You might not know it yet, but Michigan is one of the country’s best destinations for scenic and pristine camping.
With over 100 state parks, three national forests, and one national park, Michigan is well suited for camping enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. From rustic backcountry camping to RV parks with all the amenities, Michigan offers something for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the best places to go camping in Michigan, along with tips for making the most of your trip. Whether you’re looking to kayak, hike, or simply relax in nature, Michigan has the perfect camping spot for you.
Michigan Camping Guide
- The Basics
- The Best Camping Areas in Wisconsin
Before you head out to pitch your tent or park your trailer, it’s good to have an understanding of your camping options in Michigan.
Where Can I Camp in Michigan?
There are tons of opportunities to camp in Michigan, ranging from private RV campgrounds to developed state park campgrounds, and even free, dispersed camping. Public lands that allow camping in Michigan include:
- Isle Royale National Park
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Huron-Manistee, Hiawatha, and Ottawa National Forests
- Michigan’s 103 State Parks and 6 State Forests
Of course you’ll also find lots of private campgrounds and RV parks scattered throughout the state, with many of them being located near the public lands described above.
In the next section we’ll dive in to all of the best camping Michigan has to offer!
The Best Camping in Michigan
The number of wonderful places to camp in Michigan feels infinite, but we managed to narrow down our favorites to the following 15 camping areas, organized between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. We prefer to camp on public lands versus in private campgrounds, so that’s what you’ll see in our recommendations.
The map below shows the locations of all of our favorite camping areas in Michigan:
The Best Campgrounds in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula
Campsite Types: RV sites with electrical hookups, tent sites, walk-in sites, group sites, backcountry sites
Crowds: Moderate (busy in the summer)
Located less than an hour northwest of Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is definitely one of the Lower Peninsula’s best outdoor recreation destinations. The area encompasses coastal villages, lighthouses, towering bluffs, giant sand dunes, pristine beaches, and peaceful forests. There are 100 miles of hiking trails, plus great hunting, and fishing opportunities. Water lovers of all kinds will find plenty to do and Sleeping Bear, including kayaking, beach time, or floating one of the areas two rivers.
There are four campgrounds in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The most developed option is the Platt River Campground, which has 453 sites that can accommodate tents or RVs. 96 sites have electrical hookups, and campground amenities include flush toilets and hot showers. Those seeking a more rustic experience can enjoy the Platt River Campground’s walk-in sites. The other campground option in the mainland is the D.H. Day Campground, which is a bit more basic (vault toilets, no hookups). This is well-located for exploring the historical village or Glen Haven and the Dune Climb. Reservations are required for both campgrounds from May 1-October 15th.
If you’re looking for a remote and unique camping experience, consider spending a night or two on the Manitou Islands. Both North and South Manitou Islands have primitive campgrounds and North Manitou Island also has great backpacking opportunities. These unspoiled islands can be reached by a ferry that runs twice daily June-August. Be advised that you’ll need to bring your own water filtration equipment, as there is no drinking water available on either island.
If you’re not able to reserve a site within Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, be sure to check out the many private campgrounds in the area.
Campsite Types: RV sites with electrical hookups, tent sites, group sites, cabins
Warren Dunes State Park is a great camping option in southwestern Michigan, just a couple hours from Chicago. Although it’s not huge, there’s tons to do in this beautiful area. Visitors can explore the dramatic dunes, relax on the beach, or go for a hike.
There are two campgrounds in Warren Dunes State Park which offer a variety of options for every style of camper. The Hilldebrandt Semi-Modern Campground has 37 sites and is the smaller, more rustic option. The Mt. Randall Modern Campground is larger (182 sites) and has electrical hookups, showers, and playgrounds. There is also a convenient store at the entrance of the campground that sells snacks and camping essentials. The two campgrounds are close to one another, so campers at Hilldebrandt can easily access the amenities at Mt. Randall. A few rustic cabins are also available for rent.
There are many different types of sites in each campground. Campsites range in size, shade cover, and privacy. Given the proximity to the highway, some subtle road noise may be audible, especially at Hilldebrandt. It’s necessary to make advance reservations in the summer months.
