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Saturday, June 8, 2024

CAMPGROUND REVIEW - Governor Thompson State Park Wisconsin, fish scales and caterpillars!!

It was the middle of the week, the best time to go camping for us. We prefer to not be out on the busy weekends. We looked online and found a campground with a couple open sites about 50 miles away from our home. Wednesday and Thursday nights are good for us.

Then we took a look at the weather report. Even though things looked horrible back here at home, it was going to get better once we got on the road.

Yep, this was about our first 10 miles...

After that, as we headed further north, the clouds opened up and we could see blue peeking through. The weathermen were right!

We headed up into North Central Wisconsin to a fairly new campground in the Wisconsin State Park system. It's called Governor Thompson State Park. It began development in 2000, and was finally ready for picnicking and other recreation about 2005 or 2006. The campgrounds weren't developed until after that. I remember we went up there one weekend and just walked around to see how well they were putting together this park. 

We could tell someone with half a brain was helping with the development, someone that actually did RVing! 

(Please note that Steve is a retired State Park Maintenance Supervisor, and had seen a LOT of the state parks that are just not constructed or developed very well)

These sites are level!!!! There are lots of woods and shrubbery in between sites. They are placed strategically so you don't see the people in the next campsite. It was also evident that traffic flow was a consideration. Beach goers and day use picnic and hiking areas are in the beginning access to the park to the south. The boat landing is up in approximately the middle, and the campground is up to the northern end. That way you don't have the daily use people driving through or even near the campground! 

The next thing that was evident was that the campground was made in three separate loops. That way you didn't have all the total amount of traffic driving past all of the campsites all of the time. You basically had one third of any campground traffic going through your own loop. 

The third thing that was evident was the big beautiful bathhouse building that was constructed somewhat in the middle of all three loops. Easy access. The bathroom building had restroom areas on each side. And then all around the perimeter were individual rooms with locking doors for showers. Inside of each shower room there is a toilet, a sink, a bench and a shower. The showers are free, no coins needed like some parks. 

Throughout the three loops are very nice heavy duty concrete buildings with pit toilets that are extremely clean. The buildings can double as a tornado shelter in the event of bad storms moving through the area. This area of Wisconsin seems to always get hit with heavy storms, straight line winds, or tornadoes. Smart to make smaller accessible shelters throughout the campground area, but also the large restroom/shower building in the middle can be used as shelter in the event of a storm.

Also throughout each loop are drinking fountains with water bottle fill taps, as well as regular faucet hydrant units for filling up water jugs or dish pans for tenters.

All of the roads are paved, and the campsite pads are graveled and level. The two handicap pads are paved. The only electric sites available are in one loop on sites 15 through 30. The rest of the 100 sites in the campground are all rustic with no electric. 

The dump station is extremely wide and easy accessible with big rigs or large fifth wheels. It can be approached from either side so two vehicles can dump at the same time. Spaced far enough away is another staging area with the freshwater. That way if you are filling your freshwater tank you are not blocking up the line for the grey water and sewer dumpers. very smart! 

Be aware, although there are some water faucets throughout the campground, you should fill at the dump station first before reaching your site if you travel with empty freshwater tanks. I think the faucets in the park are not threaded, so if you really needed to use one to fill you would need a "water thief"... which is a rubber device that clamps on over a non-threaded spigot so you are able to temporarily attach a hose in an emergency.

Also at the end of the loop of the dump station area are three large dumpsters. They are for garbage and for recycling. Spaced nicely far away from the campground as to not attract bears or coons or other wildlife. Great to not have them stink in the hot summer sun of they were closer to the campground. 

The boat landing has a wide swing for launching boats plus an area set to the side for tying off and cleaning your boat of any noxious weeds. Then the parking area for the boat landing has huge pull-through spots for trucks and trailers. Again, a well thought out setup.

There's a camp host on duty at site number 2, and there are the presence of maintenance workers and rangers from the main office near the entrance as well as the maintenance area near the picnic and beach. 

