I grew up in Wisconsin all my life and would always go camping every weekend in the summer with my family. It wasn’t until after doing some research, that I learned there are free places to go camping.
Here I compared and reviewed over 20 campsite locations to camp for free in Wisconsin. RV and tent locations are provided, as well as both options together.
Here, I show you where you can go camping with your tent or RV for free. I also provide you with the location’s website, if it’s available.
Turtle Flambeau Scenic Waters Area
These sites are accessible from water only. There are 66 campsites in the area, with family and group site options. Two of the group sites, and all of the family sites (55 spots) are free. Each site that is available will have a site number, steel fire ring, and pit toilets.
Group sites can hold 7-15 people.
17 of the 55 family spots have a picnic table. These sites have the letter F part of their site number. If you need a site that’s accessible for people with a physical disability, use the campsite, A1. This site can be reserved for you by the ranger station.
You can stay for a max of 10 days, and saving a site by leaving items there when you are not is not allowed.
Pine Island on Rib Lake
This place is located on an island, so you will need a boat to access it. There are 3 sites to choose from, with no reservations needed. Camping is open from mid-April to mid-October.
Whatever you bring with you to the site, needs to be packed out, including garbage. This is a primitive camping location. There is a roof shelter for you to use, though, along with fire rings and a cooking grill.
Rib Lake (Northeast of Wausau about an hour drive)
Horn Lake and Lincoln County Forest
Free tent and RV camping here is allowed for a maximum of 14 days in a row. All garbage must be taken out with you.
There is confusing information on the Free Camp Sites on this location. When this location, (GPS: 45.30234, -89.63485) was posted in May 2019, the person stated that there were 30 campsites on a dirt road. Yet, when someone went in June 2020, they only saw 2 sites.
Iron County Foresty Free Camping
The locations listed below are free for up to 2 weeks including anywhere in the forest.
Potato River Falls has 5 campsites with a max length for an RV of 15 ft. Toilets are available but bring your own toilet paper, just in case. A pavilion is also on location. There is access to this area from an ATV. Check out reviews from past campers with photos.
Location is in Gurney on Falls Road off of highway 169.
The 4 locations below are not accessible with an ATV.
Wren Falls has 1 campsite. There is a privy, outhouse.
Location is through Vogues Road in Gurney.
Foster Falls has 1 campsite and has a privy.
Location is through Sullivan Fire Lane in Saxon.
Shay’s Dam has 1 campsite with no privy.
Location is County road G and H in Mercer.
Spider Lake has 1 campsite and it only accessible by water.
Location is County road H in Mercer.
The campsite is off of a 22-mile bike trail, called the “400” Trail. This campsite has a fire pit and free firewood.
The Bakers Field Recreation area has restrooms, along with a shelter that’s covered. There are tennis courts with lights and a ball field.
The “400” State Trail
GPS: 43.652369, -90.223884
The campsites are primitive but they are accessible by a wheelchair. Here they have 1-5 campsites. The max RV size is 15 feet.
Amenities: picnic tables, restrooms, playground, trash cans, drinking water, and 2 pavilions. You are also able to bring your pets.
This area is great for fishing, kayaking, or boating. If you enjoy golfing, there is a course down the road. There are bars and a cafe nearby.
750 West Arthur Avenue
GPS: 45.45464, -91.278628
Call for camping permission at 715-868-2185
Brule River State Forest
To get to these free campsites, you will need to hike in. The most popular ones are off of the North County Trail. There are 5 site options.
While camping here, you must set up camp at least 100 feet away from the trail along with being 1 mile away from your parked car. You also must have a free camping permit.
This location has 6-15 campsites with the option of camping with a small RV. The max RV length is 15 feet. The road to the campsites is a 3-mile gravel road.
You may stay up to 14 days at this location. According to this post, there are 2 outhouses, the water is a little rusty from the hand pump. There is also a fire ring, picnic tables, and trash cans. The river is great for fishing.
W9104 County Line Rd
GPS: 45.3782, -90.5344
County O Landing
This location has 1-5 campsites with the ability to stay for up to 3 days.
Activities that can be enjoyed here are boating, fishing, hiking, and swimming.
Amenities that have been found here are grill, boat ramp, fire ring, and restrooms.
County O Landy Grantsburg WI
There are 1-5 campsites at this location with the ability to have a maximum RV length of 15 feet. You can stay up to 14 days here.
The sites are small at the end of a gravel road. The location is great for hiking to the waterfall. There are picnic tables and fire pits.
At the end of Sullivan Fire Lane
GPS: 46.421083, -90.458332
Grand View Acres
This location is someone’s private property on a farm and is open year-round. Any length of RV is able to use this location. No tents are allowed. The maximum number of days you can stay is 4.
There are no amenities. However, there is a river nearby to go fishing or kayaking.
Generators and campfires are allowed. Pets are okay if you let the owners know.
You must call, 815-988-8867 to reserve this location.
