Best Campsites in Michigan

by Amy Myers
best-campsites-michigan

Home to 103 state parks, 138 state forest campgrounds and 300,000 acres of parklands, there’s a reason why locals know their home state as “Pure Michigan.” Up here, in Great Lakes country, the air is so clean and the woods so lush that breathing is almost sweeter and the world seems a bit brighter. Among the state’s thousands of campsites, you’ll find peace and tranquility like you’ve never known before.

Typically, Michigan isn’t on travelers’ top-ten list of places to explore perhaps because it doesn’t have any sandstone canyons or mile-high peaks, but little do they know that the Mitten State has dozens of hidden gems. In fact, you’re never more than an hour away from a campsite or trail system in Michigan. Though nestled in the midwest, the state has an abundance of soft-sand beaches and warm-weather campsites that will make you think you’ve ventured much further southeast where palm trees and tropical flowers flourish.

With sugar maples and yellow birches decorating the mountaintops, fall is just as gorgeous, if not more than the spring and summer months. And camping season doesn’t stop with the first snowfall. Many of Michigan’s campsites cater to winter adventurers by making sure the roads are clear and the grounds are safe for cross-country skiers and snowy sunset chasers.

Take a look at Outsider’s recommendations for year-round camping in the Great Lake State. These are the best campsites in Michigan.

Platte River Campground at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

For the river radicals.

  • Location: 5685 Lake Michigan Rd, Honor, MI 49640
  • Campground contact: (231) 326-4700
  • Park hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Campground website

With a total of 179 campsites, Platte River Campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore caters to campers of all kinds, from families and beginner adventurers to hardcore pros. That said, because the campground is so big and so accommodating, it tends to be pretty popular during summer and fall, so if quiet mornings and space to spread out are at the top of your must-have list, you might want to consider choosing one of our other recommended campgrounds.

With direct access to both Platte River and Platte Lake, it’s not surprising that the campsites are the go-to choice for paddlers, anglers and beach-goers, and in the summer, the water’s warm enough to even take a dip. This area is the perfect destination for those that need a bit of island time without traveling too far from home.

Campground breakdown:

  • 25 walk-in/boat-to tent sites: $22 per night
  • 96 electric hook-up sites: $31 per night with hook-up use; $26 per night without
  • 5 group sites: $50 per night

Platte River amenities: phone reception, food storage lockers, flush and vault toilets, hot showers, firewood, potable water, sanitation dump station, picnic area, fish cleaning station, raised grills, river walk, boat launch and accessible changing rooms.

Reserve a Platte River campsite here.

Tahquamenon Lower Falls Campground at Tahquamenon Falls State Park

For the waterfall chasers.

  • Location: 6999 N. Lower Campground Lane, Paradise, MI 49768
  • Campground contact: (906) 492-3415
  • Park hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Campground website

Imagine unzipping your tent and watching the sun rise over a gushing, 200-foot-wide waterfall as a rainbow cuts through the mist of the Tahquamenon River. That’s exactly how you’ll wake each morning at the Lower Falls Campground in Paradise, Michigan. The view is worthy of an oil painting and has been a source of inspiration for the thousands of campers and adventurers that chose to stake their tent or park their RV on these grounds.

Campground breakdown:

  • 160 30-amp electric campsites: $31 to $38 per night
  • 28 50-amp electric sites: $42 per night
  • 8 ADA-compliant sites: $31 to $42 per night

The Lower Falls Campground is split into two portions, the Hemlock and Portage Campgrounds. Both sections are equipped with their own playgrounds, bathrooms and water sources. However, the Hemlock loop has more shade, cell service and direct access to trails. Meanwhile, the Portage loop has an ADA-compliant bathroom and more open spaces than Hemlock.

Tahquamenon Lower Falls amenities: boat ramp, picnic area and tables, a recreation trail, fishing area, playground, potable water, fire rings, flush toilets, sanitation dump station, showers, general store/concessions stand and firewood.

Reserve a Tahquamenon Lower Falls campsite here.

Presque Isle Campground at Porcupine Mountains State Park

For the minimalist campers.

