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
Campground Review: Having been to over 45 national park campgrounds now, Platte River Campground is one of our new favorites! Wow, what a beauty! This large and beautifully wooded campground has spacious sites, a paved road throughout the campground, extremely clean bathrooms and free showers, and multiple lakes and rivers which lead to the greater Lake Michigan. Most sites have electricity (which is quite rare for national park campgrounds), all have picnic tables and fire rings, and water spigots are scattered throughout the campground. It can accommodate everything from tents to very large RV’s. There is even a unique firewood vending truck which allows you to get wood whenever you want it! There are multiple boat ramps/put-ins for canoes, tubes, kayaks, and small fishing boats all along the Platte River and a larger boat ramp at the river’s entrance to Lake Michigan. The gorgeous day use area (where the larger boat ramp is located) is filled with picnic tables, benches, BBQ grills, and a bathroom and changing area, as well as canoe rentals and a shuttle service. In addition to camping and paddling, there are nearby hiking trails, an excellent bike path, and the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes are a short drive away.
Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I was able to test the Explorer 10L Dry Bag and E-Merse R/S Go Pack from Seattle Sports while camping and paddling at the Platte River campground in Michigan. We used these dry bags while paddling on the Platte River and Lake Michigan.
What I like most about these bags:
1. The material is heavy and all seams are sealed, both bags should live up to their water-resistant claims.
2. Each bag has comfortable and convenient carrying straps, which accommodate many uses, probably the best use for each will be for stand-up paddle boarding.
3. The Go-Pack has a see -through vinyl window which helps identify what is where.
Some concerns about these bags:
1. Durability might be an issue with the Go-pack, it is just a tad less beefy, so I would not put keys or utensils inside.
2. The carrying straps could also become a hindrance when packing in a boat hatch or raft, which typically prefer dry-bags without excess straps.
Product Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj1NvDeLATU
Explorer Dry Bag: http://www.seattlesportsco.com/blizz-explorer.html
E-Merse R/S Go Pack: http://www.seattlesportsco.com/emerse-rs-gopack.html
Every year for Memorial Day weekend we travel to the Traverse City area for camping. This year we chose the Platte River Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. The campground is huge and very spread out! There are trees on every campsite so you really have that camping feel. We arrived late so there was no one at the office; however, there was a note on the door to check in the next day before 10 am. The next morning, we woke up to a tag on our vehicle to be sure to register. We drove to the office on our way to explore the area and were able to check in. My uncle was with us and Joy at the front desk asked if he was over the age of 62, because he is, she told him about the senior lifetime pass. The national park pass is $15 for seven days or $30 for the year, but if you are over the age of 62, you can purchase a lifetime membership for only $10!!! She said the fee is going up to $80 so be sure to get your lifetime pass soon if you are considering a national park camping spot.
The campground has four loops and also a group camping part. The loops are big and some sites are close together. The pull through sites are a U-shaped paved driveway. Some pull through sites are VERY small so be careful when you book your reservation. There are to be no bikes on the trails, except for one trail that leads you to Peterson Road, which goes to Lake Michigan. We overheard our neighbors say that their son was warned NOT to ride on any other place except for the paved road in the park. He was riding on the gravel next to the road.
Some things I want to point out about this campground will come next. We never saw any park rangers, but we had a warning on our windshield because we did not put our registration tag on our pole. My uncle received a warning because his truck tire was two inches on the “vegetation”, which was really the gravel next to the paved pad. I will post a picture of the “warning”. Please note the other reasons for warnings. There is also a fine of $125 if you leave food out or your fire unattended. Be mindful of these strict rules. We did not see any park rangers throughout our stay, but they usually came around early in the morning. They are very strict about where you can put a tent, be sure to put them on the squared off level spot at each site. When you book, make sure you look at the pictures the website gives because some flat pads are a distance from the paved pad for your car/RV and some were up hill! The picnic tables are BOLTED to the a ground rope so you cannot move them. I would recommend bringing an awning type tent to put over the picnic table.
DO NOT LEAVE FOOD OUT!! There was a bear spotted in the group area during our stay. Bring bug spray! The ticks are bad this year and we heard several people in the park talking about having a tick on them.
If you like to hike, bring your hiking shoes and a walking stick! The trails are very nice. The trail from Loop 1 is 1.2 miles to Lake Michigan. If you like to walk, be sure to walk out there. The end is complete sand so be prepared to work hard!
The bathhouses were always clean and I only had to wait for a few minutes for a shower. The water was very hot and no complaints there. There is a room in the bathhouse that is for washing dishes. This made it very convenient and I was very impressed with that.
We will definitely be going back to this campground. It was awesome being in the woods and having the lake within a few miles of us. There is also a spot to launch your canoe/kayak right at the entrance of the park.
Reservations are extremely hard to get for this park. If you want a weekend campsite, you must book six months in advance! Ever since Good Morning America put the spotlight on Sleeping Bear Dunes, it has been extremely busy! I think that many people (including us) did not know that this campground has modern sites, therefore it wasn’t as busy in the past.
Lots of space in between the sites with trees and such in between, so it has a great wooded feel with modern bathrooms/showers in each loop. Tent pads, picnic tables, and fire rings on each site are all a plus, though you can't move the tables as they're secured to the ground on the tent pad.
Great fishing, paddling, and tubing on the Platte River just across the street. You can rent tubes/canoes/kayaks from Riverside Canoe Rentals just across the bridge (~1/2 mile from the campground) - also a great place to get ice cream.
Plenty of Lake Michigan beaches to drive to. Whether right at the end of Lake Michigan Rd. at Platte River Point, or a bit farther away, there are plenty of options. Can even have campfires on some of them - awesome way to see the stars and a good sunset.
Very difficult to get reservations, though. Online reservations open 6 months before the date you're trying to reserve so be on right at 10am or you'll have to try your luck with the walk-in sites.
We stayed at a walk-in site at the Platte River campground in June. It was beautiful and very private. The ranger station was nearby and the rangers are some of the nicest I've ever encountered. The bathrooms were flush toilets with hot showers, and clean but not super nice. I kept my Sandles on. Metal fire pits in the campsites. We enjoyed the park very much, including the historical tours, dune climbs and early morning trips to the beach. We made our reservation 6 months ahead as this campground is usually booked all Summer.
Very nice campground, great location to the Lakeshore and dunes. Bathrooms are clean and the sites are not extremely on top of each other.
Semisecluded campground. Amazing view from larger dunes if you can make it to the top. Legends say a mother bear and her 2 cubs were escaping a forest fire and swam across the lake and were so tired they laid to rest on the shore and we now call them sleep bear dunes!
Great access to the Platte River for canoeing and other water activities as well as the Dunes. Friend had to come here for work at the nearby Fish Hatchery so I joined him. You can visit the hatchery (self-guided free tours), which supplies fish for lots of the popular fishing sites here. Lots of different site options, some of the tent sites are really spread out and private.
Platte River Campground on the southern end of SBDNL is an awesome campground. Sites are well spaced in a wooded area with paved parking at each site. Most sites have tent pads which have been specifically leveled. Bathrooms were well maintained. This campground was well thought out ahead of time and is a great place to stay while visiting SBDNL.