15000 State Line Rd Durand Il
GPS: 42.49936, -89.31823
There are 3 sites at this location near the lake. Parking is not right by the sites. If you have an RV, the site location will not work.
This location has toilets and fire rings. You can view one of the site’s here of someone’s campfire.
White Lake, Wisconsin
GPS: 45.25675, -88.74438
Information found on this site.
This park will fit any size RV. At this location, you can have pets but they must be on a leash.
Reviews with some photos.
GPS: 46.134030, -90.589892
There are 2 campsites on a gravel road along a river, possibly 5 sites.
Firepits are included at this location. Tent camping would be ideal here as an RV would be too large.
Information found on this site with some photos.
GPS: 45.600494, -87.774347
This site is near a crek. The location has 2 firepits that can fit between 2 to 3 RVs.
Information was found on this site. These are the driving directions found on the page I linked to. Once you are in Glidden, you will take Lincoln St for about 2.5 miles then turn right on East Side Fire Lane. Once you pass Masterson Fire Lane, the site will be on the right-hand side.
GPS: 46.14147, -90.45519
This area is large enough for 6 sites and is open year-round.
Amenities: Fire rings, grills, picnic tables, open-sided shelter, pavilion, gazebo with a table, handicapped tables with roof, and flush toilets These get shut off the last weekend in September.
Activities: Carry-in boat access, shore fishing, a playground, tetherball, large fenced in sandbox, nature trails, horse hitching post, ball diamond, horseshoe pits, and ATV/horse pull track.
W4905 Holmes Street
GPS: 45.443634, -90.289726
This campsite is along the river. You will find a portable toilet and a fire ring.
Information was found on this site.
GPS: 45.48046, -88.44547
Sturgen Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal
Photos show a nice grassy area with a gravel road near the water. Park your RV or camp in a tent on the grass.
There are no amenities here.
Aside from a camping spot, it’s a great spot to watch boat traffic and the sunset over the city of Sturgeon Bay.
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
GPS: 44.799552, -87.326406
Swan Creek Park
There are 1-3 sites here for tents or any sized RV. This is only open during the summer. You can stay for up to 3 days. It’s a first come first serve place, no reservations.
You are able to get electricity at the campsites by calling for availability. Other amenities are a grill, drinking water, picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground. Pets are also welcomed.
Boating and swimming are optional activities.
Information was found on this site.
Phone 715-943-2200 (ask for Sue)
GPS: 45.666906, -91.23627
Potawatomi Carter Casino
There are 20 RV spots here with being able to stay up to 3 days.
All you have to do is a check-in with guest services and you will be all set.
You do need a membership however this is free. I did contact them on Facebook and they confirmed the free membership.
Electricity is free and there is a dumping station for your use. There is also drinking water available. Others have also used showers in the casino with a $5 passkey.
National Parks and Trails
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
The free camping here is classified as dispersed camping. You may need to pay for a fee or permit to help keep some places better maintained.
Check out this website for more information on dispersed camping and other forms at Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
You are able to explore the island for free but if you wanted to camp there are fees. The lowest is $15/night.
The Ice Age Trail
There are four types of camping options while backpacking on the trail. They are primitive, dispersed, areas that have been made for backpackers, and then traditional campgrounds. The first 2 options are free while the others may require a fee or a reservation.
Check out their website to learn more and what needs to be done fully while camping on the trail.
There are remote camping spots on Wisconsin DNR lands that are first-come, first-serve basis. You may have to pay a small fee to be in a park, but the camping is free.
There are spots on lakes and rivers where you need some kind of boat to have access to. There are other spots where you can hike and backpack in with at least a mile away from your car. These places are not maintained often and are very primitive.
The locations are listed below.
- Black River State Forest
- Brule River State Forest
- Chippewa Flowage
- Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area
- Dunnville Wildlife Area
- Flambeau River State Forest
- Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
- Governor Knowles State Forest
- Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
- Meadow Valley State Wildlife Area
- Namekagon River (Hayward landing site) [exit DNR]
- Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
- Pine and Popple Wild Rivers
- Tiffany Wildlife Area
- Turtle Flambeau Scenic Waters Area
- Van Loon State Wildlife Area
- Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area
Boondocking is a common term used here when you just need a spot to spend the night with no extra amenities.
Walmarts have been an option for this. Yet, this will depend on the location you are in. Call ahead or go into the Walmart and check with the manager if their location is okay with this.
Casinos are another great parking lot to spend a few nights at. They also make for a great buffet or free drinks inside.
Cracker Barrel also offers a place to stay. You have access to food right out your door, too, if needed. 😉
Rest areas have been another spot to sleep for the night. However, not all locations are available for overnight stays. Check with the Department Of Transportation for each location you are looking at.
Truck stops are a great location for a place to get coffee and get a shower in. Most of these spots also have a dump station you could use.
If you have been to any of the places let me know in the comments your thoughts. Also, let me know of any other places you have found that I have missed.