Trip Report: Perrot State Park (Onalaska, WI)
We just returned from what I would say was my favorite camping trip we have been on yet. We spent two nights at Perrot State Park near Onalaska, WI. This is a HUGE state park to the south of us by about 2 hours. It was an easy, quick trek down to the park. It is full of trails and other recreational options, and the campsite was near perfect in my book.
When I booked online, I noticed it must be a very popular campground because availability was tough to find (which is why we camped on a Sunday to a Tuesday). We realized when we arrived why it's so popular...this is an amazing place and almost every campsite has electric hookups! The campground also features vault toilets within walking distance of all campsites and 2 bath houses which have showers and flush toilets. (more on the details of the campsite later in the post)
Upon arrival, we did grab a park map so we could orient ourselves better.
We were a little early to check in, so we explored the nearby town of Trempealeau. What a pleasant surprise. It is a charming, adorable town nestled by the banks of the Mississippi. It has been extremely hot, so we enjoyed an ice cream cone before heading back to set up camp.
We saw some fun eating and lodging options during our walk around the town, and we would definitely return.
Our favorite stop in Trempealeau was definitely Driftless Bike N'Bean Coffee Shop which also served amazing ice cream served in an old train caboose! It was yummy, unique, and full of small town charm. We stopped there again on our way out of town to get coffee and the drinks were also really yummy.
After cooling down with ice cream, we went to set up camp! We were SO happy with the size and shade level of our campsite. We had 90 degree highs during our stay, and the shade was incredibly cooling. We also loved how we felt a degree of space and privacy from our neighbors. All around 10/10 for the campsite!
We had lots of space for our gazebo and our tent, in addition to the truck parked in front of the site. The electrical hookup was a game changer with an air mattress. If you have ever slept on one, you may know they go flat overnight which is incredibly uncomfortable and annoying, particularly when sleeping on the ground. So, we kept our pump plugged in via an extension cord and we were able to blow up the air mattress whenever we needed to! The weather was so nice the first night we there (clear and around 64 degrees, that we were able to keep the rain cover off our tent and truly sleep under the stars.) I could hear owls and crickets singing us to sleep and it was magical.
The next morning, we decided to explore the recreational options within the park. We drove over to the park office and inquired about renting canoes. It was $15 to rent the canoes for 3 hours, including your paddles and life jackets. Chuck is an experienced kayaker and canoer, but I wasn't. However, I wanted to try and this seemed like a beautiful spot to try in. We got our supplies and headed over to the kayak and canoe landing area.
After we got all loaded, I still felt a little nervous. Chuck was so patient though. He steered from the back and I paddled in front. As I got more accustomed to being so close to nature, I realized we were in such a beautiful spot to observe wildlife which I love. We saw lots of birds and later 2 muskrats. One swam by our boat and it was the absolute highlight of our 2 hour adventure in the water.
It was so beautiful and peaceful paddling through the bay. We had a great view of the nearby bluffs, woods, and Mighty Mississippi River. It was exceedingly hot during our adventure, but we sunscreened and bug sprayed up. Hats, sunglasses, and airy clothing helped. The water was also really cool. I did dip my hand in a few times for some refreshing splashes. We also brought along our water bottles to stay hydrated.
We had so much fun on our canoe trip, and I would do it again even though I was scared at first :) We headed back to the campsite to refuel after a hot, fun morning.
**Quick aside, we tried a new campfire/dutch oven cooking recipe this time that was really fun. If you go camping enough, you soon tire of the usual burgers and dogs fare, so I have been scouring Pinterest for new ideas. I came across a post from Rhodes Bread (I company I already love), talking about campfire pizza. YES! I wanted to link the recipe because it turned out really well and we loved it. It was a delicious deep dish pizza. We were so full, we didn't even eat dinner that night**
We did overcook just slightly, and we figured we may have used a little too much dough based on the size of our oven, but overall 9/10!
Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming :) We finished off our day Monday with an awesome hike. There are a lot of fun trails in the park, but due to the heat we wanted one of the shorter, easier ones but one that also led up to the amazing views of the bluffs. We had asked at the park office what would be our best bet, and we went with the Brady's Bluff trail.
It took us about an hour and a half total. There were some steep parts, but the views at the top were AMAZING. I loved it. Hiking is one of my favorite forms of exercise and it is an activity Chuck and I love doing together. This time, he decided to try some Kelty hiking sticks. Those things are legit! They help with balance, hand swelling, and give an upper arm workout to boot. I want my own set now.
The recreational activities at the park were what made it so fun to me. Even though it was hot, we still had such a blast. I would love to come here again in the fall. Our second night was a little warmer, but we still slept great after hot showers and by using the two battery powered fans I brought. One had a water reservoir that misted you with a spray bottle and one was just a little battery powered fan that really did work great at cooling our tent. We also made sure we brought lots of drinking water and ice to keep things cool in our coolers. All of these things helped us have a better camping experience.
On our last morning camping, a big storm rolled through. This seems to happen to us every time we go camping. We hope we can head home and just put things away, not having to rinse and dry everything before storing it. Alas, we had to do all of that after we got home. It is just par for the course with camping. This was my favorite camping trip yet though, and I would highly recommend this state park to any family looking for fun and adventure in the great outdoors.