I would like to mention that the cell phone signal was very strong with five bars and many times 5G. That is sometimes hard to find a northern Wisconsin. The broadcast TV stations on the antenna brought in all of the major networks from Green Bay. We didn't even bother setting up our Starlink, because we had plenty of data and antenna access.

Reservations can be made using the website below, and is highly recommended because this is a high use park. For Wisconsin residents the rate is $28 a night. If you reserve online there's a $7.95 reservation fee. A daily or seasonal vehicle sticker is also required. 

Here is a link to the website:

The park covers 2,800 acres! There are many trails and natural areas to enjoy. Because it's so large you don't hear any nearby road noise or cottage folks or ATVs which are not allowed within the park.

Here's the map of the campsites. The East Loop is the only one with electrical sites, and take note that it's only half of the loop with electricity. It starts at site 15 and runs to site 30. We were on site 28 for two nights during the middle of the week. I would say 3/4 of the electric sites were occupied. The rest of the park was pretty quiet with maybe 10 to 15 other campers on the rustic sites throughout the park.

Okay, that's enough information about the park itself. Now let's get down to the nitty gritty about our actual individual campsite.

Check in and check out time is 3:00 p.m. because there had been heavy rain the night before and all morning, we were hoping maybe our site was open already. We arrived at the park about 1:30. 
Nope, there were still people in our site which they had every right to be until 3:00 p.m. So we drove around the park a bit and made this YouTube: 

Here is a video of our actual time spent in the campsite and setting up and some stuff with walking the dogs. There are segments on here where you can view the restroom building and showers: 

I'm attempting to start up a YouTube channel with just my camping videos featured on it. My other YouTube channel has weaving and spinning and knitting and grandchildren and dogs etc--- so this one is known as "What-A-View"
Just like my blog:

If you enjoy watching my videos, 
please like and subscribe!

By about 2:30 p.m., the people had moved on. We could back into our campsite now.

It's a very pretty site, number 28, with electric, located in the east loop. We backed right in and set up and it was very quiet and peaceful. We were only a tiny bit tilted and put leveler blocks on one side.

Here is where I get a little irritated. The previous people had decided to clean fish on the picnic table!!!

And they left behind piles of dried fish scales!!!!!  They were in piles on the ground....

And scattered on the picnic table!!!!

I guess gone are the days of people buying newspapers anymore. So they don't have them to roll out on a table to clean their fish? 

What really bothers me is that these little pieces of fish scale are like little pieces of bones. They are very sharp and are horrible in a dog's digestion tract. Our dogs could easily lick them up because they are stinky and delightfully tasty to a dog. Then we would be going back to the emergency vet located way down in Appleton which is 100 plus miles away!!!!

We did the best we could with our little camping shovel to dig up what we could and bury it out further in the woods. I carefully swept off the picnic table with a damp paper towel to catch each little one that was stuck on there. 

Because of these inconsiderate people, it changed the way we could use our campsite.  For the rest of our two and a half days here, we had to keep our dogs only secured up close to the camper where they could be nowhere near the picnic table or the ground where these little flecks of fish scale were all over the place. Not to mention, they attracted flies!!! 

We didn't use the picnic table at all. 

I hope the next people don't think it was from us????

We unhooked the cargo trailer and tried to get a little more level on our campsite. We did the best we could with our leveler blocks and it was good.  We set out our camping mat and chairs, and it felt just like home.

It doesn't take us long to get set up. A few people had walked by to chat. Many were commenting on the invasion of the "tent caterpillars"...
Which are actually the Gypsy moth larvae.

We knew that they were all over in Northern Oconto County, as they have been for years. 

They cover everything with little specks of caterpillar poop as they defoliate all of the oak trees. Back in the early 1990s, they were horrible to the point of being a complete invasion. You could not walk through the woods without swinging your hands from side to side moving veils of them hanging down on their silken cords. 

