With lakes and forests covering two-thirds of the state, Michigan is a camper's paradise.
When it comes to natural attractions, Michigan holds all the aces. This landlocked state has more state parks and state forests than any other, miles of coastline, and more than 10,000 lakes—which means you’ll never be more than six miles from the water. Some of the best camping is found on the beaches and islands of the Great Lakes, so plan a summer getaway to swim, fish, and kayak, or a fall camping trip to admire Michigan’s spectacular foliage. Winter is best suited for RV camping, with snow blanketing much of the state from November through March.
The Upper Peninsula is Michigan’s wild toupée, with swathes of old-growth forests, sandy beaches, and inland lakes stretching along the southern shore of Lake Superior. This is the spot to escape the crowds, whether pitching your tent by the sand dunes in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, parking your RV by a waterfall in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, or yurt camping in the Porcupine Mountains. For the ultimate camping experience, the Hiawatha National Forest has some 60 campsites to choose from.
Bordered by Lake Michigan to the West and Lake Huron to the east, the northern Lower Peninsula has the highest concentration of Michigan state parks. Miles of mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking trails await in the Huron National Forest, where you can choose from modern campgrounds or backcountry camping. Along the coast, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must-see, Wilderness State Park is a dark sky reserve, and Ludington State Park Beach is a family favorite.
Grand Rapids is the gateway to Michigan’s southwest, where the shore of Lake Michigan provides plenty of options for a summer camping trip. Lakefront cities such as South Haven, Benton Harbor, and Holland have sandy beaches, historic lighthouses, and seafront campgrounds. Forget tent camping in the wilderness—RV sites come equipped with full hookups, playgrounds, and watercraft rentals.
Michigan's "Thumb" juts out along the west shore of Lake Huron, where Sleeper State Park and Port Crescent State Park are the big draws for campers. Below this, the west coast is ideal for a road trip, peppered with shipwreck dive sites, secluded beaches, and golf courses. South of Detroit and Lake St. Clair, Sterling State Park is the only state park on the shore of Lake Erie, with a mix of RV and tent sites by the beach.
In Michigan, you can often camp for free in designated areas or dispersed camping zones within its national forests, such as the Hiawatha National Forest and the Huron-Manistee National Forest. However, some areas may require fees or permits. These forests offer dispersed, primitive camping with no facilities. You'll need to come prepared and follow Leave No Trace principles. Additionally, some state forest lands also allow free dispersed camping, but it's essential to check the specific regulations for each area before setting up camp.
Yes, Michigan offers excellent camping opportunities, with diverse landscapes, numerous state parks, and beautiful natural attractions. You'll find over 1,000 campgrounds throughout the state, ranging from rustic and primitive sites to well-maintained and modern facilities. Michigan is home to two peninsulas, each with its own unique camping experiences.
The Lower Peninsula boasts beautiful lakeshores, sand dunes, and bustling cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids. Popular camping destinations include Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Ludington State Park.
The Upper Peninsula offers a more remote and rugged experience, with vast forests, waterfalls, and the shores of Lake Superior. Must-visit camping spots include Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
The best month to camp in Michigan is typically September. During this time, the weather is generally mild and comfortable, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F. Additionally, September offers beautiful fall foliage, fewer bugs, and less crowded campgrounds compared to the peak summer months. However, if you prefer warmer temperatures for swimming and water activities, consider camping in Michigan during the summer months of June, July, or August.
Yes, boondocking, also known as dispersed camping, is legal in Michigan on public lands, such as national forests and some state forests. In Michigan, you can boondock in areas like the Huron-Manistee National Forests and the Hiawatha National Forest. There are also private properties available for boondocking through Hipcamp. Be sure to follow the rules and regulations for each specific area, such as staying within designated areas, practicing Leave No Trace principles, and adhering to any fire restrictions.