8 Best Places To Go Camping In Michigan

Michigan is for lake-lovers. Not only is it surrounded by three of the five Great Lakes, it has thousands of beautiful inland lakes too—plus acres of forests and miles of rivers. If you’re looking for a beautiful camping destination that has plenty of water for swimming, fishing, paddling, and playing, check out these 8 of the best places to go camping in Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore gets its name from the shape of its massive sand dunes that tower over Lake Michigan. This narrow park includes dense forests, inland lakes, and sandy beaches along 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline plus two small islands. In the summer months, a ferry takes campers to the islands (but no vehicles are allowed).

If seeing the park’s huge sand dunes compels you to run to the top and roll all the way down, there’s the perfect place to do just that. The Dune Climb is just north of the town of Empire and offers a huge sandy area where the whole family—including kids—can play on the sand dune. There’s also a nearby picnic area.

Where: Empire

Sites: 2 campgrounds plus rustic campgrounds on South and North Manitou Islands

Reservations accepted? Yes

Silver Lake State Park

Silver Lake State Park is another great park along the sandy Lake Michigan shore with one key difference: it allows off-road vehicles on some of its sand dunes. One of the park’s big draws is its 450-acre ORV scramble area where SUVs, ATVs, UTVs, and dune buggys can roam free. (They’re the only sand dunes open to off-road vehicles east of the Mississippi.) The park also offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, and camping.

Where: Mears

Sites: 1 campground with 200 sites

Reservations accepted? Yes

Best Places To Go Camping In Michigan - Silver Lake State Park

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

It’s a long road trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from most major midwestern cities, but it’s well worth the time in the car. This beautiful park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was the country’s first national lakeshore and includes 42 miles of undeveloped Lake Superior shore. But there’s also plenty to explore inland including 114 square miles of forests, inland lakes, sandstone cliffs, and waterfalls.

Spend the weekend (or longer!) paddling a kayak through the park’s sea caves, fish one of its many lakes, or hike along its 100 miles of trails. Camping options here are a bit more rustic. You can opt for a drive-in site with no electrical hook-ups (and only vault toilets and well water) or get a permit for a backcountry site.

Where: Alger County

Sites: 3 rustic drive-in campgrounds with 65 sites, plus 14 small backcountry campgrounds

Reservations accepted? Yes

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

A few miles before the Tahquamenon River flows into Lake Superior, it spills over two impressive waterfalls in the heart of Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The upper falls is the larger of the two: it spans 200 feet and drops nearly 50 feet. Four miles downriver, the lower falls is smaller but still scenic. The park offers easy access to the upper falls via a short 0.3 mile trail from the parking lot to the viewing area. But if you want a bigger adventure along the river, a 4.8 mile hiking trail will take you from the upper falls to the lower falls.

Most of the park’s 50,000 acres is undeveloped but there are still hiking and camping opportunities. Plus, you can canoe the 17 miles from the lower falls to Lake Superior!

Where: Paradise

Sites: 3 campgrounds with 296 sites, 3 hike-in sites, a camper cabin and a lodge

Reservations accepted? Yes

best camping in Michigan - Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

The Porcupine Mountains are a small range along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (At barely 1,400 feet above sea level, “mountains” seems like a generous term but in the midwest, we’ll take what we can get.) What the Porcupine Mountains lack in size, however, they make up for in scenery. The 60,000-acre Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park includes sights like the iconic Lake of the Clouds, panoramic views of Lake Superior, and amazing stands of old-growth hemlock forest.

When you consider that most of the northern old-growth forests had been cut down by the beginning of the 20th century, it’s a small miracle these trees are still standing. For campers, the park offers a diverse range of accommodations including one modern campground, a few rustic drive-in campgrounds, backcountry sites, rustic cabins, yurts, plus a small lodge that sleeps up to 12 people.

Where: Ontonagon

Sites: Various accommodation options from drive-in camping to rustic cabins

Reservations accepted? Yes

Warren Dunes State Park

Not all of Michigan’s Great Lakes fun is in the northern part of the state. Warren Dunes State Park sits at the very southern end of Lake Michigan. Its natural sand dunes rise to 260 feet above the lake and provide incredible views (and hang gliding opportunities for the more daring). The park’s sand beaches are also perfect for swimming or just enjoying time in the sun. When you’re done with the beach for the day, there are also 6 miles of hiking trails to explore.

Where: Sawyer

Sites: 2 campgrounds with 219 sites

Reservations accepted? Yes

Traverse City State Park

This small state park combines outdoor activities with easy access to popular Traverse City. The park is just 47 acres but has a swimming beach, a large campground, and a cottage you can rent that sleeps up to 11 people. If you want to take a break from the outdoors and explore Traverse City, it’s just 3 miles up the road.

Where: Traverse City

Sites: 1 campground with 343 sites plus a group camp and a cottage

Reservations accepted? Yes

Sleepy Hollow State Park

Just north of Lansing is the small but beautiful Sleepy Hollow State Park. The Little Maple River runs through the park and near its center is Lake Ovid, a 410-acre lake that offers plenty of opportunities for anglers, water sports, and birdwatchers. More than 220 migratory bird species have been spotted in the park! Hike or bike through the park’s forests and prairies or make yourself at home in its campground.

Where: Laingsburg

Sites: 1 campground with 181 sites, plus a rustic cabin and modern cabin

Reservations accepted? Yes


Love cheese and fantastic craft beer (and of course camping)? Check out our guide to the 8 Best Campgrounds in Wisconsin.