From state parks to scenic destinations, camping is popular all across Michigan. Here are a few of our favorite camping sites in the state.
MICHIGAN—‘Ganders have long held a passion for camping, as one of our many favorite outdoor activities. It is estimated as much as 10% of everyone traveling in the Mitten State for pleasure are campers.
Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources staff is currently estimating a record year for 2021 overnight camping stays, predicting as many as 1.3 million camp nights by the end of the year. Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6, is expected to be particularly busy in all state park campgrounds.
We’ve put our stakes in a few of our favorite camping opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a bare-bones campsite in rustic wilderness, the glamping experience of a fancy yurt, or just the next place to park your RV, we’ve got you covered.
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park (Upper Peninsula)
Location: Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County
Campsite Rates: $20 – $29
Near the northernmost tip of the Upper Peninsula is the Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. This site preserves an 1844 military outpost, Fort Wilkins, and an 1866 lighthouse, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. Both sites are tied to the Keweenaw Peninsula’s rich history with the 1840s copper rush in the Upper Peninsula.
The Army was originally stationed at Fort Wilkins to act as law enforcement and keep the peace between copper miners and Native Americans from the Ojibwa tribe. However, the enforcement proved unnecessary, and the troops left the quarters two years later for the Mexican-American War. After failed plans to turn it into a health resort, troops returned to Fort Wilkins for about three years following the Civil War, where soldiers served out the rest of their enlistments. The Army left permanently in 1870. Today, the fort preserves the spirit of 19th-century army life and the isolation of the northern frontier.
The park encompasses 700 acres of land with multiple miles of shoreline and hiking trails. There are 159 modern campsites with electrical service, Wi-Fi, and public restrooms.
Visit the Fort Wilkins Historic State Park DNR page for more information.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Upper Peninsula)
Location: Luce County
Campsite Rates: $15 – $32
Rentals: Lodge and Cabin
Near Lake Superior is the Tahquamenon River (pronounced Tuh-KWAHM-in-uhn), creating some of Michigan’s most beautiful waterfalls. Two different waterfalls, an upper and a lower, create the Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The more famous Upper Tahquamenon Falls are 200 feet across and drop nearly 50 feet down. The Upper Tahquamenon Falls is the second most voluminous waterfall east of the Mississippi River, second only to Niagara Falls. It is nicknamed “Root Beer Falls” due to the tannins that drain into the river from cedar swamps and color the falls brown. The Lower Falls are actually five smaller falls around a small island, located about 4 miles downstream from the upper falls. The island and area around the Lower Falls are more suited for rowboats and swimming. The entire park has many spots suitable for hiking, canoeing, fishing, and more.
The Tahquamenon Falls have a variety of camping options. Two modern campsites exist, one at the river mouth (72 spots), and the other at the Lower Falls (188 spots). There is also the Rivermouth Pines spot, a semi-modern site in-season and rustic site off-season. Backcountry camping is also available.
Visit the Tahquamenon Falls State Park DNR page for more information.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Upper Peninsula)
Location: Ontonagon and Gogebic Counties
Campsite Rates: $15 – $28
Rentals: Cabins, Lodge, Yurts, Tiny House
This stretch of small mountains and old-growth forest is located close to the Wisconsin border, but it’s hardly a drive-by location. With nearly 60,000 acres of land and more than 90 miles of hiking trails, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan’s largest state park. Additionally, it’s one of the last remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest.
The Porcupine Mountains, or “Porkies” for short, are abundant in sugar maple, eastern hemlock, and yellow birch tree species. A long stretch of copper-bearing bedrock within the Porkies was critical to the U.P.’s copper mining boom. Two of these mines still exist today. Adventure Mine in Greenland Township is one of the best-preserved copper mines that visitors can tour, with one daring tour including rappelling to the lower level of the mine. Caledonia Copper Mine in Mass City offers a hands-on experience where visitors can make reservations to sort through ore piles for free.
In addition to the copper mining legacy, the Porkies are also exemplary for backpacking, snowmobiling, skiing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, biking, birdwatching, and more outdoor recreation opportunities. The area is rife for sightings of wolves, foxes, big cats, black bears, moose, and all kinds of wildlife.
There are 100 modern campsites in the Union Bay Campground and multiple sites for rustic or backcountry camping.
Visit the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park DNR page for more information.
