Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, on the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago in the town of Sherwood, it offers a wide variety of activities for visitors year-round. From camping to hiking and biking to weddings; this guide will tell you everything there is to know about High Cliff State Park!

Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is a well-known Wisconsin state park. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, High Cliff offers outdoor enthusiasts year-round activities. Camping, hiking, and biking are just some of the things to do at this beautiful destination! This guide will tell you everything there is to know about it!

Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is the only state-owned recreational area on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake. Let’s start with the history – it is SO amazing!

History of High Cliff State Park

The rocks at High Cliff are primarily sandstone laid down by streams that once ran through this area millions of years ago. These sediments were compressed under great pressure into hard rock deposits which have been worn away from the softer shale beneath them by wind and rain erosion over centuries (more).

It is part of the Niagara Escarpment.

Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment is a long, continuous escarpment that extends from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario in Canada to the Alabama River in Iowa. It was formed when a retreating ice sheet left an unglaciated strip on top that gradually sloped toward the northeast and this trend is marked by high cliffs or bluffs overlooking much lower areas below them (more).

Sioux

Nomadic Siouan Indians were there, some 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.

The Sioux were nomadic tribes who hunted bison along what would become High Cliff State Park. They lived off hunting buffalo for food, housing materials, clothes and many other necessities including shoes made out of animal hide with Buffalo hides also being used as blankets during cold winters.

They left 30 effigy mounds behind to tell part of their story, 9 of which remain today. (More on those later)

Limestone Mining at High Cliff

The park’s limestone mine was a testament to the area’s industrial heritage. It was a successful 40-man strong lime mining operation from 1855 to 1956. Quarrying of the stone was done in large pits still visible around the park.

Workers drilled holes into the rock and used dynamite to blast the limestone from the sedimentary layers of rock. For safety reasons, this occurred on a strict schedule, with blasts happening at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. each day. The limestone was then loaded onto a horse and buggy system to hit the on-site kilns. The lime from this operation was sent throughout the Midwest and was used for a variety of things, from plaster and cement to brick mortar, and even to simply reduced acidity in the soil of farmlands.

Limestone Mining at High Cliff

As many as 40 people worked at the operation, including drillers, a blasting specialist, stone crushers, teamsters, barrel makers, laborers, and a blacksmith. Many were recent immigrants from Hungary. In its heyday, the lime industry supported a small “company town” consisting of 16 houses for workers, a store (including a post office, telegraph office, and company office), and a tavern, all owned by the Western Lime and Cement Company. All that remains today are the store and ruins of the kiln.

High Cliff State Park Red Bird Statue

Once known as one of the friendliest and most trusted of the Wisconsin Indians, Red Bird (1788–1828) was a leader of the Winnebago (or Ho-Chunk) Native American tribe. He was a leader in the Winnebago War against the United States.

We won’t go into details here – but their war was based on the tensions of the time, a misunderstanding that led them to believe that two Ho-Chunk had been put to death at Fort Snelling in 1826 for a murder they did not commit, and then retaliation that continued to escalate.

The Winnebago War was a large-scale conflict between the United States and the Ho-Chunk Nation in what is now Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

High Cliff State Park Red Bird Statue

It lasted from 1827 to 1833 with sporadic fighting continuing until 1840 when Red Bird finally surrendered.

A few years after his death, a statue was erected to honor him at High Cliff State Park. The original monument made this area of the park an important site in Wisconsin’s Native American history and culture. It is by an overlook on the Red Bird Trail and worth a stop.

This is a GREAT lesson for the kids – while I haven’t found any books on Red Bird specifically, Tecumseh is a great read before you visit – to open some dialogue with your kids.

Is High Cliff State Park Haunted?

There have been many reports of paranormal activity…three main sources.

Native Americans

First of all – there is always “energy” around effigy mounds and there is no exception to the ones at High Cliff State Park, even if there are no human remains detected in them.

The most well documented of all “hauntings” at this park, hands down are the effigy mounds. There are many reports of “warm wind” or “cold wind” in the area – on days with no wind, as well as a special kind of green moss that ONLY grows on the effigy mounds.

The Hungarian Stone Masons

Then there is the old kiln haunting. In an era where quarrying operations were largely unregulated, accidents in lime quarries proved tragic for workers and their families. On December 22nd, 1903 a rock fell from the ceiling of one section and killed seven people at once, including two teamsters hauling limestone up out of the pit on a wagon with 16 barrels while four other men pushed it from behind.

After this tragedy, new regulations required proper supports beneath any area that could cause anyone to come into contact with falling rocks or rubble. The old kiln is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Hungarian stonemasons who labored there.

Lake Winnebago Water Monster

The legend has its roots in the formerly nearby Winnebago Tribe, which had a village on the shores of the lake. The Winnebago monster is described as being a long, serpentine creature with two fins or horns and an armored back. In 1959 the “monster” was filmed by a man named Claude Thompson on his home movie camera while fishing in Lake Winnebago.

The video footage has been studied extensively by skeptics who say that what appears to be two bumps near its head are actually reflections of trees seen through murky water from below. They also point out that this creature could not remain unseen given its large size, which would have become noticeable because fish refuse to swim near it.

In 1962, cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans published an article about it in Fate magazine where he coined the term “plesiosaur“.

One of the skeptics, Ron Schaffner, argued that the creature is merely a floating log or other debris in low visibility water and was not moving at all–as seen by changes in size when Thompson zooms his camera out to get a wider shot.

Supposedly, the water monster washed to shore at one point and an entire deer, antlers and all, was found in its belly. The lake is allegedly still the home of the water monster’s children, equally large fish that just might swallow a person one of these days.

Keep in mind that the Winnebago monster remains unidentified and unverified…and I totally surprised my husband with this one -who grew up in the area and never heard of it!

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High Cliff State Park Effigy Mounds

An effigy mound is an animal shaped structure built entirely or partly from clay with one side deliberately left flat so it can be seen easily on aerial photographs.

Effigy Mounds In General

These were constructed by prehistoric Mississippian Indians for ritual purposes between 900 AD and 1400 AD, but some may date back to about 500 BC. Fewer than 20 sites remain today because farmers plowed up many of them during settlement in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The identity of the animal is not always certain, and may have been different in Mississippian times than during earlier periods. The most common shapes are bears (perhaps symbolizing strength), panthers or other wild cats (possibly representing speed). Birds were also represented including owls, herons, hawks and cranes; these could represent ferocity or power respectively.

Sometimes a human was included on top of an effigy mound – this would usually be someone who wanted to honor their ancestors by being buried high rather than at ground level as usual for that culture’s burial rituals- although sometimes it represents a spirit guardian figure known as ‘the Master of Breath’. Effigies were built mainly between 900 AD to 1550 AD and are found in the Eastern US, but also as far north as Michigan.

The mounds were usually built up over a log or scaffold base which was then filled with dirt to create an elevation of about 15 feet.

The earth circling the mound represented water flowing around it and helped reinforce its symbolic meaning by suggesting that life came from within the earth, like springs bubbling forth (the opposite side of this belief is seen in some Puebloan cultures where effigies represent mountains).

The High Cliff Mounds

The High Cliff State Park effigy mounds were left by nomadic Siouan Indians . The mounds are arranged in a sequence of overlapping circles that get smaller and closer together the higher they go.

The park was established to protect these ancient Native American earthworks, as well as rare prairie plants such as showy goldenrod.

Historians believe that the shape of the mound is indicative of status–animals shapes mean the person had a higher status than those in geometric shapes, and the buffalo shape was the highest of all, generally reserved for family of the chief. While none of the effigy mounds at High Cliff have been found to have human remains or artifacts in them, they are still sacred to the Native Americans whom created them, and should be treated as such.

These dates have been determined by carbon dating charcoal remnants from the fires of the effigy mound builders, so we know the ones at this park are from somewhere between 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D.

Out of the original 30 effigy mounds in High Cliff, only nine remain. These can be found on the Indian Mound Trail in the upper section of the park. This trail has signs posted along it describing the animal life, vegetation, speculation on the ways of life of the former inhabitants of the High Cliff area, and the mounds themselves.

The 9 that remain are four panther mounds, two conical mounds, one lineal mound, and, along a smaller path, two buffalo mounds.

–>Please keep in mind that these are sacred spots and should be treated as such.

High Cliff State Park Camping

With two different campgrounds, High Cliff State Park should be able to accommodate you.

The family campground has 112 campsites (32 with electric and two handicap accessible – #26 and #86). A flush toilet/shower building is on-site and there are in the family also several vault toilets throughout the campground. Campground hosts stay on site 58 from April through October.

High Cliff State State Park Family Campground Map

Accessible cabin

An accessible cabin for people with disabilities is available at High Cliff State Park. The cabin can accommodate up to six people and can be rented for a maximum of four nights per year.

High Cliff State State Park group Campground Map

Group Sites

There are eight group sites, that only have vault toilets located near them.

High Cliff State Park Activities

There is so much to see and do at High Cliff year-round! Fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, boating and more!

High Cliff State Park Water Sports

Being right on Lake Winnebago, you have a lot of options here!

Big Cliff State Park Fishing

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.

Lake Winnebago is stocked with a variety of fish each year. You can catch Walleye, Northern Pike, White Bass, Perch and Lake Trout to name a few!

You can also fish at the Butterfly Pond! You will find it full of both largemouth bass and panfish.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

high Cliff State Park Swimming

High Cliff does have a swim area, however, there are no lifeguards on duty. There is a fully functional bathhouse too – complete with flush toilets, showers, changing areas, and open shelters.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

High Cliff State Park Kayaking

With 5 boat launches, 4 developed and one undeveloped, you are pretty much set for any kind of boat at High Cliff. Windsurfers, kite boarders, and paddlers will enjoy the area, but make sure to check out State Park’s website for a list of rules and regulations before you head out on the water.

If you have a larger boat, you can even bring it to the park! There are 100+ slips available to rent, or you can stay overnight aboard your boat while it is moored in the marina. Call the marina at 920-989-1349 (Memorial Day through Labor Day) to check on rental availability.

All slips have power and slip rentals include the use of the marina shower building. The marina is within walking distance to the beach, biking trails, golf course and restaurant.

High Cliff State Park Hiking

With 5 different trails, quite a variety of different skill levels and challenges are covered. They are all a variety of lengths and loop – making their well-marked paths easy to follow.

