My husband and I are fairly new at camping. We’ve only been doing it for four years but we already have a favorite place that we make sure to go every year. That place is Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin.
If you look at a map of Wisconsin and look at the thumb-like piece of land on the right hand-side of that state that jutting out into Lake Michigan, you are looking at Door County. Door County, Wisconsin is a 75 mile long peninsula. Peninsula State Park is located in Fish Creek, Wisconsin which is about 55 miles up into the peninsula. The entire area is beautiful and picturesque. But in my mind, the best place in Door County is Peninsula State Park.
Peninsula State Park is owned and operated by the State of Wisconsin. The park is 3,776 acres and has almost 7 miles of undeveloped shoreline. The scenery within the park is breathtaking and varied. Besides the beautiful shoreline, there are forested areas, meadows, a beach for swimming, wetlands, and rocky bluffs. The park even has a popular 18 hole golf course that needs to be booked several months in advance if you want a tee time during the busy summer months.
There are also miles of hiking and biking trails in the park; a 75 foot tower that can be climbed for breathtaking views of the area; a nature center; a historic lighthouse that is open during the warmer months for guided tours; two sand volleyball courts on the beach; a tennis court; several camping areas; picnicking areas; sightseeing areas; a pier for fishing; boat launch areas; an outdoor theatre that you can see performances at from about the middle of June to the middle of August; and numerous signs explaining the history of the area. There is even a cemetery inside the park.
In addition the park owns Horseshoe Island, one of several islands adjacent to the park. People can boat, canoe or kayak out to the island and hike it if they wish, but people have to bring their own boats to do so. Overnight camping is not allowed on the island, but it’s a beautiful daytime destination.
Wildlife is plentiful in the park. During every one of our trips there we have seen deer. This year during a hike we came within about 30 feet of a mother deer with her two fawns. This year we also had a woodpecker about 10 feet from our campsite that liked to make lots of noise pecking away at the trees.
There is so much to do and see within the park a person could spend several days, or even weeks, inside the park without doing the same thing twice. During our first five day camping trip there a few years ago, we only left the park once. The rest of the time we enjoyed ourselves hiking, biking, sightseeing, sitting by our campfires at our campsite and cooking over our campfire. Our campsite had a view of the water and had a spectacular view of the sunsets. It was a great vacation, and as a bonus I lost a couple of pounds because of all the exercise I got!
The past couple of years we’ve ventured outside the park more often and have done fun things in other parts of Door County including visiting some wineries and indulging in wine tasting; taking a ferry over to Washington Island at the northern tip of Door County; visiting other Door County parks; visiting some orchards; enjoying a couple of festivals; and renting mopeds at the edge of Peninsula Park and driving them around the park.
The camp sites are a good value. Even with electricity and a water view (there’s an extra fee for water view and electric sites) a campsite at Peninsula State park is less than $20 a night. If you want to camp in the summer, plan ahead. Even though the campground has over 450 camp sites, it fills up quickly and is often booked solid.
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Dorrie Ruplinger is the publisher of www.doorcountyparks.com which provides information and resources about Door County Wisconsin parks.
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