Camp Kenosha

7/30/2019 - Hannah Wallisch

Family-Friendly, Sports & Outdoors
Enjoying camping at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha, WI
Enjoying camping at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha, WI
Enjoying camping at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha, WI
Enjoying camping at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha, WI
Enjoying camping at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha, WI

Growing up, my family’s annual summer vacation was a week of camping at a Wisconsin State Park. Some of my favorite family memories were formed exploring parks around the state, enjoying campfires, and getting lost on hikes (“Are you sure we’re still on the trail?”). The campground at Richard Bong State Recreation Area was the perfect place to recreate some of those memories and introduce my kids to camping this summer.

About Bong

Located in the northwest corner of Kenosha County, Richard Bong State Recreation Area features what you expect from many Wisconsin State Parks: campsites, trails for hiking and biking, and a nature center. Here are a few of the park’s more unique features.

  • As a “recreation area,” Bong has ATV and motorcycle trails, a fishing pond, and a special use area where visitors can fly model airplanes, hang gliders, rockets, and more. You can borrow fishing gear from the park at no charge. Rockets and other flying objects are BYO!
  • Bong is also opening its Nature Explore Classroom later this summer. The NEC will be the first of its kind in the state, offering activities for all ages and abilities, with eleven areas for play, building, water exploration, nature art, and more. We’ll definitely be back to check it out.
  • Alpine Valley Music Theatre, a popular outdoor concert venue, is about 20 miles away near East Troy. This makes Bong a convenient place to camp when going to a show, and campers headed to a concert can even get wristbands at the ranger station to allow late-night entry after the park closes. Phish was playing three nights at Alpine Valley the weekend we camped. (Insert Bong joke here.) I was worried about post-concert noise in the campground, but fortunately everyone in our area of the campground was pretty courteous. If anything, my children awake and shrieking before 6 a.m. were a bigger disturbance. Sorry, Phish fans.

Tips for Camping 

Enough about Phish. Let’s talk about camping. I talked my parents and my sister’s family into joining my family for a weekend in mid-July. 2 nights, 1 pull-behind camper, 2 tents, 6 adults, 4 kids, 1 dog, and many marshmallows later, we have some tips for camping at Bong.

  • Reserve ahead. You can reserve your campsite through the Wisconsin State Park System’s online booking. Note that there’s a maximum of 6 non-related individuals on each campsite. We had two campsites, and the online system made it easy to pick out ones fairly close together. You can also scout out a site close to the bathroom building or any other preferences. If you want a group campsite (usually 12+ people), reserve early since these book up fast. Pay attention to whether your site has electric hook-up if you plan to bring a camper or are feeling jittery about having a place to charge your cell phone. Ah, nature.
  • Don’t pass up the activities. My preferred camping activity is a book and a beer overlooking a lake... but with kids age 6 and under, we had to find some additional things to do. The visitor center offers Wisconsin Explorer booklets with nature themed kids’ activities - great for downtime around camp. Bong also offers nature programs and events throughout the summer, so check the calendar. You can also drive down to the special use area to see if anything is flying or launching! With more time, we could have seen and done a lot more. Above all, the kids’ favorite place to be was the beach - which leads me to the next tip… 
  • Hit the lake. Wolf Lake has a swimming area with a sandy beach, as well as a boat launch and access for canoeing and kayaking. We spent a morning playing in the sand and the water, followed by a picnic at the nearby playground. There’s no beach house near the swimming area, but there are outdoor shower stations to rinse off the sand before you head back to the campground. 
  • Beat the rain. We lucked out with a warm, sunny weekend - but this won’t be the case for some camping trips. When you’re facing a week of rain or unseasonably cold temperatures, don’t give up. This is when I recommend a day in town. From Bong, you can get to downtown Kenosha in 30 minutes or less. No, the weather probably won’t be different than at the campground, but you’ll get a change of scenery and have something to do besides playing card games in your soggy tent. One day of shopping, museum touring, and eating non-camp food is just enough of a reset button to send you back to Bong with new energy. The rain has to stop sometime, right?

We had a great time and made some fun new memories camping at Bong, and we’ll definitely be back. See you around the campground!

Community Blogger Hannah Wallisch

Hannah Wallisch

Community Blogger

Finding local adventures with my husband and 2 kids (4 & 1). Higher Ed./nonprofit professional, amateur baker and gardener. Loves the lakefront and a good book.