Whether you want to brave the cold to catch stunning, seasonal sights or get the best of both worlds in a cozy yurt, here are 10 places to camp in Michigan during the winter.
When you think of winter in Michigan, your mind likely conjures images of ice fishing, snowshoeing, and sitting by the fire—not camping all night in the freezing cold. But that’s all about to change.
Camping in the Mitten State this time of year has some surprising perks: There’s more peace and quiet, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, frozen waterfalls are on full display, and you can even cut some corners (and cut out the cold factor) by trying your hand at “glamping.”
Thirteen of Michigan’s state parks allow winter camping, while 30 offer winter lodging. There are also several other pretty places across the state that provide the perfect winter camping setup.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise
A gargantuan waterfall in the dead of winter is truly a sight to behold (just check out the photo for proof), which is why camping near Tahquamenon Falls State Park should be on your winter bucket list.
In addition to being one of the biggest natural draws to the Upper Peninsula, the park is among the 13 in Michigan that offer rustic tent and RV camping year-round. There are dozens of available spots near the Lower Falls, but there’s also a lodge and comfy cabins for those who don’t want to brave the cold. Reserve your spot online at Michigan State Park & Harbor Reservations.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon
With a whopping 60,000 acres of land to explore, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the largest state park in all of Michigan. When you camp there in the winter, you not only get to take advantage of 90 miles of hiking trails, you can also ski and ride at the Porkies Winter Sports Complex, located within the park. Like they say, a bad day at the slopes beats a good day at work.
Accommodations at the park include campsites, cabins, and yurts, so there are plenty of options to choose from at this winter getaway in the UP.
Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, Sidnaw
Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness is open all year long, as are its campgrounds, which comprise seven sites spread throughout the property. This one’s only for the brave wilderness explorers in search of peace and quiet (after a bit of a challenge), as there aren’t any services provided at the campground. However, there are ample jaw-dropping sights, including the “Grand Canyon of Michigan,” Canyon Falls. Note: Fires are allowed, but the Forest Service recommends bringing a camp stove instead.
Mount Bohemia, Mohawk
Mount Bohemia is a ski resort located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near Lac La Belle. With an average snowfall of 273 inches, it has the longest runs, highest vertical, and deepest powder of any resort in the Midwest. In addition to downhill skiing, there’s also Snowcat skiing, a Nordic spa, a wood-fired pizza restaurant, and plenty of lodging options.
Unless you want to pitch a tent nearby, the closest to rustic camping you’ll get is staying in the yurts, which includes dinner (but you have to bring your own linens).
Bois Blanc Island, Lake Huron
Bois Blanc is technically between Michigan’s two peninsulas, as it’s a small and idyllic island in Lake Huron that’s accessible by ferry. One of the best winter camping options is Island Good, which offers three off-the-grid yurts in a cedar forest with unhindered views of Mackinac Island. Amenities include solar lights, a shower, an outhouse, and a grill. Plus, the area houses an art gallery, shop, and studio, and prides itself on LGTBQ inclusivity.
If you want to camp on your own, which is totally free, the best places to pitch a tent are on the southwestern and northeastern points of the island. If you want to start a campfire, you’ll need to secure a permit from Hawks Landing, which is a fun store to check out regardless.
Holland State Park, Holland
If gazing at a sunset over Lake Michigan on a crisp, clear evening sounds like your dream winter activity, consider camping at Holland State Park. Although it’s one of the busiest state parks in Michigan, the crowds die down significantly in the winter, leaving all the gorgeous views to you and your crew.
The park’s new camper cabin, named The Whitetail, is available year-round and provides an ultimate glamping experience, as it accommodates up to six people and includes a fridge, microwave, coffee pot, electric heat, picnic table, grill, and fire ring. Best of all, it comes with a view of Lake Michigan and “Big Red” (aka the Holland Harbor Lighthouse), which becomes even more striking when set against snow.
Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin
Follow Michigan’s “thumb” to the very tip and you’ll find Port Crescent State Park. Set along 3 miles of Lake Huron shoreline, the park has 10 lodging options, including geodesic, cottages, and camper cabins where you can stay nice and warm.
There is also a dark sky preserve, which makes for some of the best stargazing in the state—especially in the winter when the northern lights are sometimes visible. Plus, there are trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Muskegon State Park, Muskegon
Muskegon State Park is a gorgeous destination any time of year, but it really becomes magical in the winter. The 1,233-acre area includes 2 miles of uninhabited shoreline with excellent views of Lake Michigan, but the main attraction for adrenaline junkies is the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park, which offers seasonal activities like ice-skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, and more—including the only publicly accessible luge track in North America.
Winter camping options in the park include rustic sites for tents, trailers, and RVs as well as cabins and a yurt. The best part? The sites are just across the street from the sports park. Adventure awaits.
Tawas Point State Park, East Tawas
Affectionately known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Tawas Point State Park is a tourist hotspot in the summer months. However, visiting in the winter is just as beautiful—and even more peaceful.
All of the more than 200 camping sites are available during the winter, as are the mini cabins and yurts. Your stay will include views of the Tawas Bay and Tawas Point Lighthouse, the only Victorian-era station on the Great Lakes.
Pinckney Recreation Area, Pinckney
Pinckney Recreation Area is a favorite among cross-country skiers, as there are 62 miles of trails to enjoy. The 11,000-acre park is only 30 minutes northwest of Ann Arbor, so it’s one of the destinations on this list that’s closest to civilization (and therefore easiest to get to).
There are 20 winter campsites at Blind Lake Campground, which is halfway along the Potawatomi Trail. There are also rustic campsites at Bruin Lake and Crooked Lake, all of which come with beautiful winter views of the water.
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