug-screen shelter, and a small boat, and many red pines provide shade. There are seven drive-up lakeside sites. Two other sites are close to the lake, but lush woods obscure the water view. The sites on the inside of the loop are smaller but will do, though I would just as soon camp in the more private sites, 1–11, at the beginning of the loop if a lakeside site was not available.
A campground host lives on-site for your convenience and safety. Two water spigots and three vault toilets serve the campground. Sandy Beach Lake fills only on holiday weekends and sometimes not even then. However, some campsites can be reserved. Be advised that the mosquitoes can be troublesome early in the camping season.
The lakeside sites are perfect for beach lovers, who can enjoy the sandy waters directly from their campsite. Campers without lakefront sites can walk a short distance to the water access and picnic area, where a grassy flat pocked with pines overlooks a developed swim beach with deep-water buoys. Though the dark-water lake is only 111 acres, gas motors are allowed. Anglers can vie for muskellunge, pike, walleye, largemouth bass, and panfish. Many campers leave their boats directly in front of the campsite. Others use the boat launch located near the campground entrance. The launch also has a small dock. A trail located in pines near the swim beach parking area will lead anglers to Mud Lake, where you can fish for bass in a wild setting. Another fishing option is on the Manitowish River, located just north of Sandy Beach Lake near US 51. It also offers good paddling and fishing opportunities.
Wildlife watching is easy here with Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area just a few miles away. Turn left out of Sandy Beach Road, and follow Powell Marsh Road a few miles to a cleared overlook on your right. The wildlife area offers great views of this home for sandhill cranes and other birdlife. Explorers will want to hike the dikes in this open, watery country. Hikers can also trek the cross-country ski trails located just a short distance from Sandy Beach Road on Powell Marsh Road. Bicyclers can tool around the paved campground road and the road to the swim beach or follow the old Chicago and Northwestern railroad grade near the campground. (You passed over it on the way in, near the junction of Sandy Beach Road and Powell Marsh Road.) Pedal north to Mercer or south to the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. This trail is popular with snowmobiles in the winter. With the attractiveness of Sandy Beach Lake, I think that the campground should be more popular with campers in summer.
From the intersection of US 51 and WI 47 in Woodruff, head north on WI 47 for 23.6 miles, passing through Lac du Flambeau on the way to Powell Marsh Road. Turn right on Powell Marsh Road and follow it 0.2 mile to Sandy Beach Road. Turn left on Sandy Beach Road and follow it 1 mile to reach the campground on your right.
GPS Coordinates: N46º 6.247' W89º 58.022'
Table of Contents
Wisconsin Campground Locator Map
- Blackhawk Memorial Park Campground
- Governor Dodge State Park Campgrounds
- Harrington Beach State Park Campground
- High Cliff State Park Campground
- Ledge County Park Campground
- Nelson Dewey State Park Campground
- Pinewoods Campground
- Sidie Hollow County Park Campgrounds
- Tower Hill State Park Campground
- Wildcat Mountain State Park Campground
- Wyalusing State Park Campgrounds
- Buckhorn State Park Campground
- Dells of the Eau Claire County Park Campground
- East Fork Campground
- Harstad County Park Campground
- Hartman Creek State Park Campground
- Lake Wissota State Park Campground
- Mirror Lake State Park Campground
- Perrot State Park Campground
- Pigeon Creek Campground
- Point Beach State Forest Campground
- Roche-A-Cri State Park Campground
- Willow River State Park Campground
- Amnicon Falls State Park Campground
- Big Bay State Park Campground
- Birch Grove Campground
- Black Lake Campground
- Bois Brule Campground
- Brunet Island State Park Campground
- Copper Falls State Park Campground
- Day Lake Campground
- Lake of the Pines Campground
- Lake Three and Beaver Lake Campgrounds
- Perch Lake Campground
- Spearhead Point Campground
- St. Croix Campground
- Bagley Rapids Campground
- Bear Lake Campground
- Goodman Park Campground
- Laura Lake Campground
- Lauterman Lake and Perch Lake Campgrounds
- Lost Lake Campground
- Luna–White Deer Lake Campground
- Newport State Park Campground
- North Trout Lake Campground
- Rock Island State Park Campground
- Sandy Beach Lake Campground
- Starrett Lake Campground
- Twelve Foot Falls Park Campground
- Twin Lakes Campground
Appendix A: Camping Equipment Checklist
Appendix B: Sources of Information
About the Authors