The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is welcoming back visitors to enjoy the outdoors as most developed campgrounds on the national forest will open Thursday, April 29.

“The early thaw has allowed us to get into campgrounds and prepare for the high visitation we expect again this year,” said Susan Jenkins, lands and wilderness program manager for the Chequa­me­gon-Nicolet. “We’re happy to welcome back longtime campers as well as people who are just discovering what our public lands have to offer.”

The forest staff manages 45 developed campgrounds with anywhere from six to 99 campsites each. Most sites accommodate up to eight people, but a few campgrounds include group sites for up to 30 people. Amenities vary from pit or vault toilets to flush toilets and showers. Some sites provide trash collection, utility hookups and dumping stations.

Getting campgrounds ready to open is a forest-wide effort each spring. During ranger district workdays, crews come in to remove hazard trees and help recreation staff clear camp pads and clean facilities.

“Providing outdoor recreation opportunities across a wide spectrum of settings — from federally designated wilderness areas to campgrounds with shower houses — is one of the most important ways we serve the public and help people connect with nature,” said Forest Supervisor Paul Strong. “Despite some staffing challenges compounded by COVID-19, we're working with many contributing partners to provide safe and quality experiences that create memories and bring people back again.”

Strong noted the recreation industry is a powerful driver of local and national economies, and public lands draw recreationists and their spending power to local communities. Across the country, outdoor recreation supports 7.6 million jobs and generates $887 billion in annual consumer spending. About $9 billion in annual spending is related to visits to national forests and grasslands. 

Yearlong survey

Last fall, the Che­quamegon-Nicolet National Forest kicked off a yearlong series of voluntary National Visitor Use Monitoring surveys to learn more about recreation use and related spending during visits to the forest and surrounding communities. 

Continuing through September, posted signs will mark survey locations where interviewers may invite visitors to share information about their experience on and around the forest.



Dispersed camping

Camping outside of developed campgrounds is permitted year-round on the forest with some restrictions. So-called dispersed camping offers no amenities and requires campers to take responsibility for preserving natural resources. The forest provides rules and restrictions for dispersed camping on its website at go.usa.gov/xHjDe.

Campground information is available on the forest’s website at go.usa.gov/xHj4w or through a local ranger district office. Campers can reserve some sites at Recreation.gov.

More information about the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is available at fs.usda.gov/cnnf.