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Find
a Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area or trail.
Camping opportunities
in state parks and forests.
How to buy
a vehicle admission sticker or state trail pass.
Get Outdoors!
to attend a nature program or event with family and friends.
Contact information
For information, contact:
Mailing address:
Forest Headquarters

S91 W39091 Highway 59
Eagle, WI 53119
262-594-6200

Ottawa Lake Visitor Center and Campground
Camping Open All Year
S59 W36530 County ZZ
Dousman, WI 53118
262-594-6220 (Memorial Day to Labor Day)

Rebecca Peiffer, Visitor Services

Pinewoods Campground Campers must check in at Ottawa Lake Visitor Center

Horserider’s Campground
W830 Little Prairie Rd.
Palmyra, WI 53156

Whitewater Lake Visitor Center and Campground
W7796 Kettle Moraine Drive
Whitewater, WI 53190
262-473-7501 (Memorial Day to Labor Day)

Kettle Moraine State Forest—Southern Unit Camping Frequently Asked Questions

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are allowed at your campsite. The forest enforces a zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking.

Bathroom / shower facilities

  • Ottawa Lake campground has flush toilets and electrical outlets
  • Pinewoods Campground has a a centrally located shower and flush toilet building and vault toilets in the campground loops and group camp.
  • Horseriders campground has flush toilets and a shower building.
  • Whitewater Lake family and Hickory Woods group campgrounds have vault toilets, but not shower facilities. Registered campers can use the showers at the Horseriders’ campground, located south of Palmyra.

Camping units

Only one wheeled camping unit is allowed per site. Exception will be made if a truck camper or motor home tows in a trailer as part of the camping unit. Multiple tents allowed on any site, as room allows.

Camping Fees

Camping fees only cover camping. Vehicle admission stickers are also required. Daily stickers sold to registered campers expire at 11 p.m. the day after the day of issue. In other words, you need only one daily sticker for one night of camping; the day of departure does not require an additional purchase.

Directions

The campground and trailhead addresses often give inaccurate results in online mapping programs. As you near the area, watch for brown directional signs along the road to get you to the campgrounds.

Unlike smaller state parks, there is not one main entrance to the Southern Unit. The Forest Headquarters on State Highway 59 has a free museum and should be visited. However, it is not the address you want to go to check in for camping. 

Ottawa Lake Visitor Center and Campground:
Camping Open All Year
S59 W36530 County ZZ
Dousman, WI 53118
262-594-6220 (Memorial Day to Labor Day)

Pinewoods Campground
Campers must check in at Ottawa Lake Visitor Center

Horserider’s Campground
W830 Little Prairie Rd.
Palmyra, WI 53156

Whitewater Lake Visitor Center and Campground
W7796 Kettle Moraine Drive
Whitewater, WI 53190
262-473-7501

Firewood

Firewood is available for a fee next to the Ottawa and Whitewater Lake entrance stations and from the camp host at Pinewoods and Whitewater Lake.

First-come, first-served camping (Non-reservable Sites)

There are a limited number of first come, first served family campsites. Call ahead to better determine the need for reservations depending upon the time of year, day of week and where you plan to camp.

Garbage and recycling

Garbage and recycling bins are provided for campers only. There is one garbage/recycling station at each campground. Removal of garbage and recyclables from a campsite helps eliminate smells and mess and discourages unwanted pests.

Generator Use

Generator use is prohibited in the campgrounds.

Gift shop

Nature related books, shirts and sweatshirts, novelty items, etc. are available at the forest headquarters on State Highway 59 between Palmyra and Eagle. Sales of these items support the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association, which funds programs and special projects in the forest.

Hours

The Forest is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. After 11 p.m., only registered campers may be in the campground.

Length of stay

You and your camping unit may remain in the Kettle Moraine State ForestSouthern Unit no longer than 14 days in any 3-week period. After 14 days, the camping unit and camping party must leave the forest for at least 7 days before returning. Please note, Ottawa Lake, Pinewoods and Whitewater Lake campgrounds are all parts of the same forest.

Naturalist programs

Campers are welcome to attend any of many public programs at various locations throughout the forest. Call ahead or check on the web to see if there is a program you'd like to attend during your camping stay.

Payment of fees

Fees paid by self-registration can be made with check or cash. All major credit cards are accepted at the Forest Headquarters and the Campground Contact Stations when they are open. Please call ahead for hours if you are relying on credit card for payment.

Pets

Pets are permitted in Ottawa Lake, Whitewater Lake and portions of Pinewoods campground. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times. A pet swim area is located near the Ottawa Lake boat launch.

