When you think about camping in Michigan, it’s the water that draws most to the Great Lakes State. Michigan has 3,288 miles of shoreline, the second longest of any state, including 1,056 miles of island coast. Plus, you’re never more than six miles from a natural water source, or more than 85 miles away from a Great Lake.
There are plenty of opportunities for coastal and island camping in Michigan, but it’s more than just water. Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state, with over 100 state parks, recreation areas, and state forests. There are also several national parks, forests, and lakeshores to pitch a tent or park the adventure rig. Needless to say, you have some options, so stick with The Dyrt to help you narrow it down. Consider these main Michigan attractions when deciding on where to go camping in Michigan.
For most campers, the epicenter of natural beauty and outdoor recreation in Michigan is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Mountainous dunes slope from high peaks and plateaus down to meet with the clear blue waters of Lake Michigan. Hiking, biking, hang gliding, off-roading, kiteboarding, paddle boarding, or just simply sandy beach lounging can all be found in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes. Also, when you take a camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes, the nearby quaint towns and rolling inland hills speckled with fruit orchards provide the perfect bonus excursions.
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the country. Michigan waterways have been essential to the growth of the nation, but they’ve also been treacherous for mariners for centuries, and continue to demand respect. When camping in Michigan, touring some of the iconic Michigan lighthouses can be a great way to learn about the history of the region, while also taking in stellar views of natural landscapes and architectural achievement. Check in with The Dyrt for information on camping near some great Michigan lighthouses.
Finally, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is an entire playground of its own for outdoor recreation and exploration. Discover some of the many waterfalls like the impressive Tahquamenon Falls, or kayak on Lake Superior for a memorable view of the famous Pictured Rocks. The power of Lake Superior can be seen across the northern shore with unique rock formations, and remnants of the prominent mining and shipping industry still exist throughout. If you’re thinking about more remote or wild camping options in Michigan, the Upper Peninsula is for you. Whatever your camping style, stay tuned to The Dyrt for inside information on the best camping in Michigan.
We stayed in the Southfork Rustic Cabin at the end of Feb and it was lovely much needed get away. The cabin was semi modern (solar lighting) but only a wood stove for heat. Small kitchen unit with table for eating. You had to hike in about a quarter mile to get there, and it sleeps four people with two bunk beds. There is an outside vault toilet behind the cabin. Lots of trails connecting the cabin to the rest of the park. Cheap too! Only $68 per night.
Clean sites,good size, camp host was wonderful helped park, he cleaned the toilets and picked up trash including your garbage. Will definitely return. The only downside was the beach was a 1/2 mile away but once you got there it awesome clean and large
We were on sight 169 this whole side is next to a busy road cars and logging trucks all day and night way noisy, campground was filthy trash everywhere on the trails and sights! Plus no dogs allowed on the beach.
Camp host ??? Unfriendly set with his back to the road and never even waved
Busy spot obviously, convenient place to stay being right near the pictured rocks. Be prepared to get close with your neighbors, and the Backcountry tent sites are the same way. Very close together so privacy isn't really an option especially when busy. Bring bug spray, it doesn't help much but the black flies can be absolutely relentless and those things hurt!
We stayed at Wilderness State Park the end of July. It was out second time camping at the the Pines Campground. There are two other camping options in the park, the East and West Lakeshore campgrounds, but the Pines sites are very nice and just a short bike ride away from the beach areas.
This time of year (summer/July), the campgrounds are completely booked on the weekends, but of you're looking for a site for a night or two, I recommend you keep checking the DNR for cancellations or camp during the weekdays.
The Pines Campground has spacious 20/30 amp sites, but no full hookups available. Each site looked pretty level with room for a tent or popup and plenty of extra room for a screen room. There were a lot of big RVs in the campground, but not a lot of room to move around them. I was surprised to see what some folks were comfortable driving in there.
There are several short trails for hiking and biking. The Pondside trail is about a quarter mile with benches to relax and view wildlife around the pond. My dog liked taking a dip there every day while I enjoyed some photography.
The shower house and bathrooms get pretty crowded with all those sites full of people and only one facility to accommodate them all. Expect a wait if you plan to shower just before quiet time.
Don't miss your chance to spend time on the beach while you're there. My kids and I always find a nice selection of fossils along the shore. The beach isn't very wide, so you may want to take chairs or a thick blanket to sit on in the grassy areas.
If you want a good meal in the area, Darrow's and Pancake Chef are two family friendly restaurants with good prices and a great selection. My son was celebrating his 12th birthday the day we left Wilderness SP for the UP and we stopped in Pancake Chef after packing for breakfast. When our server heard it was his birthday, she brought him a 6" cake with a candle to celebrate later. We thought that was pretty cool because he wouldn't have gotten a birthday cake otherwise.
