Photo via Shutterstock.
Photo via Shutterstock.

Michigan is making it easier to find a campsite, even last-minute, during the pandemic with a new web-based system.

LANSING, MI — With the summer camping season winding down in the coming weeks and the fall season just around the corner, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has unveiled a new online tool for would-be campers to stay up-to-date on state campground availability, from the Upper Peninsula all the way down to Metro Detroit and beyond.

The organization launched a new online map and database via its Facebook page this past weekend, which it says will be updated and shared each weekend through its newsletter and social media.

The purpose of the map is to help more Michiganders find campsites both locally and across the state, even on short notice, and to promote the increased site availability during weekdays.

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Maps are divided into regions, with Michiganders having the option to view the Northern Michigan map, which ranges from Alpena and the Traverse City all the way to the UP; the Central Michigan map, which stretches from Ludington and Tawas City all the way to Mackinaw Island; and the Southern Michigan map, which includes Caseville in the Thumb area all the way down to the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor and across the state to the Warren Dunes.

Each state campground location includes a color-coded dot allowing prospective campers to quickly determine whether each spot is available (green), has partial availability (purple), restrictions (yellow), unavailable (red), or not operating currently (black).

According to Maia Turek, the DNR’s recreation resource specialist, the change was made to encourage Michigan campers to try new places during times when campgrounds are not nearly as full.

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“Weekends are typically our busiest time, so most of our capacity that we have is midweek,” she said to

“If you’re new to it, midweek is a great opportunity to find availability and try new places.”

The database allows campers to make reservations up to six months in advance, or to snag a last-minute spot, whether on the weekdays or weekends.

Prospective users enter their information on the database, including whether they plan to stay in a tent, trailer or RV, their arrival and exit dates or number of nights, and their party size. 

Additional tabs are available for further options including modern lodging, safari tents, rustic cabins and cottages, harbor reservations for boaters, and day use reservations.

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The new database and maps streamline the process, allowing Michiganders to more easily discover new places rather than making reservations on each campground’s specific web page.

With a large portion of Michiganders now working remotely from home and holding endless Zoom meetings, Turek highlighted the importance of getting outdoors.“You can trade in that Zoom background for the real thing,” she said. “Why pretend you’re in the woods when you can actually be in the woods?”