Best Michigan Campgrounds to Add to Your Bucket List

A couple relax in a hammock hanging between two trees next to a shore at a campground in northern Michigan.
Photo by Esther Tuttle

From bluffs and beaches to forests and falls, there’s no end to the amazing camping trips you can experience throughout Michigan’s 83 counties. The best of Michigan’s campgrounds are spread across two peninsulas and connected by the Mighty Mac and Midwestern spirit.

So get ready to pack your fifth wheel, travel trailer or motorhome and join us for a tour of some of the best campgrounds in Michigan!

Important note: Due to Covid-19, many campgrounds and attractions have temporarily closed or limited capacity to allow for social distancing. Please contact each campground or park directly for latest information and updates.

Why is Michigan the best place to camp?

The Great Lakes State attracts campers for many reasons, including:

  • Access to water, ideal for swimming, kayaking, surfing, tubing, boating, fishing and more
  • Sweeping, breathtaking views of lakes, sunsets, mountains, wine country and waterfalls
  • Warm days and cool nights, perfect for relaxing around the campfire
  • Natural amenities. Spend time in the Great Outdoors by hiking a nature trail, climbing a sand dune, picking fresh fruit, relaxing on the beach, listening to the soothing sounds of waterfalls and walking along a pier

Some campers come from across the country to explore popular tourist destinations like Mackinac Island, Frankenmuth and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Others who live in Michigan like to drive an hour or two away from home to unplug, kick back and relax at the best campgrounds in Michigan.

People gather around a campfire at night.
Photo by Tegan Mierle

8 of the Best Michigan Campgrounds

No matter where you call home, Michigan’s diverse campgrounds won’t disappoint. With literally hundreds of thousands of private and publicly owned campsites, there is a spot waiting just for you.

Here’s a look at eight unique Michigan campgrounds that showcase the best the state has to offer:

Best RV friendly Michigan campground: Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground | Mackinaw City, MI

Named one of Michigan’s “Top Family Friendly Campgrounds” by The Detroit News, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping has traditional RV camping with a wide assortment of amenities to keep everyone entertained. For instance, you can explore the hiking and biking trails, basketball court, heated pool, dog-friendly campsites, natural swimming beach, miniature golf course and arcade and game room.

This Michigan camping experience has a relaxed atmosphere with more than 200 acres of woods and a mile of shoreline, but what sets it apart is its proximity to one of the state’s most beloved features – the Mackinac Bridge. A few large full hookup RV sites (including a pull-thru site) provide panoramic views of the Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island and the Straits of Mackinac that are so stunning that you won’t be able leave without at least 100 photos of it on your phone.

The Mill Creek campgrounds are only three minutes from downtown Mackinaw City, a vibrant community bustling with restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Set up your campsite, then take a walk or ride a bike into town. You can also hop on a ferry for a day-long excursion of Mackinac Island. While you’re there, sample lots of its famous fudge!

There are more than 200 RV campsites, including small, medium, large and extra-large sites with full hookups, making this one of the best RV campgrounds in Michigan.

Best campground for an authentic Michigan vacation: Platte River Campground | Honor, MI

Fun for the whole family is what you’ll find at the Platte River Campground, located in the southern district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, once hailed as the Most Beautiful Place in America by Good Morning America.

A stay here is almost required because you really haven’t vacationed in Michigan until you’ve gone tubing down the Au Sable, Rifle or in this case, the Platte River. Some of the best camping in Michigan is just a few minutes away from outfitters that rent the tubes as well as kayaks and canoes. Spend a lazy afternoon floating down the river. You’ll be treated to the peaceful sounds of the water, scenic views and wildlife sightings.

Trail sign designates a hiking path at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, near Platte River Campground. Lake Michigan can be seen in the background.

Want more Great Lakes fun? Explore the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb and experience another Michigan tradition: Climbing the sand dunes. The sand dune climb is just a 20-minute drive north of the campground. Older kids will have a ball climbing and then sliding down. However, remember that it can also be taxing on you. Climbing the steep dunes can be strenuous. Especially if you choose to trek out to Lake Michigan. It’s about 3.5 miles round trip and can take three or four hours to complete.

When you’ve wrapped up your adventures for the day, head back to one of the best places to camp in Michigan to watch a spectacular sunset over Lake Michigan.

While there is plenty to see and do within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, if you want to venture into the city, take the half hour drive to Traverse City. The area is known for hosting the National Cherry Festival, an eight-day celebration of everything related to cherries. The city is also home to a number of award-winning wineries and breweries. Before planning your trip, check out the city’s calendar of events.

The campground offers spacious campsites with lots of trees that provide plenty of privacy. There are electrical hookups and some pull-thru sites. Hot showers are available. In addition, you’ll find potable water and a sanitation station at the entrance. Water spigots are also located throughout the campground.