Paddlers Village (Upper Peninsula)
Location: Christmas, Alger County
Paddlers Village is a resort catering to kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders looking to explore the breathtaking Pictured Rocks National Park. It is intended to be a campsite where the only camping equipment you need is a sleeping bag, gear, and cookware. And if you find Lake Superior’s waters to be too treacherous to kayak—Paddlers Village also offers cruises where you can view the picturesque colored cliffs in safety.
The Pictured Rocks are one of only four National Lakeshores. The trademark colors of the cliffs are the result of mineral staining from groundwater trickling down the rock face. Iron creates red and orange, copper creates blue and green, manganese creates brown and black, and limonite creates white. The colors create a stunningly beautiful outdoor feature. Paddlers Village is a great opportunity to turn this remote park into a structured excursion or vacation.
A variety of lodging options exist, including cabins, yurts, safari tents, mini tipis, and the Duck Pond Apartment. You can also provide your own tent at the Au Train Beach Campground. RVs are only allowed at separate but affiliated RV Campgrounds. Vacation packages and bundles are available, and they include canoeing and kayaking with your lodging, as well as a cruise and meals. These packages are available for as low as $521 for two people and three nights.
Visit the Paddlers Village official website for more information.
Huron-Manistee National Forest (Northern Michigan)
Location: Multiple counties in the Northern Lower Peninsula
Campsite Rates: Varies
The Huron-Manistee National Forest in the Lower Peninsula encompasses two national forests: the Huron National Forest to the east, and the Manistee National Forest to the west. Combined, these two forests provide just shy of one million acres of public land.
The Huron-Manistee National Forest provides a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. The trails and campgrounds along the Pine, Manistee, Au Sable, and Pere Marquette Rivers are the most popular. The forests feature several rare ecological features, including marshes and coastal marshland, fens, bogs, oak savannahs, dunes, and dry sand prairie remnants.
There are 62 campgrounds in Huron-Manistee, with some either requiring or recommending a reservation. Unlike many other parks, dispersed and primitive tent camping is allowed anywhere in the Huron-Manistee National Forest, as long as there is no posted signage prohibiting it.
Platte River Campground at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Northwest Michigan)
Location: Honor, Benzie County
Campsite Rates: $22 – $31
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is widely considered one of the most beautiful natural landmarks within Michigan, and even the country. With towering sand bluffs, miles of beaches, and abundant forests, there’s a reason this national park is breaking records in yearly attendance.
The Platte River Campground, located within the confines of the national park, is an exceedingly popular campground for those wishing to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes. USA Today named the campground as the fourth-best campground in America for 2021, so the beauty of even the campground is legit. The campground includes 179 total campsites, 96 of which have electric hookups.
Visit the campground’s National Park Service page for more information.
Wilderness State Park (Northwest Michigan)
Location: Bliss Township, Emmet County
Campsite Rates: $22 – $45
Rentals: Cabins, Bunkhouses
Less than 20 miles away from Mackinaw City and the Mackinac Bridge is Wilderness State Park, which features 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline backed by 10,000 acres of forest landscapes, and more than 22 miles of trails.
The Wilderness State Park originally started as Emmet State Game Refuge in 1922, which helped support the state’s population of game birds. One peculiar aspect of this park’s history is that it operated as Camp Wilderness, a minimum-security forest prison camp, from 1949 until 1956. It has since become a reserved space of mostly untouched wilderness, with a diverse population of wildlife, gorgeous beaches, and some of the best sunsets. The park is a designated dark sky preserve, meaning it is an ideal location to try stargazing.
Pines Campground and Lakeshore Campground (West and East) are the two main campgrounds, but backcountry and rustic sites are also available.
Visit the Wilderness State Park DNR page for more information.
Tawas Point State Park (Northeast Michigan)
Location: East Tawas, Iosco County
Campsite Rates: $33
Rentals: Cabins, Mini Cabins, Yurt
Called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Tawas Point State Park is located at the edge of a sand split forming Tawas Bay. The name Tawas Point is a shortened version of the original name, Ottawa Point, which was officially shortened to Tawas in 1902. It is an excellent area for coastal activities of all sorts, including fishing, sailing, and swimming. Birdwatchers flock to the site in the spring and fall, as the park is a stopover site for migratory birds. The Tawas Point Lighthouse, which operated from 1876 until 2016, is a main feature of the park. Although the Tawas Point Lighthouse was at the tip of Tawas Point when built in 1876, the natural build-up of sand has extended the actual point today.