If you sat still and quiet in the woods it would sound like little bits of rain as their little specks of poop would fall down from the air above. It would hit down on the fallen dried leaves on the woods floor. It sounded like little teeny bits of sleet or hail. Tick tick tick tick from the caterpillars overhead. Eating and pooping eating and pooping!!! Ewwwww

Back then, if you drove a car or an ATV on pavement through the woods with tent caterpillars, it would be awful. The sounds ofsplit splat splat splat under your tires, and you could literally skid on them if you hit the brakes when going too fast. I'm not kidding. The entire ground would be moving with motion of crawling caterpillars. 

They are not nearly as bad now as they were back then!

The worst part is they are able to defoliate an entire tree in no time flat. They seem to prefer the oak trees. See the photo below? That's what they do... Until the leaves all curl up and fall off dried and destroyed. 

After a year or two or three of having all of its foliage eaten off, a mature tree cannot manage to survive without its photosynthesis and chlorophyll process. The trees begin to rot from the inside out. What looks like a normal tree trunk can be pushed over sometimes by hand as it collapses to the ground from being rotted out. My father's cabin is located nearby and he lost near 80 oak trees on his property due to these caterpillars. Most of the trees around the cabin had to be taken down before they fell down. Others just fell over during high winds and as they hit the ground they exploded wide open with rotted centers. 

The maintenance staff in this park has very carefully removed any of the dangerous trees in the high use areas. We noticed that everything around our campsite was fairly young new growth or of other species than oak.

This is the funny part about the tent caterpillars, they totally freaked out our little dog Nicholas!  If he laid down on our camping mat, they kept crawling towards him! Oh horrors! He couldn't figure out why these little things kept coming after him....

Honestly he was totally afraid of them! I did make a video clip of him being scared. I am putting that together into another YouTube that I will add the link on here later. I'm not finished yet putting the scenes together and editing. We never laughed so hard! 

He then came up on my lap where it was safe and sound away from the caterpillars. Just look at that face?

We could deal with the caterpillars, because we have been doing that for over 20 years. We enjoyed walking around the park, and the weather decided to change almost hourly. It would be pouring rain. Then it would stop in the sun would come out. And we will go for another walk or a bike ride.

Then it would cloud up again and get really windy. We will get more rain. But that was okay. We stayed inside and watched some TV.

Again, the sun would pop out and everything would be nice. We really enjoyed the peaceful park and quiet surroundings.

I think these blossoms are from flowering dogwood. They smelt so great after the rain freshened up the air.

Overnight, the weather continued with intermittent rain and wind. It was too windy and wet to do a campfire. So we curled up and watch TV and went to bed. 

The next morning was absolutely beautiful. The sunshine coming in through the trees is such a great way to start the day.

We saw some whitetail deer go through the park, and a couple little turtles here and there. Chipmunks and squirrels were abundant. And the birds were amazingly loud with their springtime calls to each other. The woods were alive!

We really enjoyed our stay at Governor Thompson State Park. We had only been here once before on one of the rustic sites. I know at times it's hard to get in on the weekends, but all I can say is keep trying back on their reservation list. I think they have a notification system that will let you know if there's an opening. During the week I think it's a little easier to get in on a rustic site. They do have little scan codes on each post that you can drive through, choose a site, and then scan to make sure it's available. Then you can pay directly online and not have to do the reservation fee.

So that's a wrap on another campground review!


  1. What a great review on the campground sounds like a lot of thought went into designing the park. We have those nasty caterpillars
    at our seasonal lot in a campground. They are creepy falling on us and our old dog. We only stayed one night on Memorial weekend. They were everywhere around us.
    I enjoy your campground reviews.

  2. I loved your blog! I’m not far from you and can agree on the weather, sun one minute, stormy the next. And the spongy moth caterpillars are pretty annoying indeed, hope they don’t get as bad as the 90’s! Those are black raspberry flowers, we have way too many on our land lol.


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