Surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan is a uniquely placed state with a lot to offer.
With 3,288 miles of coastline, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the US and the second-longest only to Alaska.
The beauty of Michigan lies along these coasts with endless overwater sunsets and plenty of great coastal camping options to make sure you don’t miss a single one.
As far as natural beauty is concerned, The Upper Peninsula is the crown jewel of Michigan State.
Covering 16,452 square miles of mostly unspoiled natural beauty across pristine state parks like Tahquamenon Falls and the Porcupine Mountains, this is a very special part of the world.
So much so that Michiganders revel in reminding Ohioans how they acquired the great U.P in the Toledo War as a mere consolation prize.
With such a bountiful amount of nature that’s worth protecting, it makes a lot of sense why Michigan has over 100 state parks with over 14,000 campsites and 142 campgrounds.
This article will showcase seven of the best state park campgrounds in Michigan to get every keen camper planning their next holiday in this great state.
Campground Cost In Michigan State Parks
Although there isn’t a fixed price for every campground in Michigan, most of them have been priced in a similar ballpark.
In general, you should expect to pay between $25-$35 a night for a campground in Michigan. The more equipped hook-up sites will hit the higher end of $35, while more rustic sites with basic amenities will obviously fetch less.
Location also plays a huge factor in pricing too, as the more remote parks are generally less equipped, and, therefore, cheaper as a result.
All reservations will also incur an $8 booking fee that goes into maintaining the state parks and services.
Another cost that needs to be considered, especially if traveling interstate, is an annual state park pass (which is separate from your campground fee).
If you’re intending to come from outside of Michigan, then a park pass will set you back $34. If you’re a resident of Michigan, hopefully, you already have your Michigan recreation passport.
If not, then you can pick one up on your way into the park for around $17. This may seem like a sting on top of your campground fee, but knowing the work that goes into keeping the grounds and parks in tip-top shape – it is more than worth it.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Located in the Eastern part of the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is an awe-inspiring park where water and woods reign supreme.
Stretching some 50,000 acres, it is also Michigan’s second-largest park only to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Getting to Tahquamenon Falls State Park is actually quite easy for Upper Peninsula standards as it’s only a 1.5 hr drive from Mackinac Bridge.
Just five miles out of the town of Paradise, it’s also easy to pick up general supplies and seek out services on the way in or out.
Attractions / Activities
As the namesake suggests, when coming to Tahquamenon, chances are that you’re coming for the waterfalls. With defined lower and upper falls, this park attracts more visitors to the UP each year than any other park.
The upper falls are the falls that people come to see though. Stretching 50 feet high and over 200 feet wide, these impressive falls let you experience the raw power of the marvelous Tahquamenon river which feeds directly into Lake Superior.
Another popular activity is to canoe the 17 miles of tranquil waters from the lower falls to lake superior, which, thankfully, is downstream.
With over 40 miles of hiking trails, 13 inland lakes, and 20,000 acres of pristine nature to explore, there is much more to see and explore in Tahquamenon than just the falls.
Because of its popularity, Tahquamenon has two very well-equipped and rather large campgrounds.
There’s the desirable lower falls campground and another campground that’s conveniently located for families down by the river mouth.
Both grounds have all the amenities you would expect from such a large park including bathrooms, showers, playgrounds, nature programs, picnic tables, fire rings, and a camp store in each.
There’s room for large RVs too, with some pull-through hook-up sites available on both sites. Tahquamenon is also open all year round, allowing people to make the most of the fall colors and winter wonderland that this northern part of the UP turns into over the chillier months.
Ludington State Park
Nestled between the great Lake Michigan and its cute sidekick Hamlin Lake, Ludington is another magnificently located state park.
It is located just an hour’s drive north of the city of Muskegon which is also situated on Michigan’s west coast.
With miles and miles of white sandy beaches, Ludington is a haven for people looking to get their feet sandy and their hair wet.
Attractions / Activities
Being sandwiched between two lakes means Ludington is a watersport and activity enthusiast’s dream.
There are endless opportunities to fish, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and take leisurely sailboat trips in and around Ludington.
If you don’t have your own gear, there are also ample places to hire equipment and book fishing and boating trips.
If you’d rather stick to dry ground there’s an 18-mile paved trail through woodland that’s ideal for biking and spotting wildlife along the way.
There are also a few historical sites worth checking out in the area, including the 20th century Pioneer village of White Pine.
With a bunch of unpaved trails that are pleasantly flat and perfect for family day hikes, it is very easy to spend a week in Ludington and want more.
Ludington has four campgrounds that are conveniently located within walking distance of each other. In total, they offer 355 campsites, which, if you know how popular Ludington gets in the summer, is nowhere near enough.
