Camping fees in Wis. state parks increase

As part of the 2015-2017 Wisconsin state budget, the price of camping and state park fees has gone up.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the idea behind the increase is to make state parks self-sustaining.

On their mission to see all of Wisconsin’s state parks, the Pederson family is camping in one of them four or five times a summer, but now that the price to camp in those parks has gone up that might change.

“We’re looking at doing five (camping trips to state parks) this summer in Wisconsin state parks and maybe next summer scaling back to three or four,” said Nicole Pederson.

Craig Nelson is also an avid state park camper.

“We try to go out four to five times a year,” Nelson said.

Nelson said while it is a bummer he’ll now have to pay a few bucks more, he doesn’t think that will affect the amount of times he camps in a state park.

“We love Wisconsin state parks and we try to visit them as often as we can,” Nelson said.

Camping fees have increased by $3 to $6 per night, depending on the campground, for Wisconsin residents and have increased between $6 and $9 per night for non-residents. The price of electricity at a campsite is doubling to $10.

“This state budget really helps place the state parks on a path to sustainability and this camping fee is is just a step in that direction. We have such a strong and vibrant state park system with so many opportunities for people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, this is just one step in that process of helping out those state parks,” said Chris Pedretti, section chief, Bureau of Parks and Recreation with the DNR.

Both Pederson and Nelson agree that trying to make state parks self-sustaining makes sense and if that means they have to pay a couple extra bucks to sleep under the stars, that’s OK.

“Obviously funding is important for any kind of resource like this that’s available to all Wisconsinites and so those of us that are using these resources it makes sense that we should support them,” Nelson said.

Pedretti said all camping fees collected at state parks go directly back into the funding that park.

Over the last five years, the State Park System has collected an average of about $7.5 million each year in camping revenue.

Admission fees and the cost of trail passes were also increased in the state budget, but will not go into effect until annual stickers and passes for 2016 go on sale in December 2015.  Annual admission sticker fees will increase from $25 to $28 for state residents, from $35 to $38 for non-residents and from $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.

Any campsite booked before July 28 will be honored at the previous price.