They are a perfect way to see the fall colors!

High Cliff State Park hiking trail

The hiking trails are as follows:

Butterfly Pond trail (0.4-mile east loop and 0.7-mile west loop)

This trail is paved for accessibility and features wetland, prairie and forest ecosystems.

Forest Management trail (0.9-mile short loop and 1.4-mile long loop)

Mostly wooded.

Indian Mound trail (0.6 miles)

This will take your by the park’s effigy mounds.

Lime-Kiln trail (0.9-mile short loop and 1.7-mile long loop)

This trail covers part of the Niagara Escarpment State Natural Area, and has some steep climbs, descents and stairs.

Red Bird trail (3.4 miles)

With amazing panoramic views, this pretty level trail will take you past the historical limestone quarries, the Chief Red Bird statue, and the observation tower.

High Cliff State Park Trail Map

High Cliff State Park Trail Map

High Cliff State Park Nature Center

High Cliff State Park Bike Trails

While you can use your bike on any of the paved roads, you are limited to the Red Bird Trail and Horse trail – which is 7.5 miles long and goes through both grassland and hardwood forest ecosystems. You can NOT bike on the other 4 trails.

There are NO bike rentals at the park (or horses either) so be prepared to pack your own.

Golfing in the Area

While High Cliff state park doesn’t have its own golf course, there are some excellent courses nearby.

High Cliff Golf and Event Center is an 18-Hole golf course near High Cliff State Park. A Driving Range is there and Golf instruction is available by appointment. W5095 Golf Course Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Winagamie Golf Course is another favorite. A nice 27-hole course that keeps the playing groups separated nicely. Plenty of straight par fours and a challenging rough. Nice pro shop! : 3501 Winnegamie Dr, Neenah, WI 54956

High Cliff State Park Hunting

If you are a gun-hunter – this isn’t the park for you. There is a traditional 9-day muzzleloader-only gun deer hunt. There is no other gun hunting in the park. Other than that, archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.

Trapping rules are tricky – you have to be at least 100 yards away from the designated use area, including trails. You simply can’t use certain trap types.

High Cliff State Park in Winter

If you want to see some wildlife – this is a great time of the year. Watch for deer and rabbits as they move from their winter grazing areas around High Cliff in search of food.

Snowshoeing at High Cliff State Park

If you want to try your hand, or foot, at snowshoeing – this is the place to do it. Snowshoe rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis when the park office is open… so you can see if you really like the hobby before investing in your own shoes.

Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere in High Cliff except on ski trails when snow-covered. The Forest Management trail is good for winter hiking and snowshoeing. That is the one that is mostly wooded and serene.

winter in peninsula state park

Cross Country Skiing at High Cliff State Park

First of all, Fido is not allowed on these trails! Pup pawprints can screw up a groomed ski trail. Certain trails in the park are designated for skiing when snow-covered. The trails are groomed for traditional skiing and are suitable for beginning to intermediate skiers.

Snowmobiling at High Cliff State Park

A 3-mile snowmobile trail through the park connects Lake Winnebago with the Calumet County snowmobile trail system.

They follow the surrounding county guidelines for when the trails are to be open or not – The Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report, and local club and county snowmobile web pages and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.

High Cliff State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

There are a two special “pet picnic” areas where your pup can enjoy a meal with you. One is in the lower park, near the park office, with a dog swimming area in the pond. It is a little hard to find, but it is there, adjacent to the marina. The other is near the pavilion.

All trails are dog-friendly when on a leash, except for in winter with the ski-prepped trails.

There is also a great dog park near Appleton. Outagamie County Dog Park is an easy drive from the park and will make it convenient for you to exercise your dog so he will be easier to manage on your hikes.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t microchipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the EastShore Humane Society at (920) 849-2390.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails (Applies to Parfrey’s Glen)
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.
  • The Devil’s Lake South Shore Picnic area, except on paved roads and walkways en route to areas where pets are allowed.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Restaurants Near High Cliff State Park

Here are a few of our favorites:

The Chubby Seagull

OK – part of me just loves the name, LOL. This is the go-to place for pizza or ice cream. Note: Employees don’t wear masks – so strict COVID precautions aren’t followed, if that makes you uncomfortable. N7663 Pigeon Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

The Granary Supper Club

We love supper clubs, to begin with, but with their cozy seating. pleasant decor, and large menu? It is worth a visit. N586 Military Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Peters’ Boyz Texas BBQ

This place is worth the small drive: the brisket is awesome and the ribs are even better. N378 Military Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Grocery Store Near High Cliff State Park

While you are a short drive from Appleton – that has everything from Aldi to a Walmart Super Center, right in Sherwood, you will find a Dick’s Family Foods – W647 Knight Dr, Sherwood, WI 54169

Hotels Near High Cliff State Park

We know it – not everyone wants to sleep IN the park, either on their boat or in a camper/RV/tent.

Quality Inn & Suites

This might be your closest accommodations, if under $60, and has a hot breakfast. 761 Truman St, Kimberly, WI 54136

Appleton Hotels

There are literally dozens there – and prices range from $38 to over $220. It depends on what you are looking for, specifically.

Check out our OTHER State Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

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A Pop Up Camper Offers The Best of Both Worlds

A pop up camper can be the best of both worlds: you get the comfort and convenience of a home on wheels, but it’s also lightweight enough to tow behind your vehicle. So why don’t more people buy them?

A Pop Up Camper Offers The Best of Both Worlds

If you are one of the millions of people who enjoy camping then you do not need to be told about the allure of open spaces, fresh air, and time away from the rush of civilization.

You also do not need to be told about the chilly nights, biting bugs, dirty tents, and makeshift bathroom facilities that campers must endure. For those who enjoy camping but can do without the down-and-dirty experience that roughing it entails, campers often bridge the gap for them.

A Pop Up Camper Offers The Best of Both Worlds

Campers are available in many different shapes and sizes. From gigantic RVs (recreational vehicles) to smaller camper vans, there is a vehicle that can suit nearly any sized family with nearly any amenities you can imagine.

A pop up camper offers the best of both worlds: it is small and portable but can provide a comfortable place to sleep. It’s also fairly easy for one person to set up.

Pop-up campers come in all shapes and sizes with some able to house four or more people while others are perfect for just two. For those looking to explore the outdoors with minimal fuss, pop-up campers provide a great option.

Here are five reasons that a pop up camper might just be perfect for you.

1) A pop up camper is affordable

Many campers are families who have limited funds. Campers are often the answer for those who want to get out into nature but can’s see dropping $25,000+ on an RV that is only suitable for camping.

There’s no need to purchase any expensive camping gear when you can sleep comfortably in your camper so this self-contained baby is the budget hotel of the camping world!

The best part of all is that these tented gems are usually priced well under comparable RVs on the market today and can be purchased either new or used. For those who have always dreamed about living off-grid but do not want to commit to living in a tent, pop up campers can be the perfect solution.

BONUS: They less expensive to insure than an RV!

2) A pop up camper is easy to store

It is not surprising to learn that most people possess neither space nor resources to store and maintain a massive RV that is only used a handful of times per year.

For those for whom an RV is not an option, there is another option, and that is the pop up camper.

A pop up camper really just is a collapsible camper that is towed behind your regular vehicle. When not in use the camper is detached from your car or truck and can reduce in size so that it can be stored easily in a garage, or inconspicuously in your backyard.

Unlike their RV counterparts, pop up campers are essentially out of sight until you need them. But when it is time to head to the campground, the camper comes to life, and when properly outfitted they can offer all the comforts of home.

3) You’ll Always Have Room For Your Stuff

Those of us who have childhood memories of campers from years past might think of pop up camping as a rather spartan experience. Early pop up campers were a simple shell that folded out to provide sleeping space, but little else.

In essence, they were a large tent that sat off the ground and offered more space and protection from the elements than a conventional tent, but in the end, they were more like tents than a mobile home. Oh, how things have changed!

Late-model pop up campers use modern materials and technology to reduce their weight, allowing for more amenities and options. While a bathroom is a rare convenience, many other comforts of home can be found in today’s pop up camper designs.

It’s not uncommon to find a pop up camper designed with features like:

  • Propane tanks for cooking
  • Hot water
  • A Stove
  • Refrigerator
  • Air conditioning
  • Heating
  • Storage space
  • Batteries

Those are all things you have to pack (in some form or other) when you are tent camping.

Pop up camper manufacturers, such as Jayco, have thought of everything. They offer pop ups with awnings, front storage panels, and even kitchenettes for the most simplistic camping experience possible.

And do not worry, modern pop up campers are easy to fold and unfold as well. With minimal practice, you can have your pop up camper ready for use in less time than it takes to check in to a hotel!

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

4) They are easy to haul

Pop up campers are lightweight.

In most cases, they can be towed by a fairly standard SUV or truck–though there might need to be some modifications made depending on the model of pop up camper.

Once you are at your campsite, you get to detach your vehicle so you can actually go out and about without hauling everything with you – it is freeing!

5) A pop up camper is very maneuverable.

If you have ever backed into a campsite and realized that you aren’t in there straight enough? You won’t have that problem with a pop up camper!

My husband and I could easily spin the camper around or push it back and forth until it was in the desired position.

Before You invest in a pop up camper: Consider Safety

If the joys of a pop up appeal to you and you are interested in trying it out, make sure to inform yourself further before making a purchase. Check the specifications of your car or truck to see how much weight it can safely pull, and try not to be skeptical when your camper salesman tries to sell you an upgraded anti-sway trailer hitch.

A good quality hitch can eliminate dangerous swaying and shaking that can happen when towing your camper at higher speeds, and it is worth every penny because it not only protects your investment, it protects your passengers and other motorists as well.

Make sure you have the correct “load” for your new baby and you will be all set!

Once you find a pop up camper that suits your needs, destinations, family, and automobile, then all that is left to do is pick out where you want to camp and hit the road! A pop up camper provides your family with a home away from home at a fraction of the cost of an RV – making them as popular as ever.

Other articles you may find helpful:

7 Common Mistakes New Campers Make

Common Mistakes New Campers Make? Camping is a fun and adventurous activity for many people, but if you’re new to it there are some common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid. In this article, we discuss 7 of the most common camping mistakes that beginners make so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way.