The modern campground is situated on the Tawas Bay side. A designated swimming beach is conveniently located near the campground.
Visit the Tawas Point State Park DNR page for more information.
Mai Tiki Resort (Northeast Michigan)
Location: Au Sable Charter Township, Iosco County
Colorful condos and cottages decorate the Lake Huron beachfront at this Caribbean-inspired resort near Oscoda. The Mai Tiki Resort allows you to enjoy your own private beach in a family-friendly setting. Rentals feature high-speed Wi-Fi, kitchenettes, televisions, charcoal grills, and a playground area, making for a glamping experience that doesn’t have to take you too far from home—physically or experientially.
The beach at Mai Tiki features nightly bonfires and seasonal movies but also makes the perfect place to go for a swim or play a game of volleyball. For those that still need to get away, the Oscoda area has opportunities to go hiking, kayaking, golfing, and other outdoor recreation.
Visit the Mai Tiki Resort official website for more information.
Sleepy Hollow State Park (Mid-Michigan)
Location: Laingsburg, Clinton County
Campsite Rates: $25
Within a 20 minute drive of Lansing, Sleepy Hollow State Park contains 2,600 acres of land situated around Lake Ovid. The 410-acre lake is a popular fishing spot, with fish such as pike, perch, catfish, bluegill, and more that call these waters home.
The lake is also quite popular for swimming. Additionally, it features a boat launch, with rentals available for rowboats, canoes, paddleboats, and pontoon boats. Trails provide ample opportunity to explore nature and observe wildlife on foot, bike, or horseback. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are some of the most popular trail activities, however, and get much use in the winter.
The modern campground features 181 sites.
Visit the Sleepy Hollow State Park DNR site for more information.
River Valley RV Park (Mid-Michigan)
Location: Gladwin, Clare County
Northeast of Mt. Pleasant is the River Valley RV Park, situated in the middle of Clare County’s Amish Country. Michigan has the sixth-highest Amish population in the country and a significant population can be found in Clare County. For those who’d like to experience handmade Amish goods and have an RV, the River Valley RV Park is a good option. Rustic cabins and tent camping are also available for those without an RV.
River Valley RV Park is situated on 49 acres surrounding a private lake. The site fee is $35 or less per day. Full RV amenities are available here, including water and electricity, restrooms, dump stations, laundry, firewood, a store, on-site ATM, and more.
A variety of recreation opportunities are available. Swimming, boating, and fishing are popular in the lake and river. An arcade room is available, as are games of horseshoes, volleyball, basketball, and shuffleboard. The River Valley Lakeview Trail provides a walk around the entire lake. Boat and bike rentals are available.
Holland State Park (West Michigan)
Location: Holland, Ottawa and Alleghan Counties
Campsite Rates: $33 – $45
Holland State Park is one of the most popular beach destinations in Michigan. It also includes excellent campgrounds.
The now-popular harbor and the Holland Harbor Lighthouse were both built shortly after Dutch settlers founded the Holland area in 1847. When the state and national legislatures did not respond to their petitions for a harbor, the Holland settlers created a channel between Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan that was deep enough for barges to pass. They also built a permanent pier and the first lighthouse. In 1866, Congress decided to give appropriations to the Holland settlers for their work. Although the money came too late for Holland to become a commercial port, it did help it become the resort destination it is today. The lighthouse that is now “Big Red” became so named in 1974 by the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission to save it from demolition by the Coast Guard—an initiative that succeeded. Now, “Big Red” is a landmark for the entire park.
There are two campgrounds, both within 50 feet of swimming beaches. The Beach campground has 98 paved campsites and 31 full hook-up sites. The Lake Macatawa campground is more traditional with 211 campsites.
Visit the Holland State Park DNR site for more information.
Ludington State Park (West Michigan)
Location: Ludington, Mason County
Campsite Rates: $17 – $37
Rentals: Mini Cabins
Ludington State Park is a multi-use park, with beaches, forests, sand dunes, marshlands, and an iconic lighthouse. At 112 feet tall, Big Sable Point Lighthouse is one of Michigan’s tallest lighthouses.