  • Location: Balsam Drive, Presque Isle, MI 54557
  • Campground contact: (706) 657-4050
  • Park hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Campground website

You won’t find better mountaintop views than at Presque Isle Campground in Porcupine Mountains State Park. Located at the western-most edge of the state, the rustic campsites overlook Lake Superior just a whisper away from the Wisconsin border. With 60,000 acres of parklands and 90 miles of hiking trails surrounding you, there’s no shortage of adventure no matter which direction you head.

Campground breakdown:

  • 50 rustic campsites: $20 per night
  • 6 walk-in tent sites: $20 per night

The Preque Isle Campground has two sections, east and west. Of these two, only the east loop is generator-friendly, and there are no electric hookups. In fact, there really aren’t too many amenities at this campground, but for those looking for a deeper connection to their surroundings, this is exactly the kind of campsites you want. Additionally, park roads close from December 1 to late-spring, so be sure to book a stay here before the first snowfall.

Presque Isle amenities: some phone service, vault toilets, hand-pumped water, firewood, picnic tables and a sanitation dump station.

Reserve a Presque Isle campsite here.

View from Summit Peak towards Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan, USA. (Photo by: Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Seaton Creek Campground at Huron-Manistee National Forest

For the campers with kids.

  • Location: Seaton Creek Campground, Mesick, MI 49668
  • Campground contact: (231) 723-0141
  • Park hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from April 23 to October 11
  • Campground website

Don’t get us wrong – having a playground, concessions stand and modern bathrooms are perfect additions to a family camping trip, particularly if you’re looking for an easy way to spend a weekend. But if you’re really looking to introduce and immerse your little ones into the wonder of the woods, try a few nights at the Seaton Creek Campground in Huron-Manistee National Park.

You’ll still have clean drinking water and a couple of bathrooms, but beyond that, you’ll be relying on the area’s natural amenities to for family bonding. But don’t fret – you have direct access to Seaton Creek which leads to the backwater of Hodenpyl Dam Pond on the Big Manistee River. Here, you can take out a canoe and a few fishing rods to catch the river’s variety of scaly swimmers, including perch, bluegil, crappie, sunfish, trout, bass, pike and even salmon. Then come back to camp to cook your catch or gaze at the millions of stars blinking above you.

That’s a trip your kiddos won’t soon forget.

Campground breakdown:

  • 17 standard, non-electric campsites: $20 per night
  • 2 group sites: $52 per night

Seaton Creek amenities: phone service, picnic area, pit and vault toilets, accessible walkways, fire rings, creek access, potable water, hand-pumped water, grills, tables, tent pads and a quiet area.

Seaton Creek standard, singular campsites are first-come, first-serve. So be sure to have a Plan B in store just in case.

To reserve a group campsite, click here.

A family in a canoe on Huron River. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Muskegon Lake Michigan Campground at Muskegon State Park

For the cold-weather campers.

  • Location: 481 N Scenic Dr, Muskegon, MI 49445
  • Campground contact: (231) 744-3480
  • Park hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Campground website

Muskegon State Park is a go-to destination in the summer for its wide beaches and seasonal, modern bathrooms for a bit of freshening up between waterfront activities. But there’s even more to love about the Muskegon Lake Michigan campsites in the winter. Once snow begins to build across the landscape, the area turns into a winter wonderland that you could only expect to find in Disney movies. A unique reason it qualifies as one of the best campsites in Michigan.

Nearby trails transform into cross-country skiing trails and sledding hills, and the beach becomes the perfect spot to sip a hot cocoa under a cozy blanket. Open year-round with frequently maintained roads, you can count on this spot for your winter destination.

Campground breakdown:

  • 82 standard electric campsites: $41 per night
  • 24 50-amp electric sites: $45 per night
  • 2 mini cabins: $52 per night
  • 1 yurt: $68 per night

Muskegon Lake Michigan amenities: beach access, vault toilets, seasonal showers and flush toilets, sanitation dump station, general store and firewood.

Reserve a Muskegon Lake Michigan campsite here.

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