Common Mistakes New Campers Make

Any camper who claims never to make a mistake in their nature adventures is either telling a bit of fib or they really don’t get out there too often. No matter how many years we’ve been at it, all of us are guilty of an occasional error of judgment.

But is that such a problem? Certainly not. If we admit to the blunder, carefully think through it, and try to salvage a lesson from it, each mistake becomes a more effective learning experience than any number of trouble-free camping trips.

Common Mistakes New Campers Make

It seems to me, though, a few campground blunders crop up more frequently than others, particularly among newbies of the outdoor scene. Here are seven bloopers you should watch out for:

Mistake #01: Poor Choice of Equipment

No doubt the earliest trap of all for enthusiastic but inexperienced campers lurks among that vast array of equipment and hardware that confronts them in a well-stocked outdoor supplies store.

It’s right here where they are most vulnerable to the well-meaning but poorly informed — and usually equally inexperienced — sales assistant. Woe is you if they work on commission! You are likely to end up with expensive, inappropriate, insufficient, and unnecessary camping gear.

This is number one on our list of Mistakes New Campers Make because it simply makes the largest difference.

Solution: Start slowly. Hold off buying too much stuff until you get a feel for the outdoor lifestyle and activities that most appeal to you and your family. Read, ask, look around; maybe borrow or rent some gear at first, to see if it suits. After each trip, review your equipment options, then add (or discard) according to your needs, wants, and outdoor aspirations.

Mistake #02: A tough first trip

By leaping straight into the deep end — perhaps a week-long trip through a remote and uninhabited desert country — it is possible that you or your family may never want to go camping again. Unfamiliar equipment, seemingly hostile terrain, lack of established routines, and very little skill add up to a trip you all, quite probably, would prefer to forget.

Solution: Take your camping one step at a time, progressively developing each trip from the one before. For example, try a shake-down trip, first up, to a not-too-distant country town where there’s a commercial campground or RV park.

Next, visit national parks that offer basic facilities and amenities. Finally, venture into the real bush or further into the backblocks where higher levels of self-sufficiency are necessary. This is if you are really into the idea of off-grid experiences.

Mistake #03: Traveling too far or too fast

Many outdoor people fail to distinguish between camping and road-tripping. They spend maybe a week of their two-week camping vacation just getting to and coming from. Or they travel on such a tight driving schedule that the whole trip becomes one frantic dash from campsite to campsite. Isn’t this meant to be a holiday or a relaxing vacation?

Solution: When road-tripping, or touring, take time to see and experience the country. A good daily maximum is 200-225 miles. On the other hand, when off on a camping trip, try to spend no more than 25 percent of total holiday time traveling. Plan your route or your destination accordingly.

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Mistake #04: No stand-up-height shelter

With the increased popularity of small, low-profile tents, more and more campers get caught with no other form of shelter. A two or three-person hike tent is fine for sleeping, but that’s all they’re good for. Who wants to spend a day of foul weather hunched and huddled in a space the size of a dog box. After all, no matter where you go, one day it’s going to rain. Every so often, it will come down in buckets.

Solution: As well as your sleeping accommodation, take along a large tarp or awning to string up, at head height, between trees, vehicles, poles, or whatever to provide day-to-day living space during pouring rain or blazing sun. Go for quality and sturdy construction, with sufficient room for all in your group, plus a bit of camp furniture. You can get these at the local Dollar Tree for just a buck!

Mistake #05: Unsuitable toilet arrangements

If there’s one thing that’s inevitable in the city or the countryside, it’s the need for a toilet. On unimproved campsites for a night or two, the camp shovel and a long walk are often adequate.

Yes – camp shovel. Not every campsite has flush toilets or even pit toilets. Unless you have your own portable toilet, a shovel is your friend.

But always use the shovel. There’s not much worse than finding toilet waste around the perimeter of a campsite — the hygiene implications don’t bear thinking about!

Unfortunately, this is so common I can only conclude that few campers give toilet arrangements any forethought at all.

Solution: Add a small shovel to your camping gear and take it along on every trip. For camps of four days or more, a bucket-style chemical toilet will be more convenient, but you still, eventually, need to bury it.

Indeed, in some areas, taking all forms of waste back out with you is now the only legal option, so prepare accordingly.

Ohhhh – and don’t forget the TP!

Mistake #06: No campfire preparations

A cozy campfire — where they’re allowed — is an integral part of camping’s attraction, so it’s always a surprise to witness the blundering, half-hearted attempts of many new campers.

Scrounging for damp wood, huffing, and puffing (even dousing their meager efforts with lighter fluid!) they usually finish up with more smoke and frayed tempers than flames and comfort.

Believe it or not, most campsites — particularly the popular areas — rarely provide sufficient kindling let alone dry firewood unless you buy it from them.

You are NOT allowed to bring wood in from outside that area in most campgrounds.

Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk in or on firewood. These insects and diseases can’t move far on their own, but when people move firewood they can jump hundreds of miles. New infestations destroy our forests, property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.

dontmovefirewood.org

Solution: Plan ahead. Find out where you can collect enough dry firewood and kindling for your first campfire in the area you will be camping.

Also, a supply of waterproof matches, newspaper, and firelighters should be packed on board where you can get to them soon after arrival. Check out our article on how to build a perfect campfire!

Tip #07 – Inadequate refrigeration

It seems to me, whoever came up with the idea to carry an icebox on roof racks or in an open trailer is a couple of cans short of a six-pack. He’s probably the same guy who buys a bag of party ice for a long weekend camping trip and wonders why the steaks are sloshing about in a cooler of bloodied water by Saturday night. Getting the most out of a cooler requires a bit of thought and careful nurturing.

It is HUGE as one of the Mistakes New Campers Make so you don’t end up with food poisoning.

Solution: If possible, use block ice. (Make your own in the freezer at home.) If party ice is your only option, choose bags that are frozen solid and leave them unbroken.

Carry more ice than you think you need. Better still, find a supplier of dry ice. Always carry and store the cooler in a shaded spot, or cover it with a heat-reflective tarp. Keep a layer of cans or watertight containers across the bottom to keep food (in containers!) out of the water.

Also – have a cooler for drinks that is separate from the cooler for your food. You tend to open the cooler for drinks a lot more often and this would keep your food cooler, for a longer period of time.

Don’t be too surprised if, in your early camping days, you bump up against a lot more mistakes than these. But take heart: each error you make eventually adds to your outdoor savvy. And although there will always be campers with more experience than you, there are even more with considerably less. Watch and learn from their mistakes, so you don’t find yourself repeating them.

Other articles you may find helpful if you like Mistakes New Campers Make:

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4 Places To Go Camping In Minnesota

Places To Go Camping In Minnesota? Minnesota is a great place to go camping. Between the four seasons, beautiful forests, and lakes galore, it’s hard not to find an adventure waiting for you. If you’re looking for some of the best camping spots in Minnesota, this blog post has got you covered!

Minnesota campgrounds to visit

Minnesota is full of simply beautiful countryside that is perfect for camping. However, you may find it difficult to choose the right spot to camp in since there are so many options.

4 Places To Go Camping In Minnesota

Here are 4 great places to go camping in Minnesota that you really should visit.

Ann Lake

Ann Lake is the perfect camping spot for families. It’s got plenty of camping space and a great beach to swim in, so you can have fun with the whole family!

If you enjoy horseback riding, then Ann Lake is the perfect camping location for you. You can ride your horse on the trails and explore the beautiful countryside that Minnesota has to offer.

The best part about camping at Ann Lake? You get to enjoy all of this without having to go far from home! If you live in Minneapolis, it’s only a 30-minute drive away.

If you don’t live in Minneapolis, you are only 30-minutes away from some amazing restaurants when you are camping.

There are plenty of trails and fishing holes to be found here as well.

Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake State Park is a great place for family camping.

Kids love playing on the beach, and adults can enjoy a nice swim in the lake without worries as the very inviting swimming area isn’t very deep but offers plenty of fun.

Along with some great fishing spots that are perfect for kids to fish from shore, there is plenty of space for camping tents as well.

No worries if you don’t want to camp in a tent – If you don’t want to camp in a tent, there are also many spots for camping trailers and RVs. The park is open year-round so it’s the perfect destination no matter what time of year it is outside!

This beautiful state park has three separate campsites that have access to fishing areas. The best part about camping in these sites is that they have picnic tables and fire pits. That means y’all have less equipment to haul.

There are plenty of picnic areas for families to enjoy while hiking. Bear Lake State Park offers show facilities as well for the camper who doesn’t quite like that part of getting back to nature!

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Cadotte Lake

Cadotte Lake offers more than 20 miles of camping grounds for you to enjoy. The camping spots are very private so that is a nice change from what most of them offer.

All the sites are situated near to both water and trails which makes it perfect hiking. There is plenty of space, so you don’t have to worry about feeling cramped while you’re out there enjoying the scenery. The best part – this park has a shower house!

It’s one of the best in Minnesota. It has restrooms and hot water showers which make it perfect for those who don’t like camping but still want to enjoy all that nature offers without giving up their creature comforts! The staff is also friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful so you never feel lost or confused when you’re there.

This is a great place to go camping, especially if you have kids because it has plenty of things for them to do as well! It’s much more than just an open space with nothing around – here, they can play games and even fish in the lake when they want.

It is said some of the best fishing in Minnesota takes place here. You can fish from the shores or take your boat as there are plenty of great boating ramps for you to use.

The swimming area is a nice place to take some time to relax on a hot afternoon. There’s also a playground for kids to play on that will help keep them happy while the adults can take advantage of some peace and quiet.

You might be wondering how this place got its name – it was named after one of the earliest settlers in Minnesota who had great respect for nature. It seems fitting considering he would have appreciated all the beauty that still exists today.

This is a great place to go camping in Minnesota because of its proximity to the Twin Cities. It’s only about 45 minutes away and it makes for a nice weekend getaway for those who live there. Besides, you can’t beat how affordable this campsite actually is!

Fenske Lake

One might be wondering how this place got its name – it was named after one of the earliest settlers in Minnesota who had great land for farming: A.J. Fenske

Fenske Lake is the place to go if you enjoy wildlife. This is a good place to go camping in Minnesota for those who enjoy hunting, fishing, and hiking. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities that will appeal to just about anyone!