Campsite Types: RV sites with full hookups, tent sites, group sites, cabins
Whether you’re looking to paddle, fish, or enjoy the beach, Holland State Park is a great place for a weekend getaway. This small state park is located in southwest Michigan, about 45 minutes from Grand Rapids. Additional activities in the area include biking along the 20-mile Lakeshore Trail, kayaking, and canoeing (rentals are available). You’ll also want to bring your camera because the sunsets and views of the iconic red lighthouse can’t be beat.
Holland State Park has two excellent campgrounds to choose from. First, the Macatawa Campground has 211 sites, all with 30 or 50 amp electrical hookups. There are 12 ADA accessible sites, as well as two playgrounds, a beach volleyball court, and a swimming beach across the road from the campground. This modern campground has flush toilets and showers located in each loop.
The other option for camping in Holland State Park is the Modern Beach Campground. This is a great campground for RVs, as all 98 sites are paved. However, this makes it less than ideal for tents and you’ll need a freestanding model since you won’t be able to stake in. 31 sites have full hookups, while the remaining sites have 30 or 50 amp electrical hookups only. There is a nice swimming beach just across the dune, and some sites enjoy views of Lake Michigan in the distance.
Holland State Park is a popular summer destination, so be sure to reserve your campsite far in advance!
Campsite Types: Tent and RV sites (no hookups), dispersed, OHV sites, horse sites
With nearly one million acres of public lands, there is no shortage of excellent camping opportunities in Huron-Manistee National Forests. Although managed as one National Forest, Huron and Manistee are actually two separate areas. Manistee National Forest is located in western Michigan, about 35 miles south of Traverse City. As the name suggests, Huron National Forest is located on the eastern Lake Huron side of the state, roughly 100 miles north of Saginaw. Both offer fantastic campsites within the National Forest’s many campgrounds, as well as dispersed and backcountry sites. A complete list of campgrounds in Huron-Manistee National Forests can be found here.
Most of the campgrounds in Huron-Manistee National Forests are relatively rustic, with vault toilets and no drinking water available. Some areas can accommodate RVs, but not all. Check out this page about RV campgrounds or contact the ranger for more information. There are several walk-in campgrounds, so be sure to read about your campground ahead and plan accordingly.
Reservations can be made at the following campgrounds:
- Au Sable River Primitive Camping
- South Branch
- River Road
- Lake Michigan Recreation Area
- Sand Lake
- Bowman Bridge
- Gleason’s Landing
A few of our favorite campgrounds in Huron-Manistee National Forests include Gabions, Kneff Lake, Rollways, and Lake Michigan Recreation Area. We like Gabions because of its proximity to natural springs and the Shore-to-Shore Trail. Kneff Lake has a nice swimming beach and is popular with fishing enthusiasts. Rollways is a great option for RV campers and provides access to lots of good hiking trails and the River Road Scenic Byway. Finally, Gleason’s Landing has shady, secluded spots on a bluff overlooking the Pere Marquette River.
Campsite Types: Full hookup RV sites, electric-only hookup sites, tent sites, walk-in sites, bunkhouses, cabins, backcountry sites, group sites
Located at the tippy top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula near Mackinaw City, Wilderness State Park definitely lives up to its name. The park boasts 26 miles of shoreline, an impressive trail network, and great opportunities for fishing, biking, and paddle sports. There are tons are great camping options, and since the area is a designated dark sky preserve, it’s the perfect place to spend a night under the stars.
If you’re looking to camp in a developed campground, there are three great options to choose from. The East and West Lakeshore Campgrounds offer 321 sites combined, most with views of the lake. All sites have 20 and 30 amp service, and a handful of sites have 50 amp service. The Pines Campground has 99 well-shaded sites, all which offer 20 and 30 amp service. All three campgrounds have modern restrooms with showers (open mid-May through mid-October), and the East Lakeshore campground ADA accessible facilities, plus four accessible campsites.
RV Campers looking for a deluxe experience should check out the 18 full hookup sites located just up the road from the East Lakeshore campground. Each site has fantastic views of Lake Michigan and plenty of room to spread out. There are no bathroom facilities at this location, so campers must be self-contained.
