Best Michigan Campgrounds
Travis Smola

12 Awesome Places to Camp in Michigan This Summer

Here are the places to camp in Michigan.

Spring is finally here. The weather is warming, and the camping season is about ready to kick off.

Here in Michigan, there are plenty of awesome opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in both peninsulas. Whether you are looking for a sandy beach on one of the Great Lakes or a wilderness state park to get away from it all, there is something for everyone.

But which campgrounds in the state are the best and offer the most chances to enjoy nature?

Don't worry, we've got you covered with this list of the 12 best areas to camp in the state of Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore/Manitou Islands

Arguably the most popular tourist destination in Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes offers incredible beach views and sand dunes on Lake Michigan's sunset coast. There are hiking trails, fishing, and more recreational opportunities to be found here.

What's great about this area is there is a style of camping for everyone. Looking for a family-friendly campground with full facilities and full hookups for RVs? They've got that. Looking for a slightly more rustic tent experience? They've got that too with their day campground.

If you're looking for a backpacking adventure, they have that as well. Take the ferry over to the Manitou Islands where you will have to pack all your gear in and out. There are numerous trails, ghost towns, a lighthouse, and even a shipwreck to see on the islands, so there is no shortage of things to do.

I suggest booking reservations for campsites early. Both Sleeping Bear Dunes and the islands are extremely popular with tourists and spots can fill up fast in the summer months.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

This is another place that can get really busy during the peak summer tourist months, but it's such a great area that you're missing out if you've never visited this Upper Peninsula location. Most Michigan residents have seen the upper falls before, but don't forget about the lower falls. They are quite spectacular too!

The lower falls is where the state has most of their modern camp sites with full hook ups for RV. But the park also has several areas full of more rustic sites for a tent camping trip where you don't need all the amenities.

Tahquamenon Falls also has plenty of nature trails and fishing and hunting opportunities. I actually recommend this park more in the fall rather than summer. Just because the colors make for an incredible backdrop next to the falls and a memory you'll not soon forget.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

The "Porkies" are located about as far west as one can go in Michigan, and are the only thing close to actual mountains you'll get in the Great Lakes State. Unless you live nearby, it's probably going to take you a while to drive to this remote park. But is it ever worth it once you're there with the beautiful sights and miles and miles of trails to explore.

The Porcupine Mountains offer a few different camping areas, and some can be used for as little as $17 a night. The park also rents out 18 different rustic cabins that come a hike's length away from where you park and unload. It's great for those who don't like sleeping on the hard ground, but still want something of a "roughing it" camping experience.

If you're looking for peace and solitude, you really can't go wrong with the Porkies.

Port Crescent State Park

One of the more underrated and unknown parks in Michigan, Port Crescent is located on the shores of Lake Huron in the lower peninsula and has many sites that offer a great view of the waters. I think this one doesn't get as much attention because it's not on the sunset coast. When I stayed here in October a few years ago, there was hardly anyone else in the park.

This place offers great bathroom and shower facilities and I even saw a bald eagle while out walking on the beach one evening. There's a lot of great fishing opportunities available in this area for an angler looking to explore a new area this spring and summer.

South Higgins Lake State Park

This one is another hidden gem that gets overlooked quite a bit, probably because everyone focuses on the more popular nearby Houghton Lake. But Higgins Lake State Park has a beautiful, clean campground full of modern amenities and a marina for fishermen and women looking for a weekend to get away from it all. Even in mid-June when I visited, the place was amazingly quiet.

There are many sites available with a beautiful view of the clear waters of Higgins Lake. It's the perfect place to cook up some hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill and then sit at some picnic tables and enjoy the sunset.

There is also a North Higgins Lake State Park, but I much prefer the layout and views of the southern park to the northern one. If you don't feel like cooking in camp, check out Matt's Lake Street Grill & Pizzeria about nine miles away in nearby Roscommon for an awesome meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you've never visited Pictured Rocks, you're missing out on not only one of the Upper Peninsula's most beautiful locations, but one of the best locations in Michigan, period. Campsites in Pictured Rocks are rustic and highly coveted, so there is some competition to get one. But if you can, you're in for a treat. You can explore the Lake Superior shoreline area whether it be by personal boat, kayak, or one of the guided tours.

And trust me, don't forget to bring a camera. There is a very good reason this area was made into a National Lakeshore area.

Yankee Springs Recreation Area

Proving that not every great campground in the state has to be a National Forest or State Park, Yankee Springs offers a bunch of fishing and hunting opportunities in a secluded and scenic part of the southwestern lower peninsula.

This was another place I camped at in the off-season in October and even with the campground partially filled up, it was still a very nice and quiet place to camp. There are some great hiking trails to be found all around the area. Be sure to check out the Devil's Soup Bowl!

Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park

Own a four-wheeler, UTV, or other off-road vehicle? Want to take them out for a fun spin in the sand dunes? Then Silver Lake Sand Dunes is an awesome option. This park has beautiful beach front views of Lake Michigan and plenty of areas to fish, swim, and take in the great outdoors. I've also heard this park has recently been remodeled, giving us yet another reason to love it.

When you're ready for some fun, take your ORV over to the off-road vehicle area for serious sand dune fun. There really aren't too many areas left in Michigan, let alone the entire U.S., where you can do this sort of off-roading anymore, so take advantage while you still can!

Ludington State Park

This state park is situated on a narrow strip of land between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. There is also easy access to the Big Sable River, which means the fishing and hunting opportunities in this area are numerous.

The park also features three distinct campgrounds with modern facilities to choose from. For those looking to get away from it all, there is also a hike-in rustic campground where you can rough it. There are numerous hiking trails and even an old lighthouse to explore and discover. This is one of the most popular parks in Michigan, so be prepared for some crowds.

Fort Custer State Recreation Area

This park is a more land-locked option if you don't like camping on the great lakes coastlines. Fort Custer offers a plethora of hunting and fishing options. The campground is clean, quiet, and tucked away from it all, even if it is squeezed between the cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

Surprisingly, this place is often not that busy during the summer months, making it a hidden gem that not many people even know about, much less have stayed at.

Tawas Bay State Park

Here's another lesser-known park, probably because it is on the eastern coast line of the lower peninsula and therefore the less-popular side to enjoy recreational opportunities. Tawas Bay isn't big; the park is only 183 acres. This campground sits on a peninsula jutting out into Grand Traverse Bay, making for some awesome scenery.

Like many parks on Michigan's coastlines, there is a lighthouse to check out and plenty of beach for the kids to play in the waters of Lake Huron.

Hiawatha National Forest

If you're looking for opportunities to camp while hunting and fishing in a remote paradise filled with scenic stands of trees and waterfalls, you can't really go wrong with this National Forest. There is nearly 900,000 acres of wilderness to explore and the Forest Service operates multiple campgrounds that will suit nearly anyone's tastes.

Like having a place to hook up an RV? Try the Bay Furnace Campground by Munising. Looking to get away from it all in the backcountry? Try the Haymeadow Creek Campsite. It's a large area and whatever the recreational opportunity you're looking for, there is sure to be a campsite to match.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis Youtube channels