However, if you are one of the lucky, organized ones and manage to snag a site early, then this is a blessing in disguise as it feels remarkably calm for such a fine park.
Between the four campgrounds, there is the option for primitive off-the-beaten-track sites or state-of-the-art modern sites – the choice is yours.
Our personal favorite is the Pines Campground that has 98 modern sites tucked into a picturesque pine forest that’s a stone’s throw from the premier white sandy beach of Ludington.
Leelanau State Park
Leelanau State Park is a remote park that’s located at the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula on Lake Michigan. Northport is Leelanau’s closest town which is about a 10-minute drive south.
It has one road in and one road out which makes getting lost in Leelanau near on impossible. Because it is an end-of-the-road state park, you feel very secluded and cut off from the rest of the world, which is precisely Leelanau’s drawcard.
Attractions / Activities
Leelanau is conveniently surrounded by the pristine waters of Lake Michigan. This means it is inherently suited to watersports and activities like canoeing, boating, and fishing.
However, unlike Ludington, Leelanau has limited facilities and rentals are not a priority here – so plan ahead.
There are 8.5 miles of very idyllic hiking/ skiing trails in Leelanau and 1.5 miles of unspoiled sandy beaches along the Cat Head Bay stretch.
With Leelanau Peninsula being wine country, there are some stunning wineries to visit just a short drive out of the park.
The campground in Leelanau is fairly small with 51 campsites available. Make no mistake this is a rustic campground that offers the essentials and that is it (no Wi-Fi around these parts).
Expect vault toilets, electric hookups, and a small market through the summer months, and don’t have your hopes up for much more than a toilet come wintertime.
The campground is right on the waterfront, gifting campers the serene sounds of gentle waves lapping up against the shore in the evenings.
If you’re the kind of camper who is self-sufficient and has the right gear to make remote camping a comfortable experience, then Leelanau will offer you a camping trip unlike any other.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
It wouldn’t be a list of state park campgrounds in Michigan, without featuring the expansive Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Stretching roughly 60,000 acres, “Porkies” is officially the biggest state park in Michigan and one of the last truly wild destinations in the Midwest.
Located on the western coast of the Upper Peninsula, this is about as remote as it gets in Michigan and is subsequently a fair trek for most Michiganders.
Ontonagon is the closest built-up village to Porkies at just 16 miles to the park’s entrance, making it a good place to stock up on supplies before heading in.
Activies / Attractions
Porkies is made for adventurists. With 90 miles of hiking trails that snake through its 35,00-acre old-growth forest, expect to pick your jaw up off the floor a lot while hiking here.
Having shaped the lay of the land for thousands of years, the roaring waterfalls and countless streams and rivers within the park are some of the most beautiful, not just in the Midwest, but arguably the world.
Set within the mountains at 100 ft above sea level Lake of the Clouds is one of those magical spots that no one will forget in a hurry.
There’s also a ski area for the winter months and an 18 hole golf course for the avid golfers.
With a large coastline along Lake Superior thrown in the mix that offers boating and watersport opportunities, a trip to the Porkies will never disappoint.
In terms of camping, you, unsurprisingly, have it all in the Porkies. They have a varied selection of campgrounds that range from ultra-remote outposts to fully-equipped yurts, cabins, and modern campgrounds.
This means that the Porkies are perfect for absolutely anyone. If you don’t fancy roughing it in a rustic site, then head to the Union River or Union Bay campgrounds.
If you’d rather ditch the crowds and find tranquility amongst the pines, then check out White Pines for a bare-bones sight that gives you no choice but to get back to nature.
Sleepy Hollow State Park
Against what its name suggests, Sleepy Hollow State Park is anything but sleepy. An hour and a half drive from Detroit and just off the US-127 highway, this park gains a lot of attraction in the summertime.
It is located between the townships of Victor and Ovid in Clinton County, which also means it’s popular with locals for day trips.
Luckily, though, it covers 2,678 acres and there are plenty of things to see and do that helps to spread the crowds out.
Attractions / Activities
You don’t need to travel far to be surrounded by water in Michigan and Sleepy Hollow is no exception.
Lake Ovid is the main attraction in Sleepy Hollow, offering plenty of swimming, boating, canoeing, and paddleboarding opportunities.
Fishing is also a popular pastime on Lake Ovid, with Largemouth bass being the prized fish to hook – just be mindful of the no-wake policy that helps to maintain a peaceful environment for all.
There are also 16 miles of trails through the woods and fields of Sleepy Hollow that allow for some great birding with over 228 species having been recorded in the park.
Biking, horseback riding, and snowshoeing are a few of the other activities that are popular within Sleepy Hollow throughout the year.
