Review: The Best in Tent Camping – Wisconsin
Today I will be reviewing the book, “The Best in Tent Camping Wisconsin – A guide for car campers who hate RVs, concrete slabs, and loud portable stereos”. A few years back my wife and I came across this book in a outdoor gear store and decided to buy it. We don’t normally buy books we know nothing about, but at that point, we knew we wanted to get out camping more and this seemed like the perfect guide for us. To this day, it still remains just that. What caught our eye about this book was not so much that it was a guide to good campsites in Wisconsin, it was a guide for good campsites for people just like us! Car campers who get outdoors to escape the noises of everyday life and enjoy nature.
The book reviews 50 of Wisconsin’s best tent campgrounds. A convenient map of the state is located at the beginning of the book so you get an idea of where all these campgrounds are located. The campgrounds consist mostly of state parks, but also include some county parks and state/national forests. The introduction informs you that this book was a project by the author (Johnny Molloy) to explore some of Wisconsin’s best campsites. He went from site to site with his laptop exploring what Wisconsin had to offer.
The reviews for each campground are brief, yet thorough. They give you just enough information to get you interested. Anything more than that (like a detailed map of the park, hiking trails, surrounding area, etc.) would require you to contact the park or search the internet. Each review gives information about some history on the area, activities that are available, fees, and contact information. The description usually includes an analysis of the sites themselves. For instance, Johnny will state what site he stayed at and then explain what the other sites look like and which sites he recommends.
Each campground review is based on a five-star rating scale in six different categories: beauty, site privacy, site spaciousness, quiet, security, and cleanliness/upkeep. Beauty – natural features that make a campsite attractive. Avoiding too many reminders of civilization is a plus. Site Privacy – natural borders that enclose each campsite. How much do the sites create their own personal space for each individual. Site Spaciousness – space available for tents, fire ring, and other gear. Quiet – For this category I quote from the book, “The music of the lakes, rivers, and all the land between–the singing birds, rushing streams, waves lapping against the shoreline, wind whooshing through the trees–includes the kinds of noises tent campers associate with being in Wisconsin. In concert, they camouflage the sounds you don’t want to hear–autos coming and going, loud neighbors, and so on.” Security – how safe you feel leaving your gear at your site. Some campsites have locked gates so as to only allow campers or members admittance. Cleanliness/Upkeep – how well maintained the campground is and how well trash is cleaned up.
In our experience, the selection of campgrounds that were chosen is very good. So far, we have visited 13 of the 50 campgrounds suggested in this book and only had one disappointment, Blackhawk Memorial Park. The description of Blackhawk suggests that it is a quiet place to go even on a holiday weekend, but when we spent a night there on Memorial Day weekend we were kept up by people setting off fireworks and some rednecks doing donuts in the mud with their trucks. However, the other 12 successes that we have had with this book well outweigh the one failure. I recognize that the author cannot predict when rowdy people will be camping at a site.
Overall, I find this book surprisingly helpful. In a day when everything seems to be reviewed on the internet, to find a book with camping reviews that still holds value is saying something. The descriptions and brief history of the areas give you a reason to visit the location and the rating system gives you a good idea of what to expect. As Mary and I continue to plan our future camping endeavors in Wisconsin we will keep using this book until we have visited all 50 campgrounds.
Note: Author Johnny Molloy has an impressive resume of experience in outdoor activities throughout the United States. He has written many books that review camping, hiking and other outdoor activities in other states. To learn more about the author, feel free to visit his website: www.johnnymolloy.com