From one of the most photographed lighthouses in America to spectacular landscapes that are home to bears, moose, wolves and lynxes, the Midwest has a lot more going on than rolling farmland. Explore the rugged North Shore of Lake Superior and be on the lookout for peregrine falcons whizzing around the area’s steep cliffs. Cast a line or dip a paddle into the waters of the million-plus-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Get lost (but not really) in the unique sculpted canyons of Turkey Run State Park. There’s some surprisingly rad nature and camping to explore in this slice of America, starting with all the stops on this list.

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1. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park — Minnesota

Sunset and bright orange clouds lingering over the lake at Split Rock with a lighthouse in the background.

Image from The Dyrt Camper Matt C.

The top campground in the Midwest, chosen by The Dyrt campers, is famous for having one of the most photographed lighthouses in America. Split Rock Lighthouse, the park’s namesake that sits perched atop dramatic cliffs, can even be seen from some of the campsites. This historic beacon was built in 1909 to guide ships on stormy Lake Superior. Today, campers enjoy rocky beaches, trout and salmon fishing, and spectacular hiking trails that wind through forests, alongside waterfalls and next to the big lake. Keep your eyes peeled for loons, bobcats, lynxes and all kinds of other rad wildlife.

The Dyrt camper Mary K. recommends taking a trip back in time with a tour of the lighthouse. “The MN Historical Society runs the tours and manages a visitor center for the lighthouse,” she explains. “Go up in the lighthouse and look around the lighthouse keeper’s home from a hundred years ago.”

Campground Details:

  • Price: $16-20
  • Number of sites: 46
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

2. Bear Head Lake State Park — Minnesota

Campsite with red tent, awning, chairs and picnic table in a forested site.

Image from The Dyrt camper Emily G.

Dotted with pristine lakes teeming with walleye, bass, crappies and trout, Bear Head Lake State Park, just south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is an angler’s paradise. Expect more of a wilderness feel at the campground, which is located in a secluded forest and also offers hike-in and canoe sites in addition to tent and RV sites. You can expect electrical hookups, showers, flush toilets, seasonal boat rentals, a swimming beach and fishing piers, but nothing too fancy as this camping experience is on the simpler side (in a good way). Take a look up at night. The Dyrt camper HollyRose M. raved about the night sky: “We enjoyed night walks and star gazing — we decided it was the best stars we had ever seen! Even saw shooting stars.”

Campground Details:

  • Price: $16-20
  • Number of sites: 73
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

3. Wyalusing State Park — Wisconsin

Point of view image showing legs of the photographer crossed i front of fire pit overlooking valley below.

Image from The Dyrt camper Jay W.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to camp 500 feet above the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers at one of Wisconsin’s oldest state parks. There is so much to see and do here, especially when it comes to exploring the area’s cultural history. Be sure to check out the Native American burial mounds that can be found in Wyalusing, which translates to “home of the warrior” in the language of the local Munsee-Delaware tribes. There are both land and water trails to explore, offering the chance to do some paddling, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for limestone caves and waterfalls as you work your way through the forest. There are two campgrounds to choose from — Wisconsin Ridge is set on a high bluff while Homestead is in a shady forest — so pick wisely!

Campground Details:

  • Price: $15-35
  • Number of sites: 109
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

4. Hocking Hills State Park Campground — Ohio

Massive cave with trickling waterfall cascading over the edge of fall with crown and forest down below.

Image from The Dyrt camper Resa B.

Hocking Hills State Park is a hikers paradise, offering 25 miles of trails in seven distinct areas. Most are one-way loop trails that reward hikers with beautiful views for moderate effort. Explore dramatic caves, cliffs and waterfalls as you hike alongside babbling creeks. You can even bring your furry friend on most of the trails as long as they’re on a leash. The campground is located near one of the more famous hikes, Old Man’s Cave, and has 156 sites with electrical hookups. Just make sure to book ahead of time — there are no walk-ins allowed!

Campground Details:

  • Price: $31-45
  • Number of sites: 169
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

5. Turkey Run State Park Campground — Indiana

Park visitors walking along cave wall with wooden railing.

Image from The Dyrt camper Sammi H.

