Midwest Vactaion / Camping ideas needed

I signed up for a 3 day Apostle Islands kayak trip with a tour company. But they need 4 people to do the trip. (This is in mid June, which I relise my not be ideal)
So, assuming that that falls through, I would still like to do something that weekend. (and will do AI later in the summer)
Actually for that weekend I was going to Lake Namekegon in Chequamegon Nat’l Forest
So I suppose I could just go there.
But I was also thinking of Father Hennepin St Park

But I am looking for other ideas. Requirements:
Not too far from the LaCrosse, WI area. (I dunno, 8 hour drive?)
A place I can take my kayak would be nice, but not critical.
Ditto if there is good bicycling in the area.
Someplace I can go with short notice (so Boundary waters is probably out)
This will likely be “car camping”, but if you have a place where I can kayak camp that would be OK. (I don’t have a camping backpack)



Er, yeah. June is pretty much the only month of the year that I actively avoid the woods. With the wet spring the area has had, my prediction is that you will be eaten alive by mosquitos and biting flies. Have you seen King Kong? Remember the bug scene? That’s what it’s like. :slight_smile:

That said, bummer on the Apostle Island trip. That sounds like it could be a blast.

If you’re determined to be bug food in June, consider da UP! Definitely within an 8 hour drive of Lacrosse, and there’s everything you asked for. It’s also a lot less of a tourist destination than northern Wisconsin, which means you’ll have a lot of space to yourself, and the prices may be slightly less. In general, it’s more rustic than WI, less farms and more forest.

In Marquette county, you can easily car-camp either in designated campsites or just pull off on one of the gazillion dirt roads. The terrain is up and down, downright rugged in places and rarely flat. You can do day hikes where you get a 360 panorama of the whole area.

Bike Magazine has rated the area as one of the best mountain biking areas in the country on several occasions. The local bike shops can give you trail maps.

Kayaking Lake Superior is gorgeous. You can put in at secluded beaches, or you can paddle into some spectacular scenery right from town. I’m talking 60-70 foot cliffs and sea caves.

Farther east from Marquette is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Same thing there as far as camping, hiking, and kayaking, only more of it. West of us is Porcupine Mountains, which I’ve never been to but have heard is really great.

Downwind Sports is a local sports shop that specializes in hiking, biking and kayaking. They’re pretty friendly and if you give them a call or check out their website they can point you to specific hikes, rides, or paddles that you might like. There are also local biking and paddling groups in the area that they can hook you up with if you want company from the locals - there’s a ton of trails here that are completely undocumented and you’ll never find on your own, but go along on a ride and you’ll get a good dose of them.

Same with the kayaking, although there’s a safety aspect with it as well. Lake Superior can be dangerous, especially to a lone paddler.

You can’t go wrong with the Namekagon river. It’s beautiful and it feels like you’re definitely out in the wilderness. (Not a lot of build-up of houses and such).

Minnesota’s North Shore (of Lake Superior) is also a great place to go. The Lake Superior Water Trail is a sea kayaking trail that, upon completion, will circumnavigate Lake Superior. If ya stay close to the lake, the skeeters won’t get ya too bad.

Don’t forget about the Nicolet National Forest. There are some gorgeous places in there I’ve been camping at since I was a little kid. They even have some semi-secret “dispersed” sites that only require the vehicle sticker, no daily fee. Meets all your requirements, looks like.

Maybe it’s silly, but Chain O’Lakes State Park is one of my favorite places in the world…and fits your requirements.

You could take the Island Princess out to Stockton Island in the Apostles, there are camp sites on it. Use the bear lockers, there are a bunch on the island. Most are stunted because the large bear population causes them to compete for a finite amount of food.

June actually isn’t that bad for mosquitos around Superior. But big assed black flies have been feasting on the gypsy moth population all around Superior, they don’t bite, but they cover every square inch of everything. The lake acts as a big hot/cold sink, so they might not be there yet. Biting sand flies pop up in late June/early July.

Heh. I’ll tell that to the mosquitos that have already appeared in my backyard.

Serious? Wow. I’m way south of you, in the Twin Cities, and we’ve had plenty of rain, and I have yet to see one. Heck, the UP just had snow last week, you should have a talk with them.

Those early season skeeters are dumb and slow anyway.

Yup, keeled a skeeter last night.

We have had an odd spring. It was unseasonably warm for a while about a month ago - 70 degree days, no less - then it got cold enough to snow some places. Now it’s been raining for a week.

Even with a normal spring, though, the skeeters and other biting bugs are pretty normal in June. I always think of June as “bug month.” It’s not too bad if you’re biking in the woods, but for Og’s sake, please don’t stop. We’ve lost people that way.

Spring is by far the worst time of the year in this area. Mud, followed by bugs. Ick. It oughta start getting nice around July.

I should mention that I will be bicycling the UP (specifically the Keweenaw) in August. http://www.tourdaup.org/

Lake Superior scares me - which is why I plan on doing AI with a tour company.

I was think MN if I go to a state park - WI chares a lot for out of state people (I Live in MN). But I see that IL doesn’t have admission fees.

I’ve dealt with my share of FIB*s when I lived in Door County, but may most of the jerks go to DC where the nice folk stay in state.


  • Fine Illinois Brethren :wink:

I second the The Lake Superior Water Trail idea. Not only is the area beautiful, but the drive up to Gooseberry Falls takes you directly past Betty’s Pies, the best pies you will ever find.

Actually I do plan on staying in the Nicolet Nat’l Forest en route to the tour da UP.


Jarvis Bay and Victoria Island on Superior between the border and Thunder Bay. It is as pretty as it gets on Superior, which is saying something.

Check out Itasca state park in Minnesota, where the Mississippi River starts. You get to walk across the Mississippi on stepping stones. There are lots of bike trails in the area.

Forgot about out-of-state fees… ouch.

Let me recommend Luna-White Deer campground (although all of them are nice).

Someday my ashes will be scattered there.

Mississiipi Pallisades Stae park looks nice http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R1/PALISADE.HTM
Only downside is most of my kayaking has been on the river (though of course further north)

Wish there was a map of the whole park online.


I ended up going to Chippewa Campground in the Chequamegon National Forest.
(The WX report looked bad for Mississiipi Pallisades)
Where I was it rained Friday night but Saturday was nice (if a bit cool)

I got a site a short distance from the water so I could launch my kayak without hauling it to the boat ramp. The loop I was in had 4 campsites full (out of about 18) including me and the campground hosts. Next weekend is a different story - most sites are reserved.

I’d recommend it if you want water activities, but I’d go to place closer to the Ice Age trail if you want hiking.


You can tell me what you like to do and I can probaly tell you what’s good in most areas of Wisconsin. I haven’t really done much around Green Bay and just north of there. There are historiacal sites like Old World Wisconsin, or waterfall, or boat trips, or hiking. You get the idea.

As Hommer would say. Doh! I can still give you some ideas for the next time.