Skip to Content

20 Best Places for Free Camping in Wisconsin

Do you need to get away from it all without breaking the bank? Would you love to know more about the beautiful camping sites in Wisconsin?

You’ve come to the right place! To find Wisconsin’s perfect primitive and dispersed camping locations, keep reading as I cover the top sites for free camping in Wisconsin. I’ll go over the best places to go, things to do, parks to see, and nature to explore during your visit! 

1. Headwaters Wilderness

Headwaters Wilderness Area, free camping in Wisconsin
Headwaters Wilderness Area

First up on my list of free camping in Wisconsin, Headwaters Wildnerness is located southwest of the Eagle River in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This wilderness features some of the oldest and largest trees in the state.

Visit Headwaters by traveling near Eagle River and the Three Lakes Chain, known globally as the largest freshwater chain. Enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, hunting, and various water activities along the many lakes!

2. Porcupine Lake Wilderness

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Next up for free camping in Wisconsin, enjoy Porcupine Lake Wilderness, a perfect boondocking location, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Drummond.

You’ll experience the joy of camping under oak, maple, hemlock, and white pine trees! In addition, fishing, hiking, and watching the wildlife are just a few available outdoor activities.

3. Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area

Eagle River
Eagle River

You’ll find Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area located northeast of Eagle River in Chequamegon- Nicolet National Forest. Come camp as well as fish, hike, and hunt. Blackjack Springs has a lot of wildlife and unique birds to watch along the river.

In the 1900s, fires and logging completely transformed this area. During your Wisconsin free camping trip, come and soak in the history while viewing leftover abandoned logging roads and railroad grades.

4. Rainbow Lake Wilderness

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Visit the Rainbow Lake Wilderness, in Drummond, Wisconsin, within Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Rainbow Lake is home to the North Country National Scenic Trail and Anderson Grade Trail.

Rainbow Lake Wilderness is also a great Wisconsin free camping location to view the leftover railroad lines once used for the logging industry. Outdoor activities are fishing, hiking the trails, different water sports, and wildlife viewing.

5. Chippewa County Forest 

Check out beautiful boondocking locations for free camping in Wisconsin in Chippewa County Forest. Choose to camp in the designated areas for up to fourteen days. Overnight camping in the county forest is free and permits tent camping, RV camping, cars and trucks, and portable hunting or fishing cabins.

Activities within the Chippewa County Forest include hiking through old forests, horseback riding, and riding on ATVs. In addition, enjoy snowmobiling or cross-country skiing along the Old Abe Trail during the winter months.

6. Potato River Falls Campground

Potato River Falls
Potato River Falls

Come and see Potato River Falls Campground, located in the Iron County Forest, with five different available campsites throughout the area.

Be one with nature and make a day of exploring and enjoying the stairways to scenic routes and platforms within the Iron County Forest. Enjoy activities throughout the forest areas such as hiking, wildlife viewing, and bird watching.

7. Foster Falls Campground

Pools near Foster Falls
Pools near Foster Falls

Couldn’t find a spot at Potato River Falls Campground? Don’t worry, your Wisconsin free camping trip can still be saved! Come to the Forest Falls Campground, located next to Foster Falls at the end of Sullivan Fire Lane near Saxon. Explore scenic routes and lots of wildlife within this small campground during your visit.

This campsite comes fee-free and is very close to Potato River Falls. Bring your RV or tent and enjoy secluded camping sites. Activities include hiking trails, watching wildlife, and viewing all the birds that call Foster Falls home.

8. Bruce Village Park

Find Wisconsin free camping in Bruce, Wisconsin, in Bruce Village Park. Bruce is known as “The Gateway to the Blue Hills.” You can camp for free, but only with permission, so make sure you acquire that before you go. This park is also first-come, first-served.

Blue Hills Recreation Area offers many activities such as riding ATVs, biking the trails, lake fishing, geocaching, hiking, hunting, and bird watching. In addition, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and downhill skiing are available during the winter.

9. Jones Spring Trail Area

Experience free camping in Wisconsin at Jones Spring Trail Area located around Fanny Lake. The Jones Spring Trail Area will offer you a peaceful and isolated boondocking experience.

Experience living off the land as you camp; you’ll be a mile from the Jones’ Spring Trail. You can expect each campsite to feature picnic tables, fire rings, and a box latrine.

10. Buckhorn State Park

Buckhorn State Park
Buckhorn State Park

Next, find Buckhorn State Park on the Peninsula of the Wisconsin River. Buckhorn State Park is perfect for group camping and offers several family campsites, outdoor group camps, fifty cart-in campsites, and cabins for people with disabilities.

Sixty-nine primitive family campsites are available with little to no hookups. Activities at this state park include hiking along the beautiful trails, splashing in the Wisconsin river, and simply enjoying nature.

