Best Michigan Campgrounds to Add to Your Bucket List
by Christina Applegate
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.
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.
3 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
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
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.
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
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 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.