Those seeking a more remote wilderness experience have a few nice camping options. First, there are 25 walk-in tent sites located on the shoreline near the full-hookup area. If you’d like to get even further into nature, consider hiking into one of the park’s two primitive backcountry sites.
Campsite Types: Electric hookup sites, tent sites, walk-in sites, group sites, cabins
Sleepy Hollow State Park is a wonderful family-friendly camping destination just twenty minutes from Lansing. The park is set around Lake Ovid, and has a peaceful river and beautiful woods throughout. Sleepy Hollow State Park is known for its biodiversity, and birdwatchers will be particularly interested in the many dozens of bird species that call the park home. If you’re looking for other activities, there are some nice hiking trails, paddle sports, fishing, and disc golf.
There are two modern campgrounds in Sleepy Hollow State Park. The campgrounds are adjacent to one another and are divided by north and south. All 181 sites offer 20 and 30 amp electrical hookups, and a handful of sites offer 50 amp as well. There are a few pull-through sites that are best suited for larger RVs. Both campgrounds have modern restrooms with showers. There are also a few walk-in tent sites located near the main campgrounds and a few more on the opposite shore of Lake Ovid.
Campsite Types: RV sites with full and electrical-only hookups, tent sites, cottages
Sterling State Park is a great place for a convenient and fun family-friendly weekend getaway. Located just an hour from Detroit and close to the Ohio border, it’s an easy camping destination for many Michiganders. Sterling is Michigan’s only state park on Lake Erie, and it has a mile of sandy shoreline perfect for relaxing, swimming, or paddle sports.
There is one large campground in the park, and all 256 spacious sites have 20 or 30 amp hookups. There are also a number of 50 amp full hookup sites. Most sites have views of Lake Erie, and the campground is very close to the beach. The campground has modern restrooms and firewood and ice can be purchased at the camp office.
Campsite Types: RV sites with electrical hookups, tent sites, group sites, cabins
Located less than two hours northeast of Detroit, this is another great options for a quick camping getaway with the whole family. There’s not much in the way of hiking or biking within the small park, but it’s a great place to set up camp. This is the perfect place if you’re looking to relax at the beach, enjoy some ice cream from the camp store, and watch the kids play in the waves.
Lakeport State Park is actually divided into two areas, with the town of Lakeport in between. The campground is located in the northern section of the park, while the southern area has a beach for day use. Be advised that the beaches here are quite rocky, so it’s a good idea to pack your water shoes. On the flip side, this is a great destination for rock hunting!
The two campgrounds in Lakeport State Park are home to 250 large sites on the shore of Lake Huron. All sites have 30 amp hookups and several also have 50 amp hookups. There are a number of pull-through sites for larger rigs. The well-stocked campground store has games, camping gear, firewood, snacks, and more. There’s a great playground just steps from the campground. The bathroom/shower buildings are clean and modern.
Campsite Types: RV sites with full and electric-only hookups, tent sites, group sites, cabins
Calling all water lovers! Higgins State Park is a fantastic destination for anyone looking to swim, boat, fish, or paddle. Located three hours north of Detroit in central Michigan, Higgins State Park’s main focal point is the large spring-fed lake which is calm enough for the little ones to swim in. Those seeking a more tranquil experience can visit the smaller Marl Lake.
Higgins State Park consists of two separate units on opposite sides of the lake. North Higgins is considerably smaller, but still has a couple of campgrounds and some nice hiking trails. South Higgins is much larger and has one of Michigan’s largest campgrounds.
In North Higgins State Park, there are two campgrounds organized by East and West. The campgrounds house 82 and 92 sites respectively, and each campground has a mix of traditional and 50 amp hookup sites. The West Campground has four ADA accessible sites. Both campgrounds offer modern restroom buildings with showers.
South Higgins State Park Campground is massive, with 400 sites arranged in 10 loops. There’s a mix of 20/30 amp and 50 amp sites. Campsites tend to be close together here, so it’s a great spot for large gatherings or family reunions but less ideal for those seeking privacy. There are modern restrooms and showers located throughout the campground.
