Upper Peninsula Camping with No Reservations

We are planning to spend 2-3 weeks in the Upper Peninsula next month (August) and we plan to camp in State Forest Campgrounds (or perhaps in other areas). The challenge is that we are not planning on making any advance reservations so we can explore as we go. I’m wondering if we are going to have problems finding places to camp? Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.

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First, have a backup or two in mind if your first choice is full. We have had good luck by moving during the week and landing no later than Thursday for a weekend stay. We leave again on Sunday or Monday. Arriving at a site by mid - late afternoon has also upped our chances. Not a simple yes/no answer, but hopefully these ideas will help.

There is plenty of free camping on the beach side all the way up and down the peninsula. Unless you are referring to a different peninsula other than Bolivar…

Bad joking aside, location irrespective, but not really. If you are camping up north in the summer months, I would not rely on being able to get a camp site in an established camp ground, and you may have to resort to dispersed camping in the forests. Be prepared for that.

Min you, luck can be had, just don’t rely on it…

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We just got back from a month up north and plan to head back in a week or so. The state park system was reservation only (you could make same day reservations but that required cell service which was not always available). The national forest campgrounds seemed to not need advance reservations although some did. We found enough options that we could move to a different campground if one was full or required advance registration. I would leave enough time in your travel to be able to move to a different spot (there are some groupings that was convenient but many are miles down gravel/dirt which could add time). We also base camped in one spot for weekends since many places filled up. We also found many mosquitos and flies at many of the inland lake campgrounds.

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We haven’t been in August, but had no problem finding spots in Sept/Oct 2020! Lots of open spaces all over the UP. Be sure to go to Drummond Island and Copper Harbor – two of our absolute favorite spots. And, always ask at the State Parks if they’ve had cancellations. Twice last fall we got the “last spot.” There are some great county parks that are low cost as well. We had such a great time paddling, hiking, and just bathing in fall color. Enjoy!

Thanks Art! That is very helpful information.

Thanks Shari. We will certainly add your suggestions to our schedule.

The campground near Copper Harbor is called Trails End and it’s just before you get into town. The on one Drummond Island is run by the county (Township Park) and is about 7 minutes from the ferry on the north side of the island. We reviewed both on The Dyrt. When you are on Drummond, be sure to go to the Fossil Ledges. We kayaked over from the Township Park and we were blown away at what we found!! Enjoy…

I stayed at Big Knob State forest campground in September last year. There was plenty of room and it’s right on the beach. There is a hiking trail that is well worth the time.