Occupying 5,300 acres, Ludington State Park was formerly the logging village of Hamlin in the 1870s. Hamlin Lake was built to control the flow of lumber from the forests to barges that would take it to larger ports. Dams were built to control the water flow, but once it had overflowed twice, by 1912 the decision was made not to rebuild. A concrete dam was built for further development of the area in 1914, which still stands today. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from the ground up between 1933 and 1936 on what was formerly Hamlin. In addition to building structures like trails, picnic areas, and buildings, the CCC also controlled erosion to stabilize the soil and planted trees and dune grass.
Between three campgrounds, Ludington State Park offers 352 modern and semi-modern camping sites. There are also 10 rustic tent sites.
Visit the Ludington State Park DNR site for more information.
Warren Dunes State Park (Southwest Michigan)
Location: Berrien County
Campsite Rates: $25 – $45
Rentals: Mini Cabins
Located close to the Indiana border and considered the unofficial gateway to Michigan’s park system, Warren Dunes State Park is full of sand dunes towering at heights as impressive as 260 feet. It is also one of the most popular camping destinations in Michigan. Visitors may participate in a variety of activities, including boating, hunting, and metal detecting.
The Warren Dunes are the namesake of businessman Edward Kirk Warren, who originally bought the site as a favor to a friend. Warren was the inventor of featherbone, a type of boning in corsetry using turkey feathers that came to replace the whalebone. A philanthropist, Warren gifted the land to the state, who made it into a park after his death.
Warren Dunes has two campgrounds, one providing 182 modern campsites, and another providing 37 semi-modern campsites.
Visit the Warren Dunes State Park DNR site for more information.
Lakeport State Park Campground (Thumb Region)
Location: St. Clair County
Campsite Rates: $30 – $34
Rentals: Cabins, Mini Cabins
Resting on the sleepy shores of Lake Huron, Lakeport State Park contains two separate coastline properties nestled directly north and south of the town of Lakeport.
The south portion of the park was formerly a retreat for the United Auto Workers. In 1962 in that retreat, the student activist group Students for a Democratic Society completed and signed the Port Huron Statement, a political manifesto emphasizing participatory democracy that was critical of the country’s involvement in the Cold War. The manifesto was famously referenced in the 1998 crime comedy film The Big Lebowski, where the eponymous character had a line about being one of the authors of the “original” Port Huron Statement. Only a few years after the signing, the retreat was added to the existing Lakeport State Park.
A total of 250 campsites are located in both portions of the park. All sites have a picnic table, electricity, modern toilet and shower buildings, and a fire circle. A boat launch and the Port Huron State Game Area are within the area.
Visit the Lakeport State Park DNR site for more information.
Port Crescent State Park (Thumb Region)
Location: Port Austin, Huron County
Campsite Rates: $33
Rentals: Cabins, Mini Cabin, Cottages, Geodesic Domes
On the tip of Michigan’s “Thumb” is the Port Crescent State Park. This park contains a campground with waterfront views and is additionally a dark sky preserve for optimal stargazing. A viewing platform is available near the day-use parking lot for this purpose. There are also 7 miles of hiking trails.
Port Crescent was once a ghost town formerly on the mouth of the Pinnebog River. Port Crescent was a logging community, with its first sawmill built in 1851. The community boomed, and within 20 years, they added an additional sawmill, as well as two hotels, two blacksmith shops, two breweries, several general stores, and much more. Fishing also took off as an industry, and the town once had a population of more than 500. Port Crescent was wiped off the map by the Great Forest Fire of 1881, also known as the Great Thumb Fire. The fire obliterated the town’s logging resources, and the town never recovered as residents and businesses scattered to nearby towns. By 1894, within 13 years, every building in Port Crescent was gone. It wasn’t until after World War II, when interest in shoreline parks was picking up, that Port Crescent was in talks to become a state park. Though most traces of Port Crescent are gone, the former sawmill chimney still stands at the park entrance.
The campground contains 142 modern campsites for use. There are also hammock-only sites and many rental options.
Visit the Port Crescent State Park DNR site for more information.
READ MORE: 8 Places To Stargaze In Michigan
Sleeper State Park (Thumb Region)
Location: Huron County
Campsite Rates: $20 – $32
Rentals: Mini Cabin, Safari Tents (through Tentrr)
The 723-acre Sleeper State Park, on the Saginaw Bay, is well-known for its many trails and kayaking areas. It was one of Michigan’s first state parks and the first state park in the Thumb Region. One unique aspect of the park is the ability to watch both the sunrise and the sunset from the park.
