Michigan State Parks Are Great

Ultimate Michigan State Parks Guide 2024

Michigan has 97 state parks and recreation areas. This means that when you are in Michigan you are never more than an hour’s drive of a state park or recreation area. Pretty impressive.

More than 22 million visitors are welcomed to Michigan’s State Parks each year.

There are more than 11,000 lakes and 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan. The only state with more shoreline than Michigan is Alaska.

The state parks in Michigan are some of the finest in the country as far as recreation opportunities, cleanliness of facilities, majestic views, and variety of the areas covered by our state parks.

I have tried to list brief highlights for each of the Michigan State Park and Recreation Areas. They are broken down by location as follows –

  • Upper Peninsula State Parks
  • Northern Michigan State Parks
  • Western Michigan State Parks
  • Eastern Michigan State Parks

Don’t forget your state park motor vehicle permit

You will need a Motor Vehicle Permit (MVP) to access any of the 97 state park and recreation areas in Michigan. Annual and daily permits are available as follows:

  • Annual Permits:
    • Residents – $24
    • Non-Residents – $29
    • Seniors – $6
  • Daily Permits:
    • Residents – $6
    • Non-Residents – $8
    • Commercial Coach – $15

You can purchase a permit at almost every state park and DNR Operation Center. You can also purchase annual permits online at the Michigan E-Store.

Some Michigan State Park Campground Terminology

I’ll break down some of the terms you are bound to come across when you are looking at some of Michigan’s State Park Campgrounds.

  • Modern Campsite – feature electric hookups (amps will vary), modern toilet buildings, showers, wheelchair-accessible sites, and sanitation stations.
  • Semi-Modern Campsite – Two options for this type of campsite. The first offers electrical service but no modern toilet/shower buildings. Vault toilets are available on location and water is available from a hand pump. The second option provides modern toilet and shower buildings but no electrical hookups.
  • Rustic Campsites – Vault toilets and hand pump water. No showers or flush toilets. Obviously, no electricity either.
  • Equestrian – Vault toilets, hand pumps, and hitching posts for horses.
  • Mini Cabins – Located in modern state park campgrounds, near modern restroom facilities with showers and flush toilets, mini-cabins sleep four and are furnished with bunk beds, a table, and electricity.
  • Rustic Cabins – Located in quiet, secluded settings, these cabins accommodate from four to 24 people. Hand pumps and vault toilets are located nearby.

Information gathered from the Michigan DNR website.

Make your Michigan State Park Campground Reservations Online

Make your 2024 Michigan State Park Reservation Today!

Michigan Campground Reservation System offers you the chance to simply make your campground reservations online. You can make reservations up to 6 months in advance of your arrival date.

A lot of folks make reservations in December and January for a summer stay at one of the more popular Michigan State Park Campgrounds.

They have full-color maps that display the layout of the campgrounds so you can pick a particular campsite by its corresponding number. Definitely worth a look if you are serious about camping at one of Michigan’s State Parks.

Upper Peninsula State Parks

Here is a list of the Michigan State Parks strictly in the Upper Peninsula.

Tahquamenon Falls

Baraga State Park

You have a choice of camping at 116 modern sites, 10 semi-modern sites, a Tepee, or a mini-cabin.

Bewabic State Park

133 modern and 4 semi-modern campsites are available. Recreational opportunities include picnic areas, a hiking trail, two playgrounds, an excellent beach and a boat launch to Fortune Lake.

Brimley State Park

Brimley State Park is one of the Upper Peninsula’s oldest state park. 237 modern and 32 semi-modern campsites are available at this park along the shores of Whitefish Bay.

Craig Lake State Park

If you want to experience some of the Upper Peninsula’s wilderness the rustic sites and rustic cabins will take a vehicle with high ground clearance to reach. Prepare to see deer, beaver, black bear, loons, and the occasional moose.

McLain State Park

98 modern campsites and a rustic cabin await overnight visitors. In addition to the gorgeous views of Lake Superior, you can view the Keweenaw Waterway Lighthouse, fish, go berry picking, and rock hunting.

Fayette Historic State Park

You can camp at 61 semi-modern campsites or stay at the Fayette cottage. The park affords visitors a look at a ghost town from the heyday of Upper Peninsula mining.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

159 modern sites available for camping. Copper Harbor Lighthouse is nearby and Lake Superior provides a spectacular backdrop. You can also tour historic Fort Wilkins.

