Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your camping gear just yet. Michigan is known for its awesome camping opportunities throughout the state – including over 100 state parks! Just because of Michigan’s seasonal changes, you shouldn’t be afraid to visit one of the 13,500+ campsites after Labor Day. Everyone thinks state park adventures are for summer, but fall has plenty to offer as well. Also, did I mention that one night at a Michigan state park averages only $25?
Here are some cool state parks to visit in the fall and all year round:
- Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Upper Peninsula): Visiting the iconic Tahquamenon Falls means you can camp at the lower falls and then take a scenic four hour hike to the upper falls. The upper falls area includes the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery so you can reap rewards once you get up there! And, if you do visit in the fall, be sure to check out their Harvest Festival on October 11th for pumpkin carving, trick or treating, and more!
- Porcupine Mountains State Park (Upper Peninsula): Being the biggest state park in Michigan, it boasts some of the best fall foliage in the UP. The Porkies provide once in a lifetime “Lake of the Clouds” views, over 90 miles of trails, and great beaches. This state park has been on my personal bucket list forever!
- Traverse City State Park (Northwest Michigan): Maybe a little obvious for a Northwest Michigan campground choice, but this is one of my comfortable favorites. A short drive to Sleeping Bear Dunes, wineries, fall color tours, and all that the pinky part of Michigan has to offer. Oh! Don’t forget the beautiful beachfront.
- Otsego Lake State Park (North Michigan): One of the most memorable for fall colors with over 60 miles of trees and a beautiful shoreline, make sure to visit in late September for the best views. Otsego also has a Halloween Harvest Fest that includes campsite and t-shirt decorating.
- Holland State Park (Southwest Michigan): This state park is one of my personally cherished camping spots just because of it’s central location. You can visit the darling towns of Holland, Grand Haven, South Haven and Saugatuck all within a 30 minute drive. Also, be sure to check out the dunes right next to the campgrounds – you can walk up the dune via a stairway for an awesome sunset.
- Tawas Point State Park (Northeast Michigan): Located between Lake Huron and Tawas Bay, this campground is known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” You have the opportunity to explore the famous Tawas lighthouses and fall bird watching. You can even sign up to be a lighthouse keeper and stay in a lighthouse for one to two weeks! Another perfect autumn activity on the east side of the state is to take a fall color tour – this one takes you right through Tawas Point State Park along Lake Huron.
- Belle Isle State Park (Southeast Michigan): Michigan’s newly claimed state park is right in the heart of Detroit! Although you can’t do any camping, I definitely think it’s a park worth mentioning. The DNR is making improvements every day – you can visit for fishing, picnics, special events, beautiful skyline views, and more!
Be sure to pick up your Michigan Recreation Passport before visiting any state park. It’s a sticker that you can purchase for only $11 at any state park or at the Secretary of State (when you renew your plate) that allows entry to every park for the whole calendar year.
I barely scratched the surface on the awesomeness that is Michigan state parks and all the fun fall activities that are out there. What are your favorite ways to spend time in some of the nation’s best state parks?