The park was originally called Huron State Park. It was renamed in honor of former Michigan governor Albert E. Sleeper, a Huron County native who signed the state park system into law at a time when only 17 states had state parks. The park is estimated to add $2.8 million in additional value to the local economy.
The modern campground includes 226 campsites. Within the last year, Tentrr built safari tents on wooden platforms, which come with a bed, Adirondack chairs, and a fire pit.
Visit the Sleeper State Park DNR site for more information.
Pinckney Recreation Area (Southeast Michigan)
Location: Livingston and Washtenaw Counties
Campsite Rates: $17 – $32
Rentals: Cabins, Yurts
The Pinckney Recreation Area is an 11,000-acre park with over 40 miles of trails and plenty of coastlines. The park is located very close to the tourist destination of Hell, Michigan.
Hell was started by the land investor, George Reeves, and his land included some land that is today a part of the Pinckney Recreation Area. When Reeves died, his family sold the land to Detroit investors. In the 1920s, the investors further developed Hiland Lake, which was formerly the millpond for Reeves’ sawmill. Hiland Lake eventually branched into the Chain of Lakes. The land developed into a state park after the state acquired the area in 1943. Today, the Chain of Lakes is a water trail explorable by boat. Silver Lake, Crooked Lake, Halfmoon Lake, and Pickerel Lake are available for a variety of water recreational activities.
A modern campsite at Bruin Lake features 161 campsites ranging from rustic accommodations to full modern electrical. The Crooked Lake and Blind Lake campsites are also rustic.
Visit the Pinckney Recreation Area DNR site for more information.
Waterloo Recreation Area (Southeast Michigan)
Location: Jackson and Washtenaw Counties
Campsite Rates: $17 – $32
Rentals: Cabins, Tiny House, Yurts
At 20,000 acres, the Waterloo Recreation Area is the Lower Peninsula’s largest state park and the third-largest park in Michigan. The vast amount of land includes 11 lakes and over 50 miles of trails.
It has a fully operational riding stable, Horse ‘N Around Stables, and offers guided and group horseback rides in the park. Additionally, the Eddy Discovery Center teaches visitors about Michigan’s geology, habitats, and climates throughout its geological history. One interesting feature of the Waterloo Recreation Area is the availability of track chairs, off-road chairs for those with mobility issues to explore the park for no additional cost.
The Waterloo Recreation Area sports two modern campgrounds, with 164 sites at Sugarloaf Lake and 136 sites at Portage Lake. There are 25 additional rustic sites at a specific equestrian campground and two additional rustic campgrounds.
Visit the Waterloo Recreation Area DNR site for more information.
Pontiac Lake Recreation Area (Detroit Metro)
Location: Waterford, Oakland County
Campsite Rates: $20 – $22
Rentals: Cottage Cabins, A-Frame Mini Cabin
Pontiac Lake is a manufactured lake in Oakland County, and the recreation area is the state park surrounding it. It also includes the headwaters of the Shiawassee, Huron, and Clinton River. Their mountain bike trail is a technical trail that has been ranked among the top 100 trails in the country.
In addition to mountain biking, Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area is also great for boating, hiking, horseback riding, and hunting. There is a supervised rifle range available for use, as well as a shotgun range and an archery range. The park also hosts “Quake on the Lake,” an annual hydroplane boat race. Other features include a model airplane flying field and an off-leash area for dogs.
The modern campground holds 176 campsites with a variety of natural features. There are also 25 rustic campsites on a special equestrian campground.
Visit the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area DNR site for more information.
Haas Lake Park RV Campground (Detroit Metro)
Location: New Hudson, Oakland County
If you’re looking for a place to park your RV in the Detroit Metro, Haas Lake Park is a perfect spot. With 498 campsites including amenities, the campground is quite large. A variety of activities are also available, as the park is centered around four lakes. Needless to say, waterfront campsites are available.
The family-oriented campground includes free public Wi-Fi, restrooms, laundry facilities, a general store, a propane filling station, and a dumping station.
In addition to the swimming beach and fishing available on each lake, other activities include a recreational building, a two-hole golf course, basketball courts, sand volleyball pit, playground equipment, and more. A variety of events are planned each season, such as bingo, euchre, crafts, dances, and special outdoor events.
Rates are between $39 and $65 per day.
Visit the Haas Lake Park official website for more information.