For many Michiganders, August signifies the beginning of the decline in camping excursions. Sweet memories have been made, adventures taken, and there is always the lingering smell of campfire smoke that just won’t seem to leave all of your clothing! Truth is, Michigan is one of the best places in the country for camping. This state is filled with such a unique geographical set up that in one area you can be running down sand dunes and other areas searching rocky beaches for agates or Petoskey stones.
Michigan is, without a doubt, unparalleled in terms of geography for camping. The amount of campgrounds available for use by the public is expansive. There are approximately 229 campgrounds around the state, spanning from the Lower Peninsula to the upper most peak of Copper Harbor. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cares for the state grounds, those of which consist of 13,500 campsites, in addition to the local recreation areas, and the Kampgrounds of America (KOA). Camping’s prevalence has become a culture for Michigan, one that allows us to thrive through connection. Below is a brief list of camping regions that portray the true message of what it means to be ‘living Michigan!’
The East Coast
Along the east coast of Michigan there are numerous small camping communities where the locals welcome the summertime madness. There are two such places that bring in the out of town tourists during the warm months. One of which is Caseville, Michigan. This city provides prime camping and beach activities all season and in August hosts the infamous Cheeseburger festival. Along the town’s outskirts cabins and campgrounds are available for rentals.
In particular, the camping town dear and near to my heart is Oscoda just north of Standish and Tawas. This remote beach town lies along the shores of Lake Huron; it is a place where on the chilliest of mornings, a crack of dawn swim can become a lifetime memory. About 10 miles west of town you’ll find one of the largest campgrounds, Old Orchard. It not only contains rustic camping spots for the more intrepid campers, but also temporary tent and RV sites. Oscoda is a great community for camping families. For many it has become a gathering place to socialize, bike, swim, boat, and fish. Fond memories include kayaking down the AuSable River, road biking along all of the back paved roads, visiting Lumberman’s Monument, and eating at the amazing Mexican restaurant, Desi’s. Because this town is so close to the area of Tawas, short day trips are another option for campers.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has the geographic landscape of a forested blanket with mountain terrain. This is an area for prime outdoor activity ranging from extreme mountain biking in Copper Harbor to kayaking on the Portage River in Houghton. Campers can stay at Agate Beach, nestled within Toivola’s recreational area. The campground appears rustic because of the landscape, but electricity is available for campers. Agate Beach campground is adjacent to Lake Superior, so campers can cool off on the sandy beach after a long day of hiking.
Another great place located in the northern Munising area of the Yoop, is Pictured Rocks. This is a beautiful area to visit not only for the camping but for also the breathtakingly gorgeous cliffs, unique rock formations, dunes, and waterfalls. The forty-two mile shoreline extends from Munising through Grand Marais. With many different places to visit, the camping opportunities are ample in this area, some of which are: Little Beaver Lake, Twelvemile Beach, and Hurricane River campground. This location is known for trail hiking, visits to Hurricane Shipwreck, or kayaking along Pictured Rocks.
North Western Michigan
The western side of the state is far sandier in comparison to the rest of Michigan. One of the more spectacular places within this area to visit is the Sleeping Bear National Park. Located in the northwestern portion of the Lower Peninsula on Lake Michigan this region contains some of the most magnificent sand dune hills that are a blast to climb and race down toward the water. The lakeshore provides approximately 100 miles of hiking trails, paved trails, and 35 miles of mainland swimming. For anyone interested in pursuing a vacation trip to this area- the Platte River campground offers both rustic tent camping as well as electricity for RVs.
For the stouthearted, backcountry camping (uninhabited rural area camping) is also a viable option in this area in places like White Pine, Valley View, or the North and South Manitou islands. There are important rules to abide by with backpacking and rustic camping so be sure to do research before hand to prevent issues!
In Michigan while traveling along the highways, signs for camping exits are equally as prevalent as those for food and gas stops. It isn’t difficult at all to find camping places in Michigan, and this was a brief, condensed version of the possibilities available within this great state. The true key to camping is understanding what kind of a camper you are and then going about finding the unique and perfect spot for YOU. If you still don’t have any clue as to what kind of a camper that may be, check out these great references, and try multiple places! A whole world of excitement and profound memories await you! Live Michigan; connect with Michigan, camp Michigan.
For a more in depth references for camping, visit these links!
You can now also register to go camping online! Follow this link and find out more!
–Katherine Baeckeroot, Contributing Writer