You will find marked trails for hiking as well. This is a great opportunity for those who want to explore nature.

There are also plenty of chances for fishing here, as well as swimming and boating. Camping in Minnesota at Fenske Lake State Park is the perfect place if you love to take it easy by just exploring all that mother earth has to offer!

Regardless of which one of these 4 places to go camping in Minnesota that you choose, you will have a wonderful time enjoying the outdoors.

Is there a place you think we should have talked about? Let us know!

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18 Tips for Camping with Your Dog

Camping with your dog can be a great experience for both of you. As long as you’re prepared and know what to expect, it should go smoothly. If that’s not the case, then you might be in for a few surprises.

18 Tips for Camping with Your Dog

Sure, there were the occasional articles in magazines that reminded us to use pet ID tags, bring plenty of water, and take our favorite toy. But in terms of providing genuine support or bottom-line information, there was nothing out there. Since it was something that we felt was badly needed, we decided to write this article.

Tips for Camping with Your Dog

While there are numerous issues to consider while camping with dogs, these are some of the most important.

1. Make Sure that Your Dog Cant Get Lost

It’s one thing if your dog gets free in your neighborhood. It’s another when you’re at a rest stop, nine hundred miles from home. Either train your dog to come when called or make absolutely sure that they’re on a leash at all times.

If your dog does get lost (unfortunately, it happens all the time), the ability to easily identify them will become critical. For permanent identification purposes, consider tattoos or microchips.

At a minimum, make sure they wear tags that show their name, your current phone number, and the date of their last rabies vaccination.

2. Get All of their Vaccinations Up to Date

If your dog gets into an altercation with another animal (or a person), the central issue will become their rabies shots. If you stay at a campground that has a demanding pet policy, you’ll need to verify your dog’s vaccination records.

If you cross into Canada, you’ll have to confirm that your dogs have had their shots. You get the idea.

Most state parks have a fairly strict dog policy too so this could be HUGE if you fail to do it.

3. Prepare for Fleas and Ticks

Yes, there is preventative medicine: flea prevention you can put on your dog, and even Lyme Disease vaccinations. Do NOT spray your dog with something like Deep Woods Off!

DO check your pet over after each hike to see if there are ticks to remove. Just because they can’t get Lyme’s disease after the vaccination doesn’t mean it is pleasant to be snacked on. We like to keep an adhesive lint roller handy to help pull little critters off.

4. Take Potty Breaks

Take potty breaks as soon as they happen in order to avoid accidents on the ground or tent flooring. Camping with your dog is certainly more fun with a clean tent.

5. Clean Up After Your Dog

The biggest complaint about dogs has nothing to do with their bark, their bite, or their behavior. If you pick up after your dog, you’ll be helping dog owners everywhere.

6. Learn How to Provide First Aid to Your Dog

If a medical crisis occurs while at home, you drive to your local veterinarian. But if you’re heading down a dark highway in a strange town, it will seem like a bad dream.

Although there are ways to get help while on the road, it always takes more time. In the meantime, your ability to provide competent first aid could save your dog’s life.

We like this pretty detailed article here on dog First Aid and CPR: First Aid Tips For Dogs Every Pet Owner Should Know

6. Prepare a Safe and Comfortable Place Where Your Dog Can Sleep.

Provide a warm, cozy bed with plenty of soft blankets or towels. Consider bringing along your dog’s favorite toy to provide extra comfort and security.

7. Involve Your Dog in Everything You Do

If you really want your dogs to have a good time, include them in your activities. Take them with you on long walks. Buy a cheap plastic wading pool and let them play in the water. Throw a ball. Cook them up a hamburger. If you do stuff like that, they’ll do cartwheels the next time you decide to take them camping.

It is a great way to bond with your dog as you both commune with nature. When you go camping, try everything from kayaking to hiking with them. I will let you know how the kayaking with Taz goes this summer.

8. Bring Extra Water For Your Dog

Some dogs drink more than usual in warm weather because the body works harder to cool off. Pack at least one gallon per day for each dog in the party. Don’t forget to refill your pup’s dish after he drinks from it.

9. Packing the Right Food is a Good Idea

Give them plenty to eat, but avoid foods that will cause digestive upset or excessive drooling (since this can attract bugs). Bring plenty of food to last the whole weekend (or longer, if you’ll be camping for a long period of time).

Typically dogs will do fine with dry granola bars and some of their favorite treats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while on camping trips but they should be fed at least twice a day to avoid overeating and the potential for digestive upset.

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10. Prevent Pooch Boredom

Pack their favorite toy. They’ll likely be bored without it. – Spend time playing and exercising with them.

Leave the TV on in your camping spot, or bring an old radio to keep them company while you do errands and set up camp.

If they’re allowed off-leash at home, let them roam around as long as there are no hazards like barbed wire fencing

11. Dogs Need Rest Time

Dogs need rest too and it’s not much fun if they don’t get any. Camping is usually a lot longer than just an overnight camping trip so be mindful of their needs to take breaks when you can, even if that means taking turns with your camping partner.

Dogs need the same level of rest that humans do, so take care to not let your dog over-exert themselves when camping. This makes camping with your dog more fun for everyone involved.

12. Pack a Camping Crate

Bring a camping crate to keep your dog safe while you’re not supervising, and for when they need their rest in between walks or runs.

Camping crates are available at pet stores. They can make it easier to set up camp since the dog will be confined to one area of the campground.

This might be problematic if you did NOT crate train your pup.

13. Make Fido Play Nice

Dogs can be quite protective of their owners and will become aggressive if strangers get too close; this is why camping with dogs can be a lot of work.

14. Don’t be Bugged

Bugs are going to be a camping companion no matter how you slice it, so don’t worry too much about them.

Camping can mean bugs in any number of places: mosquitos while sitting around the campfire or spiders crawling up your tent walls during the night.

Make sure your pooch has taken their Heartworm meds and you are ready to deal with ticks, should you see any.

15. Call the Campgrounds Before You Go

Even if a park claims they’re pet-friendly, always call ahead to confirm their policy regarding your dogs. We’ve arrived at parks (with our two Aussie) after a long day on the road only to discover that pet-friendly meant dogs weighing under 20 pounds.

16. Plan Ahead for the Unexpected

Have a plan (for your dogs) in case of a flat tire, a serious accident, or a fire in your RV. Start with a few extra leashes, a pet carrier, and an extra fire extinguisher. Then have a fire drill to identify potential problems.

17. Learn About Your Camping Environment

The U.S. is a huge country with a vast assortment of dangerous wildlife, treacherous plants, unpredictable weather conditions, and demanding environmental challenges. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might inadvertently be putting yourself and your dog in danger.

18. Recognize and Respect the Views of Others

While some of us can’t imagine traveling without dogs, others can’t image traveling with them. If you keep your dog under control and clean up after them, you won’t give others much to grumble about.

Use common sense. If you are camping in a heavily wooded area with coyotes or other wild animals, it may be best to leave Fido at home for the weekend.

Happy Camping with Rover!

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A Complete Guide to Kinnickinnic State Park

On the Minnesota edge of Wisconsin’s Western Region, Kinnickinnic State Park is a 1,242-acre park in which the Kinnickinnic River, locally known as Kinni River, joins the St. Croix River. The mouth of the Kinnickinnic River forms a sandy delta upon which boaters can picnic and camp.Kinnickinnic State Park is a large park that offers something for everyone. It has over 1,000 acres of land with trails to enjoy and forests to explore.

A Complete Guide to Kinnickinnic State Park

If you are using this guide as an introduction to the park, we recommend starting at the Park Office where you can find detailed maps of all of the different areas in Kinnickinnic State Park. You will also find helpful staff members who can answer any questions that you have!

A Complete Guide To Kinnickinnic State Park

Wisconsin has a rich park system that is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast looking to explore the great outdoors of America’s Dairyland. Kinnickinnic State Park offers something for everyone with its plentiful activities, breathtaking landscapes, and opportunities to connect with nature.

Since this is a day park – it is set up for that perfect picnicing experience! Tables and grills are available at a variety of locations throughout the park. The largest picnic area is at the St. Croix overlook. Another popular picnic area is near the swimming area.

History of Kinnickinnic State Park

The area of what is now Kinnickinnic State Park has been a favorite summer destination since roughly 1883. Being located close to the twin cities, it was the perfect place to get out of town and relax.

There is a funny story about this – in the early 20th century, when Wisconsin was looking over land for state parks, this area along the Kinni river was looked at. It just took quite a few years before they finally did something about it!

In a memorable effort to make the park a reality, three families donated parcels of their land to the state. Carl and Alice Pemble, Homer and Mildred Creswell and George and Wilma Richter donated a total of 45 acres to the Department of Natural Resources for the creation of a new state park. These gifts, combined with the overwhelming support of the remainder of the affected landowners, so impressed the Natural Resources Board that they established Kinnickinnic State Park in 1972.

Wisconsin DNR

Kinnickinnic Park was established in 1961 as a camping park. Today, it is still one of the most popular parks among campers for its easy accessibility and scenic beauty.

In 1976, the Kinni River’s mouth became part of Kinnickinnic State Park. The St. Croix River offers challenging kayaking or canoeing on some days while other days are perfect for beginner paddlers looking to enjoy nature at their own pace.

Volunteers have always been a huge part of the Kinnickinnic State Park history – they have restored about 50 acres of prairie, developed almost 7 miles of hiking trails, and then planted more than 20,000 trees!

That is a serious commitment to nature!

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Kinnickinnic State Park Camping

Here is the thing with this park – it is what they call a “day park” – which means that there are no campsites available. At. All.

It is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round, but not 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

You simply can’t stay there overnight, unless you are on your boat and in the designated mooring area.

Have no worries- there is a ton of stuff to do during the day – and plenty of places close enough to rest your head at night.

There are plenty of options available at night so don’t worry about not being able to stay overnight here! One option would be camping down south by Stockholm where there is access for RVs/trailers as well as tent sites (or head back north up Highway 35E) and camp at one of the many primitive campsites on the Kinnickinnic River.

Kinnickinnic State Park Activities

Have no worries- Kinnickinnic has plenty of other activities to fill your time! Here’s just a few:

Hiking, biking, running (you can borrow bikes), canoeing and kayaking in the Kinnickinnic River, picnicking by the lake, or on any one of many scenic picnic areas inside the park.