The Best Campgrounds in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Campsite Types: RV sites 50-amp electrical hookups, rustic sites, group sites, cabins, backcountry sites
Spanning nearly 50,000 acres on the eastern side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls is one of the state’s largest and most spectacular places to camp. The 200 foot wide Upper Falls is a can’t miss attraction in the park, but there’s also great hiking, fishing, and canoeing throughout the area. Tahquamenon Falls State Park is also a haven for a wide array of wildlife, including black bears, moose, and otters.
There are three main developed campgrounds in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the Lower Falls Modern Campground, the Rivermouth Modern Campground, and the Rivermouth Pines Campground. As its name suggests, the Lower Falls Campground is located close to the Lower Falls, with the Portage Loop being a bit closer than the Hemlock loop. All 188 sites have 30-amp electrical hookups, and a few 50-amp sites are also available. The Rivermouth Modern Campground also offers 30 or 50-amp service at its 72 sites, as well as some ADA accessible and pull-through sites. The Rivermouth Pines Campground is a bit more rustic, but features excellent river views and wildlife viewing.
For a more secluded experience, campers can hike 1-5 miles to one of the three backcountry sites in the park. Each site must be reserved ahead of time and features a picnic table, fire ring, and latrine.
Campsite Types: RV sites with electrical hookups, rustic sites, group sites, backcountry sites, cabins
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (AKA “The Porkies”) is Michigan’s largest state park and one one of the best places to go to get away from it all. Whether you’re looking to hike, snowmobile, fish, or simply watch the sunset over Lake Superior, the Porcupine Mountains will certainly not disappoint. There’s a huge variety of great camping opportunities in the park, ranging from backcountry and rustic sites to modern electrical sites and cabins.
In terms of developed campgrounds, campers can choose between two options. Those seeking a few more creature comforts should head to the Union Bay Campground, which has 100 20/30-amp hookup sites, a modern restroom building, and a camp store. For a simpler experience, check out the Presque Isle Rustic Campground. This campground features 50 sites near the scenic Presque Isle River, plus six walk-in sites on the shore of Lake Superior. There are vault toilets and hand pumps for water.
For a unique experience, consider camping in one of the rustic outpost campgrounds. These small campgrounds can be accessed by vehicle, but offer a much more secluded and rustic experience that feels more like backcountry camping than campground camping. The White Pine Rustic Outpost Camp has eight sites near historic copper mine and the Summit Peak Scenic Area, while the Union River Outpost Camp has just three sites situated along the beautiful Union River. Both outposts have vault toilets but you’ll need to pack in all of your drinking water.
Finally, there are 65 incredible backcountry sites located throughout the park. It’s required that you camp at the site you registered for, and it’s a good idea to make advance reservations for trips in May-October.
Campsite Types: Rustic sites, backcountry sites
With its dramatic cliffs, rugged shoreline, and wild forests, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an unforgettable pocket of true wilderness on the Lake Superior side of the Upper Peninsula. It’s a perfect place for those seeking a rustic and tranquil camping experience, as you’ll find only simple amenities throughout the area. In addition to excellent camping opportunities, you’ll find plenty of other activities, such as waterfall viewing, hiking, fishing, hunting, and more.
Car campers can choose between three rustic campgrounds in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The largest is Twelvemile Beach, which has 36 sites, some with views of Lake Superior, and beach access via a few staircases located throughout the campground. The second largest campground is Hurricane River with 21 sites, including two ADA accessible sites, and connections to the North Country Trail. The 8-site Little Beaver Lake is the smallest of the campgrounds, and features a boat launch and views of Little Beaver Lake. It’s important to note that vehicles longer than 36 feet are not recommended at any of the three campgrounds at Pictured Rocks, and pets are not allowed at Little Beaver Lake.
You can also find excellent backcountry sites throughout the 100 miles of trails in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There are 13 backcountry camping areas, each with 3-6 sites. Most sites are located along the North Country Trail, but there are also some boat-in sites. There are also eight backcountry group sites. A permit is required to camp at any of the backcountry sites.
Campsite Types: Walk-in sites, boat-in sites, backcountry sites, group sites
If you’re looking for a true adventure, consider a camping trip at Isle Royale, Michigan’s only National Park. This remote and rugged island in the middle of Lake Superior can only be accessed by ferry, private boat, or seaplane. Setting up a basecamp on the island allows you to hike, fish, scuba dive, and explore all that the area has to offer. Alternatively, you can plan a backpacking trip that takes you across all or parks of the island. However you choose to camp on Isle Royale, you really can’t go wrong in this wild and beautiful corner of the world.
