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Camping at Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

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Overview of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is located in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and encompasses more than 1.5 million acres of wooded lands, wetlands, and water bodies. It offers an extensive array of recreational activities including camping, hiking, fishing, and water sports. The forest is divided into two separately managed forests: the Chequamegon side to the west and the Nicolet side to the east.

Camping Details

Permits and Reservations

  • Most campgrounds and some backcountry sites within the forest can be reserved in advance through the Recreation.gov website or by phone.
  • Some campgrounds offer first-come, first-served sites, but reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.
  • A fee is generally charged for campsite usage.

Types of Campgrounds

  • Developed Campgrounds: These have amenities like drinking water, picnic tables, fire rings, trash collection, and sometimes electrical hookups.
  • Dispersed Camping: This is allowed in certain areas of the forest for those seeking a more primitive experience. No amenities are provided, and campers must follow "Leave No Trace" principles.

Backcountry Camping

  • For those looking to hike and camp along the way, there are several backcountry areas available. Permits may be required, and it is essential to check regulations and fire restrictions.

Group Camping

  • Some areas offer group campsites for larger gatherings, which must be booked in advance.

Rules and Regulations

General Rules

  • Follow the "Leave No Trace" principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
  • Observe fire safety rules - extinguish fires completely and only use established fire rings.
  • Keep noise levels down to avoid disturbing wildlife and other campers.
  • Observe all posted signs and regulations specific to the campground.


  • Pets are usually allowed but must be under physical control at all times. Check specific rules for the campsite.


  • To prevent the spread of invasive species, it's recommended to purchase firewood locally or gather it on-site if allowed.


  • Store food properly and be aware of the presence of bears and other wildlife. Use bear-proof containers when required.

Fishing and Hunting

  • State licenses are required for fishing and hunting, abide by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations.

Recreational Activities

  • Hiking: Hundreds of miles of trails wind through the forest, offering opportunities for all skill levels.
  • Water Recreation: Kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and fishing are popular on the many lakes and rivers.
  • Biking: Mountain biking and off-road biking areas are available.
  • Winter Sports: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are popular winter activities.

Seasonal Considerations

  • Check specific campground operating dates, as not all are open year-round.
  • Winter might limit accessibility due to snow and ice; some campgrounds are winterized and closed.
  • Certain activities are seasonal, and local weather conditions can affect availability.

Safety and Emergency Information

  • Always bring a map, compass, or GPS, as well as adequate food, water, clothing, and shelter.
  • Cellular reception can be unreliable, so inform someone about your travel plans and expected return.
  • For any emergencies, dial 911. For non-urgent issues or forest information, contact the local ranger district office.

Contact Information and Resources

  • For more detailed information, visit the USDA Forest Service website or contact a local ranger station within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
  • Use official resources for updates on trail conditions, weather, and any alerts or advisories before planning your visit.
Map of Campgrounds in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
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