Do you want a camping trip that has lake scenery and a little peace and quiet in a forest? Consider camping at Indian Lake State Park in Michigan! You’ll enjoy spending time by the lake or exploring the surrounding national and state forest land.
Keep reading to learn what you’ll experience during your Indian Lake State Park camping adventure!
Brief History of Indian Lake State Park
Indian Lake is the fourth-largest inland lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s the divider for the park’s two campgrounds, which are three miles apart from each other. The government acquired both lands in the 1930s and developed them between then and the mid-1960s.
According to surveyor records from 1850, Indians lived near Indian Lake (formerly known as M’O’Nistique Lake) in log cabins.
What to Expect
Recreation Passport Requirement
You’ll need a recreation passport to camp at Indian Lake State Park. This passport allows you to access other state parks and recreation areas, as well as boat launches and parking lots.
Be sure to have it when you arrive or buy it at the park. Michigan residents renewing license plates through the Secretary of State can check Yes to receive the passport.
Fees for Facilities
A few of the park’s facilities require a low fee to use them. If you camp rustically, you’ll have to pay a per-shower fee to use the shower facilities. RV campers may be charged for draining sewage tanks at the dump station.
Indian Lake State Park Camping
Camping Spots in the Park
Your camping options at Indian Lake State Park are primitive, tent, and partial-hookup RV camping. For RV camping, you may either back in or pull through the sites.
Online and phone reservations are available, but keep in mind that the rustic campground sites are first-come, first-served.
There are 145 pull-through and tent-only sites at this open-area campground to get your Indian Lake State Park camping trip started. Some sites have 50-amp service, while others have 20- and 30-amp electric services.
The campground is conveniently located near the swimming beach, boat ramp, and picnic areas, as well as seasonal modern toilet and shower buildings.
For rustic camping at Indian Lake State Park, stay at one of the 72 sites at this wooded campground. Each of them has 20-amp electrical service and restrooms with vault toilets.
Instead of running water, the campground has hand pumps for water. There’s also a small day-use area with a swing set and four picnic tables.
At the south campground are two ADA-accessible one-bedroom cabins that sleep up to four guests. They have electricity and lighting, and sleeping arrangements include a full-size bed, cot, and a single upper bunk. They don’t have linens, so you’ll have to pack your own.
In addition to the cabins’ few kitchen amenities, outside each one is a charcoal grill, fire ring, and picnic table.
Camping Spots Near the Park
Peak seasons for reserving campsites may lead to a campground selling out. In case your Indian Lake State Park camping takes you outside the park, book these spots nearby:
Manistique Lakeshore Campground
The Manistique Lakeshore Campground is only eight minutes from Indian Lake State Park. Here you have a choice of what kind of camping experience you want. RV camping with pull-through sites and full hookups or rustic camping? You decide!
You may not be camping inside Indian Lake State Park, but you’ll be closer to many local attractions. Visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, lighthouses, wineries, waterfalls, and other sights!
Thunder Cove Manistique Cabin
In the Hiawatha National Forest, less than half an hour from Indian Lake, is the two-bedroom, one-bath Thunder Cove. The cabin has a view of Thunder Lake with a boat launch. You’ll have plenty of privacy and amenities like a 50-inch Smart TV, queen beds, and an outdoor gas grill.
While you’re here, visit Kitch-iti-kipi, the largest freshwater spring in Michigan, and ride a raft on it. The kaleidoscopic effect of the sand and water in this big spring is not something to miss!
Things to Do at Indian Lake State Park
- Fishing: An 8,400-acre Indian Lake is the best place for fishing. Fish for walleyes, sturgeons, northern pikes, and more species — but follow the fishing laws regarding licenses and registrations.
- Swimming: The designated swim area is at the 75-yard sandy beach near the South-Modern Campground. Guests who’ve gone camping at Indian Lake State Park rave about the well-maintained beach and shallow water.
- Boating: Drive a boat or canoe, play paddlesports, or watch these vessels float along Indian Lake. Also, kayak rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis, so claim yours soon!
At the day-use area, there’s a ¼-mile paved and accessible hiking trail that runs along Indian Lake. If you’re not walking or jogging it, ride your bike as you take in the scenic view!
Another trail to hike on is the 1.4-mile Dufour Creek Trail. Located in the South-Modern Campground, the trail has bridges that take you over Dufour Creek twice. Besides walking it, you can cross-country ski or snowshoe the trail, but be aware that you’re trekking along an ungroomed trail.
The picnic shelter and the ADA-accessible beach house are two reservable shelters for feasts and gatherings. Their amenities include indoor fireplaces, group charcoal grills, water supply, electricity, and lake overlooks.
You may reserve one of these shelters a year in advance for your Indian Lake State Park camping vacation.
Enjoy a few rounds of volleyball and horseshoes if you’re not swimming or picnicking in the day-use area. And for quiet, sightseeing moments, the three overlooks at the observation platform are at your service.
Wildlife Near Indian Lake
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is northeast of the park for bird and wildlife watching. Birdwatchers will have a field day seeing hundreds of species of birds, like swans, loons, bald eagles, and more.
Other animals you’ll see on or near the refuge are red foxes, bears, porcupines, and deer.
Take it Easy at Indian Lake State Park
Booking an Indian Lake State Park camping trip is just the thing if you’re a nature lover or just really love lakes! Make your escape into the peaceful outdoors and cool off in the lake or explore the beautiful scenery of the forest.
Visit our State Park Camping page for more ideas on where to camp in the USA.
- About the Author
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Sarah Keck is a long-time resident of the Midwest and loves its warm and cool atmosphere. She takes any walking or hiking opportunity with open arms and likes to learn and write about the best trails.
Sarah’s first camping experience was her church’s teens’ and twenties’ summer conference years ago. Her favorite activities were exploring the campground and sitting by the fire, listening to the wildlife.
As time went on, Sarah looked forward to camping and other vacation opportunities. Writing for Beyond the Tent has opened her eyes and mind to the country’s many beautiful destinations.