There are many options for setting up a basecamp, but Washington Creek and Daisy Farm campgrounds tend to be the most popular. Boaters can also set up a basecamp at one of the water-access sites located on Lake Superior.
Backpackers can explore one or more of the many trail-access campgrounds throughout the National Park. The campgrounds vary in terms of size, location, and distance to reach. Paddlers can check out the six campgrounds located along the Chain of Lakes paddling route.
It’s important to note that permits are required for all campers and sites for groups of six or less people are first-come first-served. Group sites can be reserved in advance. Permits are free for groups of six or less and boaters, but all visitors to the National Park need to pay an entrance fee.
Campsite Types: Electric hookup sites, rustic sites, walk-in sites, boat-in sites, dispersed sites, group sites, cabins
Beyond its staggering beauty, plentiful lakes, and charming lighthouses, something that makes Hiawatha National Forest unique is that it borders three of the five Great Lakes. With that much rugged shoreline, plus numerous inland lakes, you can have your pick of waterfront campsites throughout the National Forest. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the excellent sand dunes, fishing, and hiking that the area has to offer.
There are many developed campgrounds throughout Hiawatha National Forest that range in size and amenities. Most campgrounds are on the rustic side, with vault toilets and no hookups. However, a few campgrounds, such as the Camp 7 Lake Campground offer a handful of pull through and 30 or 50-amp sites. Some also have dump stations, including the Bay Furnace Campground.
A few of our favorite campgrounds in Hiawatha National Forest include Little Bass Lake, Au Train Lake, and Lake Michigan. Little Bass Lake has just 12 secluded sites and offers a quiet and private camping experience. Au Train Lake is a great campground for the whole family, with access to every water activity under the sun, from canoeing to water skiing. For a unique experience, you can pitch your tent or park your trailer between 30 foot dunes at the Lake Michigan Campground. Keep in mind that reservations are accepted for some sites at all of the campgrounds except for Corner Lake Campground, Haymeadow Creek Campground, and Hovey Lake Campsites.
Campers looking to get a bit more off the grid should consider heading to the walk-in or boat-in only sites on Grand Island, which is just a half-mile offshore from Munising but feels incredibly remote. Alternatively, dispersed camping is permitted in many areas throughout the forest, including in five excellent dispersed camping zones. This is a great way to get off the beaten track and enjoy a close-to-nature camping experience.
Campsite Types: Electric hookup sites, rustic sites, walk-in sites, boat-in sites, dispersed sites, group sites
Spanning nearly a million acres in the western corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Ottawa National Forest is a perfect destination for camper who want to get away from the crowds and experience nature’s beauty. The National Forest is home to 18 waterfalls, plentiful wildlife, lakes, rivers, hiking trails, and more. Campsites range from modern to rustic and most can accommodate RVs and tents.
There are 22 developed campgrounds in Ottawa National Forest, most of which offer rustic amenities like cold water and vault toilets. The Sylvania/Clark Lake Campground is the best place for those seeking more modern amenities, as there are some sites with electric hookups, plus hot showers and a dump station. Many of the campgrounds are first-come, first-served, although some sites at certain campgrounds can be reserved ahead of time.
A few of our favorite campgrounds in Ottawa NF include Moosehead Lake, Marion Lake, and Norway Lake. Moosehead Lake is a tranquil spot with large, private sites that can accommodate most RVs and trailers. Marion Lake offers great opportunities for anglers and swimmers alike, and is another peaceful and secluded camping area. Norway Lake Campground is in a beautiful setting surrounded by giant Red Pines, and with many sites providing lake views.
In addition to Ottawa National Forest’s developed campgrounds, there are great opportunities for dispersed and backcountry camping. Dispersed camping is permitted in a handful of areas throughout the forest, and walk-in and boat-in backcountry sites are located in the Sylvania Wilderness and require a permit for use.
Have a great trip!
That’s it! We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a great camping trip in Michigan.
Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!