The first time I went camping in Wisconsin, I was disappointed to discover the existence of “sticker fees” – extra charges that all visitors to state parks are required to pay. These fees can be especially high for out-of-state residents, which means that Chicagoans considering visiting a Wisconsin campground should know what they’re getting into.
Wisconsin sticker fee chart for state parks
Below is a look at the most recent Wisconsin sticker fee chart, as seen on the Wisconsin State Park System’s official website. You can see that Badger State residents must pay $7 daily or $25 annually to drive a vehicle into a state park, while Illinois residents have to shell out $10 daily or $35 annually for the privilege of visiting.
When you combine the sticker fees with the basic campground cost, plus reservation fees if applicable, you can see that camping in Wisconsin can get very expensive, very fast. If you’re a regular camper at places like Blue Mound or Bigfoot Beach State Park, you should probably buy the annual pass to save money in the long run. Those who visit Wisconsin campgrounds only once or twice a year, however, are still better off paying the daily fee.
Even motorcycles must have the sticker. The Department advises motorcyclists who don’t have windshield space to place the sticker under the seat or behind the license plate.
Buying a Wisconsin state park sticker
The stickers can be purchased when you arrive at a state park, which is what most campers choose to do. Camp offices accept credit cards, although if the office is closed you may have to leave a cash payment. The Department of Natural Resources also takes sticker orders over the phone at 888-936-7463.
Sticker fees are waived for disabled veterans, guests visiting on National Trails Day, and some school and college nonprofits that meet specific requirements. In 99% of cases, you’re going to be stuck paying the fees.
There are some awesome campgrounds in Wisconsin, but if you’re on a budget, you’ll have to consider whether paying these fees is worth it. If not, you can find plenty of camping spots closer to home in Illinois and Indiana!