Best campground for admiring nature: Tahquamenon Falls State Park | Paradise, MI

Putting Tahquamenon Falls State Park on a list of the best places to camp in Michigan is a no-brainer. People continue to flock to this Upper Peninsula state park year after year to experience nature at its finest.

The highlight is, of course, the falls. The Upper Falls are one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, it has a drop of nearly 50 feet, is more than 200 feet across and has a water flow of more than 50,000 gallons per second. Its striking copper color comes from tannins leached from the cedar, spruce and hemlock in the swamps drained by the river.

The Upper Tahquamenon Falls viewed from above during the autumn. Two campgrounds - some of Michigan's best - are located at the Lower Falls.
Photo by Dennis Buchner

The Lower Falls is where you’ll find two modern campgrounds. Hemlock Campground is located approximately one mile from the Lower Falls while Portage Campground is near the river and located one-quarter mile from the Lower Falls. Electric hookups are available.

After admiring the falls, you should consider hiking some of the many trails. Or try renting a rowboat to paddle out to Lower Falls Island. You can also take a Toonerville Trolley tour to learn more about the area and get a different view of the falls.

This is sure to be one Michigan camping trip where the family won’t mind being disconnected from their phone, television or Internet for a while.

Best Michigan campground for outdoor recreation: Wa-Wen Resort | Drummond Island, MI

Unlike the other campgrounds on our list, you’ll need to take a ferry to get to Wa-Wen Resort. But you won’t mind the extra travel time once you arrive at this destination. Wa-Wen Resort provides some of the best camping in Michigan and plenty of ways to play in the great outdoors.

Located off the northern tip of the mitten in Lake Huron, Drummond Island is a peaceful vacation spot with lots of outdoor recreation possibilities. Although it’s only 44 miles as the crow flies from Drummond Island to Mackinac Island (80 miles by car and ferry), this tale of two islands couldn’t be more different.

While Mackinac Island is known for its large fleet of bicycles and horse-drawn carriage travel, on Drummond Island ORVs and ATVs rule. The island features 60 miles of ATV trails and 40 miles of ORV trails which are perfect for both beginners and experts alike. Additionally, the island hosts several Jeep events throughout the year. For example, the annual Jeep the Mac from St. Ignace to Drummond Island is held the fourth weekend in April.

An ATV sits next to a toy hauler RV.

Birdwatchers, rock hounds and boaters will also appreciate bird watching during spring and fall migration periods, the number of stone and fossil hunting opportunities available and the great boating conditions. And, you can find pontoon boat rentals, as well as some of the best perch and walleye fishing spots around so pack your rods and reels.

Campers love the spacious pull-thru sites, full hookups and access to amenities. The RV sites at Wa-Wen Resort have full hookup with 50/30/20 amps. Some are seasonal so be sure to call for details and plan accordingly.

Best campground for bird watching: Tawas Point State Park | Tawas, MI

It’s no surprise why Tawas Point State Park has been called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” After all, this scenic park and its campground are situated on an ideal site along Tawas Bay. The protected waters in the bay provide warm, shallow water for swimmers and plenty of wind for sailboaters and kiteboarders.

This part of the world is also well known for its exceptional birdwatching because it is an important stop for birds during the spring migration season. For many, it provides the first opportunity for them to rest after flying over Lake Huron. For others, it’s a good place to pause before tackling the rest of the journey to Canada. It’s easy for birders to get a nice, long look at the birds, too. Since they are so exhausted, they often stick around for a little bit.

One of the best places to camp in Michigan, the campground at Tawas Point State Park is well organized. There are centrally located restrooms, a sanitation station and playground. Many campsites have mature trees that offer shade during the height of the summer sun.

Visit Tawas Point Lighthouse, built in 1876, when you camp at the Tawas Point State Park, near Lake Huron, Michigan.

In addition to wildlife viewing opportunities, the campground provides easy access to all of the park’s beautiful features. This includes the Tawas Point Lighthouse, the only true Victorian-era style station built on the Great Lakes. There is a separate, smaller beach area for campers with the day use beach and lighthouse just a short walk or bike ride away thanks to a paved hiking trail to both destinations.

Best place to camp and experience Michigan history: Camp Dearborn | Milford, MI

You can’t tell the story of Michigan without Detroit and the automotive industry. There are campgrounds dotted all along southeastern Michigan, in rural and urban areas. These Michigan camping spots are conveniently located off major highways. If you’re looking for a place to escape to for a weekend getaway or a great side stop on your way up north, Camp Dearborn is a fantastic location to learn more about Michigan’s rich history.

Make your reservation at Camp Dearborn, located 44 miles northwest of Detroit. Check into one of the 191 RV/tent sites (95 with electricity and 96 with full, 50 amp hookup). Then, travel 45 minutes southeast to Dearborn to explore The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. All use engaging presentations, displays and artifacts to share the story of the Ford family, as well as the evolution of the state’s auto industry, and its impact on the country as a whole.