Indian Lake State Park

Indian Lake South campground has 145 modern sites and the Indian Lake West campground has 72 modern sites. The Thompson State Fish Hatchery is two miles from the park, rowboat rentals available, swimming, fishing, and three miles of hiking trails provide recreation.

J.W. Wells State Park

150 modern campsites, rustic cabins, and the J.W. Wells-Bay Stone Lodge available for lodging. 3 miles of shoreline, beautiful sandy beaches for swimming, 6 miles of hiking trails, and fishing are just some of the recreation activities at J.W. Wells State Park.

Lake Gogebic State Park

105 modern campsites and 22 semi-modern sites available. Enjoy Swimming, fishing, and hiking at Lake Gogebic State Park.

Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site

Observation decks overlook one of the Upper Peninsula’s many magnificent waterfalls. A mile of foot trails, picnic area, and water pump available.

Mackinac Island State Park

This is Michigan’s first state park. 80% of Mackinac Island is considered part of the state park. The island’s scenic views include the straits area, limestone rock formations like the Sugarloaf and Arch Rock, and majestic views of the Mackinac Bridge along M-185 (Michigan’s shortest highway).

Muskellunge Lake State Park

159 modern sites available. The former site of Deer Park (a late 1880s lumbering town) provides a 1.5-mile hiking trail, swimming, fishing, and Tahquamenon Falls is just a short drive away.

Palms Book State Park

Palms Book State Park is more commonly known as Kitch-iti-kipi, The Big Spring, which is 200 feet across and 40 feet deep. You can still take a self-operated observation raft to look at the incredible underwater features.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

3 Yurts, 100 sites at Union Bay campground, 50 rustic sites at Presque Isle, Kaug Wudjoo Lodge, 19 rustic cabins, 3 rustic sites at Union River Outpost, 3 rustic sites at Lost Creek Outpost, and 8 sites at White Pine Extension are available for overnight lodging. Click the link for the numerous recreational activities available at this park.

Straits State Park

255 modern campsites and 15 semi-modern sites. The Father Marquette Memorial is located in the Straits State Park and there are excellent panoramic views of the Mackinac Bridge from the park.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

188 modern sites at the Lower Tahquamenon Falls campground, 36 semi-modern and rustic sites at the Rivermouth Pines campground, and 72 modern sites at the Rivermouth campground. Hunting, fishing, canoeing (rentals available), 35 miles of hiking trails, and of course – the majestic Tahquamenon Falls themselves are highlights of this park.

Twin Lakes State Park

62 modern campsites available. Swimming at Lake Roland, fishing, 1.5 hiking trail, and a 55-mile snowmobiling trail.

Van Riper State Park

147 modern sites and 40 rustic sites available. Swimming in Lake Michigamme, fishing (walleye are plentiful in Lake Michigamme), 4.75 miles of hiking trails, and moose sightings are pluses for staying at this park. The Iron Industry Museum is in nearby Negaunee (well worth a visit).

Wagner Falls Scenic Site

This is the smallest Michigan State Park. A nice short 1/2 mile hike takes you to an observation deck for Wagner Falls. Very pleasant and peaceful stop.

Northern Michigan State Parks

This is a list of the Michigan State Parks from Cadillac to Mackinaw City.

Traverse Bay

Aloha State Park

285 modern campsites are available here. There are numerous play and recreation areas in addition to the beaches for swimming.

Burt Lake State Park

306 modern campsites within this 400-acre park. Beach area available for swimming on Burt Lake.

Cheboygan State Park

76 modern campsites, rustic cabins, and a tepee are available for campers. Excellent fishing and nature trails along Lake Huron.

Clear Lake State Park

200 modern campsites are nestled within the Mackinaw State Forest that Clear Lake State Park is located in. Elk sightings are possible in the mornings and evenings at the park.

Fisherman’s Island State Park

81 rustic sites along the shores of Lake Michigan allow for a few of the sites to actually sit among the dunes. Hiking trails and excellent beaches for finding Petoskey stones.

Harrisville State Park

195 modern campsites and a Sunrise Cabin are available for overnight lodging. Harrisville State Park is one of Michigan’s oldest state parks (est. 1921). Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and Museum is a good area attraction.

