Wheeler's Campground: Quiet, Woodsy Camping Near Devil's Lake
I don't camp around Baraboo often, and when I do it is usually last-minute so I can't score a campsite at Devil's Lake State Park. Over time, I've found Wheeler's Campground, just northwest of the State Park on State Route 159, to be a good bet for no-reservation camping. Wheeler's is close to Devil's Lake and good food options (like The Barn), the owners are friendly and run a tight ship, and it's reliably quiet at night. I stayed there recently and took a few photos to share the ambience.
Family Owned and Operated
Marc and Lollie Wheeler own, run, and reside at Wheeler's Campground, which they bought in 1991. The property was developed specifically as a campground in 1959 by the Hill Family, so it's a very well-established campground and feels that way. The Wheelers are super welcoming and have a campfire ready every Friday and Saturday night to welcome folks as they arrive. They learn a little about each camping party so they can choose a good campsite appropreiate to them, and I like the tailored approach. Lollie put me in a big, flat, grassy site that was only open for the night... you can't get that kind of service from automated booking software!
Features and Facilities
Overall, the campground facilities are good; nothing is fancy or new, but everything is clean, well-maintained, and comfortable. The shower house was impeccably clean at 6 AM when I visited, which is a great test of any campground, I think. The grounds have been used as a campground for a long time, so there are plenty of tall, mature trees, the campsites are well defined, and most sites have great, flat areas for tents. There are tons of things for kids to do: explore the creek running through the property, fish in the pond (no license necessary), use the playground, shoot hoops on the basketball court, or go to the game room in the barn on a rainy day. If you're short on key supplies, you can probably find what you need in Wheeler's camp store, including split wood for your campfire. The main office also provides a WiFi hotspot for those who must connect with the outside world.
On a climbing note, Wheeler's was the first neighborhood gear shop near Devil's Lake (est. 1996) and Marc still maintains a decent selection of protection, cordage, and other gear in the camp store, along with a full fleet of rental climbing shoes. Wildside in Baraboo has a wider selection of stuff, but Wheeler's is a little closer, opens earlier and closes later, so they are a great option to know about.
Sleep Well, Follow the Rules
Perhaps Wheeler's signature feature is its pride as a quiet campground where you can get some sleep at night. Quiet hours are strictly enforced after 11 PM, and loud music or drunken yelling is not tolerated at any hour. Wheeler's has a reputation online for not being hospitable to the party crowd, and that's how they want it. I think 95% of folks will have a great experience at Wheeler's, but if you are planning on getting trashed and/or staying up super late, a different campground will be more appropriate. I love that Lollie and Marc are so direct about the way they run their business and appreciate the accountability they hold their campers to.
Logistics - Pricing, Reservations, Hours
Campsites rates vary based on tent vs. RV and regular weekends vs holiday weekends. Wheeler's happily accepts reservations and does occasionally fill up, but they have a lot of space and I recommend stopping by unannounced if needed. The campground closes promptly at 10:30 PM on weekends (earlier weekdays and spring/fall), whether you have a reservation or not, so mind the hours if you are planning a late arrival.
Hope this serves as a good overview for those researching their campgrounds. If you have any helpful pieces of advice, please add a comment!