These are the absolute best campgrounds in "Da U.P."
The upper peninsula of Michigan is one of the best kept secrets in North America for outdoor adventure. Driving "up north" from the lower peninsula is something of a tradition for residents. The vacation truly begins once you cross the Mackinac Bridge, lose your cell phone or WiFi signal, and head for your favorite recreation area.
Fayette State Historic Park
This is a great option for history buffs as this campground is located on the Garden Peninsula just a short drive from Manistique and Escanaba, Fayette was the site of an iron mining town from 1867 to 1891. And many of the original buildings are still in this ghost town just waiting for you and your family to explore them. The campground is small, quiet, and quaint. The Michigan state park website has it still labeled as rustic, but it has modern restrooms, showers, and electrical hook-ups. This is also a great place to spot wildlife, as I encountered many deer wandering the ghost town and along the main roads during my latest visit. There are also some beautiful spots to take in a sunset on Lake Michigan here.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Located about an hour from St. Ignace, and only about 20 minutes from Paradise, Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls is a classic and a family vacation tradition. The big highlight here is the Upper Falls, which drop nearly 50 feet and stretch 200 feet across. Do not forget to visit the Lower Falls too, which may not be as large but are still spectacular. The park is home to multiple campgrounds including the modern campground at the lower falls that is perfect for RV camping and a handful of backcountry sites for campers wanting a more rustic experience. This park offers a year-round camping experience. Come in the fall for the spectacular colors and the winter for the peace and tranquility away from the crowds.
Twelvemile Beach Campground
This campground is part of the gorgeous Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and is a perfect place to setup for exploring that and the greater Grand Marais and Munising areas. This rustic campground only has 36 campsites, but they are located high above beautiful Twelvemile Beach on Lake Superior. Note that the National Park Service recommends RVs no longer than 36 feet and vehicles and trailers no longer than 42 feet combined due to limited places to turn around. While this campground has water, there is no electricity. Restroom facilities consist of vault toilets. Do not let that discourage you though. This park is about soaking in nature and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Sylvania Wilderness in Ottawa National Forest
If you are looking for a backcountry experience where you can simply get away from it all, consider heading into the Sylvania Wilderness not far from the Wisconsin border. The 50 rustic sites of this area are not organized all in one location though, which is part of the appeal of staying here. They are scattered around eight different lakes filled with giant pike, trout, and walleye. The U.S. Forest Service does not allow motorized boat traffic onto the lakes which helps keep the nearly million-acre wilderness area as quiet can possible. The sites have fire rings and wilderness latrines but are otherwise primitive.
DeTour State Forest Campground
This rustic campground is a good option if you are looking to explore Drummond Island in the eastern part of the U.P. The sites will only accommodate vehicles up to 40 feet in length. They do offer fire rings. While there are no modern restroom facilities, it does have potable water available via hand pump. The sites are shady and secluded from one another, offering easy access to a sandy beach on Lake Huron. Online user reviews rave about the night sky views. The only downside to this one is sites are doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is a chance the 21 sites may be filled up when you get there. It might pay to call ahead of time to Brimley State Park, which manages it, to see how full they are.
Petes Lake Campground
Located in the Hiawatha National Forest, this campground does not have any electric sites, but it offers excellent access to some of the best fishing in the U.P. Restroom facilities are vault toilets and each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. Potable water is also available. Sites here are shady and quiet. Many people who visit this campground come year after year for the tranquility and seemingly endless outdoor recreation possibilities.
Union Bay Campground
This one is in the extremely picturesque Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park about 15 miles outside of Ontonagon. Union Bay is a fully modern campground with full hookups and a dump station. There is also a camp store for needed supplies while you explore the scenery of the Porkies. Just a few miles down the road is the scenic Lake of the Clouds overlook. The campground itself is extremely picturesque being situated on Lake Superior. Many of the sites are directly on the lake where you can watch the sunset as the waves crash on the rocks. This is one of my personal favorites in the entire upper peninsula.
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park
Located up near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula near Copper Harbor, Fort Wilkins is another fully modern campground with 50-amp services and mini rental cabins. This is a great learning opportunity for the kids with the 1844 army outpost and historic reenactors who help showcase what life was like in the mid-19th century. The campsites all have easy access to Lake Fanny Hooe which offers excellent paddling and fishing. The sites here do not offer as much privacy as some other parks on this list, but the park is extremely quiet. Keep a lookout for friendly deer wandering the park while you are here!
F.J. McLain State Park
This may be the best modern camping option in the Houghton area of the Keweenaw. McLain does not get quite as much attention as Porcupine Mountains or Fort Wilson, yet it offers modern facilities, a dump station, and a camp store. Enjoy two miles of sand beach on Lake Superior and a view of a spectacular lighthouse while you are here. There are also miles and miles of hiking trails to explore.
Straits State Park
Some of the best views of the Mackinac Bridge are here at Straits State Park located on the shore of Lake Huron. Some of the sites at this park come with their own bridge view. Imagine cooking dinner and enjoying drinks while watching a sunset over the bridge. This modern campground has 50-amp electrical services and a dump station. Even if you do not get a site on the lake, it is an extremely short walk from all the sites to the beach. If you want to spend several days exploring the straits or checking out nearby Mackinac Island, this is the place to set up shop.
Van Riper State Park
Granting easy access to the Peshkee River and Lake Michigamme, this one is easy to access about 20 minutes from Ishpeming, and 35 minutes from Marquette. It hosts a modern campground with 147 sites offering 50-amp services. There is also a camper cabin and a mini cabin for rent. While not all the sites offer privacy, most of them are shaded under a gorgeous stand of pine trees making this a perfect overnight stop while making a road trip through the U.P.
Muskallonge Lake State Park
This one is a little out of the way when compared to some of the other parks, but that is perfect for people wanting to get away from it all. Muskallonge hosts both 20/30-amp and 50-amp sites in its modern campground and the park has boat ramps so you can go straight to fishing Muskallonge Lake every morning. The waters there hold some truly giant northern pike. Despite the remote location, this state park has extremely nice modern restroom facilities that rival some of the best private RV parks out there.
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