Hartwick Pines State Park

100 modern campsites and one rustic cabin for overnight stays. Michigan Forest Visitor Center provides information on our state’s forests and the logging industry. 49 acres of Old Growth Pines give the park its name.

North Higgins Lake State Park

174 modern campsites at the East and West Higgins lake campgrounds. 11 miles of hiking trails, swimming, and the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum are park highlights.

South Higgins Lake State Park

400 modern campsites situated in the nice shade provided by towering hardwood trees. This is one of (if not the) the most popular Michigan State Parks. Book your reservations for the summer during the preceding winter do try for a spot.

Interlochen State Park

Tepee site, 52 rustic sites at the Green Lake campground, and 428 modern sites at the Duck Lake campground. The Interlochen Center for the Arts is next to the park providing excellent concerts from award-winning artists all summer long. Canoeing on the nearby Platte and Betsy rivers is also available.

Leelanau State Park

52 rustic campsites and two mini-cabins are available. Recreation activities include the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Museum, 8.5 miles of hiking trails, and a good beach for finding Petsokey stones.

Historic Mill Creek State Park

3.5 miles of scenic trails take you past a beaver dam and through four different types of forest. The museum store and water-powered sawmill (used to provide lumber for the construction of Fort Mackinac) are a lot of fun.

Onaway State Park

96 modern campsites available. Fishing on 10,130 acre Black Lake, swimming, and a three-mile hiking trail are this park’s recreation opportunities.

Orchard Beach State Park

166 modern campsites available. Swimming, 2.5 miles of hiking trails, and metal detecting areas are the recreation opportunities at this park.

Otsego Lake State Park

155 modern campsites on Otsego Lake. Swimming, fishing (don’t need a boat – use the fishing pier), and some foot trails are the recreation opportunities at this park.

P.H. Hoeft State Park

143 modern campsites and one mini-cabin are available. 4.5 miles of hiking trails, swimming in Lake Huron, fishing, and a paved biking trail runs to Rogers City and ends at Calcite Limestone Quarry.

Petoskey State Park

70 modern sites at the Dunes campground and 98 modern sites at the Tannery Creek campground. Swimming, searching for Petoskey stones, paved biking path to Harbor Springs, and 3 miles of hiking trail is the recreation opportunities at this park.

Rifle River Recreation Area

75 modern sites at Grousehaven campground, 16 rustic sites at Spruce campground, 5 rustic cabins, 25 rustic sites at Ranch campground, and 58 rustic sites at Devoe Lake campground are available. Fishing, swimming, hiking, canoeing, and mountain biking are the recreation opportunities at this park.

Tawas Point State Park

193 modern campsites are available. The Tawas Point Lighthouse and museum are the centerpieces of this state park. Lake Huron swimming, 2-mile hiking trail, and two miles of sandy beach are other items of note.

Traverse City State Park

343 modern campsites are available. Wi-Fi internet access in the campground area, swimming in Grand Traverse Bay, kayaks and hydro boats available for rent, paved bike trail, and hiking on the TART trail.

Wilderness State Park

250 modern campsites and 9 rustic cabins available. More than 16 miles of hiking trails, hunting, fishing, swimming in Lake Michigan, and over 16 miles of mountain biking trails.

William Mitchell State Park

221 modern campsites available. Visitor Center, Lake Mitchell swimming, fishing, and 2.5 miles of hiking trails.

Young State Park

158 modern sites at Spruce campground, 41 modern sites at Terrace campground, and 41 modern sites at the Oak campground. Swimming in Lake Charlevoix, fishing, almost 5 miles of hiking trails, and nearby Horton Bay known for their huge 4th of July parade and for being the former stomping grounds of the late Ernest Hemingway.

Western Michigan State Parks

This list covers all of the Michigan State Parks south of Cadillac and west of Lansing.

Macatawa Bay

Charles Mears State Park

175 modern campsites and Old Baldy interpretive trail are highlights here. There is Wi-Fi internet access available near the park’s concession stand.

Duck Lake State Park

This 728-acre day-use park features large dunes, sandy beaches, fishing, and small game hunting during the appropriate seasons.

Fort Custer Recreation Area

219 modern campsites and 3 rustic cabins provide sleeping and resting areas in between hikes and mountain biking expeditions or horseback rides on the 25 miles of multi-use trails.

