Camping with Horses

Off bucolic County I, which bisects the peninsula from Carlsville in the west to Highway 57, is a north-south road that turns to gravel. There, a new sign at 5883 Oak Road announces a different kind of outdoor experience for Door County: equine camping, or camping with horses.

Dave and Penny Geitner have sliced six acres from their 97-acre property, established in 1885 by Dave’s great-grandparents. The land is a mix of hayfield, cornfield, prairie and woodlands – through which almost seven miles of horse trails meander.

The Geitners sold Baileys Sunset Motel and Cottages in 2021 after owning it for 16 years and set about creating a dream business on their land that kept them close to home – and close to their horses, goats, chickens and ducks – while providing their son and daughter with an economic option for remaining in Door County.

“Hopefully, it’s something the kids will be interested in taking over,” Dave said.

That fifth generation – Joe Davis, 30, and Emma Geitner, 18 – will gain experience in learning whether the business is for them or not as they work it with their parents: The family’s four members are the only employees.

(From right) Penny and Dave Geitner with their children, Emma Geitner and Joe Davis. Photo by D.A. Fitzgerald.

Geitner Homestead Equine Campground has 29 total campsites, all with electricity and water, and 14 of those are strictly equine. Each equine site comes with two 12-foot-by-12-foot, gated paddocks.

“They can come up here, ride and play, and if they want to give their horses a break, they can go out and enjoy the county” with their horses secure within the paddocks, Penny said.

Although Geitner Homestead Equine Campground is a place for people to take head-clearing rides with friends and family through the natural trails, that’s not the main focus.

“The main focus is our obstacles,” Penny said. 

These obstacles present challenges that are constructed with natural elements on the landscape and also handcrafted with various materials such as wood, stone, pool noodles and flags that horse and rider must walk over, upon, through, around and under. Putting a horse through these paces helps to build skills and confidence between horse and rider by encountering and overcoming unusual elements together, Dave said. The obstacles also give riders a heads-up about the types of challenges and conditions their horses will and will not tolerate.

“Those are to help you work with your horse, desensitize your horse to things they don’t normally experience,” Penny said. “It’s also fun. We’re promoting it as a place where you can stay and play with your horse.”

The obstacle courses at Geitner Homestead Equine Campground build skills for riders and their horses. Photo by D.A. Fitzgerald.

A “barndominium” building from Menards that’s customized as the camp’s retail store also houses showers and bathrooms. Other camp amenities taking shape for the opening season include a pavilion, volleyball court and playground, plus activities such as horseshoes, cornhole and tetherball. 

There’s still a lot to accomplish before the tentative opening on June 16, but the family already has bookings. Day passes will be available for those who want to trailer from a short distance to use the obstacle courses without camping. They anticipate their overnight camping customers will likely trailer from farther away, such as the tri-county area, but they don’t anticipate real long-distance campers, such as from the Dakotas.

“Most people who trailer that far, once they get there, they want to ride sun up to sun down,” Dave said. 

The camp’s trails offer about 90 minutes of riding, plus the obstacle courses.

“That will be enough to saddle-sore the weekend warrior,” Dave said, while also offering an enjoyable camping experience with family or friends.

Visit to find more information, but call 920.493.7669 to make reservations.

“We want to make sure we put people in the proper place,” Penny said.

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