Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Camp at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins State Park Jesse3

“The Fort” at Fort Wilkins

If you want to camp in Copper Harbor, you’ve got two options, the state owned Fort Wilkins State Park, or the privately owned Lake Fanny Hooe Resort & Campground.

Both campgrounds offer modern camping with electricity, showers and more. I’ll focus on Fort Wilkins State Park for this post and will cover the Lake Fany Hooe Resort in another post.

Either place would be a great jumping off point for exploring Brockway Mountain, biking or kayaking with the Keweenaw Adventure Company, sampling some beer from Brickside Brewery, or taking advantage of the dozens of other cool things to do in the Keweenaw.

Fort Wilkins is a pretty cool campground because it’s part of the Fort Wilkins Historic Complex, a well maintained nineteenth century military outpost. Many of the fort’s buildings are open for exploration, complete with recreations of what life was like back when the fort was fully operational.

If you peruse the grounds and read the signs, you’ll learn the following:

  1. The winters were harsh, and pretty much no one wanted to be there.
  2. Many of the soldiers were immigrants.
  3. One soldier was meant to be tried for “General Worthlessness” and “Habitual Drunkenness”, but he escaped. (Go figure.)

I laughed out loud at that last one.

And a Little More Detail…

Fort Wilkins State Park Jesse2

Lake Fanny Hooe. Great for paddling or fishing.

The campground is situated on the north bank of Lake Fanny Hooe, a long, skinny (and deep) lake that’s just a few hundred yards inland from Lake Superior. It’s a great lake for paddling, or fishing if you’re so inclined.

Fort Wilkins also has a good sized playground for the kids, and some nice walking and biking paths around the campground. This is a super family friendly place. Heck, they even have on site laundry!

While there are a few campsites with some nice elbow room (site #10, for example), many of Fort Wilkins’ campsites are packed together like sardines. When my wife and I visited there early this summer, the campground was only at about twenty or thirty percent capacity, which meant that everyone had plenty of room. Breathing room is good!

However, if you’re there during the peak of summer when they’re closer to full capacity, I can easily imagine being woken up by the sound of some guy snoring in his tent the next site over. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs.

I’m told that they always fill up Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, and they’re often nearly full most weekends of the summer.

I should also note that Fort Wilkins has two “loops.” The “east loop” is a little more open and the “west loop” has more trees between campsites. Also, the west loop currently has Wi-Fi. Most of the sites in both loops are close together, but hey, if you’re camping in Copper Harbor, life is good!

Fort Wilkins State Park Jesse5

Here’s one small section of the “West Loop” campground

All in all, I’m sure we’ll camp here again, but next time I’ll try to get camp site #10 or one closer to the water. Next time we’ll also bring the kayaks!

In Summary

Bottom line: Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is a unique place to camp and a great base for exploring Copper Harbor. However, the camp sites are really packed in there.

Address: 15223 U. S. Highway 41 Copper Harbor, MI 49918

Phone: (906) 289-4215

Other Things to Note: There’s an excellent beginners bike trail (The “Fanny Hooe Trail”) that connects Fort Wilkins to Copper Harbor. It’s pretty short and a great way to get to and from “town” if you don’t want to drive.  Two cabins are also available for rent within the park.

To view more photos of Fort Wilkins Historic State Park and Campground, click here to visit my Facebook page and browse to the “Fort Wilkins State Park” album.