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Camping at Governor Dodge State Park: Summer 2013


We just got back from a weekend camping trip at Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville, WI. I think I probably say this every time, but this was definitely our best camping trip to date. Between the kids getting older and our family learning what kind of things we like in a camp ground and camping trip, we seem to be figuring out the formula for a great trip.

This trip seemed to have all the ingredients for a great weekend:

  • The weather was absolutely beautiful, if a bit too hot towards the end of the day. On our last camping trip I was too cold when trying to fall asleep – that was definitely not an issue on this trip!
  • The camp site was perfect – plenty of space to set up our tent and just enough privacy between camp sites. The ground was great for putting stakes in the tent and there was plenty of nature for the kids to play with.
  • The park had dozens of hiking trails of varying length. After dinner on Saturday we hiked the Stephens Fall Trail which leads to a small waterfall. It was just challenging enough to feel like we’d gotten a workout but easy enough that our four year old and seven year old were not too winded. There was gorgeous nature everywhere – I may have gotten a bit distracted taking nature shots (see collage below).
  • We did a great job packing food for this trip. We had a personal goal to not go out to eat during our trip and we met that goal easily by packing plenty of food we liked. I made sure we had a variety of things to choose from so we couldn’t get too bored and worked hard to think every meal through. Though we had a few mishaps (one of our mason jars cracked when trying to heat milk in a pot of water), overall the meals went really well and the only thing we bought was some ice cream after lunch on Sunday as a small splurge.
  • The cookie s’more – an absolute essential for camping in our family.
  • I looked up a lot of activities beforehand but didn’t try to itinerary the trip too much. We tried to play the trip by ear and do the things that worked in each moment and this worked out wonderfully.
  • This campground had the perfect playground just a few campsites away from ours – this was not entirely by accident. I studied the campground map carefully when selecting our site and I’m so glad. The playground was just the right size for our kids and in great condition. There were benches and a picnic table in perfect proximity to the playground equipment so we could sit and relax but still be very close by.
  • Right next to the playground was the bathroom & shower which were in very good condition for a campground. I was equally grateful to have a bathroom so close to our campsite, too!
  • Just a three minute drive away was a beautiful beach which we visited Sunday morning after breakfast!


The nature was truly inspiring on this trip – flowers, trees and sky – everywhere I looked I found beauty.


After not quite enough sleep (we haven’t yet mastered getting the kids to fall asleep at a reasonable hour and I don’t sleep well anywhere) we woke up and made coffee and splurged on little bags of sugary cereal that I’d bought especially for the trip. At home it’s all about healthy cereal so the kids were outrageously excited about this and Dan and I loved enjoying some childhood favorites together.

While we packed up the tent and gear (we only stayed one night this time) the kids made fairy houses and played other games using sticks, rocks, leaves, etc. around the campsite. I spent a little time lingering with them while they played and LOVED seeing their imagination come to life. Why do we buy kids toys again?

Once we were packed, we headed to the beach. Wisconsin beaches are, of course, on lakes and they can be hit or miss. Usually miss. We’ve been to a few good ones since moving here but Governor Dodge was, by far, the best yet. Soft sandy beaches, relatively clean water and a good crowd of mostly families.

The sand was just damp enough to easily build sand castles with not too many tools needed. Dan showed MM how to make a sand turtle with just his hands and MM made friends with another kid there who was building a “sand lake” with a connecting river – they spent a lot of time working on that while BB relaxed next to me digging in the sand with little aim other than to dig and enjoy.

Both kids got to do some swimming with daddy and when lunch time rolled around we cleaned up and found a nice shady picnic table where I assembled some peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches for everyone along with a few snacks. After lunch we had that ice cream I mentioned and then we headed home.

Overall it as a short and sweet kind of trip – we felt truly relaxed as we drove back to the house. Sometimes being one with nature for a little while is just what the soul needs to end a busy and hectic summer before beginning a busy and hectic school year!