Sleepy Hollow Lake RV Park & Campground is a 228-acre ground with 181 modern campsites.
They cater to all styles of camping at Sleepy Hollow, with simple tent pitches right the way up to large RV pull-thru sites with electric, water, and sewer hookups.
There’s also loft, condo, and camping cabins available that start from $60 a night. The campground is well equipped with a recreation center, playground, cooking, cleaning, and showering facilities that are all cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.
Just be mindful that no one is allowed to stay more than 15 nights in Sleepy Hollow – making long stays a big no-no.
Warren Dunes State Park
Unlike Porkies and a lot like Sleepy Hollow, Warren Dunes is a conveniently located park at the bottom of Lake Michigan – just a short hour or so drive from Chicago.
This area is quite built up with well-serviced towns that make camping easy and convenient.
Both Sawyer and Bridgman are under a 10-minute drive away – ideal for forgetful campers who need to shoot back into town for a pack of firelighters.
Warren Dunes is also just off the US-94 highway, which means its easy to get to for many Michiganders.
Attractions / Activities
The main attraction here is the famous Warren Dunes which rises 260 ft above the lake to offer beautiful panoramic views, amazing sunsets, and the possibility to hang glide in the right conditions.
If you consider yourself a thrill seeker of sorts, you could also have a go at sandboarding down the dunes, with sandboard rentals available from The Sand Box on the way into the park.
The park also benefits from 3 miles of sandy shoreline that make for some classic beach days with the kids. If you fancy a hike, there are 6 miles of trails that require a low level of fitness to accomplish.
With a few bars and breweries dotted about the local area, this is a great place for people who want a little slice of nature but also enjoy having a good time in civilization as well.
Warren Dunes has two campgrounds that are a good split between modern and semi-modern. The more modern campground known as “Dune” features 185 campsites that each have electric hookups.
They also have 25 rustic sites for the simple-living crew and 3-mini cabins for anyone who prefers a roof over their head instead of a tent.
In the summer months, RV enthusiasts rejoice in the RV beach camping that becomes available in a parking lot across the road from the lake.
The campground is well-equipped with flush toilets, fire pits, hot showers, a sanitation dump station, and a firewood service.
Wilderness State Park
Located at the northwest tip of Michigan mainland, Wilderness State Park encapsulates all of what makes Michigan such a desirable place to live and visit.
As the crow flies it sits 28 miles due north of Petoskey, which is a small lakeside city with an intriguing history.
Its close Proximity to Mackinac Bridge also means you can get over to The Upper Peninsula for a day trip or to carry on your travels heading north.
Attractions / Activities
Spanning over 10,000 acres, Wilderness State Park is a large park with a lot to offer. With 26 miles of shoreline, this park is ideal for all types of water sports and activities including sailing, fishing, and canoeing.
It’s rather unique in that it has both north and south-facing shores that can offer protection from the wind on any day of the year.
Another big drawcard to this park is the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Located just a couple of miles north of Wilderness, this park is purpose-built to offer undisturbed star-gazing every night of the year (granted it’s clear).
There’s a range of trails through Wilderness that are designed for biking, hiking, birding, and spotting some of the local wildlife, including bald eagles, deer, coyotes, and black bear.
Between the two sites of Lakeshores and Pines, there are 250 modern campsites in Wilderness that cater to families, solo campers, and everyone in-between.
Wilderness is also equipped with 18 full hook-up sites for RVs as well as nine tent-only sites.
If you’ve got your sights set on a cabin camping trip, then you’re well looked after in Wilderness too, with six rustic cabins and three rustic bunkhouses also open to the public.
All of the camping options in Wilderness are spread around Big Stone Bay which is just off Wilderness Park drive on the north side of the park.
Wilderness Park campground is a well-equipped state park that has all of the services and facilities needed to have a comfortable and easy-going stay in nature.
Things like picnic tables, potable water, vault toilets, showers, and fire pits are all sufficiently stocked.
Camping at one of the many state parks within Michigan can offer an extraordinary time that you simply can not find anywhere else.
Surrounded by the Great Lakes of America, its unique geographical location means you are spoilt for choice in terms of lakeside campgrounds and rugged wilderness escapes.
The beauty of Michigan State doesn’t just disappear when the summer sun leaves either, with fall and winter being just as awe-inspiring amongst the snow, pines, streams, and lakes.
Luckily, and because of this, most of the larger campgrounds within Michigan state are open all year long. Thus giving keen campers the opportunity to experience this stunning state in a completely different way (and without the crowds).
So, whether you are looking for a wild adventure in the Upper Peninsula or a convenient campground near Detroit or Chicago, this article has ensured your next camping trip in Michigan to be a good one.
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