Overall, Wilderness SP is one of our favorite campgrounds and we plan to visit every year possible. There is a lot to do in the city, like shopping and touristy stuff, if you're into that sort of thing, but if you're looking for relaxation, stay in the park and enjoy yourself.
Amazing hiking spot, rarely see anyone out past the boardwalks despite this being one of the only nature areas for miles. It is right next to the landfill, but really is a beautiful place, so many birds here. Blue herons, swan, swallows, geese. Watch out for geese, they like to block the only pathway to the parking lot, and after hiking 8 miles around the marshes your only option is to walk past them hoping they don't attack lol. There's really no way of avoiding them and you must get very close to get by, had a few gimme the stink eye and a warning hiss, other than that all is well!
Awesome spot, a must see if you're in the area. Just a mile or two walk to the dunes overlook where you can descend a 100+ ft sand dune down to the water and go for a swim. Be sure to take the forest observatory trail on the way and learn a bit about the history of the area. Definitely a place to bring the kids
Absolutely beautiful hiking area. Nice place to camp right on the lake. It's a 7 mile hike in(can also be accessed via boat), part of the Potowatomi loop trail(~18 miles) located in Waterloo-Pinckney recreation area. This place is filled with all sorts of mushrooms, never seen that many different species in one place. Parking for trailhead is at silver lake, be cautious as trail is primarily used for mountain biking. Be sure to walk counter-clockwise if walking the full loop trail, so that you see them coming. Not a big deal, fairly easy to step out of the way quickly. Lots of wildlife and a good bit of elevation change and 2 sections that can be skipped via shortcut if not up for the full 18 miles. Great views and lots of biodiversity, was surprised at how many different landscapes it seems you move through in such a short distance!
Absolutely beautiful hiking area. Nice place to camp right on blind lake. It's a 7 mile hike in (can also be accessed via boat), part of the Potowatomi loop trail (~18 miles) located in Waterloo-Pinckney recreation area. This place is filled with all sorts of mushrooms, never seen that many different species in one place. Parking for trailhead is at silver lake, be cautious as trail is primarily used for mountain biking. Be sure to walk counter-clockwise if walking the full loop trail, so that you see them coming. Not a big deal, fairly easy to step out of the way quickly. Lots of wildlife and a good bit of elevation change and 2 sections that can be skipped via shortcut if not up for the full 18 miles. Great views and lots of biodiversity, was surprised at how many different landscapes it seems you move through in such a short distance!
Mother's Day weekend was our first trip to this park, but we'll surely be back.
At check in we got a bag of homemade cookies tied with a sprig of evergreen. It was such a great touch. The folks that operate the campground really take great care & it shows. We spoke to a fellow camper that has been camping there for 50+ years and he had nothing, but rave reviews for the current caretakers.
The sites are beautiful and spacious. The park itself is positioned on a hillside next to a lake. We had a site at the top of the hill which I recommend.
There were bathrooms and showers on site; Tent & RV sites; a small playground; boat launch; hiking trails and fire rings and picnic tables at every site.
Hideaway is one of my favorite campgrounds. We were on a tent site, which was kind of small, but the campground was great.
They offer both tent and RV sites ranging in from rustic to full hookup and cabins. The bathrooms and showers are very nice and cleaned daily. There is laundry on site. They have a full store on the grounds for all your camping needs. With a restuarant counter inside the store that serves breakfast-dinner and hand scooped ice cream you don't even need to bring a cooler.
Minutes from Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Little Saubel State Park this is a perfect location. If the sandy beach isn't your ideal vacation the park also features a full size inground pool and lounge deck.
Campers returning after dusk use a key code to open the front gate of this secure campground. Unlike camping at Silver Lake State Park, this location is quietly tucked off the main, very busy stretch of town.
We had a large family camp weekend at Stony Haven. We had 5 sites (21-25) pack to capacity with 32 people. They owners allowed use to squeeze in a few extra bodies more than their policies specify.
They offer so much at the campground!! We rented bikes and tubes, but they also rent canoes & kayaks (including launch & pickup), pedal cars, yard games and wifi hotspots. They have a nice playground with swings, a sandbox, slide and climbers. Adjacent to the playground is a large pavilion with charcoal grills and a volleyball quart.
The tent sites were very nice. Well maintained, each with their own fire ring, a picnic table, water spickets and electric. They also have full hookup sites for RVs, rustic sites and mini cabins.
There is a walking path around the back of the campground. It cuts through the woods and past a pond. My kids (ages 1.5, 3, 5,& 6) spent hours at the pond catching frogs.
The bathrooms were clean and checked several times a day. There were public bathrooms with a few stalls and a shower, but there were also 2 private bathrooms with showers, one of which was handicap/family. There were 2 additional private shower rooms. They also have a laundry facility ON SITE!!!! This came in very handy when I opened up my canvas hammock and found mold.
