Nestled on the Northeast corner of Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake, High Cliff State Park is a gem. This state park is the only public land for recreation on the banks of Wisconsin’s biggest lake. This recreational area has all kinds of options to expand on your camping trip.
High Cliff State Park offers up all the necessary amenities, but there are some you might not know about! Luckily, we put together our own High Cliff State Park Camping guide just for you.
What to Expect At The Park
This Wisconsin State Park also features a public boating marina. While camping at High Cliff State Park, you are going to see traffic to the marina on nice days for lake fun. There are lots of camping options, trails, ruins, and historical sites to explore. You cannot miss the 12-foot tall statue of Winnebago Indian Chief Red Bird. This statue stands on a huge granite rock that overlooks the lake.
The name High Cliff comes from the limestone cliff that is part of the Niagra Escarpment. The beauty of the lake hits you on one side and on the other are these beautiful high cliffs.
You are going to have two options when it comes to camping at High Cliff State Park. The first is the collection of family campsites which are at the back of the park. There is also a group camp field location that is further from the lake.
There is also a cabin on site for disabled people.
Best Camping Spots
While the family campgrounds might be a little closer together than you like they are close to the lake and at the back of the park, which is far from the trail walkers and hustle and bustle of the marina. There are all kinds of amenities like toilets, showers, and electricity at this campground, too.
There are 112 family campsites and 32 of them have electrical hookups. There are 8 group campsites. It would be wise to book your High Cliff State Park camping trip ahead of time. This is especially true if you need electrical hookups.
Both sites are very accommodating and close to the lake and all of the park’s features and amenities. The group sites are more austere.
What Types of Camping Are Available at High Cliff State Park
- Tents, RVs, Boondocking, Etc?
Tents and RVs are both allowed for High Cliff State Park camping. You will have to pay for a campsite and pay to enter the park, so you will not have boondocking opportunities. There are also no opportunities for backcountry camping.
- Power, water?
The family campgrounds have 32 sites with electricity and a bathroom and shower facility. The group campgrounds have vault toilets available.
While none of the campgrounds are truly lakefront, each family campground is just a quick walk through the woods away from the shore of Lake Winnebago. The water can be very shallow out from the beach, and it might be boring for older kids who can swim well.
There is a stretch of drive-up “beach” that you can take advantage of while camping at High Cliff State Park. This area is closer to the marina, but it is designed for swimming and leisure.
Things To Do At The Park
High Cliff State Park has a ton of stuff to do beyond just gathering around the campfire and exploring the hiking trails. Being positioned on Wisconsin’s biggest lake, there is no shortage of fun to be had.
- Sights / Monuments / Natural wonders
As mentioned, you have to see the Winnebago Chief statue. There are also major sites and areas that are built into the trail system like the Effigy Mound and the ruins of Lime Kiln. These are easy to get to and built into the recreation.
- Park-sponsored activities
Since you have the marina at the campsite, you’re welcome to experience all of the watersports and water recreation. The shelters are a great place to cook for a group or just picnic after a long hike. You can take the kids to the playground and even bike or horseback ride there!
There are several great hiking trails, and they all lead to something. You can visit all of the great sights like the effigy mound and the Winnebago Chief statue by simply following the clearly marked hiking trails.
Naturally, you have massive Lake Winnebago to explore from the banks or by boat or kayak. If you are looking for a fishing adventure that is a little less involved, then you can enjoy the High Cliff pond, also known as Butterfly Pond, which is adjacent to the marina. You will see it as you come down the main stretch to enter the park.
You can catch bass and brim in this pond or head out to the lake for musky, pike, and walleye. You will need a fishing license and gear, but you can get both at the park office.
The lake is a massive stopover for migratory birds. These woods can be a bird-watcher’s paradise with many interesting species like Bald Eagles, Osprey, Bobolink, Virginia Rail, and others.
There is also some amphibious and reptile life like the Northern Cricket Frog. Land species like deer and beaver and other water’s edge mammals are present, too.
Vegetation / Geography
The most standout feature at High Cliff is the incredible limestone cliffs that give way to the expanse that is Lake Winnebago.
Make Sure To Bring
Water recreation gear is a must for this High Cliff State Park camping trip, even if that just means a cooler and some fishing poles. If you’re going to be camping at High Cliff State Park, then you have to be prepared to enjoy the water. Bring something that floats, some swimsuits, and some fishing tackle.
Here is what the people who have gone on a High Cliff State Park camping trip are saying:
“Very pleasantly surprised by the spacious, wooded campsite. Enjoyed a great hike on a trail right by our campsite. Beautiful park, some interesting history too.”
Regarding the campsites:
“Hiked the Red Bird Trail at High Cliff State Park in March. Beautiful day. The line was quite long to get into the park on Saturday 20 March, but it went fairly quick. The ranger ensured us that the trails would not be too crowded because the majority of the people visiting were not hiking.”
Regarding the hiking trails and wait times:
Wrapping Up High Cliff State Park Camping
Camping at High Cliff State Park is an awesome option for a family camping adventure. There is a lot to keep the family busy besides the camping itself. It would be the perfect place for an active family looking for an excuse to get into nature.
Of course, being nestled on the largest lake in Wisconsin, you have all the options when it comes to water sports and water recreation.
The park has been well received by the public, but you will hit some traffic at the park entrance because of the active marina when the weather is nice. Still, High Cliff State Park camping is sure to be a thrill for the whole family!
Looking to check a few more Wisconsin State Parks off your camping bucket list? Check out more of our camping guides below!