As for wildlife viewing? Head up Highway 35E past Stockholm and you’ll also find access to hunting grounds where you might spot deer, turkeys, and Canada geese during the winter months.

Let’s get more into detail!

Kinnickinnic State Park Water Sports

Kinnickinnic State Park has a beach area located on the Kinnickinnic River. Bring your paddle board, kayak or canoe and hit the water!

Kinnickinnic State Park Park Fishing

If fishing is your thing then this is an amazing place for it! You’ll be able to hit the water from either bank of the Kinnickinnic River. This stretch also offers fly fishermen plenty of access points where they might catch brown trout, steelhead fish, and Chinook salmon too!

If you like German brown trout – the Kinnickinnic River is the perfecta trout stream for you!

If walleye is more your thing – the St. Croix river will let you wiggle your worm from either shore or your boat.

You can also go fishing off of the pier in warmer months for largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill and other fish species found locally.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

Kinnickinnic State Park Swimming

There is a great sandy beach at the park, and the swimming area is marked with buoys. You won’t have a lifeguard to look over you, but the sandy beach and gorgeous view more than make up for it.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Kinnickinnic State Park Kayaking

During the summer, you can rent kayaks at the Kinnickinnic State Park area and explore nearby lakes or head upstream to find some rapids.

It is a great place to bring your boat, kayak, or even canoe. Water skiing, sunbathing and windsurfing are very popular here.

Kinnickinnic State Park Kayak Rental

While this park doesn’t offer rentals, there are many places close by that can assist you:

Kinni Kayaks, River Guide Kayaks, and even Kinni Creek Lodge and Outfitters ae close, and all offer tours of some sort. It these crazy Covid-19 times, it is always advisable to do a quick Google search, and contact them directly to make sure their hours and offeirings are still the same as many websites are never updated.

Hiking at Kinnickinnic State Park

All of those volunteers had been busy as Kinnickinnic State Park offers about 9.2 miles of hiking trails winding through hills, woods and prairies. Off-road bicycling is allowed on the Red Trail only…so you can enjoy the other trails without worrying about getting run over.

The 8 trails are named by color: Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Brown. They range from half a mile long to almost 3 miles and all offer slightly different scenery.

Keep in mind that there are rattlesnakes at Kinnickinnic State Park – should you encounter one on the trail, use your head and follow precautions.

This is a quick overview of the trails

– The Pink Trail is a mile and a half long and is accessible from a number of parking areas near the park office. This relatively open and flat trail leads along the forest edge around a few small prairie areas.

– The Red Trail offers almost three miles of hiking in either direction. The trail is relatively easy and winds through prairies, pine plantations and open hardwood forests. It follows the contours of the Kinnickinnic bluff and provides scenic views of the Kinnickinnic River valley.

Hidden Falls is actually a hidden waterfall and you can only see a small glimpse of it at the bottom of the ravine.

– The Orange Trail is only a half mile long, but will give hikers a challenge as they go along a wooded trail that follows the steep bluff edge atop of the Kinnickinnic River valley. This trail has some hills and more difficult terrain so make sure you have the proper footwear before heading out on this adventure!

– The Yellow Trail is just over a mile in length. This trail is accessible from the Kinni Overlook lot and is a loop along the forest and prairie edge. This trail is relatively flat and is a great spot to see wildlife such as deer, pheasants and turkeys.

– The Green Trail is a favorite for kids with its one mile loop that takes them around the perimeter of a large prairie area and is accessible from the Yellow trail. These native grasslands are being restored and are home to many birds and other animals. Even timber rattlesnakes are occasionally seen on this trail.

– The Blue Trail is an easy hike of less than a mile which leads hikers on a wooded trail that connects the east half of the park with the west half. There are some steep hills on this trail as it dips in and out of the gorges and coulees that run into the Kinnickinnic River valley.

– The Purple Trail with a one-mile loop, this wooded, rolling trail bisects the picnic area and leads southwest along the bluff atop the Kinnickinnic River Delta, intersecting with the Orange and Yellow trails.

– The Brown Trail is the shortest at about a tenth of a mile and leads to a small overlook.

Most trails allow dogs too – if your furry friend wants some exercise along side you then bring them along! Just remember that all pets must be leashed while visiting the park grounds.

Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map

You can access it here and print off a copy for yourself:

Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map

Golfing in the area

While there is no golf course IN the park, Clifton Hollow Golf Club is close, in River Falls. Awesome golf course with a fun layout of holes, and great pricing.

Kinnickinnic State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.

You need to follow general safety precautions like wear the trusty blaze orange gear and know where you can and can not point that rifle.

Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails.

Kinnickinnic State Park in Winter

During winter, the Red, Blue, Brown, Pink and Black trails are packed and open as multi-use trails. Hiking, snowshoeing, skate or classic skiing, skijoring and pets are allowed on these trails. Fat tire bicycles are allowed on the Red Trail only.

winter in peninsula state park

Classic-only cross-country skiing is allowed on the Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange trails. Winter use and directional designations apply to these classic ski trails once the trails are snowcovered and groomed. NO hiking, snowshoeing, skate skiing, skijoring or pets are allowed on these trails.

Kinnickinnic State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the St. Croix Animal Friends at (715) 749-3763.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like white-tailed deer, raccoons, American minks, red- and gray fox, Eurasian red squirrel, rabbit, weasel and North American beavers have all been spotted at Kinnickinnic.

Hotels Near Kinnickinnic State Park

If you want more time in the area, make sure you book an overnight room at one of the area hotels.

Best Western Plus Campus Inn

This 3-star hotel has rooms that are larger than you might think, and an awesome “Continental” breakfast. Not your typical muffins, fruit and cereal – they have things like ham omelets, Cinnamon French toast and biscuits and gravy with eggs. 100 Spring St, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-1045

Country Inn River Falls

Off Highway 65, this relaxed, country-style hotel is a 3-minute drive from River Falls, and 2.4 miles from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. 1525 Commerce Ct, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-9500

Historic Afton House Inn

Country-chic rooms, some with river views, in a warm inn offering fine dining & a cozy wine bar. 3291 St Croix Trail S, Afton, MN 55001•(651) 436-8883

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

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How to Have the Perfect Fourth of July Camping Trip

Fourth of July Camping is very popular. So popular in fact, it will be beyond crowded. Independence Day is the 4th day of July and so unlike Memorial Day or Labor Day which are always on a Monday the Fourth of July can happen on a different day of the week each year.

How to Have the Perfect Fourth of July Camping Trip

Even though the day may be on a Wednesday it will still bring thousands to camping sites all over the country as people get family and friends around them to celebrate one of the most momentous events in the history of our country.

Camping 4th of July Weekend

When the Fourth of July lands on a Monday or Tuesday people will often start their family camping trips on Friday night after work and celebrate together all weekend long and will continue through the holiday itself. This provides an excellent time for a close family to invite their extended family to reunite. A camping event is a great way to build family ties.

The work week ends early if the Fourth of July is on a Thursday or Friday. Families head for their camping spots knowing they don’t have to return to the work frenzy until the new work week!

Camping sites become very scarce in some of the more popular camping areas and this forces many families to travel to a new area further from the beaten path. Because of this, some families reserve campgrounds years in advance.

That is important to know if you do not like to camp with noise, crowds, and the annoying person who not only makes a mess but ignores the common courtesy of their neighbors. Being near drunk loud people is the worst if you have small kids.

Sadly, with the COVID-19 situation, there is a huge uptick in those camping rookies.

1) Find A Camp Site

You really need to plan ahead if you want to camp over the holiday weekend. There are currently more campers than campsites so you have to book early for a campsite that will be perfect for all members of your group (including pets).

We often go for a site that is on an end – so we have fewer people directly around us.

Ideas on where to look:

Private Sites

Private individuals with extra land including cattle farmers, ranchers, and wheat and hay growers will often lease out huge plots of land for Fourth of July camping sites and family reunions.

Landowners with property generally have relationships or common friends with the people they allow onto their property with a basic understanding that the camping groups will leave the campsites clean and in the same condition as when they arrived there. When using private land for camping it is important to maintain the trust of the owners.

Pubic Sites

If you are camping in a national forest or state-owned land you will want to do the same and keep the place nice so that your family will be able to take future camping trips there.

Follow the rules

Because some people go camping and do not take care of the land, many owners, including state and national agencies impose stricter regulations for camping in certain areas.

Those regulations affect all of us, so quickly adopt a camping policy that involves making a campsite better for the next person that will come camping after you!

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2) Plan Ahead

Make sure you have everything you need in order to have an enjoyable camping experience. This includes tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, food, and water, etc.

The Fourth of July is a very festive holiday and it is easy to make a mess when having fun. However, if you think ahead and bring plenty of sturdy trash bags, you can carry out anything you brought to your site.

By following the basic “golden rule” policy you will have a wonderful Fourth of July camping trip this next year and also secure the right for all of us for many years to come.

Before shooting off those fireworks – double check the rules of that specific campsite – many will NOT allow them for the sake of pets and noise after curfew.

Fourth of July Camping Food

Don’t forget this! It is fun to add a little patriotic flair to your meals with appetizers like these Easy-Peasy Patriotic Deviled Eggs or desserts like this Patriotic Poke Cake with Class. These Patriotic Pinwheel Cookies are a great one to whip up before your trip and bring along to munch on.

Add in camp food on a stick, or even treats cooked in your cast iron skillet and you can rock out your festivities!

3) Decide What Activities You Want To Include In The Trip

How do you envision the perfect 4th of July camping trip? What do you see yourself doing? Try making a list – here are a few ideas to maybe get you started:

  • Enjoying a campfire with family and friends
  • Hiking, Biking, or Kayaking
  • Visit the festivities or parades of the local area
  • Watching fireworks go off in the sky around gorgeous mountains, lakes, or oceans

4th of July Camping Playlist

You might even switch up your camping music to add favorites from Lee Greenwood to Living in America by James Brown.

4) Create A Timeline For The Trip And Plan Activities

Create an agenda for your camping experience. Decide on how long you’ll be at camp, and create what days/activities will take place each day of the trip.

  • Day One – Pack up the car and drive to campsite
  • Day Two – Hike, cook dinner on the fire pit. Roast marshmallows for dessert + sing songs around the bonfire
  • Day Three – Pack up and head home!   

