Wisconsinites show more interest in winter camping

Experienced campers explain what people need to know before they hit the snow.
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 7:15 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Devil’s Lake State Park winter campsites were completely booked on New Year’s Eve.

After years of bracing the cold in a tent, Chad Baker built his own camping vehicle out of an RV and named it “The Adventure Machine”. He installed solar panels on the roof to help provide energy for heat.

Baker said almost no temperature is too low for winter camping.

“We’ve gone camping in 20 below and our wine or drink will freeze outside,” Baker said. “So you have to take it back in for a little while.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural resources has seen more and more people book winter camping sites since 2020.

Despite preferring a quieter scene, Baker said he doesn’t mind more people showing an interest in the winter recreation activity.

“It’s fun to get out and play,” he said. “Normally it’s a lot quieter than even what we see out here today.”

He advised future campers to find local wood near their campsite, bring an ax to chop it and avoid cotton clothing because it makes people sweat and then freezes.

“Moisture is your enemy,” Baker said. “So you have to make sure to mitigate your moisture in regards to in the vehicle or on yourself. Cotton kills.”

“The phrase ‘cotton kills’ is very familiar to those who work in the outdoor industry,” Madison REI Service Technician Tom Blount said. “So [bring] wool socks, comfortable wool, synthetic base layers and good insulating layers. You don’t want to be wearing blue jeans because those will get wet, stay wet and suck the heat right out of you.”

Campers need to pack their own food, heating supplies and provide water because regular state park amenities are closed during the winter.

“If you’re going to state parks that are open in the winter, the facilities are all shut off so you are going to be forced to use pit toilets,” Blount said. “Typically, the water is shut off as well so you’re going to need to bring your own water and keep it from freezing or have the ability to melt snow.”

He also said people should pack a foam pad and insulated mat to sleep on because the extra padding holds body heat better.

DNR representatives said year-round camping reservations are available at more than 20 Wisconsin state parks and forests.

Copyright 2021 WMTV. All rights reserved.