If you’re looking for a new park adventure, but you think that you’ve seen it all, then think again. High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin isn’t like most state parks. Yes, it is abundant with green nature and plentiful wildlife. Just like any other park, there are lots of opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, and swimming in the summer. And because of its location, there are plenty of winter activities too, like skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. But just the simple great outdoor activities aren’t all that this park has to offer!
When you come RV camping at High Cliff State Park, you’ll get to see the effigy mounds that were created and left here by nomadic tribes over a thousand years ago. The reason why these mounds were built isn’t completely known, but there are lots of theories. You'll learn all about the lost town of High Cliff too when you visit the Museum and General Store, which is this once booming little town’s last remains. You’ll get to see neat artifacts and learn how this town thrived and why it eventually shut down. RV camping at High Cliff State Park will provide you with more than the necessary entertainment, and you’ll also get to see and learn so many new things while you’re here.
Not only that, but High Cliff State Park is located on the beautiful Lake Winnebago, which is the largest in the state. Keep an eye out for the 12-foot statue of Winnebago Indian Chief Red Bird overlooking the lake. The marina at the park is the perfect spot for all sorts of aquatic adventure, from kayaking to windsurfing. You can even bring your pet with you to enjoy scenic views of the lake. Whether you take your RV trip to enjoy sunny days on the lake or winter thrills on the trail, High Cliff State Park is a must on your vacation to Wisconsin.
Located two hours north of Milwaukee, in southeastern Wisconsin, High Cliff State Park is easy to get to off of Interstate 41, WI-55, and WI-114. Although the roads may be curvy and challenging in some areas, you will find most of the roads are easily maneuverable if you stick to the major highways. Local roads provide easy navigation within the park. During the wintertime, some roads will not be plowed, making it dangerous to drive on, especially in an RV. So, if you’re visiting when there is snow on the ground, make sure that you know which roads you should be prepared to avoid. You can do this by picking up a park map, which will show you which roads get plowed, and which ones don’t.
There is plenty of parking available at this state park, including by the marina, Lower Shelter, and trailheads. If you’ve brought your RV but you are only visiting the park for the day, you might be able to get away with parking in one of the many parking areas located at the campground. If you are planning on staying overnight, you can go ahead and set everything up at a campsite to avoid running into limited parking issues, especially if you have a large RV.
The campground that you’ll find here at High Cliff State Park is the perfect place to bring your RV for a family vacation. After all, they’re so family-oriented here that it’s even in the name of the campground. There are 112 total campsites to choose from, and out of those, 32 of them have electric hookups. There are even two sites that are ADA accessible. While the sites offer gravel pads, the length of the sites varies, although some sites can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 40 feet long.
Most sites provide a nice coverage of shade. While they do have sites with electric hookups, they can go pretty fast, so you’ll want to make reservations ahead of time to secure your camping spot. When you stay here, you’ll also have access to a dump station, vault toilets, flush toilets, and showers nearby. Keep in mind though that the showers won’t be available all year long. They usually are only open for use from May to mid-October. Either way, though, you and your family can have an excellent time RV camping here at High Cliff State Park. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you need a bigger camping area for a large group, you have the option to reserve a group campsite here at High Cliff State Park. You'll enjoy convenient access to water, restrooms, a play area, and volleyball courts. These sites are perfect for school trips, scout camping, family reunions, and other large groups.
The maximum vehicle length at each site varies, but some sites can hold RVs or large vehicles up to 50 feet long. Up to 20 people can stay at each site. There are eight group campgrounds in the park, all of them spaced out around a large play area near the quarry and Red Bird Trail. There is also a picnic area and a community fire ring nearby. Pets are welcome as long as you supervise them and keep them restrained the whole time you are here.
If you want something a little less primitive, you can make reservations at the one cabin that is available inside the park. This cabin is ADA accessible, and it can accommodate up to six people. You can rent it for up to four nights in a row, and it is available for reservations from May to mid-October. This log cabin is a perfect choice for a rustic, yet cozy experience. Unfortunately, your pooch will have to stay home because pets are not allowed to stay in the cabin.
Make sure you pack your fishing gear in the RV before heading to the park. There is nothing quite as peaceful as sitting out to catch a couple of fish in the dead of winter. The atmosphere is already so quiet and calming, and fishing is such a great way to let go and relax from a busy day. Putting camping and ice fishing together is like an outdoor retreat, but much cheaper. And much more satisfying if you catch enough fish to cook for dinner.
