Wisconsin is home to a variety of beautiful waterfalls, making for great adventures with the people we love, photo ops and good memories. And to make the experience even better, several of these water wonders are in parks that allow camping. Here's where to turn your waterfall chasing into a weekend- or week-long outdoor adventure with friends, family or as a romantic retreat.
The largest waterfall in Wisconsin is Big Manitou Falls, a raging plume of whitewater plunging 165 feet in Pattison State Park just outside Superior. You can hike to the falls in five minutes from the park’s 59-site modern campground that includes two wheelchair accessible camp sites. Hiking trails offer views from both sides and includes an accessible paved overlook. Venture on a longer hike to the south for a bonus glimpse of Little Manitou Falls.
Set in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, Governor Dodge offers two dam-made lakes with swimming areas, nearly 40 miles of hiking trails through varying terrain, and a picturesque waterfall: Stephen’s Falls.
At one end of the Lost Canyon Trail, Stephen’s Falls drops into a wooded passage amid carved sandstone outcrops. The trail follows the canyon to Cox Hollow Campground, one of two camping areas in the park offering a total of 269 standard campsites including two wheelchair accessible sites. A paved 10-foot-wide trail leads right to the edge of Stephen’s Falls for an unforgettable view of this natural wonder.
Tumbling through volcanic rock, the Amnicon River rushes over Upper and Lower Falls, passing under a covered bridge in between. Many travelers just stop for selfies, but they’re missing out on the overnight experience. A short distance away are 36 rustic campsites including one wheelchair accessible site where you can listen to the falls at night.
Don’t miss Snake Pit Falls, an often-missed couple of 10-foot drops in a narrow branch of the river that breaks away above Upper Falls and rejoins below Lower Falls. A bonus fourth waterfall is the appropriately named Now and Then Falls, which only flows when water levels are high.
Just west of Mercer, the Turtle River drops over two cascades as it flows into Lake of the Falls in Iron County. Here, you can camp and fall asleep listening to the falls. There are three camping areas, and the Quiet Side sites are arguably best with rustic sites right at the water’s edge. The other two camping areas are also near the water and are equipped with modern facilities.
If one or two waterfalls just isn’t enough for you, head to Marinette County in northeastern Wisconsin. In a single weekend on the county’s famed waterfall tour you can see fourteen of them.
County parks offer affordable rustic camping within earshot of the water, including McClintock Park, Twelve Foot Falls Park (which has two waterfalls on the Pike River) and Goodman Park, with 15 sites along the Peshtigo River a short walk from Strong Falls. A short drive away, Twin Bridge Park and Morgan Park give you modern campsite options with showers and electricity.
In the heart of Copper Falls State Park, Tyler Forks joins the Bad River on its tumbling journey to Lake Superior. Before the two rivers meet, Copper Falls descends 40 feet as it rushes through a deep gorge on the Bad River, and Brownstone Falls, on Tyler Forks, drops 30 feet.
From the 56-site camping area that includes one designated wheelchair accessible site, hike one mile along the North Country National Scenic Trail, which continues past both falls. There is also a wheelchair accessible trail to the falls. Bonus: A hike along Red Granite Falls Trail to the south reveals another cascade that’s often missed — one where you can walk right up to the water.