Boondocking in Wisconsin in your RV is one of the best ways to explore the state on a budget. It’s also the best way to immerse yourself in nature and become one with your surroundings. However, it’s important to know that not all campgrounds, state parks, or national forests allow boondocking. Therefore, if you’re going to go boondocking in Wisconsin, you have to know where it’s allowed.
Wisconsin, though having tons of great outdoor areas, is surprisingly limited in its free boondocking options. This article will look at all the free boondocking spots in the state, as well as any cheap options that don’t require full hookup. Let’s get started!
Boondocking in Wisconsin (North)
Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area
The Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area is located in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. There are numerous springs running through the area, making it a hotbed for kayakers, canoers, fishing, and swimming. However, motor vehicles aren’t allowed in the Wilderness Area, which means you’ll have to set your rig up just outside the boundaries.
The Headwaters Wilderness is another hotspot for outdoor adventurers in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. It, too, prohibits the use of motor vehicles, but there are tons of campsites for boondocking or full hookup within close distance of the Headwaters Wilderness. Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and fishing are some of the top activities in the area.
Potato River Falls Campground
If you’re looking for a free place to park your RV that’s within walking distance of a waterfall, Potato River Falls Campground is the place for you. Don’t let the name fool you; this “campground” is limited to five spots and doesn’t offer anything in the way of amenities. You’re in for a true boondocking experience, but the views and hiking make it all worth it.
Foster Falls Campground
Foster Falls Campground is located in the same area as the Potato River Falls Campground but has only one campsite. However, if you can get your small RV or camping van back to the site, you’re in for seclusion, privacy, and the great outdoors. You’ll have easy access to fishing, hiking, and the Foster Falls, but no amenities or hookups.
Boondocking in Wisconsin (South)
Governor Dodge State Park
In terms of sheer size, Governor Dodge State Park is bigger than most of the other state parks in Wisconsin and offers more camping opportunities. Boondocking is one of the many camping options you have and is allowed at the designated campsites or at the rustic ones. While camping isn’t free, it only costs $10 to $12 per night, and you can definitely boondock if you so desire.
Potawatomi Casino and Hotel
Some of the best boondocking in Wisconsin will be at various businesses and establishments. The Potawatomi Casino and Hotel is located in Milwaukee, WI, and is kind enough to offer overnight parking to RVs. Some casinos, like the Potawatomi Carter Casino and Hotel in Carter, WI, even let you use their showers, gym, and pool for a $5 fee!
If you find yourself in Madison, WI, and need a place to park your rig for a night, Ho-Chunk Gaming is another RV-friendly business. The spot they offer is located in their overflow lot, so make sure you go to the right parking lot before settling in for the night.
Wal Mart, Baraboo, WI
Like nearly all Wal-Marts throughout the United States, the one in Baraboo, WI, offers free overnight parking. Obviously, they won’t have a dumping station or electrical hookups, but they don’t mind if you park your RV in an isolated section of their parking lot.
Grand View Acres
If you’re really in a pinch and you’re not sure where else to go, there’s a private residence in Brodhead, WI, known as Grand View Acres. The owners of the property don’t have hookups of any sort, but they welcome RVs of all lengths and types for several nights of free camping. The family lives on a spacious farm located near a river for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing fun.
Boondocking in Wisconsin (East)
Jones Spring Trail Area
We head back to the northeast to the Jones Spring Trail Area located in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Boondocking and camping are allowed within the Jones Spring Trail Area, and there’s lots of hiking and water fun within walking distance. However, be sure to check before you go as the campsites were damaged by a recent storm and may be temporarily closed.
Cabela’s Green Bay, WI
Aside from Wal-Mart, Cabela’s is one of the other few big chain stores that allow overnight RV parking and boondocking in Wisconsin. There are locations in Green Bay, Sun Prairie, and Prairie du Chien. However, the one in Green Bay is worthy of mention because that area has very limited boondocking options.
Love’s Travel Stop, Sheboygan
While they don’t advertise it, Love’s Travel Stops and gas stations always allow boondocking and overnight camping. The one in Sheboygan is conveniently located near Lake Michigan if you’re a water enthusiast looking for a free place to lay your head at night. Loves also have showers and bathrooms and typically have a restaurant attached to them if you’re hungry.