1903 Packard Model F Runabout on display at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI, May 28, 2018

After discovering more about Michigan’s roots, relax with a stroll through the charming town of Milford. When you return, you can enjoy the facilities at the campground, which include a private beach and swimming lake and a heated swimming pool with a furnished deck. Camp Dearborn is recognized for some of the best camping in Michigan thanks to its family-oriented organized activities, like a morning fitness program, various arts and crafts, evening campfire sing-a-longs, weekly talent show and more.

Best campground for getting away from it all: Porcupine Mountains Union Bay | Ontonagon, MI

The views of the rugged Lake Superior shoreline attract many campers to Porcupine Mountains Union Bay, a scenic campground located near the eastern entrance of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The lots are modern with electricity.

The Porcupine Mountains, or “Porkies,” as they are affectionately called, are a small group of mountains that run along the northern tier of the western Upper Peninsula. The state park is 60,000 acres of untouched wilderness – one of the last such areas left in the Midwest today. Within its borders are picturesque settings featuring old-growth forests, waterfalls, rivers, streams and a variety of wildlife. It’s a wonderful part of the Michigan camping experience to lounge outside and breathe in the fresh, crisp air or fall asleep at night with listening to crickets and frogs.

Photo by Dennis Buchner

When you have nature’s playground right outside your window, you don’t need much else to be entertained. With some sunscreen, bug spray, water and a few other supplies, head out to hike the more than 90 miles of trails, marvel at the beauty of Lake Superior and take photos of some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll likely ever come across.

Don’t miss Lake of the Clouds, a scenic overlook with a viewing platform that gives you a bird’s eye look of the forest and lake below. Another great stop is Summit Peak. Although there are a number of stairs to maneuver here, at the top you are rewarded with a view that stretches on for miles.

Best campground for star gazing: Port Crescent State Park | Port Austin, MI

While many tourists will head to Lake Michigan for the ultimate beach vacation or Lake Superior for picturesque views, sometimes the best places to camp in Michigan pop up in places where you least expect them. Or, in this case, what we call the sunrise side of the state.

Port Crescent State Park shares the adventure and fun of the Saginaw Bay. Located at the tip of the thumb, its more than 100 campsites, including those with full hookups, are the perfect size for those with smaller campers. Think pop-up campers, teardrop trailers, and lightweight travel trailers. The waterfront views and stunning sunsets make this a perfectly peaceful place to set up camp.

One of Michigan's best campgrounds, Port Crescent State Park, near Port Austin, is also one of the best places to stargaze in the state.

Adding to the pleasant atmosphere is the lack of light pollution. Because of limited light at night, the stars will look like they are popping out of the sky at the park’s dark sky preserve. It’s one of only seven in Michigan. Stargaze to your heart’s content from the comfort of your campsite. Or, if you’d rather go to the dark sky preserve, pack a blanket to spread out and take a peek from the viewing platform.

A wooden boardwalk provides scenic views of the bay. If you really want adventure, you can even camp here in the winter. Michigan is known for being a winter wonderland and cold-weather fans can enjoy activities like hiking and cross-country skiing. Moreover, winter is one of the best times to stargaze! Not only are the nights longer, the reduced humidity in the air means clearer skies. Before you decide to make your trip, check out these tips for staying warm while admiring the night sky.

For more information on the best campgrounds in Michigan

  • Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping offers fabulous views of the Straits of Mackinac and Mackinac Island. It is located at 730 U.S. Hwy. 23 in Mackinaw City. For more details, call (231) 436-5584.
  • The Platte River Campground, located in the southern district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, provides outdoor family recreation for all. For reservations, call (877) 444-6777.
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park, located at 41382 W. M 123 in Paradise, is a spectacular park featuring Upper Falls and Lower Falls. Families will enjoy the scenic views and easily accessible trails. For more information, call (906) 492-3415.
  • Put your RV on a ferry and head to Wa-Wen Resort on Drummond Island for a fun adventure. The resort is at 32884 S. Maxton Road, Drummond Island. For reservations, call (906) 493-5445.
  • Tawas Point State Park is located on Tawas Bay at 686 Tawas Beach Road, East Tawas. For more information, call (989) 362-5041.
  • Camp Dearborn is 626 acres of rolling hills, ponds, trees and lakes just outside the Detroit metro area. For reservations, call (248) 684-6000.
  • Porcupine Mountains Union Bay is in the heart of a small group of mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Enjoy lots of trails, scenic views and nature at its finest. For reservations, call 1-800-447-2757.
  • Port Crescent State Park is located on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Enjoy winter activities, the dark sky preserve and three miles of shoreline. For information, call 1-800-447-2757.
Share Button