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Located right in the heart of west-central Wisconsin is Black River State Forest, covering a massive 67,000 acres. Two forks of the Black River flow through this forest, along with high sandstone abutments. For those campers without their own rig, and wishing to explore this amazing forest and the surrounding area, book an RV in Jackson County. Located near the city of Black River Falls, the forest is easily accessible from other close cities like Sparta and Melrose. On your motorhome camping trip to Black River State Forest, set aside plenty of time to explore the extensive trails of this rugged forest.
Established in 1957, much of the area was strongly influenced by glaciation. Once the glaciers started melting, there was nothing to protect the sandy surfaces from erosion and weathering. You’ll see remnants of this erosion in the form of sandstone hills and buttes in different areas of the forest, like Castle Mound. The forest is now used for harvesting as well, with sustainable forestry practices followed by professional foresters.
Camping at Black River State Forest gives you the chance to make use of year-round recreational opportunities in the forest. There are over 29 miles of recreational hiking and biking trails to explore. Twenty-two miles of these trails are able to be used in winter months for ice-skating and classic skiing. There are 4.5 miles of snowshoeing trails. For a great scenic overlook, check out the half-mile-long trail at Castle Mound that winds along castellated bluffs.
If you’re an ATV rider, the forest has over 30 miles of ATV trails and 48 miles of snowmobile trails that you can ride your vehicle on and show off your stuff. It’s a pretty cool way to explore the interiors of the forest.
If fishing is your thing, there are a number of well-stocked creeks and of course, the river, to drop a line in. Head to the Hay, Halls and Robinson Creeks to fish for trout. The Black River and East Fork have plenty of smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge, catfish and walleye.
Don’t forget to pack your canoe or kayak into your RV rental. There are Class I, II, and III rapids in parts of the river that you can enjoy. For a smooth stretch, go down Halls Creek Landing to the Black River Dam that has some Class I rapids when the water is high.
The forest is open to hunting in most parts, and you’ll find white-tailed deer, back bear, ruffed grouse, turkey, and waterfowl.
Whether you plan to rough it out in a tent or rent a camper near Black River State Forest, the well-equipped campgrounds in the forest have everything you may need for a comfortable stay. There are a total of three campgrounds at this state forest, each varying in amenities and size. Castle Mound Campground is more modern in facilities, with 35 sites available all year round. Twenty-one of the sites are non-electric while 14 offer electric. Amenities here include restrooms and showers (both ADA compliant), a dump station, garbage disposal, firewood, and an indoor picnic shelter. Sites can be reserved from May through to October. At the other times, availability is on a first-come-first served basis.
The other two campgrounds, East Fork Campground, and Pigeon Creek Campground, are more rustic and basic in nature, providing over 35 sites at each location. All sites are non-electric. Amenities include pull-thru sites, vault toilet buildings, a garbage and recycling station, hand pump water, and firewood.
If you’re looking for a place to camp near Black River State Forest, the Lost Falls Campground in the Black River Falls area is an option to consider. The campground has 40 spots with amenities like full hookups, 30 and 50 AMP electric service, sewers, water, restrooms, showers, and a picnic shelter. With the campground being close to the riverfront, watch the kiddos carefully. Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash.
A Jackson County camper rental will serve you well on your adventures through the Black River State Forest and beyond. After exploring the forest, consider a trip to the nearby city of Sparta, the county seat of Monroe County, also known as the ‘bicycling capital of America," Nestled in the rolling hills of Wisconsin, its a little over 30 miles from the forest and offers access to several nationally acclaimed bike trails like the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, which is the very first rails-to-rails bicycle route in USA, and the La Crosse River Bike Trails. So go for a bike ride on this historic trail on your visit to Sparta.
If you want to sample something unique but bizarre, take a stroll through the Fiberglass Mold Graveyard, a field full of giant figures from an eerie collection of titanic molds that are leftover from jobs done by the Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks company. Watch out for hornet’s nests as you walk through the field.
Check out the Wegner Grotto, made of thousands of pieces of glass shards, broken dishes, china and bottles that give this grotto a unique and vibrant look. Bicycle enthusiasts will enjoy the Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bicycle Museum that has exhibits ranging from bicycles to outer space. Displays include more than 80 antique collectible bicycles, a lunar sample from the Apollo 17 mission to the moon and Deke Slayton’s Mercury 7 astronaut suit, among others.
From an old-fashioned soda shop to family-run eateries, Sparta has an interesting food selection for you to try on your trip here.