Equipment for a hike in the winter.
Camping isn’t just for warm weather fans. With the right equipment, winter camping can be just as magical, and even more of an adventure.
While most people think of camping as a summer activity, some brave souls trek out after the snow flies. While winter camping options are limited around central Wisconsin, a few hours drive will yield several possibilities for pitching your tent in the snowy woods.
Why do it? It’s a rush, winter campers say. Krista Salas, a Wausau native who spent more than 20 years in California before moving back to Wausau in 2013, says her experience camping in the snows of northern Canada and Alaska were “freaking awesome.”
“Our showers were the frigid lakes,” Salas says. “We had to take 10 second dips. But coming out was super refreshing. Plus, the snow is just gorgeous when you camp.”
Where can you camp?
• High Cliff State Park near Appleton is about an hour and a half away
• Black River State Forest, just southwest of Wood County; and Buckhorn State Park near Necedah. Both have plowed camping sites and electrical hookups.
In Marathon County, winter camping is allowed only at Nine Mile Forest Recreation Area with permission from the parks department, says Forest Administrator Tom Lovlien.
Unlike summer camping, you need to be careful about your equipment. Wear synthetic fibers, or silk or wool (not cotton), that wick moisture, and layer them to easily add or shed clothing. Cold-weather sleeping bags and tents are a must, and bring more food than you normally would—you need to eat more to stay warm.
Also, here’s a pro tip: Be extra sure you pee before going to sleep. No… really, says Tim Buchholz, local adventure racer and occasional winter camper, otherwise your body spends extra energy to keep warm.