OK – that is a little over-simplified, but you get the point. It is also not a hard -set in stone- task list, but it’s a good start.

4th of July Camping: The bottom line

If you are aware that it will be crowded, and possibly noisy, but got your reservations in early? You can still have a fantastic time ringing in the birthday celebration for our country.

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A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

Perrot State Park is a Wisconsin state park on the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. This 1,212-acre park offers visitors over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails with scenic views of the river valley.

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

Perrot State Park is home to many different species of wildlife including whitetail deer and coyote. If you are looking for an escape from the city without traveling too far away then this might be just what you need!

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

As one of Wisconsin’s Western region parks, Perrot State Park offers visitors a chance to experience the Mississippi River at its best. The park is best known for its beautiful scenery, diverse wildlife, and four hiking trails that traverse through forests on both sides of the river valley.

History of Perrot State Park

As one of the oldest state parks in Wisconsin, Perrot State Park has a rich history. It was originally formed underground before the waters receded. Then the glaciers padded though, shearing the tops off of the bluffs and rerouting the Mississippi from one side of the park to the other.

The park’s human history goes back over 7,000 years, starting with the Archaic Indians who passed through here on their way to various hunting grounds. Many other tribes have utilized this area as well, building effigy mounds that are still visible today.

In the late 1600s, the French fur trade brought Indians and French together here. French explorer Nicholas Perrot spent the winter in the area in 1685 and, 45 years later, the French established a permanent fort on the site. The park was eventually named after Perrot.

In the early 1900s, local citizens were determined to keep Perrot State Park safe and thriving. The park was established in 1907 when they donated land for its protection. By 1915, a dam had been built across the Mississippi River near Hastings creating an artificial lake that would become known as Lake Perrot.

The park was established after Winona-based businessman John Latsch donated 880 acres to the state, asking that the park be named for French fur trader Nicholas Perrot, who set up trading with local tribes in the area in the 1600s.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression.

In the summer of 1935 construction began on the new camp at Perrot State Park by the 2606th company of the CCC. By October of the same year, the final personnel was stationed at the camp.

The company’s first project was transplanting trees from an area of the park, which was to be flooded due to the construction of the lock and dam in Trempealeau. The trees were used in other areas of this and other state parks. Perrot State Park was officially opened on June 25, 1936.

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Perrot State Park’s Effigy Mounds

There are several different ones at Perrot State Park, and they are all worth the visit.

Effigy Mound is a type of Native American burial monument made from earth or stones. These types of mounds were created during prehistoric times to honor their ancestors who did great things for them in life such as being a chief, an important member of society, warrior heroes

If you drive into the park following riverbank road from Trempealeau, the first group of mounds will be to your left just before you reach the park office. There are 11 conical mounds there, nicely scattered on both sides of the trail.

Further down the road, next to the parking lot just before you reach the Nature Center, is the best-marked group of mounds in the park.

This seems to be the Trowbridge Group. Find the trail starting at the parking lot and marked with the “Interpretive trail” icon (it doesn’t explicitly mention mounds). Just down the path, you’ll see marked deer and wolf effigies and one conical mound on the right side of the trail, and 4 unmarked conical mounds on the left side of the trail.

Effigies look very low and degraded, beaten by time. But on the bright side, the entire group is covered with a thick mat of grass, preventing further erosion by elements.

Please remember that these are sacred spaces – used for either burial or ceremonial purposes and they are not meant to be walked on.

Perrot State Park Camping

Perrot State Park offers 102 family campsites and four walk-in group campsites. The family campground has flush toilets, showers, and a dump station in prime season.

All of the group sites will accommodate at least 20 campers. At this group camp area, there is a vault toilet and drinking water. Carts are available for moving equipment from the parking lot to the campsites. Camping fees are charged on a per-night basis, and reservations may be made by calling the Perrot State Park office.

We do not recommend this area for families with children under 16 years of age. The trails are rugged and steep in many places along the river banks which makes them dangerous for hiking or biking.

Family Campground Map

Perrot State Park Activities

The campground is known for its natural, archaeological, and historical resources. Perrot is a day-use park, with camping available in the campground.

We recommend visitors to explore the Mississippi River and nearby towns on bike or foot. Perrot contains over 25 miles of hiking trails through diverse habitats which range from woodland forests to open sand dunes and wet prairies.

Perrot water sports

Enthusiasts will enjoy the water access to swim, canoe, and kayaking. Personally? I love the Voyageurs 3.4 mile long Canoe Trail!

Voyageurs were French Canadian explorers that came to this area in the mid-1600s to expand the fur trade. Canoes were their primary means of transportation. Explore Trempealeau Bay as the voyageurs did on our 3.4-mile looped canoe trail. The trail is marked by blue/white directional signs and takes about 2-3 hours to complete.

Perrot State Park Fishing

Perrot State Park is a great destination for anglers. The Mississippi River and the Trempealeau Bay are both excellent fishing areas with good numbers of bass, panfish, perch, catfish, walleye, and northern pike available year-round.

Shoreline fishing is an option. Note that the Trempealeau River is shallow as it passes by the park and water levels change throughout the year. Fishing in Trempealeau Bay varies depending upon the time of year and changing water levels. Nearby are other areas that provide shore fishing opportunities as well as boat access.

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

Get Your FREE National Parks Bucket List Printable!
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Perrot State Park Swimming

Sorry, there really isn’t a place to swim here – but there is a beach area on the Mississippi River.

Perrot State Park Kayaking

There is a boat landing on the Trempealeau River, which gives access to Trempealeau Bay and the Mississippi River under a railroad bridge.

A specially adapted kayak is available for use by people with disabilities. Please call the park to make arrangements. We love that!

Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at the park headquarters.

Hiking at Perrot State Park

The park has 12.5 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails take you up to the top of the bluffs and give you a unique opportunity to enjoy scenic views of the Mississippi River valley.

The bluff trails have steep climbs and some have steps or stairways. For a closer view of the river and Trempealeau Bay, hike the Riverview trail, which travels the entire length of the park.

Black Walnut nature trail (0.5 miles)

The Black Walnut nature trail is a loop that takes you through the woods and explains why black walnuts are so nutritious with 20 interpretive stops. Guides are available at the trailhead. Find out how Native Americans lived in this area. The trail is relatively flat and is covered with wood chips.

Brady’s Bluff trail – north (1.0 mile)

Hike from park shop to the top of the bluff. The Brady’s Bluff trail (north) is the steepest trail in Perrot State Park.

Brady’s Bluff trail – west (0.5 miles)

Start your hike at Brady’s parking lot above the boat landing. As you travel along this winding trail up to the goat prairie at the top of the bluff, look for the rock steps and walls that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s.

The wooden stairway was constructed in 1995 by the Wisconsin Conservation Corps. As you take each step, imagine carrying up the materials and tools to build these stairs. As you approach the top of the bluff to enjoy the views of Trempealeau Mountain and Trempealeau Bay, you will encounter a shelter building also constructed by the CCC.

Take a break in the shade of the shelter and maybe a turkey vulture or eagle will soar by. The trail is narrow and steep and you will encounter steps and a stairway.

Great River State Trail

Perrot State Park is adjacent to the 24 mile Great River State Trail, where you can bicycle or snowmobile as well as hike and snowshoe.

Perrot Ridge trail (1.5 miles)

Start your hike at the Mounds parking lot near the park headquarters. Meander through the lower prairie, and climb stairs up to the top of the ridge and enjoy views of the river, Trempealeau Bay, and the surrounding farmlands.

Travel along a narrow trail at the top of the bluff and head back down past the Perrot historical marker where you can learn about Nicholas Perrot, who traveled and camped in this area in 1685. The trail is steep and you will encounter some stairs.

Riverview trail (2.5 miles)

Walk along the water’s edge with close-up views of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers. This trail goes from the campground to the east entrance with access to the trail at any of the parking lots. The trail is relatively flat, with some steps, but no steep climbs.

Perrot State Park Trail Map

perrot state park hiking map

Perrot State Park Nature Center

Take in a variety of live animal displays, educational exhibits, and children’s activities. This is the perfect spot for young families to explore nature together or for school groups that are looking to get connected with local flora and fauna.

We love the Wisconsin Explorer Books that have nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes, and crafts.

Visitors will also find free Wi-Fi access on site which is always a plus.

Perrot State Park Rock Climbing

The Perrot State Park “mountain” is a great spot for outdoor rock climbing. With three trails to the summit, any time of year is a great time to visit Brady’s Bluff. Visitors will find free Wi-Fi access on site which is always nice when you’re out exploring nature with your friends or family and want to share photos!

Golfing in the area

Trempealeau Mountain Golf Club is the place you want to check out. With its newly remodeled clubhouse, courses, and pro shop you’ll feel right at home.

Perrot State Park Hunting

For those who would like to supplement their diet with some fresh meat, Perrot State Park is a great place for hunting. The park has two designated areas for hunters and they even offers guided hunts!

Perrot State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Visitors will find many trails to explore, ice fishing holes that are open for a limited time, and cross-country skiing.

If you’re up for it!

winter in peninsula state park

When snow conditions permit, nine miles of trail are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing. Skate skiing is allowed only on a one-mile section of trail in the campground. Each skier age 16 and older must have a state trail pass when the trails are groomed. Hiking, snowshoeing, and pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails.

Snowshoeing at Perrot State Park

Snowshoeing is allowed on any trail that is not groomed for skiing. The Black Walnut nature trail, Riverview trail, Brady’s Bluff east and west trails, and sections of the Perrot Ridge trail are open for snowshoeing and winter hiking. Snowshoes are available for rent at the park headquarters.

The Park does not monitor ice conditions on the rivers. Be extremely cautious of ice conditions at all times.

When out snowshoeing you can look for signs of wildlife. Be sure to have bear spray with you and enjoy the outdoors!

If you are a beginner, the park offers snowshoe rentals.

Skiing at Perrot

Maybe snowshoeing isn’t your thing but skiing is . Perrot State Park has groomed cross-country ski trails that make for a fun day of exploring the outdoors.

The park also offers rental equipment if you do not have your own gear.

Most of the trails we covered for hiking on are converted to either cross country or snowshoeing trails i the winter.