Named after the turkey hunts that took place here more than a century ago, this state park is better known today for unique canyons and potholes that were scoured by ancient meltwater. These geological wonders are the main attraction and can be explored via a network of top-notch trails. In fact, The Dyrt camper Michael says “Turkey Run has the best trails in Indiana with water features, rock, and ladders.” And while you can’t swim in Sugar Creek, it offers some fine paddling and fishing for bluegill and bass. The campground has more than 200 sites and family-friendly amenities like a swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic areas and a nature center. There are also cabins to rent if you want to take a night off from pitching your tent.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $23-110
  • Number of sites: 200
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

6. Fall Lake — Minnesota

Two kids fishing beside a canoe at a waterfront campsite at Fall Lake.

Image from The Dyrt camper Jen E.

This is a wonderful base camp for exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — just make sure to get a permit! As you might expect, anglers will also find good fishing in the area, especially for walleye. The campground itself, nestled in Superior National Forest along the shore of Fall Lake, offers plenty of family-friendly amenities, including a hiking trail, swimming beach, playground and picnic area. At the visitor center, you can even check out some replica artifacts from indigenous cultures that were unearthed in the very campground where you’ll be staying!

Campground Details:

Price: $22-105
Number of sites: 60
RV sites: yes
Fires allowed: yes
Pets allowed: yes

7. Tettegouche State Park — Minnesota

Canoe at canoe landing on lake during the fall surrounded by forests.

Image from The Dyrt camper Kari K.

Explore Lake Superior’s North Shore, including steep cliffs and bluffs, scenic overlooks and waterfalls like the High Falls, which tumble a spectacular 60 feet. In addition to rock climbing, fishing and hiking, this area is known for its abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for moose, river otters, red foxes and timber wolves. The park is also home to more than 140 species of birds, including speedy peregrine falcons. The campground itself is located along the Baptism River only a mile and a half from Lake Superior. It makes a great base camp for exploring the nearby backcountry.

Many of The Dyrt’s campers seem to rave about the cart-in sites, so if you’re traveling light and willing to lug your gear into camp, give them a try!

Campground Details:

  • Price: N/A
  • Number of sites: 74
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

8. Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping — Michigan

Two tents pitched in a campsite overlooking a lake in the forest.

Image from The Dyrt camper Cassandra C.

Mackinaw Mill Creek is one of Michigan’s most popular camping spots, offering sites for RVers and tent campers with cabins for rent. Surrounded by acres of wilderness, this destination is designed to bring nature to the forefront while still offering first-rate amenities, like a heated pool, camp store, playgrounds, basketball courts and mini golf. Campers also enjoy easy access to beaches and trails for hiking and biking, not to mention some spectacular views of the Mackinaw Bridge. There’s even a free shuttle to the Mackinac Island ferries so you can explore beyond camp!

“I will keep coming back every year if I can,” says The Dyrt Camper Katy. “Everything is awesome at this campground.”

Campground Details:

  • Price: $16-50
  • Number of sites: $24-34
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

9. Devil’s Lake State Park — Wisconsin

Woman sitting on rock cliff above blue lake surrounded by a forest of trees with orange and yellow leaves.

Image from The Dyrt camper Elise M.

Located along the 1,000-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Devil’s Lake State Park is Wisconsin’s largest and most visited state park. Explore 500-foot bluffs overlooking the lake, hike along nearly 30 miles of trails, picnic by the water, and swim and paddle in Devil’s Lake. There’s also a nature center for learning more about the park’s unique geology and history.

Keep in mind that the 400-plus sites at Devil’s Lake State Park are spread across three campgrounds. Quartzite Campground is closest to the lake and the only one of the three that’s open year round.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $40
  • Number of sites: 423
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

10. Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph — Indiana

Campsite on lake with amusement park, dock, golfcarts and more.

Image from The Dyrt camper Danielle V.

This two-time National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds National RV Park of the Year offers RV and tent camping as well as cabin, cottage and RV rentals. Also, it’s located near Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin’ Safari Water Park in southern Indiana. Campers can enjoy a pool, miniature golf, dog park, sports courts, fishing, paddling, hiking and more. Perhaps that’s why Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph was also recognized as one of America’s top family-friendly campgrounds. The nearby town of Santa Claus is famous for its Christmas theme, giving visitors a chance to stop by the Santa Claus Museum or shop for sweets at Santa’s Candy Castle.

If you’re staying at Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph and planning to visit the theme parks in town, the campground offers a free shuttle service running every 30 minutes during the summer.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $45-101
  • Number of sites: 136
  • RV sites: yes
  • Fires allowed: yes
  • Pets allowed: yes

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