How good is winter camping in Michigan? Michigan’s winters are notorious for being icy and bitter. If you don’t mind wearing a few extra layers and trekking through the snow, however, you can make the most of a frigid Michigan winter with an unforgettable camping trip.
Here are 23 of the best spots for winter camping in Michigan!
Helpful Winter Camping Gear
Winter Camping in Michigan: Upper Peninsula
1. Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Sprawled out across 13 miles of largely undeveloped terrain, Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers a natural Michigan winter camping experience like no other.
Upper Falls, the largest of the park’s many waterfalls, features a breathtaking 50-foot drop of up to 50,000 gallons per second. To access the falls, 35 miles of hiking trails, and other park amenities, reserve a spot at one of seven park campgrounds.
2. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Michigan’s largest state park, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, offers all types of fun activities and over 60,000 acres to explore while enjoying winter camping in Michigan.
In addition to 90 miles of hiking trails, the park features an 18-hole disc golf course, a full-fledged ski area, and Lake Superior waterfront access. With more than 250 campsites across 11 campgrounds, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park provides a variety of year-round accommodations.
3. Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness
Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness is a designated area within the Ottawa National Forest. Sturgeon Falls, a 25-foot waterfall that flows into the river, is a feast for the eyes.
Seven reserved campsites are available at Sturgeon River Campground, while primitive wilderness camping is available year-round. Wilderness campers are able to stay at one campsite for up to 16 consecutive days.
4. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
At Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, campers not only enjoy the scenic views of beautiful beaches, cliffs, and dunes, but also get access to kayaking, boating, and other water activities on Lake Superior and its 40-mile shoreline.
While the park’s three drive-in campgrounds — Little Beaver, Hurricane River, and Twelvemile Beach — are only open from May to October, backcountry camping is available year-round.
5. Dead River Falls
Located just a few miles west of Marquette, Dead River Falls offers stunning views of multiple thunderous water drops over a rocky gorge. Although a difficult hike, the 1.7-mile trail surrounding the falls provides a self-guided tour of the scenery.
As for camping arrangements, Marquette Tourist Park Campground is home to more than 110 different campsites — ranging from simple tent sites to those with full hookups.
6. Bois Blanc Island
For a Michigan winter camping experience that doubles as a sandy island getaway, unplug at Bois Blanc Island — a small but scenic lakefront area that overlooks Lake Huron.
On Bois Blanc Island’s north and south shores, primitive tent campsites and backcountry camping are available. For a more glamorous experience, rent one of the private Island Good yurts or quaint cottages.
Winter Camping in Michigan: Northern Michigan
7. William Mitchell State Park
Nestled between Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell, William Mitchell State Park is a 334-acre getaway spot with multiple boat launches, picnicking areas, and 221 campsites.
At the park’s own Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center, visitors enjoy access to historic hunting and fishing displays, as well as archery and gun ranges.
8. North Higgins Lake State Park
The 449-acre North Higgins Lake State Park is home to three hiking trails, a historic nursery, and CCC Museum — a facility that tells the story of over 100,000 men who took on various reforestation projects during the Great Depression.
The park’s east and west campgrounds offer 174 campsites in total, and campers are able to stay for up to 15 consecutive nights.
9. Rifle River State Recreation Area
Rifle River State Recreation Area is a 4,449-acre paradise with nearly a dozen different lakes and waterways. In addition to water-related activities, the area’s multi-use trail provides over 14 miles of hiking and biking fun.
With more than 150 campsites across four different campgrounds, Rifle River State Recreation Area offers plenty of accommodation options for campers.
10. Tawas Point State Park
Often described as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”, Tawas Point State Park is a 183-acre recreational area that runs adjacent to Lake Huron. Some of the park’s most popular attractions include Tawas Point Lighthouse, the 68-mile Lumbermen’s Monument Auto Tour, and of course, the beach.
Although Tawas Point is home to a few different yurts and cabins, the park’s modern campground provides the most accommodation with nearly 200 campsites.
11. Tippy Dam Recreation Area
Formerly named Hydro Junction, Tippy Dam Recreation Area is a 78-acre hidden gem tucked away on the Manistee River. An angler’s dream, Tippy Dam boasts some of the best king salmon, trout, and steelhead fishing in the state.
Given the park’s small size, campsites are often limited. Be sure to reserve one of the rustic campground’s 40 spots in advance if you plan to choose this campground as your Michigan winter camping destination.
12. Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park
Named after the Michigan Natural Resource Commission’s longest-serving chairman, Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park is a 75-acre recreational located just outside of downtown Traverse City.
The park features a quarter-mile of sandy beach that overlooks Traverse Bay. Despite the park’s relatively miniature size, its modern campground boasts 348 different campsites.
13. Hartwick Pines State Park
As one of the state’s largest parks, Hartwick Pines State Park offers 9,762 acres and seven hiking trails to explore while enjoying winter camping in Michigan. Be sure to stop by the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum for a crash course on Michigan’s golden years in lumber production.
