This article about national forest camping in Michigan is brought to you by Kovr Sunscreen. Their all-natural sunscreen is built for adventure and will keep you protected on your next trip to any of these gorgeous campgrounds.


National forest camping in Michigan features some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Spread across Michigan’s three national forests, these camping spots provide incredible sunsets, outdoor recreation, and unique wildlife. Whether you’re on the shores of Lake Michigan or tucked into the woods, these campsites will yield memories to last a lifetime. We’ve got the best national forest camping in Michigan so that you can experience the very best of Michigan’s wild national forests.

The Best National Forest Camping in Michigan


1. Lake Michigan At Manistee

Image from The Dyrt camper Rachael S.

Lake Michigan At Manistee is in the Huron-Manistee National Forests, 15 miles south of Manistee. This rustic campground is on the eastern banks of Lake Michigan. There are sites for tents and RVs up to 50 feet, as well as group sites. Amenities include picnic tables, flush toilets, playgrounds, and scenic overlooks. Educational talks are hosted in the amphitheater. You have immediate access to hiking trails that take you to Nordhouse Dunes and the beach. The lake is within walking distance, where you can enjoy water activities and bird watching. With miles of protected shoreline at your disposal, you’ll never run out of things to do.

“We didn’t have reservations but took a chance on the first-come sites and are we ever glad we did! The dunes were amazing! A short walk from the camping loops, the dunes open to the amazing shore of Lake Michigan. Take a stroll on the sandy beaches or wade into the sandy-bottom cool waters of the lake. The sites-loop circles around flush toilets and running water (no showers though). Great for strolling with the dog or riding bikes.”Kevin

Campground Details:

  • Price: $27-79
  • Number of sites: 102
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

2. Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness

Image from The Dyrt camper Nicole B.

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness is a dispersed camping area next to the Lake Michigan Recreation Area. It’s a tranquil alternative to the developed campgrounds on Lake Michigan. The 3,500-acre wilderness is a veritable playground. You’ll find trails, streams, lakes, and dunes as tall as 140 feet. You can camp peacefully along Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline, in prime view of stunning sunsets. You’ll need to hike in, but it’s worth it to enjoy the quiet isolation of dispersed camping. The camping areas have vault toilets but no water, so come prepared. Nordhouse Dunes is a pristine wilderness area brimming with wildlife and fun.

“Nordhouse Dunes is a beautiful hidden gem. This was my first backpacking adventure and a wonderful experience. The hike from the parking lot is about a mile through some hilly sand so it was a nice little workout. There are no facilities so be prepared for a primitive adventure. There’s also evidence of people chopping at large, living trees instead of gathering dead wood or chopping up fallen limbs. Despite this, it’s a truly beautiful spot with breathtaking sunsets.”Merry L.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $5
  • Number of sites: n/a
  • RV sites: No
  • Fires allowed: No
  • Pets allowed: Yes

3. Ausable River Camping

Michael G.

Ausable River Camping is the perfect way to explore the 138-mile Au Sable River. The river is in the Huron-Manistee National Forests, from Mio Pond to Lake Huron. The campsites are dispersed along 55 miles of shoreline and bluffs within Alcona and Iosco Counties. The sites are primitive, so you’ll need to bring supplies and water. Floating the Au Sable is the best way to appreciate central Michigan’s river valley. You have ample opportunities to hike, fish, play, and enjoy the wildlife. And if you don’t have your own craft, you can rent one in Glennie, Hale, Mio, or Oscoda.

“The absolute BEST campsite I have ever camped at in Michigan! The perfect morning and evening view of the river. Directly across from the best fishing spot and shoreline to soak up the summer sun. Kayaking only to get there was SUCH a fun experience! Highly recommend this gem of a spot.”Megan S.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $10
  • Number of sites: 102
  • RV sites: No
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

4. Alcona Park Campground

Image from The Dyrt camper Becky K.

Alcona Park Campground is another great way to enjoy the gorgeous Au Sable River. It’s actually five campgrounds, ranging from primitive to modern. They have primitive and modern tent sites, modern RV sites, and cabin rentals. Amenities can include vault or flush toilets, showers, full hookups, and laundry facilities. Most campsites are on the banks of Alcona Pond and in view of the river. The pond is a great place to catch Walleye, Pike, Perch, Bass, and Trout. And the campground is an excellent jumping-off point to explore the Au Sable. Alcona Park is a sizable campground that caters to all kinds of campers and adventurers.