Perrot State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Winona Area Humane Society at (507) 452-3135.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Many large and small animals inhabit the park. Beaver, muskrats, mink, and occasionally otters are found in wetland areas. Deer, raccoons, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, fox, weasels, many species of mice, shrews, and bats have all been spotted at Perrot.

Restaurants Near Perrot State Park

If you’re in the area and need a place to eat, there are some good options for restaurants that are close by Perrott.

Sullivan’s Supper Club

This Irish-themed riverfront eatery doling out steak, seafood & burgers in casual environs with a patio. Keep in mind that supper clubs are only open for supper. W25709 Sullivan Rd, Trempealeau, WI 54661

River Cafe

Their diverse menu consists of traditional breakfast and lunch items, healthy choices, and vegetarian food. You MUST try the homemade pies! W27296 Highway HH, Trempealeau, WI 54661

The Historic Trempealeau Hotel, Restaurant, and Saloon

The bluff views are second to none while the atmosphere has authentic river charm. The farm-to-table fare ranges from comfort classics to adventurous. 11332 Main St, Trempealeau, WI 54661

Check out our other Wisconsin Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

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5 Best Travel Toilets for Camping

Best Travel Toilets for Camping? The majority of the campsites and national parks have reopened after the lockdown, but some stringent rules are nowadays.

Check out these travel toilets for camping

Keeping all these in mind, it is best now to invest in a portable camping toilet. It is a necessity if you plan to camp with your family and these tend to “go” quickly – no pun intended.

5 Best Travel Toilets for Camping

If you have little kids at your camping party or have a habit of going to the loo at night, it makes sense to invest in a portable camping toilet. It has become necessary as some of the campsites have decided to close the public’s toilet facilities in the upcoming summer. So, a portable camping toilet is not a luxury anymore. 

Should you get a portable camping toilet?

Imagine there is a person who is a bad sleeper, and on top of that, he has a habit of going to the washroom multiple times though out the night. It will be an arduous task for him to leave the tent, put on the shoes, and go to the toilet block, especially if your camping site isn’t close to the bathrooms.

The whole exercise would be very annoying! So, if you are going to camp with your family, then purchase a portable camping toilet. Lest you think otherwise, there are some reasons why you should seriously consider getting a portable loo:

  1. Any of your family members frequently wake up at night to use the toilet
  2. You are camping in an area that does not have a toilet block
  3. For personal hygiene reasons, you want to reduce the number of times your family uses the public wash care facilities.
  4. You have decided to camp at a site that has decided against opening up the public toilets. 

How often do you need to empty a portable toilet?

Portable toilets are a common sight in camping sites, and they have become an essential part of any camping trip. One can have many reasons for opting for a portable camping toilet, but the most important thing is understanding when and how these things need to be emptied.

A standard rule is that a portable toilet is good enough to cater to a maximum of seven people over a 40-hour week. The toilets will fill up over a time of continuous use, and it would require proper maintenance that involves more than just emptying the unit.

The portable toilets have special chemicals that help to break down the waste so that the actual unit remains clean and hygienic. The chemicals need to be refilled when the toilet is emptied during the cleaning process. 

Health experts suggest that portable camping toilets should be emptied at least once a week. This guideline has been given assuming that a maximum of seven people has used the toilet.

Additional use of the toilet would mean emptying the portable toilet around 2 – 3 times a week. Some of the branded portable camping toilets would have guidelines on how often they need to be emptied. The frequency of emptying the toilet unit depends on the number of people, how much food and drink is consumed, and the camping trip duration. 

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Can you empty a chemical toilet into a normal toilet?

There are some obvious hygiene issues in emptying a chemical toilet into a normal toilet. Still, one should be careful to note that the chemicals should not go straight into the sewerage system.

There should be an official emptying area near the campsite, but you can flush the content down a normal WC if there none. Many people are not aware that you can empty a portable toilet’s contents into the home septic tank. You can do this on an occasional basis as the total volume would be around 2 gallons only. The disinfectants in the container would be dilute and will never the tank bacteria. 

Can you poop in a portable chemical toilet?

The technology behind the portable camping toilets is not difficult to follow. Almost every portable camping toilet nowadays requires you to use waste bags. One needs to set up the toilet, sit on it, do the job, and then cleanly remove the waste bag. It is as simple as that. 

Our favorite bags? The Double Doodie. If you need a larger reliable, no fuss, no muss way to handle your portable toilet waste while camping, boating, hunting, or where regular facilities are not available then Reliance DOUBLE DOODIE PLUS Toilet Waste Bags with BIO-GEL is essential.

Can you poop in a portable chemical toilet?

Each bag is two bags in one. The black interior bag easily fits over or under the toilet seat or bucket edge to contain the waste, the tough exterior zip lock bag with a carry handle seals the waste and ensures a tight, leak-proof seal, and reduces the chance of punctures.

Reliance Double Doodie Plus Toilet Waste Bags with BIO-GEL also work for dog waste. The bags fit perfectly with the Reliance Luggable Loo, Fold-to-Go, Tri-to-Go, and Hassock portable toilets. DOUBLE DOODIE PLUS bags with BIO-GEL may be used with a wide variety of portable toilets. Bags can be disposed of in any trash receptacle.

The Five Best Travel Toilets for Camping

The Camco Portable Travel Toilet is right up there on this list. It is an excellent toilet option for camping. The 5.3-gallon holding tank can be easily detached for emptying, and there is a separate 2.5 gallon for flushing. The system has latches in place to ensure that the tank remains firmly attached to the toilet. 

Reliance Luggable Loo Portable Toilet is an inexpensive and functional toilet that has a five-gallon bucket. The toilet’s main feature is the Snap-on seat, and the toilet comes with waste bags, which makes cleaning up so easy. 

The TripTips Portable Folding Toilet is easy to carry, although it will not fetch very high marks in terms of looks. The design is pretty ordinary and comes in a range of colors. Since it has a low weight, it is easy to carry on camping trips. Just place a garbage bag inside the toilet, do the thing and quickly dispose of the bag. 

The Kudosale Portable Travel Toilet gives you the comfort of an actual toilet seat. It has a lightweight plastic frame that houses a 5l bucket that can be used multiple times without emptying. The striking feature of this toilet is that you can use it as a stool! 

The Vingli Portable Flushing Camping Toilet is a self-contained toilet that has a flush too! The toilet has a built-in carry handle, and the product comes with a durable handy bag that can be used to carry the portable toilet. The rotating spout on the water tank helps to empty the water tank efficiently. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Car Camping

Car camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you are looking for some time away to relax or just need a break from your busy schedule, car camping can be an excellent option. If you’re interested in getting started with car camping, this article will provide all the information you need!

Car Camping Definition

Let me give you a little quick lesson on recent events. Camping was up over 800% last year as families were looking for a safe, yet fun way to temporarily escape Covid quarantine. Getting out in the great outdoors seemed like a natural and safe fit for them! They bought tents, campers, and even RVs then hit the campsites that they could get a booking at.

This year will be a little different- while there will still be record numbers of campers out there, they are all going to be looking for the same thing – equipment that isn’t available.

Everything you need to know about Car Camping

Manufacturing in 2020 was pulled for medical supplies like respirators and PPA – add that to the fact that people were getting sick, factories temporarily shut down, and the list goes on … places like Elkhart in Indiana are having not only a hard time getting the raw supplies to build their campers, but may have lost workforce to other companies.

Simply put – it will be harder to find that pop-up or RV for a little while. If you are in the market and see them on your local Facebook groups – the prices are at least $1,000 higher than pre-COVID days and they get snapped up FAST. Even if they need a lot of work. (sigh)

THIS is why Car Camping will be the new trend – at least until the “COVID CAMPERS” decide that they don’t really like camping and flood the market with their now-unwanted purchases.

What Does Car Camping Mean – Car Camping Definition

It means literally sleeping in your car. While some people refer to it as being able to drive your car right up to your tent – Car Camping means you don’t even need that tent. Honestly, you don’t really need to reserve a campsite – unless you want to be on a specific property.

Some feel that Car Camping is not turning your vehicle into a rolling motel, but rather packing up your camping gear and heading out to the campsite of your choice. Once you have arrived at your destination unpack the equipment, set up camp, and enjoy!

Whether that equipment includes a tent or not is up to you.

Let me be clear about one thing right off the top: NEVER sleep in your car while the engine is running. You are aiming to enjoy yourself, not poison yourself with carbon monoxide.

Let me be clear – this is NOT an RV or motorhome. You have your CAR. There is no bathroom or full kitchen at your disposal. This is truly the budget-friendly version of getting out in nature.

The Benefits Of Car Camping

  • You can do this with very little gear or effort. Seriously, you are only taking what fits inside your vehicle.
  • If you choose to take a tent with you and pitch outdoors – you still have the car to fall back on if the weather is bad or your are worried about bears.
  • It is safe from bears – you have a safe space to store food (and yourself) so bears can’t get at it.
  • You are off the ground, and dry – and your car is a lot more insulated than a tent.
  • You are easily mobile if you need to pick something up at a local store, etc

Is car camping legal?

This is a HUGE question to know in the United States as it is, in fact, illegal in many states – Wisconsin is one of them.

You won’t find a nationwide law banning people from sleeping in their cars. However, you must follow the state’s and city’s parking laws and any specific laws against sleeping in your car. In general, it’s best to find designated overnight parking areas ahead of time.

finder.com

I could write more about this but they did a fantastic job:

https://www.finder.com/is-it-illegal-to-sleep-in-your-car

That all being said, it is legal at a campground, if they abide by it. It pays to know before you go – so always phone first. So yes, I guess Car Camping in Wisconsin is OK after all.

Whew!

Car Camping and Walmart

Yes, people actually search out for this information! I’m sure you have seen semis parked at your local Walmart. It doesn’t matter if you are in an RV, Semi, or even your car – Walmart Stores that allow overnight RV parking also allow overnight car parking.

First of all, NOT ALL WALMARTS will allow this – you need to phone first and ask the policy of the store you are considering.

Those that DO allow it, want you to offer a quick stop for the weary traveler on their way to the next destination. Yes, it is a safe place, well-lit, with recorded video, to pull over when you are too tired to keep driving. And it is FREE.

Keep in mind that you are not allowed to pitch a tent – it is strictly for sleeping in your vehicle.

