5 Boondocking Locations and Free Campsites in Wisconsin



Wisconsin never gets the credit it truly deserves. Most known by the Green Bay Packers, the massive breweries of Milwaukee, and maybe the state’s cheddar cheese industry, there is so much more to the Badger State. What’s the best way to learn more? Boondocking in an RV, of course!

With your own set of wheels and accommodations that you can take with you, Wisconsin is your oyster. You can spend a few days camping near the Dells, taking a break from the summer heat in one of its many waterparks. You could also take a walk along the Ice Age Trail — a thousand miles of mostly untouched natural beauty snaking its way through the center of the state. What’s most important is the freedom that comes with boondocking in Wisconsin.

Can I Go Boondocking in Wisconsin?

There are quite a few options for boondocking in Wisconsin. Explore the national forests, wilderness areas, county forests, and the state’s designated cross-country ski areas. While federally-owned properties usually won’t cost you anything, state-owned land usually requires a permit sticker showing that you’ve paid the required fees. This is especially true in state parks, which have more developed campgrounds and offer more extensive amenities.

Boondocking in urban areas of Wisconsin, especially around Milwaukee, is typically illegal. Some restaurants and stores in small to mid-sized towns will allow you to park in their lot overnight, though, especially if you’re spending money in their establishment.

If you’ve never boondocked before, start by booking a site in a developed campground, but not one with all the usual RV hookups. From there, you can explore dispersed camping along forest service roads. In these remote campsites, you’ll need to bring everything to stay self-sufficient: adequate drinking water supplies, enough fuel to keep your fridge running and your stovetop cooking, and a way to dispose of your waste.

Don’t feel pressured to get too far off the grid too soon, though. Boondocking should be exciting, not stressful. Fortunately, there’s an excellent variety of boondocking sites throughout the Badger State.

Top Locations For Boondocking in Wisconsin

When choosing a site for boondocking in Wisconsin, think about things you want to be close to — waterparks, urban amenities, museums, or some exceptional hiking and biking trails. After finding some campgrounds close to your destination, explore what amenities they offer and how crowded they might be.

Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area

Boondocking-Wisconsin-2.jpgWith stunning springs that splash into the headwaters of Blackjack Creek, this designated wilderness area is the ideal location for fun-fill activities like canoeing and kayaking. Find a remote site far from other campers to enjoy the peace and serenity of the great outdoors. 

The area welcomes fishing and hunting experts to set up camp and stay awhile. With little to no amenities in this location, you’ll need to be ready to cook your meals by the fire and spend the trip electricity-free. Like all boondocking areas, Blackjack Springs is a “Leave No Trace” area that encourages campers to leave their campground as they found it. 

Capacity: N/A 

More information: Blackjack Springs Wilderness 

Jones Spring Trail Area

Boondocking-Wisconsin-3-(1).jpgLocated around Fanny Lake, the Jones Spring Trail Area offers an isolated experience for boondocking in Wisconsin. Set up camp right along the shore and soak up the warm sun shining on these primitive locations.

With just five sites spread around the lake, each one offers a unique opportunity to live off the land and try your hand at boondocking. The trail sites offer a picnic table and fire ring so you can spend the day picnicking on the shore and share spooky campfire stories late into the night. The sites also offer outhouses, so you won’t have to worry about finding a dumpsite for your RV. 

Capacity: 5 sites 

More information: Jones Spring Trail Area 

Governor Dodge State Park

Boondocking-Wisconsin-4.jpgThough this state park offers plenty of amenity-filled campsites, it boasts additional remote campsites in the Driftless Region that provide the full experience of boondocking in the wild. The two lakes and over 40 miles of hiking trails offer plenty of room for outdoor fun. 

The remote campsites further from established campsites offer little more than vault toilets and water, leaving much of the amenities up to you. Be sure to prepare for cookouts by the campfire and picnics on the lake. And plan for a quick trip to a dumping station on your way to the next destination. 

Capacity: 6 sites

More information: Governor Dodge State Park 

Buckhorn State Park

Boondocking-Wisconsin-1.jpgLocated on the stunning peninsula of the Wisconsin River, the state park covers more than 8,000 acres of land. This location is the perfect spot for families interested in spending their days on a hike or splashing around in the beautiful river. 

These 50 remote campsites offered here have next to no hookups, giving it a more primitive feel. However, vault toilets are located throughout the state park, and water can be purchased from the park office. For individuals looking for a little more of a campground feel, the park offers sites with full hookups just up the road as well. 

Capacity: 50 sites

More information: Buckhorn State Park 

Porcupine Lake Wilderness Area

Boondocking-Wisconsin-5.jpgSimilar to Blackjack Springs, this location offers a remote experience that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the wild. Porcupine Lake is especially known for its vast supply of trout, bass, and northern pike. Bring along a canoe, kayak, or small boat and spend the day enjoying the gorgeous views from Porcupine Lake. 

Since these sites are so primitive and follow the “Leave No Trace” wilderness rules, you won’t find amenities here. Remember to bring water along with you and plan to stop at a dumpsite on your way out. 

Capacity: N/A

More information: Porcupine Lake Wilderness Area 

Explore the Wilderness of Wisconsin With Cruise America

While some of Wisconsin’s campgrounds are suitable for the largest class of RVs, many only have space for smaller rigs, which are also better for remote campsites. Cruise America has one of the best selections of RV rentals, letting you choose twenty-footers that fit three people all the way up to thirty-footers outfitted for seven.

If all of this is starting to sound like the perfect summer trip, then join the RV camping club and get out there today! There’s so much to see in Wisconsin, so give Cruise America a call to start your adventure!