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Wisconsin State Park System Camping rules
Below is a list of camping rules for Wisconsin State Park System properties.
Campsite reservations are encouraged for Wisconsin State Park campsites, especially for weekend dates May through October and for electric campsites anytime of the year. Reservations may be made for camping up to 11 months in advance or as late as two days before the date of occupancy.
Wisconsin State Parks is running a pilot program for next day campsite reservations at Big Bay, Devil's Lake, Kohler-Andrae, Peninsula and Perrot state parks.
All campers must register when they arrive at the park. If you have a reservation, be prepared to present your confirmation letter at the park office upon check-in. If you arrive and the park office is not open and you do not have a reservation, use a self-registration station. The self-registration station or directions to it will be near the office.
To self-register for a campsite:
- Get a camping self-registration envelope at the self-registration pay station.
- Fill in the form and post the white copy at any untagged nonreservable site. Do not set up on any campsite before paying.
- Immediately return to the self-registration pay station. Put your payment in the envelope and deposit it in the slot.
Occupying the campsite
A camping unit must occupy the reserved campsite by 3 p.m. on the second day of the reservation and be present for the duration of the reservation. If you do not check in and occupy your reserved site before 3 p.m. the day after the scheduled arrival date and remain for the duration of the reservation, you will forfeit the site.
Campers on first-come, first-served sites must occupy the site the first night and any consecutive nights for which they have registered.
A site may be occupied by a parent or parents with their dependent children and not more than two guests or a group of not more than six persons, regardless of age. Designated group sites allow more occupants.
Length of stay
Wisconsin State Park campsites are enjoyed by millions of people each year. To assure the greatest access to campsites, a maximum length of stay has been established. No one may camp or leave a camping unit in a family campground for more than 14 days in any 21-day period.
Extending a stay
Customers may not extend the departure date of a reservation until they have checked in at the park. Extensions will be made at the park, if the site is available. Campsite extensions must be made through the office no later than the day before your scheduled departure.
If a camper decides to leave early they may be entitled to a refund. No refund will be given for the current night after the 3 p.m. checkout time.
The parks are closed to non-campers between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. All visitors must leave the park by 11 p.m. During closed hours, campers must be in or be enroute to their registered campsite. No camping party may set up or take down a camping unit between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Fires and firewood
Don't move firewood!
Due to the potential of carrying harmful tree pests and diseases, Wisconsin has restrictions for moving firewood.
Fires are allowed in fire rings and grills only. Do not leave fires unattended and put out all fires before leaving. Do not burn garbage, plastic, glass, cans or other recyclable items. You can buy locally-grown firewood in or near most state park and forest campgrounds.
Watch children very closely around fires. When setting up to use an area, become aware of the location of the fire ring. Watch the wind direction to ensure sparks are not getting on flammable materials and put the fire out if wind changes begin to cause concern. Do not remove hot materials from the fire ring or grill and make sure the fire is out and the grill or fire ring cool before leaving the area.
Please be courteous to your camping neighbors. At no time may the noise on a campsite create a disturbance or interfere in any manner with other people's enjoyment of the park.
Generator use is typically not allowed in Wisconsin state parks. Property managers have full discretion for generator use. Any camper who needs to operate a generator because of a health condition will be required to take an electrical site if any is available and not use the generator unless an outage occurs. Because the available electric site is not in a preferred location is not valid justification for the camper refusing to accept that site assignment.
If no other electrical site is available, the camper will be assigned to an accessible campsite with electrical service. If no electrical sites at all are available, the property manager or designee will try to find and assign the camper to the site where the noise of a generator will be least disruptive to other guests. The camper may be allowed to operate the generator there only under special conditions so the resulting noise will not bother other campers. Only under unusual circumstances will evening generator use be allowed. No person may operate a generator without first obtaining a written permit from the department.
Day-use guests may use a generator within the property in areas where the property manager determines that the noise will not be offensive to other guests. A camper or day user who can not accept these conditions or procedures will be directed to another property, either public or private.
Fireworks are illegal. Anything that flies or explodes is considered a firework. "Snakes" and sparklers are allowed. Always ask a ranger before using anything that may be questionable.
Recycling and refuse
Plan your camping to produce as little trash as possible.
Campsites, buildings and picnic areas, do not have trash cans. However, there are some dumpsters in the campgrounds for your use if necessary. Bins are also available for recyclable items of glass, plastic, aluminum and tin.
If using your own grill, place coals in an available park grill or fire ring or at designated coal disposal sites.
Campers may not switch sites without prior approval.
Vehicles and tents
Motor vehicles are restricted to the designated parking area on each campsite. No more than two motor vehicles (except as many as six motorcycles) are allowed per campsite.
No more than one recreation trailer, pickup truck camper or motor home may occupy a campsite. Pickup campers or motor homes pulling a trailer are treated as a single unit.
The number of tents allowed depends on the sizes of the tents and of the site. Call the park or forest office if you're considering bringing multiple tents.
Each vehicle must have a vehicle admission sticker. If you tow or carry a vehicle behind or on another one, ask at the entrance station for a courtesy sticker for the towed/carried vehicle.
Please collect and dispose of dish and hand washing water at the sanitary dumping station or in campground toilets. It is against health and safety rules to dump this "gray water" on the ground.
Campsite check in / check out time is 3 p.m. You may set up earlier if the site was not occupied the night before. If you are unable to leave by 3 p.m., contact the park or forest staff immediately.
Note: If you or any member or guest of your camping party violate any state law or Department of Natural Resources rules, you may be evicted from the park, have your camping permit revoked and lose any fees you have paid.