The park’s modern campground consists of 100 campsites and the park offers multiple cabin rental options for those who prefer the “glamping” experience.
Winter Camping in Michigan: Central Michigan
14. Muskegon State Park
The 1,233-acre Muskegon State Park offers a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan via two miles of uninhabited shoreline. Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park — the park’s biggest winter attraction — features cross-country skiing, ice-skating, sledding, and other fun winter activities.
Between the park’s Channel campground and Lake Michigan campground, 245 campsites are available to visitors.
15. Algonac State Park
Algonac State Park offers 1,550 acres of camping fun. The Bridge to Bay Trail, one of Algonac’s highlights, is a 54-mile trek through the entire park and includes a stunning view of the St. Clair River.
The park’s Riverfront Campground offers 220 campsites, while its Wagon Wheel Campground offers an additional 76 sites.
16. Bay City State Recreation Area
Located on the sandy shores of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, the Bay City State Recreation Area offers 2,389 acres of beaches, marshlands, and forestry. During the 1930s, the park attracted well over 1.5 million visitors each year and it remains popular today.
The area offers one modern campground, however, with 193 sites in total. Be sure to reserve a spot well in advance!
17. Ludington State Park
Home to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington State Park is a 5,300-acre area wedged between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. Aside from its beautiful sand dunes and shorelines, Ludington is known for its many hiking trails — which range from roughly a half-mile to four miles long.
The park’s three main campgrounds — Beechwood, Cedar, and Pines — offer 352 campsites in total. A handful of walk-in tent sites and mini cabins are also available with a reservation.
18. Holland State Park
The 142-acre Holland State Park, though relatively small, is one of Michigan’s most beloved state parks. Its eye-catching “Big Red” lighthouse and sunset views of Holland Harbor are just two of many features that give the park its unmistakable charm.
As for accommodation, Holland State Park’s Macatawa Campground and Modern Beach Campground have 211 and 98 campsites, respectively.
19. Port Crescent State Park
Port Crescent State Park frames Lake Huron, sharing three miles of shoreline and a beautiful view of the lake. The 640-acre park boasts three major hiking trails — a day-use trail, a dunes nature trail, and an organization area trail.
While Port Crescent State Park offers cabins, cottages, hammock sites, and geodesic domes, spots are very limited and difficult to reserve. At the park’s modern campground, however, 142 campsites are available.
Winter Camping in Michigan: Southern Michigan
20. Warren Dunes State Park
Warren Dunes State Park, known for its enormous 260-foot-tall dune formation, is a 1,952-acre sandy utopia tucked away in Berrien County.
Warren Dunes State Park offers two major campgrounds — a modern campground with 182 sites and a semi-modern campground with 37 sites. A youth group campground offers an additional six sites for eligible parties.
21. Brighton Recreation Area
The 4,947-acre Brighton Recreation Area is home to multiple lakes, wildlife-rich marshes, and even a floating water park. The area also offers plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails — ranging from the half-mile Blazing Star Trail to the 21-mile equestrian trail.
At Brighton, a modern campground, equestrian campground, and multiple rustic campgrounds provide more than 200 sites in total.
22. Fort Custer Recreation Area
Sandwiched between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Fort Custer Recreation Area provides 3,000-plus acres of lakeside terrain. With access to Eagle Lake, Jackson Lake, Whitford-Lawler Lake, and the Kalamazoo River, Fort Custer offers some of the best fishing in southern Michigan.
The area’s modern campground, which is divided into an east loop and a west loop, is home to 219 campsites in total.
23. Pinckney State Recreation Area
With more than 11,000 acres of terrain and 13 waterfront trails, Pinckney State Recreation Area is an outdoor enthusiast’s winter wonderland.
Pinckney’s Bruin Lake modern campground offers 161 developed campsites, while the Crooked Lake rustic campground offers 25 backcountry sites.
Wrapping Up Winter Camping in Michigan
Michigan winter camping is sure to make for one exciting, snow-covered adventure! Whether you’re a lifelong Michigan native or you’re planning a weekend trip to “the Great Lakes state”, take advantage of these 23 best spots for winter camping in Michigan.
For more outdoor activities in Michigan, check out 16 Best Trails for Hiking in Michigan, 6 Beautiful Destinations for Boondocking in Michigan, and 13 Amazing Destinations for Free Camping in Michigan!
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Ben Morgan grew up on the island of Tasmania, Australia, where he discovered a love for outdoor sports, activities, and other pastimes at a very early age. In his adolescence, he was enrolled in a program that taught all kinds of wilderness survival skills, which he has carried with him throughout life and now shares with the camping community.
Now living at the foothills of South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Ben frequents the mountain range for a dose of the great outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, sightseeing, or exploring, Ben finds few things to be more therapeutic than an impromptu outdoor adventure.