Grand Haven State Park

174 modern campsites with the Grand Haven Lighthouse and sandy beaches just a short walk away.

Grand Mere State Park

Huge sand dunes and a mile-long beach make this state park a good place for swimming.

Holland State Park

The beach campground has 98 modern sites and the Lake Macatawa campground has 211 modern sites available. Swimming at Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan and views of sunsets over Lake Michigan are bonuses of staying here.

Ionia Recreation Area

100 modern campsites and 49 Rustic Equestrian sites available. Canoeing and kayaking on Sessions Lake. Hunting and fishing opportunities when in season. 3.5 miles of hiking trails, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and 9 miles of mountain biking trails.

Ludington State Park

This is one of the most popular Michigan State Parks. 144 sites at the Beechwood campground, 10 sites at the Jack Pine hike-in campground, 96 sites at the Pines campground, and 104 sites at the Cedars campground within the park. Wi-fi access, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, swimming, a canoeing trail (rentals available), 18 miles of hiking trails, and numerous fishing areas are some of this park’s highlights.

Muskegon State Park

105 sites at Lake Michigan campground and 139 sites at the South Channel campground. 12 miles of hiking trails, swimming, a luge run is available in the winter, and fishing are a few of the recreation opportunities at the park.

Newaygo State Park

99 rustic campsites available. If you enjoy camping, fishing, or boating this park is right up your alley.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

293 modern campsites available. Over 10 miles of hiking trails, dune climb stairway, and swimming are the recreation opportunities available at this park.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

13 miles of hiking trails (mostly in the dunes area), birdwatching, and a wonderful sandy beach are some of this park’s highlights.

Silver Lake State Park

200 modern campsites available. This park’s biggest attraction is the dunes that allow you to take your off-road and all-terrain vehicles out on the dunes. Hunting, fishing, swimming, and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse are some of this park’s highlights.

Van Buren State Park

220 modern campsites available. Swimming in Lake Michigan and hiking the big dunes are the main attractions for this park.

Warren Dunes State Park

182 modern campsites and 36 rustic sites available. Swimming in Lake Michigan, 6 miles of winding hiking trails, and the 260-foot tall dune make this a pleasant state park.

Warren Woods State Park

Picnic area and a quiet hiking trail that takes you to a bridge over the Galien River.

Yankee Springs Recreation Area

120 rustic sites at Deep Lake campground, 200 modern sites at Gun Lake campground, and 25 equestrian sites available. Swimming at Gun Lake, 6 miles of hiking trails, hunting, fishing, bridle trails, and a 12-mile mountain biking trail.

Eastern Michigan State Parks

This list covers all Michigan State Parks south of Cadillac and from Lansing to the east.

Orchard Lake

Algonac State Park

296 modern campsites in two separate campground areas within the park. You can view the numerous freighters that head up and down the St. Clair River.

Sleeper State Park

226 modern campsites in addition to 13 modern cabins. Four hiking trails take you through the ancient dune forest or along Saginaw Bay to view sunrises and sunsets.
Bay City Recreation Area
Located just north of Bay City. 193 modern campsites. Nature trails for hiking.

Cambridge Junction Historic State Park

The Cambridge Junction Historic State Park / Walker Tavern Historic Complex marks time from 1836-1855 when this site was an important step in the stagecoach runs that ran from Detroit to Chicago.

Dodge #4 State Park

This park sits on land donated by the Dodge Brothers Corporation and is only 20 minutes from Comerica Park, The Palace, and DTE Energy Music Theatre. Excellent fishing and a nice sandy swimming beach.

Highland Recreation Area

25 rustic and equestrian sites available. More than 17 miles of trails for hiking and 12 miles of trails for horseback riding.

Seven Lakes State Park

70 modern campsites available. 6.5 miles of hiking trails, fishing, and canoeing (rentals are available) are some fun recreational activities at Seven Lakes State Park.

Island Lake Recreation Area

Two Rustic Cabins are available for overnight visits. Hunting and fishing when in season. Canoe down Huron River – you can rent canoes, kayaks, and rowboats. 18 miles of hiking trails, 14 miles of mountain biking trails, swimming, and a shooting/archery range provide recreation.

