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S’more fun than you can imagine, even in the snow.
The great outdoors still calls to us in the winter …. sleep outside, snowshoe for hours following some tracks, build a roaring fire that is actually needed for its warmth.
If that call is getting louder and louder, bundle up and head out camping in the fluff! To start off, below are 3 great state parks that allow camping through the winter.
Or, dream and plan your next trip in the spring.
Even though it’s not anywhere near breakfast time, the soundtrack of your campfire is a resounding snap, crackle and pop. The flames dance and illuminate the shoreline as a few solitary embers float upwards to take their place among the gazillion or so stars suspended in the midnight blue sky. It’s the perfect backdrop for telling scary stories, fish tales or just reminiscing of times gone by. It’s magical, and yet, it’s just another night camping in any of the State Parks, private campgrounds or peek-a-boo sand bars along the Lower Wisconsin and Upper Fox river.
The Lower Wisconsin River
The Parkway is chock full of cool places to camp, especially along the Lower Wisconsin – one of the most rustic rivers in the midwest. Its waters have a calming effect that is enhanced when you have the time to spend the night. It’s a camper’s nirvana.
If you want to combine camping with paddling, and are relatively inexperienced, we advise you to consider using one of the canoe/kayak liveries along the Riverway. They are well suited to provide advice and current river conditions. Those wishing a quiet time on the river usually choose mid-week trips as weekends during the busy summer months can be congested at both sand bars and the more popular landings.
Thousands of people visit the Lower Wisconsin River each year for the sole purpose of canoeing. The river is broad and relatively shallow with numerous sand bars and islands available for breaks from paddling. These sand bars also are often used as overnight camp sites. Since camping on the shore lands is not permitted and camping on the sand bars is free, they have become popular places for campers to
sleep under the stars. They are available on a first come, first camp basis. Camping is restricted to no more than 3 days on State owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required.
- Imagine 1,000 people on the Wisconsin River on a hot summer weekend. Anglers, campers, and sunbathers at some point all generate waste in the riverway – it’s a fact of life. But human wastes don’t have to have an adverse affect on the river if disposed of correctly. To properly dispose of such waste requires little effort. Find a place where there is some vegetative shelter and soil mixed with the sand. Simply dig a hole 6 inches deep to bury your group’s waste. Deeper is not better since it inhibits the bacteria that breaks down the waste. Shallower depths increase the chance it will be exposed by wind or high water. Lastly, provide a paper sack for used toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. Either pack the sack out or burn it right before you douse your campfire.
- Please, don’t bury campfires, sand will smother but not extinguish the fire, and it will burn for hours or even days. People walking barefoot on sandbars can severely burn their feet in a thinly buried fire pit. Try to use up all the charred firewood; blackened logs are unsightly and mar the beauty of a sandbar. If you carry along a plastic grocery sack, you have a handy waet r carrier to put out your campfire and it will serve double duty as a trash collector.
- People must take the trash they create with them. We have a “carry-in, carry-out” policy. Riverway law requires a waterproof container for trash in every boat/canoe and glass containers are prohibited.
A few other things to be aware of. Poison Ivy is common on the islands and sandbars, especially those on the more downstream portions of the Lower Wisconsin. So you can look, but be careful not to touch. Also, wading and swimming in the Lower Wisconsin is conveniently located EVERYWHERE you sandbar camp. It’s strongly urged that swimmers go upstream of their campsite. The waters can be dangerous and drop-offs are common on the downstream side of sandbars. Making smart choices makes for happy memories.
What if I don’t own a canoe?
The Lower Wisconsin is a beautiful river for non-paddlers as well. The roads in the valley make for some of the best bicycling anywhere. Riders can choose to stay on the relatively flat floodplain and terrace roads, or they can opt for the much more strenuous routes through the nearby scenic hills. Either way, camping options are available throughout the Lower Wisconsin valley. For those enjoying the valley from the comfort of their motor homes, campers, or cars, there are excellent camping opportunities along the way. It’s easy to plan a road trip to take in the local foods and scenic attractions and camp along the way. Many of these campgrounds have amenities like flush toilets, showers and hookups.
The Fox River
The Upper Fox
The Upper Fox offers a variety of rural campsites. Each site provides for an adventure.
The Lower Fox
The Lower Fox has yet to develop any campsites. But is a diamond in the rough nonetheless. It’s an area with abundant potential given its… At this point the FWHP is seeking organizations and individuals to get involved. Your support, be it financial or otherwise, can help develop campsites along this portion of the Fox River that will
There are facilities for all types of camping throughout the parkway. The kind of equipment you’ll need will depend upon the type of camping you intend to do, the location you choose, and the facilities provide at each location. It is recommended that you talk to an outfitter or camping supply store for questions about specific equipment needs.
Leave no trace
In the Parkway, all campers, hikers, and recreationalists are asked to help conserve, and even improve, the region by adhering to a simple policy – “Leave No Trace”. This philosophy simply means that you leave your campsite cleaner than when you found it. taking all equipment and trash with you. The Leave No Trace Code of Ethics has seven basic principles for enjoying the outdoors responsibly:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
The Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway has a network of trails that connect the campgrounds, parks, gardens, and neighborhoods with each other and their environment. Those seeking to get out and walk or hike will find ample opportunities to stretch their legs in all parts of the Parkway.