11. Governor Dodge State Park

Governor Dodge State Park
Governor Dodge State Park

If you’re looking for Wisconsin free camping while also hoping for the chance to explore a state park, visit Governor Dodge State Park, labeled as one of the state’s largest parks and located in Wisconsin’s scenic driftless areas. You’ll love the unique 5,000 acres of hills, bluffs, and deep valleys.

Enjoy two lakes, a waterfall, and a complete boondocking experience during your visit. Camping opportunities within the park include hiking, canoeing, biking, hunting, fishing, off-road biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.

12. Whisker Lake Wilderness

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Another fantastic boondocking location in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is the Whisker Lake Wilderness, surrounded by hardwoods, aspen, and conifer lowlands. You’ll find the water resources made of several small lakes bordering the forest.

If you enjoy canoeing, this is a great spot for that. You can also enjoy bird watching, particularly locating the loons and different wildlife. Do you enjoy hiking? Whisker Lake will be perfect for you thanks to the many well-maintained trails.

13. Northern Highland American Legion State Forest Canoe Camping

Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest
Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest

What about trying a state forest that offers canoe camping for your Wisconsin free camping trip? The Nothern Highland American Legion State Forest will only let you camp here for one night, but it provides designated spots. Camping locations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Keep in mind there’s no camping allowed on Northern Highland American Legion State Forest islands since the island possesses unique characteristics and can be susceptible to erosion. Still, If you love canoeing and primitive camping, this location is excellent!

14. Bittersweet Wild Lakes Area

Hemlock Lake near Woodruff, Wisconsin
Hemlock Lake near Woodruff, Wisconsin

You’ll find Bittersweet Wild Lakes Area located just a few miles north and east of the town of Woodruff off Highway 70. Bittersweet Wild Lakes is home to the oldest stands of hemlock, red pine, and white pine trees known in the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest.

You can additionally find Bittersweet Wild Lake along the canoe route in Bittersweet, Prong, Oberlin, and Smith lakes. Enjoy one of the five primitive campsites available during your stay, but only through reservation and no longer than fourteen nights.

15. Turtle-Flambeau Flowage

Turtle Flambeau Flowage
Turtle Flambeau Flowage

Enjoy Turtle-Flambeau Flowage’s tranquility, an undisturbed wooded shoreline and island located in Iron County.

During your primitive camping trip, make sure to go boating, fishing, and enjoy wild and rugged northern Wisconsin. We also recommend planning way ahead, as camping at Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area runs on a first-come, first-served basis.

16. St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is another good choice to experience some excellent canoe camping.

You will find St. Croix National Scenic Riverway includes both the St. Croix River and the Namekagon River. Campsites on the rivers are free, first-come-first-served, and a maximum stay of one night at a time, so plan accordingly.

17. Dog Lake Shelter on the Ice Age National Trail

Ice Age National Trail
Ice Age National Trail

Located on the Ice Age National Trail, you can find a few remote shelters on Dog Lake set up along the trails. Backpackers are welcome to use these shelters overnight only.

These shelters are first-come-first-served and free of cost! The Ice Age National Trail shelters also typically include picnic tables, fire rings, latrines, and tent spaces. Remember, these remote shelters usually will not have any water hookups, so plan accordingly.

18. Allequash Lake Remote Campsites

You’ll find the Allequash Lake Remote Campsites between Minocqua and Boulder Junction east of Highway M in Vilas County.

Allequash Lake Remote Campsites are large enough for two small tents each while being far from each other, providing you will much-needed quiet! Each site includes a picnic table and a stone fire ring. In addition, you can access an open-air toilet nearby.

19. Clear Lake Campground

Clear Lake Campground, located in Oneida County, is approximately four miles east of Minocqua off Highway J.

If you have a smaller tent, plan to use the tent pads. Also, enjoy the included picnic tables and stone fire rings. Use the open-air toilet located along a path and bordering these camping sites if you’d like. 

20. Nebish Lake Campsites

Wisconsin free camping

Last but not least on our Wisconsin free camping list, come camp at Nebish Lake, located in Vilas County. Nebish Lake is three miles east of Highway M. You’ll find the entrance to two campsites on Nebish Lake Road and directly across from the Trout Lake Forestry Headquarters on Highway M.

You’ll be pleased to learn that both camping locations have picnic tables, stone fire rings, and open-air toilets. Please remember when visiting that there are no developments on Nebish Lake except for the boat landing.

Wrapping Up The Best Places For Free Camping in Wisconsin

After looking at all these locations for free camping in Wisconsin, I bet you’re ready to pack up and head out on your next adventure! But, how will you even choose with all these fantastic camping options?

Do you have a favorite camping location on our list? Tell us about it! Leave us a comment below sharing any additional options for primitive and dispersed camping in Wisconsin!

Looking for more camping adventures? Check out our other camping guides for the great state of Wisconsin!