By Jeniece Smith
Pitch your tent or pull the RV into these Wisconsin campgrounds for an up-close experience with one of the state’s wild waterfalls. Whether you prefer to backpack or book a cabin, we have a campsite with your name on it!
Forming the northwestern edge of the state, Douglas County boasts some of Wisconsin’s most impressive waterfalls, including Wisconsin’s highest.
The Amnicon River flows through this state park, tumbling over a breathtaking series of waterfalls shaped by the ancient earthquakes that created the Douglas Fault. Vantage points abound, from two covered footbridges to walking trails along the rocky riverbanks.
If you’re looking for a quiet camping experience, Amnicon Falls offers a 36-site campground shaded by tall trees, including two walk-in sites and one accessible to people with disabilities. Firewood, vault toilets and drinking water are available, but these sites are rustic, with no electrical hookups, showers or dump stations.
In addition to the 165-foot Big Manitou Falls – Wisconsin’s tallest – Pattison has a twin waterfall, the Little Manitou, with 31-foot cascades. Interfalls Lake, popular for its 300-foot sandy swim beach, separates these two famed falls along the Black River.
The 59-unit main campground includes electrical sites, showers, flush toilets and a dump station for a little added convenience, along with on-site firewood and vending machines. You won’t be disappointed if you’re looking to rough it with a mile-and-a-half hike to the park’s three backpacking sites, located just downriver from Little Manitou Falls.
Ashland and Iron Counties
No Wisconsin county has more waterfalls than Iron County, where you’ll also find five of the state’s 10 tallest falls. And neighboring Ashland County offers seemingly countless cascades carved through a deep gorge at Copper Falls State Park.
One of the region’s best-kept secrets, the Upper and Lower Potato River Falls drop 90 feet over two main falls and several more cascades stretching 400 feet along the Potato River. An observation deck offers complete views of the falls right off the parking lot, or trails lead to the top and bottom of the falls for several opportunities to get your feet wet.
Part of the Iron County Forest, a campground at Potato River falls offers five rustic sites and vault toilets. As a bonus, you’ll find a primitive campsite and privy apiece at the 25-foot Foster Falls, 15-foot Shay’s Dam Falls and 12-foot Wren Falls, all nearby in Iron County.
Located along the Turtle River between the Lake of the Falls and the massive Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, this park is a water lover’s paradise. In addition to the series of scenic cascades for which the park and upstream lake are named, a boat launch offers access to the nearly 13,000-acre Turtle-Flambeau Flowage.
Three camping areas – two with electrical hookups – offer a range of amenities and experiences, whether you want to be close to the boat launch, camped along the water’s edge, or set up near the showers and flush toilets.
Christened for its most impressive waterfall, this park’s namesake drops about 40 feet over a series of cascades through a deep gorge carved by the Bad River. Log footbridges, an observation tower and trails along either side of the river provide several scenic overlooks of Copper and Brownstone falls, Devil’s Gate and rapids.
Just like the waterfall-viewing opportunities, the camping options at this state park are incredibly diverse – with two main campgrounds tucked away in the secluded woods away from the park’s busiest areas, a group tent camping area for up to 40 people, four walk-in sites, a backpacking site requiring a two-mile hike along the North Country National Scenic Trail and a rustic cabin for people with disabilities. Electrical hookups, showers, flush toilets and a dump station are available, along with a concession stand offering firewood, ice and light refreshments.
The wide cascades of Willow Falls stretch the entire length of the river for which this popular state park is named, with the largest of the drops tall enough to walk behind and the falls adding up to an impressive 45 feet. Four scenic overlooks and a footbridge down at the falls’ base in the Willow River Gorge provide dry views, or you can hike all the way down into the water and wade between the cascades.
The park’s camping facilities are some of the busiest in the state, with three separate campgrounds and four group sites, along with showers, flush toilets and firewood available.
With about a dozen waterfalls along the Pike, Thunder, Peshtigo and Menominee rivers, Marinette County – on the state’s extreme northeastern border – bills itself as the Waterfall Capital of Wisconsin and showcases the best ones in four tours.
Thanks to small, rustic campsites at several of the falls and one larger, more modern campground – all at county parks – you can pitch a tent near your favorite falls and be within easy driving distance of the area’s numerous others.
Get an overhead view from a bridge of Veteran’s Falls as it tumbles about 15 total feet down the Thunder River, sit on the rocks along the cascades or wade in the pool below in this small park. A campground offers 15 primitive sites without electricity, with drinking water and firewood available.
A lengthy series of rapids, McClintock Falls can be viewed from four wooden bridges at this trout fishing hot spot. A rustic campground with 10 sites along the Peshtigo River offers direct access to ATV trails, with drinking water and firewood available.
With 15 rustic campsites, a group site and even a cabin, this park on the Peshtigo River also offers two day use lodges, a hiking/skiing trail, a playground, an RV dump station, drinking water and firewood for sale. You’ll get a great view from the bridge above the small but mighty Strong Falls.
You’ll find two spectacular waterfalls – Twelve Foot Falls and Eight Foot Falls – here on the Pike River, with the grand Eighteen Foot Falls just another a mile from the park. The 12-site rustic campground is a great place for tent camping. Water and firewood are available.
If you can’t live without electricity at your campsite, here’s your best bet in Marinette County. Morgan Park boasts a 45-unit, all-electrical campground with a heated shower building and flush toilets, along with a day use lodge available for rental.
A swim beach and boat landing on Timms Lake mean there’s plenty to at the park, but the main attraction is the nearby Long Slide Falls County Park, where you’ll see 50 feet of glorious cascades along the Pemebonwon River. Smalley Falls is another half-mile to the west.
South Central Wisconsin
The state’s wild northern reaches may be a hotbed for waterfalls, but the south central region has some hidden gems of its own tucked around two of Wisconsin’s largest and third-largest state parks, Devil’s Lake and Governor Dodge.
Wisconsin’s largest and most popular state park also is adjacent to a secret waterfall, tucked away in the neighboring Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area. You can hike the connecting Ice Age National Scenic Trail from the park to the state natural area, where the small but delightful falls await at the end of a deep gorge.
Back at Devil’s Lake, you’ll find quartzite bluffs towering over a mountain-like lake and several more miles of trails, along with three campgrounds and nine group camp areas. Water, showers, flush and vault toilets, dump stations, concessions, firewood and ice are some additional amenities.
Your favorite adventure here will be the easy half-mile hike to the serene, mossy slab forming Stephens Falls in Lost Creek Canyon. And with nearly 40 miles of trails and two lakes, this park in Wisconsin’s gorgeously rugged Driftless Area has plenty more to do.
Two large campgrounds offer plenty of options, with an additional 11 equestrian campsites, eight group camp areas and six backpack sites. A concession stand, vault toilets, showers and firewood are available.