There is so much that you can do in the snow that doesn’t involve snowshoes, skis, or vehicles when you take a winter RV trip to this state park. You can simply start by rolling up a ball of snow. Add two more balls of snow, and then find some sticks for arms, and you’ve got yourself a cute little snowman. Get together with your family to build a whole family of snowmen, or wage war with an epic snowball fight.
Here at the park, there is a snowmobile trail that is three miles long and connects Lake Winnebago with the entire Calumet County snowmobile trail system. This snow trail is divided into six sections. You can begin your adventure in section three by High Cliff State Park or travel up to Highway KK and start in section one. Be sure to check the weather conditions before heading out, and make sure that the trail you want to go on is available - they open and close based on the weather in the county that they’re located in.
Don’t let the winter season get you down or stop you from exploring all the great trails here. Simply park your camper, strap on your snowshoes, grab a backpack or bag, and get out there. If you didn’t bring your own gear, you could rent a pair from the park. You can go snowshoeing on just about all of the trails, except the ones that are for skiing only. The 1.1-mile Butterfly Pond Trail starts at the Lower Cliff Road parking lot and takes you around Butterfly Pond.
Each year, the park takes certain trails and makes them good for skiing, as they keep them well-groomed for traditional skiing. These ski trails are perfect for anyone who is just starting out at skiing, as well as for those that consider themselves to be intermediate-skill-level skiers. The 0.6-mile Overlook Trail and 3.8-mile Red Bird Trail are both typically groomed for skiing. Skiing can be a great way to get out and enjoy the snow.
If you want to do some hunting or trapping while you are at High Cliff State Park, there are plenty of areas set aside just for that sport. Although many of the areas are open for the traditional nine-day deer hunting season in November, you will have to check with Wisconsin state hunting and trapping rules and regulations for more information. Also, make sure you wear your hunter orange vest or hat and use safe hunting practices at all times.
Don’t forget to pack your swim trunks and floaties in the camper before heading to High Cliff State Park. There’s no better way to enjoy the heat of summer than by jumping into the cool water. And here at High Cliff State Park, you can do just that in the swimming area. While the swimming area does not have lifeguards, it does have changing areas, showers, bathrooms with flush toilets, and open shelters for you to take advantage of.
If you want to take the boat out on the lake, you can do so at one of the four developed boat launches that are available for you to use here. You can also rent a slip and keep your boat here overnight if you wish to do so. If you’re coming to windsurf, kiteboard, or paddle, you can use the undeveloped boat launch to get into the water. Virtually limitless aquatic adventure awaits you when you take your camper to High Cliff State Park.
There are over eight miles of trails that you can take your horse out on during your motorhome excursion to High Cliff State Park. These trails loop the length of the park so that you can see most of it just by going out for a ride. You can also take your horse on the 7.5-mile bike and horse trail, which is open from May until November. This trail starts at the Family Campground Road parking lot and goes around the entire park. You will have to bring your own horses though because there are no horse rentals available at the park.
If you’ve brought your bike along with you on your RV road trip, you can ride it around the park on any of the park roads. This can be a great way to be eco-friendly during your stay. You can also ride your bike along the Red Bird Trail and the 7.5-mile bike and horse trail. The Red Bird Trail is a nearly four-mile loop that provides breathtaking views of Lake Winnebago as well as the Niagara Escarpment and Chief Redbird statue.
There are plenty of opportunities for hiking here at the park, with trails of all difficulty levels and lengths. One trail will take you up where you can see over a cliff, and from here, you’ll be able to look out and see various surrounding cities, including Appleton, Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha, and Kaukauna. It’ll be hard to find a better view than that! For history buffs, you'll enjoy a hike along the 0.6-mile Indian Mound Trail, where you can take a self-guided interpretive tour of effigy mounds that are thousands of years old.
If you have never heard of geocaching, you are not alone. Many people have no idea what it is. To explain it simply, it is like a global treasure hunt. All you need is a device with Wi-Fi and GPS, such as a cell phone, and you are in business. All of the Wisconsin State Parks participate in the geocaching program, and you can get the coordinates to several hidden caches in the park online. One of the treasures is hidden on the Lime Kiln Trail while others are located in other areas around the park.