Michigan isn’t usually the first place people think of when they’re planning outdoor trips, but it’s a good place to check out. Because of the Great Lakes found to the north, east, and west, this Midwestern state performs double duty as a coastal getaway.
From the conventional like hiking and boating to the novel like snorkeling and even ice climbing, Michigan provides excellent campsites to setup a base for all types of outdoor activity.
To get started on your coastal Midwestern adventures, we’ve compiled a list of the top campsites in Michigan. Read on to learn about the greatest campsites in Michigan and what to do while you’re in the region, from national parks and state parks to local and private campgrounds.
Best Places to Camp in Michigan
Seven national parks, 103 state parks, and an endless number of local and private parks dot Michigan’s landscape. National parks, state parks, and private campgrounds have been organized in our list of the top campsites in Michigan.
Top 3 National Parks in Michigan
We’ve ranked the top three sites in the National Park system when it comes to camping, despite Michigan having seven national parks and lakeshores.
1. Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park is a island surrounded by Lake Superior, located off the northern peninsula of Michigan. Isle Royale National Park, renowned for its solitude, provides opportunities for backpacking, hiking, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and scuba diving.
When you arrive to the park, you’ll get your backcountry permit, which allows you to do everything on Isle Royale. Backcountry camping is permitted throughout the park, and there are no official campgrounds. There is no need to reserve or pay a fee for camping for groups of six people or fewer. You’ll need a reservation and pay a small fee for groups of seven people or more.
2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
An iconic Michigan scene is painted by the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The sandstone cliffs form unusual geological formations that may be seen from the sea and are located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a must-see Michigan destination because of its scalable dunes, protected beaches, and birch forest paths.
Hiking, kayaking, and seeing wildlife are among your activities. Little Beaver Lake Campground, Hurricane River Campground, and Twelvemile Beach Campground are three of the National Lakeshore’s three campgrounds where you may spend your nights.
Only May 15 through October 15 are the campsites in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore available on a reservation. Reservations may be obtained by calling 1-877-444-677 or visiting their website up to six months in advance.
3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the ideal Michigan destination for anyone who can’t decide between forests and beaches for a retreat. In the Lower Peninsula, there are endless adventure opportunities on the northeast shore of Lake Michigan. In both the summer and winter, visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must, with swimming, hiking, and climbing prominent in the warmer months and trails for skiing when the snow is ideal.
Camping sites like Platte River Campground, D.H., are available to stay the night. South Manitou Island Bay and Weather Station campgrounds, as well as Day Group Campground. You may call 1-877-444-677 or visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore website to reserve campgrounds.
Top 5 State Parks in Michigan
Over a hundred state parks exist in Michigan, and the majority of them provide camping opportunities. These five state parks provide a range of camping experiences and unique Michigan experiences.
1. Tahquamenon Falls State Park
A must-see Michigan attraction is Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This section was designed to maintain one of the biggest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, with almost 50,000 acres of undeveloped woods and waterfalls. Tahquamenon Falls State Park is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and features a variety of campsites with amenities ranging from contemporary to rustic.
2. Porcupine Mountains State Park
The Porcupine Mountains State Park, located on the Upper Peninsula, is home to approximately 60,000 acres of primeval woods with waterfalls, rivers, and streams. It has almost 90 miles of hiking routes, the majority of which are located in huge wilderness areas throughout the park. It is Michigan’s biggest state park.
The most popular campgrounds are Presque Isle campground and Union Bay campground, which offer both contemporary and rustic facilities. Proper permits are required for outback camping in the park.
3. Sleepy Hollow State Park
Sleepy Hollow State Park is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway from Michigan’s urban areas if you’re looking for one. This state park is readily accessible, yet it provides access to rivers, fields, and trails while being located half an hour north of Lansing and an hour and a half northwest of Detroit. With more than 228 species of birds, bird watching is one of the most popular activities in Sleepy Hollow State Park. Modern campgrounds, available year-round, are also a highlight of this state park. There are 181 campsites in total.
4. Wilderness State Park
Wilderness State Park, located on Michigan’s northern shore, spans over 10,000 acres and contains 26 miles of Lake Michigan beach. The dark sky preserve of Wilderness State Park is well-known for its excellent stargazing conditions. Rustic tent-only sites, full hook-up sites, and cabins and bunkhouses are among the campground options.
5. Albert E. Sleeper State Park
Albert E. is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, near Lake Huron’s “thumb.” All ages may enjoy the activities available at Sleeper State Park. With contemporary campgrounds and even canvas-walled tent rentals, this park encompasses 723 acres of forest, marshlands, dunes, and sea.
State Park Camping Reservation System
MiDNRreservations.com or calling 1-800-44-PARKS are two options for reserving a campsite in Michigan’s state parks. Reservations for camping and lodging may be made up to six months in advance, respectively. Many camp sites also have spots available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will need a vehicle pass for every car if you’re camping in a state park.
Top 3 Private Campgrounds in Michigan
Outside of the state or national park systems, Michigan’s privately owned campgrounds provide a variety of options. These private campgrounds, which are often open to the public, include additional facilities for all ages. There are too many private campsites in Michigan to name, but we’ve picked out a few of our favorites based on their particular features and prime locations.
