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“Rude Rangers put a big damper on enjoyment.”

Hartman Creek State Park
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Hartman Creek State Park
Reviewed August 14, 2012

We saw the reviews about the Rude Rangers. Take head...these are very true! We had to remove a line put up for towels, which boardered around our tent, because Ranger Sue said she had the right to be on our campsite whenever she chose and did not want it to choke her. OK then Ranger Sue! Were you planning to peep inside our tent when we were sleeping??? Other campsites were able to keep their lines up. The rangers walked throughout the campgrounds day and night...ok for keeping it safe and all, but it really made you feel like you always had someone looking over your shoulder, which wasn't what we expected. Multiple other issues, too, including people often walking right through our campsite, because the bathrooms were on the other side and they didn't want to use the path, but I won't go into it right now. I have a call in to the Parks person in Madison to make a formal complaint. Needless to say, we will be finding another campground for our trip next year. Which is very sad to say, because the area is very beautiful with the chain of lakes...

Room Tip: Do not reserve camping areas 88, 89, or 91.
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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7  Thank Karin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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22 - 28 of 41 reviews

Reviewed August 5, 2012

I have been camping here for the last six years. Each year, I dread more and more visiting because of that obnoxious ranger. I feel as if we are being watched by Big Brother and it actually makes me sick when she is around. She simply must over react to soft talking or find fault with something. Why? We just got back from a weekend stay. We are never coming back.

  • Stayed: August 2012
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6  Thank ilovebabyandrew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2012

How ironic- I worked for years with the so-called worst of the worst- convicted criminal offenders in the streets of the city, and here I’m taking the time to write a critique of another state employee whose job is to work with the best of the best- campers in our state parks. I vouch for the other reviewers. They did not write a bad review based on their own bad behavior.

First a little background: I’m a 50-year-old female, been camping in Wisconsin state parks over 30 years- my husband & I before we adopted our kids, then raised our kids as avid campers. Since he passed away 1 ½ years ago, I camp alone a lot, sometimes for weeks on end- it’s therapy for me. Just so readers know this is a legit review and I’m not just a troublemaker to be disregarded, & just to be sure ‘Ranger Sue’ knows who I am if she reads this, I’ll mention that I made my living as a parole agent.

More background: Late last July I took my 21-year-old daughter, her good childhood friend, and my little granddaughter to another state park to camp in memory of my husband on his 1st birthday after his death. Also last summer as I was wandering alone about Wisconsin I came across Hartman Creek and it was so nice I ended up staying 2 whole weeks. I came back for 2 weeks again just last month-again, alone. Beautiful park. Both trips I noticed near-silence, and near-constant ranger presence, FAR unlike any other state park I’ve seen. It was fine with me, but one camper told me tales of being harassed by “the ranger lady“ every time he comes there. At first I chalked it up to him being disruptive, but I camped next to him for a week and never heard him or his friends even talking- I joked that they had been so quiet I thought maybe they were speaking in sign language.

Okay, so: Last week I took my daughter & her friend to Hartman to camp for my husband’s birthday this year. The first night, at 10:15, we were walking the few yards from our #2 site in the trees to the open field to view the night sky, when literally 3 feet from us a flashlight turns on us and we see a woman standing there, off road and in the dark. “Ranger” she says tersely. I was still trying to process why anyone would pull this stunt when she says “the park closes at 11”. This made no sense at all- she herself had checked us in only hours before so knew we were campers. Confused, I said ”Yeah but it’s only about what, 10-something right?” She then shined her light on her wristwatch & we both just stood there looking at it a while until I finally said “Yeah, well, so we’re just going to go look at the stars right now”. She said “quiet time is 10:00”. I said “oh-kaaay, but we’re not being loud, we’re just walking to look at the stars”. I walked away, my girls followed, we all giggled a little and agreed “now that was kinda weird!”.

Within an hour, as we sat in our screen tent talking at a normal, respectful level, she appeared again, her face inches outside the screen tent before she turned her light on, startling us all, and said “it’s quiet time.” I began to get annoyed now. It was mid-week, only one other site in view was occupied, we were clearly not being loud or disruptive in any way, and she was being plain rude. I asked her if she thought it appropriate or even safe to walk up on people in the dark silently & with her light off like that and she replied “that’s my job.” I said “no it isn’t, that’s ridiculous”. (To be clear- at every other park over 30 years & this one too except for Sue, rangers always call out from the end of the site driveway “Park Ranger, hello!“ in a friendly voice before entering your site.)

Later that night when my girls walked to the bathroom they saw this ranger standing still behind some cover in the dark watching them silently as they walked by. Very upsetting.

When Sue walked into our site in the middle of the 2nd day, apparently to announce it might rain, I tried the friendly approach, chatted with her in the hopes that she would realize we were just 3 women camping & find someone else to harass. Sue fielded a friendly conversation by launching a lecture on where I should go and what I should in the event of bad weather, and then started going down the list of other ‘rules‘. I told her I read all that in the brochure and she replied that she tells everyone because people don’t read, and went on to say, in a woe-is-me tone, that she always has to tell people the same thing over and over. I asked her name, she pulled on her name-tag and said to me in a warden-tone “if you want to complain there are forms in the office”. I had not mentioned making a complaint at all. Annoyed again, I ended up telling her that I had monitored criminals for a living, and she was giving the distinct impression she thought that was her job also.

