Where to Pitch a Tent this Fall

Fewer bugs and dwindling crowds mean September is the perfect time to go camping

September might just be the best month to pitch a tent in the Badger state. By Labor Day, bugs and crowds are greatly reduced and what remains is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Prime campsites are available, even on a Friday night, without reservations. Lakes are still warm enough for swimming, though you’ll appreciate a crackling fire on cool nights. As the first migrating ducks and geese can be heard above, other signs of fall appear. Leaves take on subtle autumn hues by the middle of the month. Game fish and panfish emerge from summer doldrums and go on a store-up-for-winter feed.

Where to go? Black River State Forest is a two-hour drive from Madison, offering pine woods and lakes similar to the far north. Wyalusing State Park, near Prairie du Chien, and Perrot State Park, north of La Crosse, are gateways to the Mississippi River. Hiking trails and hills are the draw at Kettle Moraine State Forest and Governor Dodge State Park, an hour east and west of Madison, respectively.

John Motoviloff is a cook, author and outdoorsman.

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