Playground equipment

Playground equipment is available at the Ottawa Lake and Rice Lake day-use areas and near the Pinewoods shower building.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy can be found throughout the forest. Identification cards are available at campground entrance stations and forest headquarters.

Raccoons and other critters

Bears are not known to be in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, but don't be surprised if you see a raccoon or skunk. These furry critters have been seen on numerous occasions, particularly in the campground. At times they can be bold and come very close to you, your camping party and your food!

Do not feed them. Feeding conditions them to expect food and cause future problems (return callers). Always remove garbage and recyclables from your site daily to discourage raccoons' nighttime visits.

Other commonly seen animals include deer and turkey.

Reservations

Reservations are recommended for weekend camping from late spring through early fall and for any sites with electrical hookups. Availability depends upon the time of year, day of week and where you plan to camp. Reserve a site online or by calling (888) 947-2757 11 months to two days before you want to camp.

Sanitary dump stations

Sanitary dump stations for camper units are available at Ottawa Lake and Pinewoods and Whitewater Lake campgrounds. The dump station at Ottawa Lake is open year-round; however, the rinse water is turned off when there is a threat of freezing. Dump stations are free to use by all registered campers.

A trailer dump fee of $10 will be collected from anyone using a dump station and is not a registered camper. The dumping fee is in addition to the vehicle admission sticker fee.

Scooter Use

  • Non-motorized play toys include scooters (coasters), skateboards, roller skates, unicycles or other toy vehicles. These cannot be used on campground roads or parking lots. (In-line skates can be used.) Non-motorized play toys are allowed on the paved pathway near the Ottawa Lake beach.
  • Registered motorized scooters and mopeds are allowed, when operated by a licensed driver. Any motorized scooter operated in the park needs a vehicle admission sticker. When a vehicle is towed into the park, a courtesy vehicle admission sticker will be issued at no additional charge.

Self-registration

Self-registration is available for first-come, first-served sites in the family campgrounds.

Severe weather

In the event of a severe weather warning, if staffing allows, rangers will try to warn the campground and recreation area with a steady siren wail. Campers should seek cover immediately in a concrete block or stone building. Remember to stay out of trailers, vehicles and tents; and stay away from the beaches, lakes or tall trees since these areas are prone to be struck by lightning.

Listen to radio station Milwaukee 620 AM (WTMJ) for weather information.

Site descriptions

Partial site descriptions are available online. Each campsite description includes the maximum vehicle length, number of vehicles, driveway length, double-wide driveway or not, back-in or pull-through, paved or gravel and shady or open.

More campsite information can be found on the campground maps, also available at any forest office.

If you have personal preferences not listed, such as multiple tents, more privacy, lake view or adjoining campsites, call forest staff for suggestions. Likewise, if you call for a reservation and there are only a few sites to choose from, don't hesitate to call forest staff before you make the reservation.

Transfer list

The transfer list is for registered campers who wish to change sites either due to personal preference or an incoming reservation on their site. Being on a transfer list does not guarantee a site to transfer to the next day.

  • The transfer list for the next day begins when the previous day's transfer list is processed. Campers who have placed their name on the transfer list and are present at the time the transfer list is processed (9 a.m.), will be given the opportunity (in the order in which their names appear on the list) to accept or decline potential transfer sites.
  • If a camper declines all available sites, he/she will be given the first opportunity to be placed on the next day's transfer list. Campers are not automatically placed on the next day's transfer list. To be placed on the next day's transfer list, a camper must make this request.
  • For potential openings over a day away, it is in the camper's best interest to place his/her name on each day's transfer list and be present the next morning at 9 a.m. to be placed immediately back on the subsequent day's transfer list. This insures the camper the same (or higher) spot on the transfer list.

Vehicles

Two vehicles are allowed to be parked on the gravel pad at each campsite. Additional vehicles must still be registered to the site at the office and can park in the overflow parking lot located at the entrance to each campground. Forest staff can direct you to the appropriate parking space when you register your vehicle.

Waiting list

The waiting list is for individuals interested in obtaining a site and who are not registered campers. A waiting list will only be started once the campground is completely filled. On the following day, sites are assigned to people (in the order that their names appear) on the waiting list after the

Water availability

No campsites have water hookups. There are water fountains throughout the campgrounds and water at the sanitary dump stations. At least one source of water is available year round in each campground.

During the spring and fall, call ahead to determine if the water systems will be operational. We may turn off water systems and close buildings if there is threat of freezing.

All water sources (Highway 67 Wayside, forest headquarters and Whitewater entrance station) for backpackers on the Ice Age Trail are available year round.

Last revised: Friday September 01 2017