There is access to Stony Lake across the street and that connects to Lake Michigan. There was an awesome county beach 5 min down the road on Lake Michigan. It was right where the big lake meets the outlet for Stony Lake, Benona County Park. When they weren't at the pond my kids were playing in the sand and swimming at the beach. I love little outlets like this because they are usually shallower and warmer than the big lake and are great for my littles.
They offer a short worship service on Sunday mornings for all that wish to participate.
They owners were so sweet and easy going. We called several times to adjust our reservation right up to the day before and they gracefully tolerated our shuffling and were able to accommodate us. They even allowed us to leave our packed trailer at the site while we spent the afternoon at the beach after checkout. We came back to the site ate, used the bathroom, hooked up the trailer and took off for home.
The camp was small, but lovely. I enjoyed the setting and hiking, but swimming did not keep the kids (ages 1.5, 3, 5 &6) entertained for long. It's my ideal location for a quiet solo camp, maybe next time.
Stayed here for a marathon race because EVERYTHING was all booked up given the time of year. First, it’s an older couple who owns it and they are pretty funny about check in / out times because I’m pretty sure it’s just their yard you are camping on. Either way, we wouldn’t be getting in until SUPER LATE and the husband was really nice and accommodating. They also were cool with our three dogs running around and he made sure to put us as far off the beaten path as possible. So overall, it served its purpose for what we needed. Not really sure I’d call it “camping” but more of a backyard hangout? 🤷🏼♀️ The RV sites do have hookups and there is a bathroom. Not sure about showers though.
Very popular place. It’s close to home, so I like to paddle here. The sites are pretty large but mostly inhabited with RVs. Lots of campers come with the whole setup and stay for weeks. Colored lights, tiki torches, and loud music. Nothing very primitive or rustic about this place. Still, the lake is clean, there is a nice launch for boats, and a large swimming area for kids. Overall it’s a nice family camping spot.
Spent 5 nights camping at this hidden gem. It was one of the best campgrounds I've stayed at in a long time. It was clean and spacious, with great access to Lake Michigan. The dunes were great for relaxing and offered speculator sunset and star gazing views. A few trailheads led right into the camp- one trail led right into Nordhouse Dunes, which was a beautiful area.
Although there were no showers, you can easily go for a swim in Lake Michigan or we found a small store a few miles away with a$5 shower room. There is a bathroom though.
While there was no cell service at the campground itself, it was located only a 15-25 min drive from downtown Ludington(south) and Manistee(north).
Already planning another trip back with some friends for the fall.
My wife and I spent the first day and night of Memorial Day weekend at one of the cabins here and absolutely loved it. Private and peaceful with unmatched views of the night sky over the lake. The cabins are simple but perfect for the basics of what you need for a great time outdoors.
Great campground. The campground was full, we were expecting it to be loud with so many people. Sleeping in a tent I was worried. It was not loud at all and we were not woken up in the middle of the night by others. The hosts were great, they didn’t disturb us at all and when we asked for advice about things in the area they were very knowledgeable.
This campground was larger than expected and had some very nice lake front sites. It also surprisingly had a campground host, which is rare at state forest campgrounds. There are only about 10 lake front sites, but they were all very nice. A few even had their own beach (but those were taken). The lake itself was gorgeous and had a nice launch for paddling, fishing, and swimming. Campground had all the usual rustic state forest amenities, pit toilets, water pump, picnic tables, and fire rings. I think there might have even been a place to buy firewood near the host.
This is a nice little state forest campground that has a beautiful lake for paddling and a handful of beautiful lakefront sites. The sites include their own picnic table and fire ring, along with shared pit toilets and water pump for drinking water. The campground is also attached to a large system of ORV trails and has a beautiful scenic picnic area. The only thing I didn’t like is how close to the highway it was, at night you could hear the cars driving by. Overall, it’s a nice place though.
Looking for something off the beaten path? Well, here it is (if you can find it). This place is dropped right in the middle of the incredible Pigeon River State Forest and you better bring your compass and map to find it. Zero cell service for miles and limited road signs. Nothing but unmarked dirt roads and two-tracks for miles. The campground wraps around the lake, so most of the sites overlook the lake with some beautiful views. Shared rustic toilets and well pump for drinking water. Each site includes a picnic table and fire ring. The lake was perfect for swimming, paddling, or fishing.
Nice large state forest campground with plenty of space and sites. Each site includes a picnic table and fire ring. Shared rustic toilets and hand pump for water are also available. The sites are large but only a few are close to the lake and even those require taking a trail down to the water. The lake is beautiful and clear, perfect for a paddle or morning swim.
This was our first time camping. The park has a beautiful 2.5 mile trail around the lake that makes this campground great. We brought our own kayaks but they do rent boats. We saw deer and rabbit. Our spot #18 I felt was spacious and not to close to the people next to us and trees behind us. We had privacy and it was quiet. The people we did talk to were all very friendly. We heard the showers were decent but we used our own. I would stay again.