By Jeniece Smith
Wisconsin’s most enchanting time of the year is the brief but beautiful flood of fall colors across the state, starting in the north around mid-September and ending along the southern border by late October.
Make the most of this spectacular season with our three-part series highlighting optimal camping spots to enjoy peak foliage in northern, central and southern Wisconsin. Before reserving your spot, check our annual Fall Color Report for real-time details from our statewide network of foliage reporters.
From the Lake Superior shoreline to scenic waterfall settings and the vast splendor of the Northwoods, here are nearly a dozen prime parks and forests in northern Wisconsin where you can park your RV or pitch your tent.
Camp Like a Castaway
How about an epic experience at the very tip-top of Wisconsin? Hop on the ferry with your car and head for Big Bay State Park on the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands. You’ll be rewarded with striking cliffs overlooking Lake Superior beneath colossal old growth hemlocks and the colorful canopy of the boreal forest.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
If you’re looking for the perfect autumn waterfall scene, you'll find it in Copper Falls State Park's dramatic gorges and picturesque cascades carved by the Bad River. You may even want to plan your visit around the on-site fall color fest!
Hike to the Mellen park’s namesake, Red Granite and Brownstone falls, or take in the view from nearly a hundred feet above with observation points overlooking the ravine and a tower over the treetops. A diversity of rock types, including ancient lava flows along the riverbed, create a multihued setting along with the changing leaves.
As an added bonus, the 4,000-mile North Country National Scenic Trail passes through the park.
Amnicon Falls State Park provides waterfall fans with another camping option in Wisconsin’s northwestern corner near South Range, or trek to the other side of the state for Marinette County’s loop of 14 spectacular falls. The Peshtigo River State Forest and adjoining Governor Thompson State Park are fantastic spots for camping along the route.
Abscond to the Woods
Want to get lost in Wisconsin’s enormous Northwoods? The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest – a 1.5 million-acre national treasure spanning 11 counties across northwestern and northeastern Wisconsin – has about 50 secluded camping areas and eight rustic cabin rentals for a quiet escape amid fall foliage.
Two of Wisconsin’s state forests – The Northern Highland/American Legion and the Brule River – offer plenty more wooded campsites in the northern reaches of the state, or you can try a more primitive backpacking excursion through the Governor Knowles or Flambeau River state forests.
Don’t let the season slip by! Check out our fall color guide for all things autumn, including information on the mix of colors you’ll see in different trees and more ideas for enjoying fall foliage.