Camping fees to increase at state parks

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Camping fees for Wisconsin state parks, state forests, state trails and state recreation areas increased July 28.

The fee increases were enacted as part of the 2015-2017 biennial state budget. The legislation calls for the fee increases to go into effect as soon as changes can be made to the camping reservation system.

The increase in camping fees is based on a three-level rate structure that will place the parks at a camping rate depending on demand, uniqueness, location and other factors. Camping rates will increase between $3 and $6 per night for residents and between $6 and $9 per night for non-residents. There is an increase in the per night charge for electrical service from $5 to $10.

Any reservations for 2015 and 2016 dates that were made prior to the rate change on July 28, will be honored at the price that was in effect at the time. Any extensions or changes to an existing reservation will result in the additional days being charged at the new rate.

“This new rate structure takes into account campsite demand at a property, uniqueness of the camping experience and geographic locations in determining the rate placement of the property,” said Sanjay Olson, administrator of the DNR Division of Lands. “The placement of the property within these rates will be reviewed on a regular basis and the rates can be changed. We look forward to ensuring all Wisconsin residents and visitors are able to access and enjoy the natural beauty of Wisconsin’s state park system.”

Admission fees and trail passes were also increased in the state budget, but will not begin until annual stickers and passes for 2016 go on sale in Dec. 2015, with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2016. Annual admission sticker fees will increase from $25 to $28 for state residents, from $35 to $38 for non-residents and $10 to $13 for resident seniors. Annual trail passes will increase from $20 to $25 for an annual pass and from $4 to $5 for a daily pass.

Over the last five years, the State Park System has collected an average of about $7.5 million per year in camping revenue. In 2014, there were 140,180 reservations processed through the reservation system.

The new camping rate structure is available by searching the Department of Natural Resources website,, for keyword “camp” and then clicking on the link for “camping fees effective July 28.”

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