You’re getting ready to kick off your Interstate State Park camping experience—and we’re here to help simplify the process! With our Interstate State Park Camping Guide, everything you need to know about camping this popular, historic park is right at your fingertips. Let’s dive in and learn more!
What to Expect At Interstate State Park
Seated along the breathtaking St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, this oldest of Wisconsin’s state parks was established in 1900 and been among its most popular locations in the last century. Within Interstate State Park’s many acres, with Wisconsin on one side and Minnesota on the other, you’ll find stunning views of the St. Croix river and the Dalles of St. Croix, a steep-sided gorge that’s a marked favorite among visitors. Interstate State Park is one of the most beautiful camping destinations to be found in Wisconsin (or Minnesota)!
The Complete Guide to Interstate State Park Camping
Open year-round from 6am-11pm, Interstate State Park is popular among single, family, and group campers alike! In addition to family and primitive group camping, this state park hosts a bevy of fun and unique recreational activities.
Best Camping Spots
Interstate State Park camping spots are divided into north and south campgrounds, with a total of 82 family campsites and two primitive group campsites. The two group sites can accommodate a total of 60 people between them.
At the north campground, accessible just off Ladder Tank Trail and the main road, you’ll find a pair of walk-in campsites, an accessible campsite for disabled campers, and several standard sites, most of which have full electrical hookup. The north campground also has showers, flush toilets, vault toilets, drinking water, and garbage and recycling available.
At the south campground, accessible just off the road and Eagle Peak Trail, you’ll find more rustic camping sites without electric hookup. Also available in the south campground are vault toilets, drinking water, and garbage and recycling amenities.
If you are in need of ice, firewood, or other concessions during your stay, you can visit the Ice Age Interpretive Center during its open hours.
Interstate State Park campsites can be reserved in advance online. Visit here to book your camping spot.
Things To Do At The Park
In addition to a delightful camping experience, Interstate State Park boasts a plethora of fantastic recreational opportunities!
If you’re eager to witness the beauty of the Dalles of St. Croix yourself, you’ll want to take a hike to it along one of the more than nine miles of trails inside the park, traversing the bluffs, cliffs, and outlooks to take in the stunning beauty of this state park. For those eager to see nature up close, bold rock climbers can find stretches of rock open to traverse (Note: the park is not maintained for rock climbing; climb at your own risk).
You can also beat the summer heat with a visit to the swimming beach and beach house at Lake O’ the Dalles; cast off in a nonmotorized craft using the boat launches on the St. Croix River or the Lake; or enjoy game fishing for everything from small-mouth bass to northern pike, walleyes, and more with shore fishing and the handicapped-accessible fishing pier on the Lake. (Note: Lifeguards are not provided. Cliff jumping is prohibited on the entire St. Croix River. Canoe rentals are available outside the park.)
Seasonal activities including hunting, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are also available at Interstate State Park.
Here in the biodiverse Interstate State Park, you’ll chance a meeting with whitetail deer, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, bats, weasels, snakes, amphibians, and countless bird species as you hike and camp. In addition, you can find many game fish and mussels in both the St. Croix River and Lake O’ the Dalles.
The best time to see many of these elusive wildlife is early in the day or at dusk, when they tend to be most active. However, hikers should be cautious of encountering snakes closer to the heat of the day.
Vegetation / Geography
Full of dalles, glacial potholes, and cliffs—not to mention the gorge itself!—this small but impressive state park plays host to some of the most breathtaking geography in the area. In addition, its rocky terrain is home to many beautiful and even rare types of vegetation, including red cedar, basswood, white pine, oaks, blueberry, sumac, and more.
Make Sure To Bring
When packing for your Interstate State Park camping adventure, be sure to come prepared! Consider bringing extra water if you don’t want to use the drinking water on site; if using a hike-in or rustic campsite, inspect your gear ahead of time to ensure it’s free of any damages.
For recreation, you’ll want to have sturdy hiking boots for the often-damp, slippery trails and cliffs. Be sure to bring appropriate swimming gear and bait and tackle for your visits to the water, and if visiting during hunting season or the winter months, make sure you bring along the right equipment to responsibly and safely enjoy all that this beautiful state park has to offer!
When planning your Interstate State Park camping trip, there are a few park fees you’ll want to be aware of ahead of time:
- A vehicle admission sticker is required.
- Camping in the Wisconsin State Park System.
- Hunting and fishing licenses apply.
- Interstate Park is part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, and Federal passes are honored. Holders of National Parks passports receive a waiver of the vehicle admission fees, but camping fees are still required.
With a current average of 4.5 stars among reviewers—most of whom mark it as “excellent”—Interstate State Park continues to live up to its reputation as a popular destination! Campers in particular have praised the park for its cleanliness, beauty, and the wonderful hiking opportunities throughout.
The most common complaint among campers is that, due to its close proximity to nearby cities, the park does tend to book up quickly and the campsites are occasionally crowded, with highway and traffic noise being of particular concern in the north campground as well. Keep these details in mind as you’re getting ready to reserve your trip and deciding which campground is best for you!
Wrapping Up Our Interstate State Park Camping Guide
We hope our Interstate State Park Camping Guide has been a useful tool to help you plan for your unforgettable camping experience along the Dalles of St. Croix! Let us know in the comments what part of camping you’re most excited for at this stunning state park!
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