Lake Hudson Recreation Area

50 semi-modern campsites. Hunting and fishing during appropriate seasons. The area is designated as a “Dark Sky Preserve” for the use of amateur astronomers.

Lakeport State Park

250 modern campsites available. Swimming area on Lake Huron and one of the state’s few remaining campground stores.

Maybury State Park

Four-mile paved trail for biking, mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian trails are features of the park.

Metamora- Hadley Recreation Area

214 modern campsites available. 6-mile hiking trail, hunting, fishing, swimming, and canoeing (rentals are available) are the recreation activities at this park.

Ortonville Recreation Area

One rustic cabin and 25 equestrian sites available. Hunting, fishing, swimming, 3.5-mile hiking trail, 6.5 miles of horseback riding trails, 3.5-mile mountain biking trail, and a shooting range are the recreation activities at this park.

Pinckney Recreation Area

One Yurt, 186 modern campsites at Bruin Lake campground, 25 rustic sites at Crooked Lake, and 5 rustic sites at Blind Lake are available. Swimming, fishing, hunting, canoeing (rentals available), and an extensive number of hiking trails are the recreation activities at this park.

Pontiac Lake Recreation Area

176 modern campsites and 24 equestrian sites available. Hunting, fishing, swimming, shooting/archery range, 1.9 hiking trail, 17 miles of horseback riding trails, and an 11 mile mountain biking trail (rated one of the top 100 in the U.S.) are the recreation activities at this park.

Port Crescent State Park

One camper cabin and 137 modern campsites are available. Hunting, fishing, swimming in Lake Huron, and 7 miles of hiking trails are the recreation activities at this park.

Proud Lake Recreation Area

130 modern campsites available. Hunting, fishing, canoeing (rentals available), 6 miles of hiking trails, and almost 9 miles of equestrian and mountain biking trails are the recreation activities at this park.

Holly Recreation Area

144 modern sites at the McGinnis Lake campground, 2 mini-cabins, 1 rustic cabin, and 15 semi-modern sites at the McGinnis Lake campground. Hunting, fishing, swimming, canoeing (rentals available), 34 miles of hiking trails, and over 23 miles of mountain biking trails are the recreation activities at this park.

Sleepy Hollow State Park

181 modern campsites available. Hunting, swimming, fishing, canoeing, over 16 miles of hiking trails, 6 miles of horseback riding trails, and 16 miles of mountain bike trails.

Sterling State Park

256 modern campsites available. Swimming, fishing, paved biking trails, and 7 miles of hiking trails.

Walter J. Hayes State Park

185 modern campsites available. Wampler’s Lake provides swimming and fishing opportunities for visitors.

Waterloo Recreation Area

Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest park in the lower peninsula at over 20,000 acres. 136 modern sites at Portage Lake campground, 25 rustic sites at Green Lake campground, 25 equestrian sites, 154 modern sites at Sugarloaf campground, 3 rustic campgrounds at Waterloo campground. Click the link for information on the plethora of fun things to do at this park.

Wetzel State Recreation Area

This is an undeveloped park that provides an area for hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and radio-controlled flying.

Wilson State Park

160 modern campsites, tepee, and modern lodge are available for lodging. Swimming and fishing are the main activities within this park.

Bald Mountain Recreation Area

Two rustic cabins are the only lodging available. 15 miles of steep hiking trails, nearly 15 miles of mountain biking trails, swimming in Lower Trout Lake, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and a shooting/archery range.

Brighton Recreation Area

25 rustic sites at Murray Lake campground, 144 modern sites at Bishop Lake campground, 19 equestrian sites, 25 rustic sites at Appleton Lake campground, and 5 rustic cabins are available. Hunting, fishing, swimming in Bishop Lake, canoe rental, hiking trails, bridle trails, and mountain biking trails.

Michigan State Parks with WiFi access

Five of Michigan’s 97 State Parks and Recreation Areas offer Wireless Internet access termed MiWiFi by the state of Michigan.

Michigan State Parks offering WiFi

  • Holland State Park
  • Grand Haven State Park
  • Ludington State Park
  • Mears State Park
  • Traverse City State Park

WiFi is also available at these other areas

  • East Tawas State Harbor
  • Mackinac Island State Harbor
  • The Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center
  • Clarkston Rest Area
  • New Buffalo Welcome Center
  • Coldwater Welcome Center
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