“Lovely views of the lake! Busy, but clean, friendly and quiet. Hiking trails and a playground for the kids.”Becky K.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $16-85
  • Number of sites: 450
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

This article about national forest camping in Michigan is brought to you by Kovr Sunscreen. Look out for their new camping collection coming soon.


5. Brevoort Lake Campground

Image from The Dyrt camper John N.

Brevoort Lake Campground features some of the best sunsets in central Michigan. It’s in the Hiawatha National Forest, between Brevoort Lake and Lake Michigan. There are spacious sites for tents and RVs, many of which are right on the shores of Brevoort Lake. Sites come with flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. There’s a boat ramp and hiking access from the campground. Brevoort Lake is a popular destination for fishing, canoeing, and bird watching. You can also catch a ferry to Mackinac Island or take a short drive to the banks of Lake Michigan. Brevoort Lake is a peaceful resting place with great fishing and incredible views.

“This campground is pretty rustic and secluded from other people. If what you’re looking for is privacy, you get it here! The sites are very private and very wooded. I would recommend this campground and would come back.”Sarah P.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $20-40
  • Number of sites: 70
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

6. Bay View

Image from The Dyrt camper LoneCamper C.

Bay View Campground is also in the Hiawatha National Forest, on the southern shores of Lake Superior. This rustic campground offers sites for tents and RVs. Amenities include fire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. You’re steps from the sandy beaches of Whitefish Bay, where you can fish, swim, or sunbathe. You’re also next to the Whitefish Bay National Scenic Byway, Tahquamenon Falls, and all the outdoor recreation in the Sault Ste Marie area. If you’re a history buff, you’ll appreciate the ​​historic lighthouses and shipwrecks. With all the outdoor recreation at your fingertips, you’ll be returning to Bay View year after year.

“The campground is located in s a spot that allows you to tour the eastern UP making day trips to many of the best places to visit. Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point, Soo Locks, Drummond Island, Seney, and even Pictured Rocks are a short to moderate day trip from this site. The campground is VERY well maintained, and the sites are very private. Sites on the north side are right on Lake Superior, and the views are fantastic! This was our first USFS campground, and we were VERY impressed. We will be back!”Jeff P.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $18
  • Number of sites: 25
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

7. Sparrow Rapids Campground

Sparrow Rapids Campground offers a serene camping experience in the heart of the Ottowa National Forest. And best of all, it’s free. It sits on the shores of the East Branch Ontonagon River. This small primitive campground has sites that accommodate tents and smaller RVs. Sites come with fire rings and a vault toilet. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, with only the wilderness as your company. You have immediate access to the river, where you can drop in a canoe or fish for steelhead and trout. You don’t have to go far to find the eight-mile Davidson Lakes Hunter Trail or see roaming wildlife. Sparrow Rapids is a peaceful place to rest and enjoy the splendor of Michigan’s wilderness.

“This is such a cute little camp site. I arrived about 830 local time and there were still open spots. According the website it’s fcfs. The camps are well maintained and there are hiking trails and a river just around the bend though the trail is closed right now as of 6.27.21. All in all great little dispersed site.”Heather

Campground Details:

  • Price: $0
  • Number of sites: 6
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

8. Imp Lake Campground

Imp Lake Campground is another tranquil spot where you can take in the beauty of Ottawa National Forest. It’s seven miles from Watersmeet, on the calm shores of Imp Lake. This quaint campground has lakeside sites for tents and smaller RVs. Sites come with fire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. The lake features a small island that’s home to an asylum of loons. There’s a boat ramp nearby where you can drop in your kayak or fish for trout. You’re also right next to the Imp Lake Interpretive Trail. Imp Lake is a quiet wilderness spot where you can immerse yourself in nature and relax for a few days.

“Campground was rustic and pretty private. There were only a couple other campers spread through the whole grounds. It felt remote but was a quick drive out of the woods to wintersweet with convenience of a gas station and casino. There was a fire pit, vault toilet, picnic table and lantern hook on the site. Some sites have views of water. Pretty lake with lots of loon calls and a bald eagle flew by while I ate breakfast.”Amy K.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $16
  • Number of sites: 22
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

 

Are you looking for the best national forest camping in Michigan? Look no further. These eight spots will relax your soul and leave you speechless.

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