Thousands of lakes, a half million acres of forest and exciting places to indulge in a dozen kinds of outdoor recreation – that’s what RV travelers will find in Wisconsin’s Northwoods region. Come along as we map a scenic RV route through the Northwoods.
We start our tour in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, about six hours north of Chicago. It’s surrounded by lakes (1,100 in Oneida County alone!) filled with muskie, trout and northern pike. The fishing fans in your RV aren’t going to want to leave. Why not camp at least a couple of days at West Bay Camping Resort on the shores of Lake Thompson, or Lake George Campsite on the shores of George Lake? Both are minutes from the amenities of Rhinelander, and located beside two excellent Northwoods lakes.
Once you’ve experienced Oneida County Northwoods fishing, travel north on WI-47 along the Wisconsin River into North Highland-American Legion State Forest. The scenery along the way is thrilling, with huge expanses of forest revealing bright blue lakes through every window. This Wisconsin Northwoods paradise has the distinction of having “one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the world.”
What that means for RV camping outdoors enthusiasts is the chance to play both on the water and in the woods, as well as enjoying state forest campsites. A favorite activity in the “NH-AL” is canoeing. The headwaters of the Wisconsin, Flambeau and Manitowish Rivers are protected within the state forest, creating dozens of scenic canoe trails to follow. There are also swimming beaches, bike and hiking trails and the wild beauty of Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area to enjoy.
One spot you’ll want to slow down and savor is Lake Tomahawk, “The Queen of the Northwoods Lakes.” The lake’s crystal clear waters invite visitors to fish, swim and play in a beautifully wooded setting. You’ll also find the town of Lake Tomahawk a happy diversion, especially if you have the chance to catch a summer “snowshoe baseball” game!
We continue our scenic drive through Wisconsin Northwoods Country on WI-47 to the town of Woodruff, WI. Not only is Woodruff right in the heart of Northern Wisconsin forest and lake country, it’s also home to the Dr. Kate Newcomb Museum. It’s worth the stop to learn more about the “Angel on Snowshoes” whose dream of building a hospital in Woodruff inspired the Million Penny Parade in 1953. Patricia Lake Campground and RV Park in nearby Minocqua is the perfect spot to stop for the night.
And then it’s time to make the loop up WI-51, circling Trout Lake (the name says it all, fishermen!), Ike Walton Lake, and a dozen more pristine bodies of water. Make a stop at scenic Manitowish Waters, WI to tour the cranberry marsh and then fish, hike, swim and boat on the fabulous Chain of Lakes. You can also see where the Dillinger Gang fought the FBI at Little Bohemia Lodge!
We finish our RV journey through Wisconsin’s Northwoods by heading south again along WI-47, through verdant state forest, past sparkling lakes to the lively town of Lac du Flambeau, WI. Enjoy learning more about the town’s Ojibwe Indian heritage and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Try your hand at Lake of the Torches Casino and spend the night at Lac du Flambeau Tribal Campground before continuing your journey back to Woodruff.
From Woodruff, you can follow WI-47 back to Rhinelander or blaze a trail past a whole new set of picturesque lakes along US-51 to Wausau before returning your Chicago RV rental. Let the call of the loon lure you to explore the scenic byways of Wisconsin’s Northwoods by RV. When you do, you’ll truly wonder why you waited so long.