Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area
There are 37 rustic campsites scattered along the shoreline and islands; all campsites are occupied on a first-come, first-served basis with no registration, no reservations and no fees. Campsite amenities include a fire ring (with cooking grill), picnic table and outdoor toilet. Be aware that campsites do occasionally close, either temporarily for maintenance or permanently to protect threatened or endangered species.
Visitors can now access two of the remote campsites by motor vehicles. Campsites 26 and 28 in south Indian Bay are accessible from Iron Gate road. All-wheel-drive or 4x4 vehicles are recommended to access the small parking area with a short walk to the sites. Look for the small brown campground signs on Iron Gate road for access.
Although many of the campsites on the flowage are most easily accessed by watercraft, the Willow Nature Trail, located just north of the dam on Willow Dam Road, provides walk-in access to sites 1 through 3. Visitors are welcome to use the paved parking lot to access the trail which includes over 1 mile of crushed-granite surface and another mile of mowed trail out to Indian Shack Point if water levels allow. Interpretive signs, scenic vistas and trailside benches are located along the trail. The granite portion of the trail has been engineered to be handicap accessible with a firm base and moderate slopes. Campsite numbers 2 and 3, located between 0.5 and 0.75 miles from the parking lot, also have a granite surface to accommodate visitors with mobility impairments.
Each of the 30 family campsites has a fire ring, a picnic table and a box latrine. No drinking water is provided. These sites are designed for a single camping party with a maximum of six people.
Each of seven group sites has two fire rings, two picnic tables and two box latrines. No drinking water is provided. Group campsites may be occupied by up to 15 people.
There is a 10-day limit on camping at all campsites on the property. In addition, when you set up camp, you must occupy the site the first night and may not leave it unoccupied for more than one night thereafter. You may not leave unattended camping equipment to save a site.
Camping is allowed in designated campsites only. You may not establish new campsites in other undesignated areas.
Power equipment, such as chainsaws and generators, are not allowed at campsites. In addition, any fireworks that fly in the air, emit sparks or explode are illegal on DNR lands.
Parking: Campers are allowed to park their vehicle overnight (for up to 10 nights) at any of the boat landings or Nature Trail parking lot. No special stickers, fees or permits are required at any of the state-owned Willow Flowage landings or trails.
Though rare, black bears are occasionally known to visit campsites. Do not leave food items on picnic tables or stored in tents as this could attract bears and other animals. No garbage facilities are provided so please follow carry-in, carry-out guidelines when visiting the property.
Due to the isolated nature of the property, it is recommended campers leave an itinerary with friends or relatives. While cell phone coverage has improved, it is not guaranteed in all areas. In case of emergencies, attempt to move to an area with reception and dial 911.
Potable water is not available at the campsites or on the flowage. It is recommended that campers bring their own or purchase it locally in Tomahawk, Minocqua, Woodruff or Hazelhurst before heading on the flowage.
Driftwood provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat and adds to the unique character of the Willow Flowage. Much of the driftwood that currently exists was created in the 1920s when the area was flooded. Unfortunately, driftwood is disappearing due to both natural processes and illegal harvest. Therefore, driftwood or other dead and down wood located at or below the ordinary high water mark is considered a natural feature on the flowage and may not be removed, burned or destroyed.
Fires and firewood
To prevent forest fires, please confine your campfires to the metal rings found in each campsite. If you plan to vacate the site or even leave the site for a short while, be certain that the fire is dead out.
Dry paper can be burned but it is illegal to put plastic, glass or aluminum in the fire ring. It is also illegal to bury any refuse on DNR lands. DNR staff patrol sites daily to collect occupancy information and to inspect sites.
You are allowed to gather wood that is dead and down from upland areas for your fire, but this source of firewood is becoming scarce at the campsites. Please refer to the driftwood section for gathering restrictions. Consider purchasing firewood from a local vendor prior to visiting the campsites.
Firewood can harbor pests such as gypsy moths, emerald ash borer and oak wilt that threaten the local forest. Regulations regarding the transport of firewood are aimed at stopping the threat. It is illegal to bring firewood to this or any other state property from more than 10 miles away. It is also illegal to bring firewood from out of state.
Pounding in nails, peeling or carving bark, pruning limbs and heat from lanterns can all cause damage to trees and could eventually kill them or create hazards for campers and maintenance crews. Too much traffic on tree roots can also do damage. Consider setting your tent's opening away from trees to minimize the impact.
Any standing trees, including brush and shrubs, whether dead or alive may not be cut down. Standing dead snag trees provide valuable wildlife habitat for birds and small mammals and serve as excellent perch trees for wildlife.
Due to nesting loons and waterfowl, leashes are required on the flowage from April 1 until July 1 each year. In addition, dogs must be prevented from damaging the fragile shorelines and banks at campsites. If any damage occurs due to dogs, owners may receive citations or be held liable for repair costs.