Mobil/Iron Skillet Travel Center
You’ll have to ask before settling in, but the Mobil/Iron Skillet Travel Center in Sturtevant, WI, also offers free overnight parking to weary travelers. Free parking is behind the building, but once again, make sure to ask management if you’re in the clear.
Boondocking in Wisconsin (West)
Porcupine Lake Wilderness
We head back to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest yet again, this time to the western part of the state. Porcupine Lake Wilderness is a nature preserve tucked away in the northwest corner of the state. Like all the wilderness areas in the National Forest, you’ll have to camp your rig just outside the designated area. However, you’ll have easy access to Porcupine Lake and surrounding hiking trails. Don’t expect any amenities or hookups.
Rainbow Lake Wilderness
Rainbow Lake Wilderness is located just northwest of the Porcupine Lake Wilderness, and the same rules apply to both. However, this wilderness area is home to some of the biggest and best hiking trails in Wisconsin. You’ll also be able to check out the legendary railroad lines used for transporting logs and goods in years past.
Fritz’s Yard, LaCrosse, WI
Similar to Grand View Acres in southern Wisconsin, Fritz’s Yard is a residential area that allows free overnight boondocking in Wisconsin. His yard is best suited for smaller rigs, camping vans, and small motorhomes, but he’s very friendly and accommodating to weary travelers in need.
Black River Crossing Oasis
Black River Crossing Oasis is another friendly truck stop that allows boondocking and overnight parking of RVs and big rigs. It’s just off Exit 116 at the Cennex Station, and you’ll know when you see it, thanks to the giant orange moose on the premises. Make sure to ask management for permission, but as long as you stay away from packed areas, you should be fine for a night or two.
Boondocking in Wisconsin (Central)
Bruce Village Park
Bruce Village Park in Bruce, WI, offers numerous camping and boondocking options. Altogether, there are five sites designated for RV camping, none of which offer electricity or full hookups. However, you can stay there for free for several nights, and the campground is adjacent to baseball fields, playgrounds, basketball courts, and various other activities.
Chippewa County Forest
Chippewa County Forest is located in Chippewa Falls, WI, and is one of the best-kept secrets in the state. Aside from offering cheap camping and boondocking for up to 14 days at a time, this area is also home to excellent hiking trails, sprawling fields and forests, and free camping. Free camping includes any areas outside of the designated campgrounds and areas with “no camping” signs.
There’s plenty of hiking, hunting, and fishing to do within the county forest area, so bring your fishing pole and hunting equipment!
Buckhorn State Park
Located on over 8,000 acres of the best forest and outdoor land in the state, Buckhorn State Park is a nature paradise. There are over 50 campsites within the designated campground at Buckhorn State Park, many of which don’t have amenities. You’ll be doing full-blown boondocking in Wisconsin when you stay here, but it’s worth it. There’s tons of hiking, river activities, and campground fun to be had.
Keep in mind that because it’s a state park, there will be a small fee to camp at Buckhorn, and you would be advised to make a reservation because spots go fast during the summer months.
Pioneer Park & Campground
It only seems fitting to end this article with one of the best spots for boondocking in Wisconsin. Pioneer Park and Campground truly embrace the boondocking spirit in that they’re free and first-come-first-serve. There’s no need to worry about making a reservation when you stay here, and the park is open year-round.
There’s no shortage of things to do at Pioneer Park and Campground. A nearby pond and stream offer fishing and boating opportunities; there’s a fenced-in playground and park area, and there’s even a small equestrian center on the premises. No matter what you want to do, Pioneer Park and Campground, located in Ogema, WI, is the place for you.
Wrapping Up Boondocking in Wisconsin
While there aren’t as many options as other states have, there are plenty of places to go boondocking in Wisconsin. Whether you get lucky at a state park or national forest or pull into a casino or Cabela’s parking lot, there’s usually a boondocking option within driving distance of where you are.
Ready for more Wisconsin RV adventures? Check out 21 Places for The Best RV Camping in Wisconsin!