When she came into our site that night she crunched the gravel and we could hear her coming. I didn’t speak, just shined my light on her as she launched a lecture about voices just above a whisper being the proper level to speak after 10 p.m. I couldn’t even hear her I was so aggravated and just stared silently without speaking until she retreated. I won’t detail every incident here, but that was the drill over the next 4 days and nights as this woman attempted to dog us non-stop- I simply frowned at her in silence, shining her when it was dark, each time she approached, from then on.

Over those days I surveyed each of my camping neighbors to see if anything we had done disturbed them and all said “What, no, we never even heard you guys over there”. I was told by one neighbor that she‘s been coming here for years, the lady ranger was like that, Hartman Creek had a “reputation” for trying to maintain a “family atmosphere“- the poor woman was almost whispering this info to me in the middle of the day! I did meet quite a few really nice folks this way, so that was the good thing.

Without my girls knowing it, I walked up & down the road outside our site one night while they chatted by the fire just to see how close I had to get in order to hear their voices- I had to get actually into our site. My girls spent 4 nights on high alert at any sound waiting for Ranger Sue to appear from the dark. They joked about being in a kindergarten prison camp, speculated about what movie character she reminded them of. I was not amused- I much prefer listening for raccoons.

I’ve camped at some rowdy parks before. Now I have seen the other extreme, and it is worse- if a parole agent can’t reminisce around a campfire with her daughter about her deceased father on his birthday, this is outrageous. I am filing a formal complaint, and suggest everyone who has trouble with Sue does the same. FYI: Per Sue, she’s the only female ranger in the park, been there 18 years, gray hair in a braid. IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE BEEN PROFILED FOR THE WAY YOU LOOK, PLEASE BE SURE TO MENTION IT IN YOUR COMPLAINT.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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20  Thank t j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 13, 2012

We just stayed their for 2 nights and had a wonderful stay with our 4 children ages 2, 5, 7, and 10. We never had any issues with the Rangers. We only saw them drive past or walk past 4 times. Absolutely NO issues. I was leery after reading the poor reviews and actually prepared to deal with it but nothing happened. The site was large and well shaded with beautiful tall trees. We did not use the public toilets or shower or pit toilets but there was no odor when walking past. Nice biking trails in the park that you didn't need a state pass to go on. I was told you had to buy one for the "off road" courses. Nice bike ride to the beach. It was never packed, very quiet, nice playground and swings. One day, every once in a while, there was a bad odor. The water was very clear and lots of snail shells for the kids to collect. Beware though. they smell bad. It took a lot of soap to wash up the kids hands. The second day, the beach must have been invaded with raccoons over night. There were droppings every 10 feet. Watch your step! There is a place to rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and bikes at the beach. Nice gentleman who handed out maps that he marked by hand. Some candy and beach goods for sale there.
We look forward to going back again.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank SandraHC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2012

We've been going to the park annually for 30+ years, it's a family tradition. We've always enjoyed the park's great vistas, trails and facilities. Unfortunately, like many other visitors have stated, the rangers are over the top, and in my opinion, out of line, especially the night gray haired lady. They obviously don't want you up past 10pm, period. Think twice about going there if you enjoy sitting around the fire and conversing. We have MANY ridiculous ranger stories, but one of the worst was when we were told to turn down cd player playing a lullaby for a new born.

Like I said, it's a great park, but WI has several fantastic State Parks. I would recommend going to a different campground where the rangers are a bit more curtious and respectful.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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8  Thank skimmer797
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 25, 2012

I have to agree with the other "terrible" reviews. The park is excellent but the staff rangers are out of control. I have camped at Hartman every year for at least 10 years for an annual star party. The rangers are the type that "take their job seriously" and micro-manage everything looking to assert their authority, but whatever they complain about depends on which day of the week it is and which way the wind blows that particular day. The trend has been getting worse over the years. It's almost like the rangers are afraid to NOT say something about anything. They also fear to make any kind of "call" on their own without "instructions from the supervisor" first.

On some of these "terrible" reviews you might take it with a grain of salt but this IS the way these guys ARE. Absolute petty harrassment. They have a track record and I can site several examples, but in short, the rangers project the attitude that they are "trying to tame the lawless streets before they descend into total chaos". It isn't one particular ranger but almost a 'culture' at Hartman. Put your bullet away Barney and be polite and practical.

The park is beautiful, but just be prepared for Barney to feel the need to make a comment on some aspect of whatever it is you are doing that you are doing wrong.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with friends
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7  Thank Jim W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2012

Camped here one night in mid-April, 2012. I almost considered going somewhere else after reading all the bad reviews of one particular ranger but am very glad we came here. We really appreciate being left alone while camping which is why this was a concern for us but our fears were totally unfounded. Not only was the only ranger on site very professional, clean cut, and very courteous, we only saw him drive by twice the entire time we were there. He never eyed anybody up, snuck up on anyone, or harassed anyone. So, fear not fearless campers, the bad reviews on this site are written by someone who was disgruntled, or the offending ranger has since moved on.

This park is amazing. Lots of wild, open space to explore. Lakes and beaches and 100 campsites to choose from. Half the sites were closed because it was too early but we took a very nice spot overlooking the lake. Great pines and good facilities. Wood is for sale at $3 a bundle.

Room Tip: Sites 29 and 30 are great if you can get them together. This makes for a very large, semi-private c...
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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6  Thank trip_seeker-7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hartman Creek State Park

Address: Waupaca, WI
Location: United States > Wisconsin > Waupaca
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Specialty Lodging in Waupaca
Number of rooms: 101
Also Known As:
Hartman Creek State Park Hotel Waupaca

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