1. TriPonds Family Camp Resort in Allegan, Michigan
TriPonds Family Camp Resort, located in southwestern Michigan, is a favorite for families of all ages. There is a playground, mini-golf course, fishing, hiking, and other activities available. Camping sites vary from simple hook-up sites to rental cottages, and everything in between. You may make reservations online.
2. Detroit/Ann Arbor KOA
There are numerous KOA camp sites in Michigan, all of which offer a variety of services and are readily accessible. A private lake for fishing and swimming, mini-golf, sand volleyball, scheduled activities, and more are available at the KOA campsite Detroit/Ann Arbor in Michigan. Laundry, showers, propane filling, dump station, and a store for gifts and souvenirs are also available at the Detroit/Ann Arbor KOA. You may make reservations online.
3. Munising Tourist Park Campground
The Munising Tourist Park Campground in Munising, Michigan is a good option if you’re trying to reserve a campsite in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula but can’t find one. Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon Falls, and other attractions are all easily accessible from this campsite, which offers tent and RV sites. Online reservations are available.
RV Campsites in Michigan
We’ve highlighted a few RV-only campsites despite the fact that many state parks provide RV hookups as well as tent camping pads. The Bluffs on Manistee Lake feature huge concrete patios, clubhouse with amenities, and a campground targeted toward senior citizens. RV campsites and luxury cabins are available at the Rippling River Resort year-round.
Michigan Scenic Drives
Michigan has some amazing scenic roads whether you’re passing through the state or picking a destination based on the most beautiful route to do so. Michigan’s gorgeous highways offer something for everyone, from forests to beaches. Just a few of the state’s greatest scenic drives are listed below.
The Tunnel of Trees, M-119 between Cross Village and Harbor Springs, is well-known. This route, which goes through deep deciduous woods, along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan, and shows vistas of Lake Michigan from the cliffs is especially lovely during fall. This lovely drive stretches for 20 kilometers and takes roughly 45 minutes.
M-28 runs the coast of Lake Superior and leads to boat excursions of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and it is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It takes roughly 45 minutes to drive this picturesque route.
Take the Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph for views of Lake Michigan, charming seaside towns, and local orchards and vineyards. The man who was called Joseph. The local art galleries, antiques, and famous Lake Michigan sunsets are all available to stop and check out on this route. This scenic route is 27 miles long and may take up to 30 minutes to complete, depending on the number of pauses you make along the way. It might take a full day of activities!
Best Things To Do While Camping in Michigan
Best Things to do For Seniors
Almost every campground listed here has something to offer seniors. While some seniors may find backcountry camping in Isle Royale National Park to be difficult, the majority of the state parks have paved trails and easy-access campgrounds. Tahquamenon Falls State Park, in particular, is a great option if you have accessibility concerns because it offers off-road electric wheelchairs to assist visitors in exploring parts of the park that would usually be inaccessible.
Best Things to do For Kids
With endless activities for children, Michigan is a playground for all ages. If you’re looking for the most amenities, privately owned campgrounds are a good place to start. They frequently include swimming pools, wifi, and family activities. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to family-friendly campsites. Children may participate in outdoor activities at any of the campgrounds listed in this article if they are prepared.
Best Things to do For Day Visitors
For day visitors, any of Michigan’s gorgeous drives would be a perfect beginning. These adventures allow you to appreciate Michigan’s natural splendor in a condensed time period, and they typically link to cities and villages with additional features.
Best Things to do For All Seasons
All seasons have great outdoor leisure possibilities in Michigan, but winter brings with it chilly and snowy conditions. Hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and birding are all popular activities during the summer if you’re visiting state-wide. Snowshoeing and even ice climbing in the Upper Peninsula are popular winter activities if you’re visiting.
Michigan is a beautiful state, if not a picturesque one. To get you in the mood for this Midwest coastal state, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite photographs.
Water Activities in Michigan
Michigan’s Midwest coastal character is defined by water activities of all kinds. There are limitless opportunities whether you’re on one of the Great Lakes or exploring an inland river. Traverse City and Mackinaw City are popular places to start your boat tour search. Boat rentals are available at most campgrounds on the lakes, and swimming is possible at most water bodies in the state.
Michigan has enough to offer for both die-hard anglers and beginning fisherman. Trout, walleyes, salmon, perch, and bass are among the most popular fish. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Family Friendly Fishing Guide has information about seasonal fishing across the state.
Links to Trail Maps
More than 2,100 miles of trails across the state are listed in the Michigan Multi-Use Trails Directory and Map, which includes information for usage by hikers, cyclists, and even horses and snowmobiles.
Everything you need to kayak across the state or discover excellent day excursions on the water is available in the Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails Map.
Tips to Hiking in Michigan
When hiking year-round in Michigan, it’s important to eat and drink properly. Bring enough food and drink to refuel and stay safe on the trails, as is customary. Hikers often carry trail mix, dried or fresh fruits, and jerky as snacks. Always carry extra water, and be aware of water fountains along hiking paths in state and national parks.
Links to Campground Guidebooks
The National Park Service has a guide on Michigan that contains information on camping in the state’s national parks.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Search may assist you discover precisely what you’re looking for if you want information on camping in state parks.
FalconGuides Camping Michigan is a comprehensive book, so if a printed copy is more your speed, go for it.