Platte River Campground is located in the southern district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, on the lower peninsula of Michigan. This year-round facility is one of the most popular campgrounds in the park. It is within walking distance of the Platte River and a short walk or drive away from the Lake Michigan shore. Hikers can access many of the areas day use and backpacking trails just north of the campground.
Summer temperatures range from the upper 70s to 90s during the day and 50s to 70s at night. Winters are cold, with daytime highs in the 20s to 30s and lows in the 10s and 20s; snow is usually on the ground from late November through March.
The campground lies in a wooded area within walking distance of the Platte River and less than two miles away from the beaches of Lake Michigan. Although the lakeshore is long and narrow, it has northern hardwood and conifer forests, abandoned farm meadows, wetlands, lakes, streams, bogs and splendid examples of a glacially formed landscape.
The most prominent features in the park, and those for which it is named, are the perched sand dunes above Lake Michigan. The overlooks at Sleeping Bear, Empire and Pyramid Point bluffs are about 400 feet above the lake. With 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and numerous inland lakes and streams, the park is wonderfully water-oriented.
Campers can hike, canoe, kayak and fish on the river or the lake. There are canoe rentals at nearby Platte River Point, where the river meets the lake (the point also has beach access for those wishing to drive there). The Platte Plains trail system boasts more than 25 miles of trails, some of which can be accessed a short walk away from the campground. Trails to the primitive White Pine backcountry campground are also close by.
This facility is well-maintained, well-organized and offers a wide variety of sites, including back-in and pull-through sites with electric hookups for RVs, tent-only sites, walk-in sites, group sites (hike-in, tent-only) and a nearby backcountry campground. Each site has a campfire ring and picnic table. Each loop has restrooms with flush toilets and sinks. Hot showers are also available. The group sites allow no more than 25 people per site; pets and RVs are not permitted in them.
Picnicking: Picnic Tables
Visitor Center: Ranger Station
Day Use Area: Amphitheater
We arrived at this campground at about 5 pm on a Friday afternoon in August. There were several of the 25 or so sites still available. A quiet place to spend the weekend and great access to the middle stretch of Platte River.
This is NOT the NPS campground associated with Sleeping Bear Dunes NP, but rather a State Forest Campground operated by the Michigan DNR.
This review describes loop 3 only.
This camp is beautiful with old growth trees and plenty of privacy. Electric sites are paved and clean with a nice fire pit and picnic table. Firewood available at the entrance to the loop (we drove - too far to walk while carrying a bundle of wood) for $5/bundle from a vending machine that only takes cash - $1 and $5 bills specifically. Nearby Riverside Canoe Rental also has firewood available, but theirs was $6.50/bundle and not completely dry; we much preferred the vending machine wood.
Reviews we read mentioned that no bicycles are allowed, which we took to mean not allowed on the grounds. This was not the case - plenty of campers were riding bikes; however, there were signs on the hiking trails banning bicycles.
The hiking trail to Lake Michigan was a disappointment for our family. The trail gives way to sand about halfway in, so it’s a pretty difficult hike to a lackluster beach that isn’t well-maintained. There was a lot of litter and other refuse washed on shore. It was very secluded, which was nice. Next time, we’ll drive to a beach instead.
The bathroom and showers were very nice and clean, and there were a lot of little trails through the woods, shortcuts to access the bathroom without having to walk the paved loop. The girls’ bathroom had three stalls and the boys’ had two stalls and two urinals. Two private showers were on the opposite side of the building, along with a nice deep sink for washing dishes. BYO dish soap and rag.
The company was quite pleasant. Quiet hours started at 10:00 p.m., when the camp became noticeably silent.
The one feature this campground lacks is a playground, which will probably deter us from camping here again with our kids.
Also noteworthy is the Riverside Canoe Rental nearby where you can rent tubes, kayaks, and canoes, as well as stock up on fuel, groceries, beer and wine, souvenirs, and anything else you could probably want. They even have a cute ice cream shop.
One of my Favorite places in Michigan to camp. Out of the way without being out of the way. The walk in sites are a very short walk and well away from the other sites. The drive in sites are the same. Very nice maintained sites throughout the park. Showers and running toilets when you need to feel civilized again. Nice hike Lake Michigan. Short distance and great paddle down platte river. Lot's of stuff to do in the area including Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glenn Arbor, and my favorite, the Cherry Bowl Drive In. Perfect for the Novice Camper to the most experienced bushcraft camper.
Walk in sites were awesome! Short walk, but definitely felt isolated from civilization. Could see neighbors tents, but no one was on top of each other. Bear vaults shared between 2 spots, which was nice not to have to walk back to the car a million times. Bathrooms were clean, did not use shower but heard good things about it. Little store and burger stand just outside the campground too! Walk to beach was quick and easy and although it was Memorial Day weekend we had the beach to ourselves!
We do a lot of camping all throughout Michigan. We are from Traverse city and this is our go-to campground. We camp on full moon nights and hit the river for night kayaking. We have our favorite site too!
We loved camping here! We were so excited to explore the sleeping bear area and this is on the southern end and 40 minutes from Traverse City. You are near the Platte River which is perfect for kayaking and tubing! The campgrounds were clean and we were near a bath house that was nicely updated. There is a RR grade trail that leads to the beach but I recommend dribing up. Even after apply a ton of bug spray we felt like we were getting eaten alive on the trail.
Stopped for a night on a road trip around Lake Michigan. Campgrounds was clean, and so were the toilets/showers. There were hiking trails close by, but wish they were clearly marked. Was told a black bear visits the campgrounds at least once a week, but is not much a nuisance as long as campers store their food in the car. Easy access to Platte River - kayaked the North branch, which was winding and fast moving. Go when they release the salmon from the hatchery - you feel all the salmon brush against your kayak as they swim upstream!
Very clean with good size sites and good facilities, but the best draw is you're right in the middle of all the Sleeping Bear National Shoreline has to offer!
This campground has great amenities without feeling like urban camping. The staff and park rangers are amazing. The sites in the three loops are nicely placed so that you have foliage and space between sites but also close enough for larger groups to spread out and still feel like they are camping in a group. Good hiking trails and lake MI access. Tent pads are large and thoughtfully placed on the sites.
This is a great rustic state forest campground. It seems to be easier to get a site here when the neighboring sleeping bear dunes campgrounds are full.
It is first come first serve but we went on a beautiful summer weekend and could still get a site. We brought our kayaks and would recommend bringing two vehicles so you can put in higher up the river, if you try to kayak up the river from this campground to float back down you will feel like you are in an infinity pool, the flow is very strong in this part of the platte river.
If you stay it’s worth the drive 30 minutes north to visit Glen Arbor for the day!
less crowded, sites have large spacing inbetween, great platte river viewing, feels like you are deep in the outdoors camping, $15 site fee is a great price, clean water pumps and vault toilets, 30 minutes from sleeping bear dunes and 15 minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan.
This campground is for tents and small trailers, it’s rustic so no electric hook up, no hand sanitizer in bathrooms,