What are the best cars for car camping?

This is a tough one to answer as it really depends on who you have with you. Is it just you? Did you bring your dog? Are you a couple sneaking out for a romantic weekend? Is it a newly married couple with their baby? Is it the entire family?

You can google this very thing and have lists from the last 10 years pop up with every make and model you can think of. The most popular choices seem to be:

  • Honda Element
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep wranglers
  • Jeep renegade
  • Jeep compass
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Jetta
  • Kia Sorrento

Whew! I have a Kia Sorrento!

Seriously, you have to know where you want to go, who is going with you, and what you need to take to see if your current vehicle will meet the needs for this. Maybe you WILL have to take a tent with you because everyone simply won’t fit in your car when they are horizontal.

Before you head out – no matter which kind of car you have – make sure that your vehicle is in good operating condition. Be sure to check the tire pressure, water, engine hoses, and make sure that the spare tire is in good working order.

The ONLY time I have needed a spare tire was when we were camping (sigh).

Car Camping with Baby

Car Camping with Babies is something that you CAN do – if you are prepared! Here’s what I have found to be useful for car camping with my two little ones. A carrier or sling (if the baby will tolerate one) and/or a stroller like the Joovy Caboose Ultralight should be useful for getting around the campsite and to places like lakes, trails, or bathrooms.

Car Camping with Toddler

Car Camping with Toddlers is a little challenging as they are so active, but doable. Pack a few of your toddler’s favorite snacks, like fruit or crackers.
Pack some quick and easy meals for the adults to eat and serve them on paper plates – this way you can just toss all the dishes in the trash at once!
Consider bringing along something that will keep your little one entertained, in case they get bored.

Car Camping with Your Dog

We love to take FIDO with us on all of our car camping adventures! Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your dog and you’ll want to keep his/her old water source away from where campers are sitting around the fire and cooking food. If possible, bring along appropriate gear for your dog. If you’re car camping in the colder months, make sure to have gear that will keep him/her warm and dry on a chilly night! Plan ahead with FIDO when it comes to food too – you’ll want to bring along grain free kibble or canned food so that he’s not eating off of your table scraps.

Car Camping with Your Cat

I honestly can’t imagine camping with one of my cats, but make sure you bring along a litter box with cat litter to keep it clean. There are disposable litter boxes you can pack. If you’re bringing your cat, it’s important that you put her in something like a carrier so she doesn’t run away while camping! Bring along plenty of water for them too – either bottled water or a just of tap water from home. It’s also a good idea to bring along food for your cat that is sealed in an airtight container. If you’re bringing canned food, make sure it doesn’t have any dents or punctures and is packed tightly because cats can be surprisingly strong at paws! Lastly, remember to always keep her on the leash if she is allowed to roam around.

Car Camping with Bike

Taking your bike along for the ride is a great way to add some extra adventure and excitement to your car camping trip! You’ll want to make sure that your bike has a quick lookover before your adventure like double-checking the tire pressure.

Is there a Car Camping App?

With apps like AllStays and Hipcamp, you can figure out where you can stay legally and not be bothered.

What do you need for car camping?

Ahhh, packing. The best thing about car camping is that you won’t need to bring a lot so there isn’t much to pack. Since camping is an opportunity to relax, refocus and enjoy the outdoors, I highly suggest keeping it simple.

It is highly suggested that packed items include the basics of life such as food, clothing, and camping gear, and that’s it. Bringing along a computer, television, portable DVD player and other electronic equipment can be counterproductive. Give yourself a chance to really enjoy your surroundings.

Car camping essentials for beginners:

Back up keys. If you accidentally lock your keys into your car, you might want to be able to get into your vehicle. Onstar isn’t always an option for that remote satellite to open your car.

If your door HAS a key entry opening, a hide-a-key kind of thing may work – but most new cars need a key-fob to access the vehicle.

  • Car Camping Air Mattress – some kind of bed will make the back of your vehicle more comfortable and an inflatable is the simplest choice. It takes very little space for transport, is a relatively quick setup, and is fairly lightweight. Foam mattresses are also an option but they take up more space when not in use and aren’t usually as comfortable.
  • Car Camping Blankets / Quilt/ Sleeping Bag – You need to cover yourself with something when the temperature dips a bit at night – it depends on which you prefer.
  • Car Camping Pillow – this could simply be your bed pillow from home, or again – an inflatable.
  • Car Camping Cooler – we will talk more about food in a little bit, but you will want a good quality cooler to help keep your food fresh.  
  • Car Camping Cooking Gear – from pans to cookstove, you need to remember that in most car camping locations you can NOT have a campfire.
  • Car Camping Food Storage – not everything has to be in the cooler so you will want a bin or tote to keep it all together.
  • Car Camping Lights – It can be tempting to use your car light to illuminate the area at night – don’t do this it will wear your battery right out. As for that real propane lantern – not inside a closed-up car. The fire hazard, as well as off-gassing, are both bad in a small space. Get those headlamps, Dollar Store solar lights, and even flashlights instead. And, speaking of batteries, it might help to have a solar panel on the dashboard to keep your devices charged.
  • Car Camping Table – this will be the handiest thing! A table that folds up nicely but opens up to give you a little counter space when whipping up that portable camp kitchen!
  • Car Camping Tarp – Tarps are useful for keeping the rain out if you want to leave doors or windows open. Or, if you want to take some things out of your car to make more room for sleeping, wrap those items in a tarp and stash them under the car. Just remember to grab and pack them before leaving!
  • Car Camping Water Storage – water is ALWAYS needed and you should bring more than you think you will need, especially if you are out enjoying nature with hikes and kayaking, etc.
  • General Camping Must-Have List
    • toilet paper
    • sunscreen
    • insect repellant

A Car Camping tent or canopy is optional – but will give you added shelter if you are not near any trees when you stop. There are tents available that extend off the back of your vehicle or even set on top of it, those will be pricey and kind of defeat the purpose of this budget-friendly activity.

That is really about it for Car Camping Gear – of course, you can add anything you feel you need, depending on who you have with you. Car camping looks different when you have a toddler with you, are a Senior, brought your dog, etc. The Car Camping Gear lists will all look dramatically different.

Car Camping and Bears: Bear Safety

You don’t have to be car camping in bear country for this to be an issue – bears are often in the woods and can be drawn to the campsite with the tempting aroma of food that hasn’t been properly stored.

I remember reading once that bears have the best sense of smell of all the outdoor camping/encounterable animals. They have a sense of smell over 2,000 times better than a human – and when paired with their intelligence? It is a horrible idea to leave food in your car as bears CAN break into locked cars.

Can you imagine being inside it when they do?

Eeek!

Follow normal camping bear protocol – have food in tightly sealed coolers and / or hang food in the trees. You can read more about bears in my article here.

Car Camping Eating – Plan A Menu

Pack only the quantity of the food products needed to prepare the menu items for everyone in your group. Include extra food for unexpected snacks between meals.

You usually don’t have the legal ability to build a campfire so a portable camp stove is a great idea. Think of things that are just heated and eat or don’t need any cooking at all.

Snacks. Pack snacks – they can be your saving grace between meals, when it is too bad to cook, and when you find yourself hungrier than you thought you might be.

Another perk to car camping? You could just drive to a restaurant. It can be fun to find restaurants in areas you haven’t previously discovered. After all – you are saving a lot of money on your camping experience – you could use that cash to eat out.

Car Camping Privacy

If your windows aren’t tinted and you’re worried about privacy, bungee cords, cloth, and clothespins can be hacked into cheap curtains. Or binder-clip sheets (or even clothes) to the upholstery on your car’s roof. Temporary suction cups or Command hooks work well too – with an inexpensive tension rod-type bar.

  • Car Camping window covers can be an option

There are so many different options – do you want magnetic? Elastic? Suction Cups? Bug screen? You need to figure out what you want but we found a log of car camping window cover ideas on Amazon https://amzn.to/39Zw5mt

Car Camping Shower

Well -most cars don’t come with a fully equipped bathroom and if you aren’t in a location where you have access to a full bathroom? You need to work on your backpacking hygiene skills. Think baby wipes, etc. You could also get a portable camp shower, but then you might want a pop-up privacy shelter – which could double as a porta-potty place for you to when you have to use that Luggable Loo.

The portable showers usually hold about five gallons of water, some are solar heatable, and they run between $15 and $20. I found this one at ten bucks. That pop up privacy shelter is what you really pay for – most run about $75. – keep in mind you want an OPEN bottom, a few pockets inside, and also easy to anchor down.

Car Camping Toilet

Luggable Loo is a great option – you can get JUST a seat if you have a 5-gallon pickle bucket handy. Watch the Amazon prices as they can range from $20-40.  but it is about $10-15.

Car Camping During Winter: how to stay warm

Well, after you consider all the things I mentioned to pack, you need to look at how to stay warm in the cooler weather. First of all, you are in a metal and glass box, in the cold. You will lose the most heat from the windows – so insulating them is key.

A windshield sunshade is what you are looking for – your car will protect you from snow and ice, but this will help turn your car into a sort of “solar over”. A reflective, insulating material that’s sold to fit your windows is perfect and we like Reflecltix.

Not only does it block the sun, but it also insulates from the cold. You can buy sheets of Reflectix and cut them to the size of your windows for all-around protection from the sun and the cold, creating a darker and warmer refuge for winter car camping.

Keep your bed cozy – we have talked about camping blankets before – and if you are a sleeping bag person, you will look for a winter / cold weather-rated one. If you take your boots off to sleep – make sure your socks and boot liners are in the blankets with you.

Dress in layers – a lot of lighter layers not only keep you warm but also makes it easy for taking a few things off if you were getting overheated.

Crack a window – the condensation from your breath is coming – and will ice up on your sleeping bag, etc. You may have a little to scrape your windows a little in the morning, but a heck of a lot less if you crack a window. If you don’t want that dampness in your car, throw a container of Damprid under a seat.

Car camping essentials – car camping checklist.

So – of course, we whipped up a Car Camping Checklist for you – and you can download the FREE Printable here:

With these car camping tips of ours, you should be able to escape to commune with nature without too much muss or fuss, and on a fairly tight budget.

Are you an experienced car camper? Can you think of anything I missed?

Other articles you may find interesting: