This post is in partnership with Washburn County Tourism. I’m no stranger to Washburn County where it’s the “northwoods in every direction,” as their motto goes. It’s home to our family cabin and I’ve shared countless photos on Instagram like this one at my favorite sunflower field at Perlick Distillery and this one of the fall foliage on Long Lake. I’m excited to share more about our camping experience in this northwoods county with you!
My family and I are total weekend warriors. We work hard and try to get through the week in preparation for a fun weekend ahead. Can you relate? In this particular guide, I’m taking you on a weekend camping trip to beautiful Minong, Wisconsin in Washburn County. Minong is in the northwest corner of Wisconsin. It’s a small town but that is the beauty of it. This is the place to escape to if you’re looking for a peaceful, quiet getaway with absolutely breathtaking northwoods scenery and a variety of outdoor activities.
My favorite thing about camping is that the world is your oyster. Not only do we get to explore the campground where we park our camper or setup our tent, but we have the opportunity to discover a whole new city or town we may not have considered exploring before.
Totogatic Campground is located in Totogatic Park, west of Minong in Washburn County. It’s probably the best campground I’ve gone to in a very long time. There are gorgeous views and towering pine trees, lakefront campsites and good, accessible fishing. It’s located on the Minong Flowage which offers plenty of water recreation including fishing, boating and swimming.
This campground has all the modern amenities including electric sites, showers, flush toilets, a beach, boat launch, firewood, ice, pavillion, playground, basketball and volleyball courts, fishing dock. If you don’t have an RV, they also have plenty of tent campsites as well. The lake has a sandy bottom so you can even moor your boat at your campsite if you’re on the lake.
- Campsites 1 through 50 are reservable from May 1 to September 30. Before May 1 and after September 30, sites are available on a first come, first serve basis. Check out this map to see where the campsites are located on the grounds. Make reservations here.
- We loved our campsites 35 and 36! My parents had 35 and we had 36 so it was nice to have our own pull-through, connecting sites. We were close to the beach area and not too far from the bathrooms. There are private stairs directly in front of our campsites that lead to our private sand beach.
- If you don’t have your own boat, I highly recommend either hiring a fishing guide, renting a pontoon, kayak, canoe or stand up paddleboard from a nearby rental place. Get on the water either early in the morning or around dusk when waves are calm and there isn’t a lot of boat traffic (although there really wasn’t that much during the day either).
- Bring fun floaties for lounging around beachside
- Buy your firewood from the campground earlier in the day because the gate to the pre-bundled firewood for sale closes in the evening
And in case you’re wondering like I was, it’s pronounced toe-toe-gah-tick.
Fishing in Washburn County
I’ve always had good luck fishing in Washburn County. Our family cabin is just south of Minong so I’ve fished my fair number of lakes in the area. This time, we got to fish with one of the pros on Minong Flowage where our campsite is. If you haven’t heard of Billy Rosner of Wild Country Guide Service, just give him a quick Google search. He’s an avid outdoorsman and the tradition of guiding runs deep in his family. You’ll find him on the cover of plenty of fishing magazines and in several videos in the fishing industry. Billy and his wife Holly run Wild Country Guide Service and they’re locals!
Nick and I spent one morning fishing with Billy who picked us up at the boat launch at our campground on the Minong Flowage. My parents, sister and brother-in-law stayed behind and took care of Harlan and Juniper while we had a blast casting and jigging for bass, northerns and walleye (thanks guys!). The morning was foggy but it made for quite a scenic start to our fishing trip. Check out the video below to see what I mean. We caught a couple of nice fish including a smallie and largemouth, along with several pikes. Billy made us feel super comfortable and was very personable and easy to talk to. That’s the kind of person we prefer when we go on a guided fishing trip — someone who feels like just another fishing buddy, teaches us a few new things and get us on the fish.
Splashing Indoors on a Rainy Day
Thank goodness for our rainy day plan. There was a pretty significant chance of rain on the day we arrived at our campground. The rain mostly held off but we decided to move forward with our rainy day plan anyway because we really wanted to check out Jack Link’s Aquatic & Activity Center in Minong. This amazing community center was built by Jack Link’s, which if you didn’t know, Minong is the home of Jack Link’s.
If you have children or you’re looking to get a workout in during your vacation, look no further. Harlan was so thrilled to play at the mini waterpark and zero depth entry pool. There are plenty of water slides and splashy play areas, a poolside basketball hoop, lap lanes and fitness center for those looking to get a quick workout in. For adults looking to relax, there’s even a spacious dry sauna. We are definitely going back with the kiddos.
Next Stop: Henson’s Country Store
We wanted some last-minute items to beat the sweltering heat while camping. Henson’s Country Food is a fantastic grocery store that’s not too far from the campground. They have all the necessities and Wisconsin-made products that’ll make your Washburn County, Wisconsin camping trip extra special. It is also the exclusive outlet for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky so of course, we had to pick up a snack box of jerky.
But let’s be honest. The main reason I stopped by Henson’s was to grab a couple pints of Cedar Creek ice cream. They had so many flavors I had never seen before! I went with Elephant Tracks and Butter Pecan custard. Also couldn’t leave the store without a variety pack of New Glarus.
Bloody Marys and Smoked BBQ
Longbranch Smokehouse & Grille was a delightful surprise and fairly close to the campground. I personally love dive bars and dive bar & grills and Longbranch was no exception. The bloody marys were stacked with all the fixings including bacon, toast/cracker with cheese, pickle, olives, celery, jerky (I’m guessing Jack Link’s), mushrooms, lemon, a hard boiled egg and of course, the chaser. The smoked bbq ribs were tender, fall-off-the-bone good and I thoroughly enjoyed the french onion soup.
The patio area is spacious with plenty of seating options both covered in the shade and out in the open. There’s also an area to play bags/cornhole. I polled viewers on Instagram stories whether they call it bags or cornhole and 60 percent said they call it bags! I thought it’d be a toss up! 😉
Dinner at Heartwood Resort
For our final dinner, we went out to Pine Lodge Restaurant located in Heartwood Resort. The resort is actually in Trego, just 20 minutes south of Totogatic Campground. First impression: this place is HUGE, like Disney World Huge. To give you an idea, Magic Kingdom is 107 acres, Epcot is 300 acres and Heartwood Resort is 700 acres! It is 700 acres of pristine northwoods with the most beautiful cabin-like lodging, conference and event space and lots of outdoor recreation. There are hiking trails, private lakes for canoeing and fishing, mountain bike trails, tennis and basketball courts and a disk golf course. In the winter, you can cross country ski on groomed trails, snowmobile, snowshoe, ice fish and play broomball.
Our waitress at Pine Lodge was so attentive and sweet! She was actually the only waitress working when we sat for dinner. I enjoyed my prime rib and old fashioned, but we could tell the kitchen was a bit busy and were told the cooks were new. Definitely worth stopping by for the views!
Children’s Trout Fishing Pond
Just east of Minong on Highway 77, near the Minong Ranger Station, is a small fishing pond designated for trout fishing. It’s stocked with trout and panfish and is a fun opportunity for kids to give fishing a try. We didn’t have much luck catching anything, but it was a fun opportunity for Harlan to try casting, reeling, exploring, pick flowers and watch all of the dragonflies.
I hope you feel inspired to head towards Washburn County for your next getaway, whether it’s a day-trip, weekend trip or a whole week of exploring. If camping isn’t for you, be sure to check out these other Washburn County itineraries. And be sure to read the “Behind the Scene”, “Made Local”, and “Explore Local” options on the WashCo Compass blog. There’s something for everyone!