Looking for a way to really enter the stunning landscape of Wisconsin Dells—to become one with swaying pines, sandstone pinnacles, and the languid shore of the big Wisconsin River? Pitching a tent and laying down a sleeping roll tap you into these slower, quieter, more fulfilling rhythms like nothing else. However and wherever you do it, camping is a means of connecting both to the natural world and to family—because those more leisurely rhythms are just as conducive to memory-making around the campfire with the ones you love as to experiencing the woods and the rock formations.
Campers of all abilities and inclinations have plenty to choose from in the Wisconsin Dells area. Those seeking more amenities and entertainment can bed down at the Wisconsin Dells KOA, Stand Rock Campground, Sherwood Forest Camping and RV Park, Yogi Bear Campground, and other family-oriented RV- and tent-camping getaways. These can be excellent choices for those who don’t necessarily want to truly rough it, but still enjoy a spell of living and playing outside—within easy access to the fun of downtown Wisconsin Dells.
The Dells country caters as well to those who desire more secluded and wilder surroundings. Area state parks are perfect destinations. Mirror Lake State Park, for example, which showcases sandstone cliffs and extensive pine-oak woods, has three campgrounds accounting for 151 campsites. Rocky Arbor State Park, equally scenic in its heavily wooded gorge, also has great camping spots for the whole family. Only slightly farther afield, you have the wonders of the Baraboo Hills to the south; few places in the Upper Midwest are as exciting to set up camp in as Devil’s Lake State Park in that rugged range, with the namesake body of water and rearing cliffs close at hand.
Spending your vacation in a hotel or resort can be undeniably fun, but camping offers an affordable and more serene alternative. Especially if you’re looking for a little restorative down-time from a hectic and busy schedule, relaxing in the pines and oaks of Wisconsin Dells, under a star-spangled sky, is the ideal balm. The s’more-making process alone is a near-sacred way to bond with friends and family: Everyone has their own preferred marshmallow-roasting method, and certain younger folks seem to delight mostly in engulfing their ingredients in flame. The smell of coffee in a morning campsite just might best the aroma in the home kitchen.
Campers are perfectly poised to take full advantage of the Dells’ scenic and natural wonders. If you’re camped at one of the state parks, you’ll be able to fill your days with hiking the region’s plentiful trails—getting out into the more farflung and secluded corners of this beautiful countryside—or slipping a canoe or kayak onto glassy waters. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Wisconsin Dells is a fertile ground for exploration—and a campsite a wonderful perch for indulging. You can see everything from white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and sandhill cranes to black bears, bobcats, and river otters: It just takes a sharp eye and diligence. Stealthily observing a mink hunting the riverbanks on a misty dawn is the perfect counterpart to an afternoon of plunging rollercoasters or an evening of fancy sit-down dining. Futhermore, from any Wisconsin Dells campground it is an easy to drive out to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo—one of Wisconsin’s most magical places—or the rich nature-viewing available in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Sandhill Wildlife Area, and other spots in the Central Forest.
So come on down to Wisconsin Dells and take a break from the insanity of the urban hustle and bustle. You’ll have plenty of adventure and excitement at hand—waterslides, mini-golf, Duck rides, and the like—but also the chance for reflection and rejuvenation amid the woodsmoke and breeze-ruffled waters. We have a feeling that your first Dells-country camping trip won’t be your last.