Want to know a couple secrets about camping in Michigan? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here. Here’s one: The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one of the most beautiful, yet still relatively unexplored destinations in the entire Midwest. Glacial and volcanic rock formations create a stunning shoreline along Lake Superior, the largest Great Lake. Plus, spectacular hidden waterfalls are scattered across the entire region. So here’s your next secret: Bond Falls is one of the most secluded, and most stunning cascades in the area.

5 Reasons to Camp at Bond Falls

Bond Falls is located about 20 miles north of the Wisconsin border off of U.S. Route 45, and you can camp right next to the rushing water. Here’s a rundown of why you should consider camping at Bond Falls on your next trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

1. Fishing at Bond Falls

Along the middle branch of the Ontonagon River, Bond Falls is fed by a reservoir, called Bond Falls Flowage. There are camping areas on the west and east side of the reservoir, each with access to the water. The river and reservoir are stocked with brook trout, but you’ll also find some walleye and other local fish species. Also, there is a boat launch on the western side of the reservoir. So if you like relaxed, relatively easy fishing just steps from your campsite, this is your place.

2. You Can’t Beat the Price

bond falls outpost

Image from The Dyrt camper Matt S.

Camping at Bond Falls is free, as long as you have a Michigan State Parks pass. Most camping gear outlets, fishing outfitters, and some nearby small town general stores and markets in Michigan can get you a pass. When you find a site, all you have to do is claim the site, then return to the little outpost and fill out a small registration form. The sites are primitive, with fire rings and picnic tables. There are a few outhouses scattered around the area.

Camp Here

3. Hiking around Bond Falls

bond falls hiking bridge

Image from The Dyrt camper Matt S.

From your campsite you can access several hiking trails of varying length. Some trails go directly to Bond Falls, and some go further out into the surrounding state park. The Bond Falls trails will bring you to amazing view points at the base of the falls. You can also follow the trails further down to see smaller cascades and scenic river bends.

Plus, the area is surrounded by the Ottawa National Forest. The national forest visitor center is just about 15 miles from Bond Falls, and from there hiking options are abundant.

4. New Experiences Each Season

winter at a frozen bond falls

Image from The Dyrt camper Danielle A.

Bond Falls scenic site and campground is open year-round. The area sees some dynamic changes for each season, offering new experiences each time. In the summer, you can swim in the reservoir and enjoy warm, comfortable hikes along the river and into the state park. In the fall, the colors of the trees change, offering a vibrant backdrop. The fall is the favorite time of year for locals to visit, because the colors are amazing, and the numbers of people dwindle. In the winter, the falls often partially freeze, creating wild ice sculptures. When the snow melts in the spring, the falls and rapids rage with powerful flows.

5. The Beauty in the Falls

bond falls rushing downstream

Image from The Dyrt camper Cierra K.

We can’t forget about the magic of the waterfall itself, the reason why most visit. The total drop of the falls is about 50 feet, and it’s over 100 feet wide. The river drops a total of 850 feet from the reservoir, or “flowage,” all the way to Lake Superior. There are several viewing areas at the base of the falls along an accessible boardwalk. As you drive in the area, you really would never know this spectacular waterfall existed. It’s still one of the best kept secrets in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Chris Loud

Chris Loud

Chris Loud has several years experience as a travel and fiction writer. In the last year he has been co-producing a quarterly print and digital literary lifestyle publication called The Boardman Review, based in northern Michigan. Before that, he spent a few years producing and writing for the travel TV shows Coolest Places on Earth, State to State, and Great Escapes. Chris currently lives in Traverse City, Michigan with his wife, daughter, and dog.