Whether you are a novice to camping or seasoned to sleeping under the stars, Michigan offers many ways to help plan a fun and low cost vacation with nature.
If you are a Michigan resident you can choose to purchase a Recreation Passport at the time when you renew your license plate. The $10 passport fee helps to support outdoor recreation and preserve green spaces for future generations. The Recreation Passport also replaces the state park sticker to get you into all 98 state parks and 1,000 boat launches.
First Time Camper Program
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources once again offers the First Time Campers program at 19 campgrounds across the state. The program, sponsored by Gander Mountain, is a unique one-time experience for people who are new to camping. For $20, all of the gear, guides and good times will be provided for a two night stay. When campers check-in, the park representative will walk them through the process of setting up camp and settling in for a great Michigan adventure. While the campers won't get to keep the gear they use, Gander Mountain offers great discounts on everything they will be trying. Vehicle fees to state parks and camping fees still apply for all campers. To reserve your First Time Camper experience, contact one of the 19 state parks in which you wish to stay and ask to enroll in the First Time Camper program.
State Forest and State Park Camping
Throughout Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula, state forest campgrounds provide over 3,000 campsites in the nearly 4-million acres of state forest. Families wishing to plan a camping vacation this summer are encouraged to reserve space early. There are 80 state park and recreation areas that offer campgrounds and rentals of cabins, tepees and yurts. Log on at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources State Park Campground and Harbor Reservation page for both camping and harbor reservations.
RV Road Warriors
RVs come in all shapes and sizes from van campers to luxury motor homes outfitted with all the conveniences of home. Summer months bring the sight of RVs traveling on Michigan highways to favorite camping sites and RV resorts for a getaway weekend or extended vacations. What began more than 100 years ago with the first “tin can tourists” emerged the opportunity for Americans to hit the road without luggage restrictions and flight delays. A RV vacation brings families together to enjoy beaches, state parks, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking and popular tourist attractions and destinations. Even in today’s tight economy RV families planning a visit to Michigan are making hundreds of reservations for RV campgrounds and RV resorts. Early reservations are encouraged.
RV camping locations
The Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan is updated every year and offers a Michigan Campground Directory. The directory also offers tips for RV camping, rules of the road, locations of Michigan Welcome Centers and other useful information. Choose from hundreds of campgrounds for your family vacation. Many of the campgrounds do permit pets, but have very specific rules on breeds and behavior. Not all campgrounds permit campfires but usually provide a campfire ring for evening activities.
Camp Dearborn in Milford, owned by the City of Dearborn, offers more than 600 acres of hills, trees and lakes and close to 200 RV camping sites among other camping style options. The camp offers beach swimming and a heated pool, picnic areas, fishing, paddle boat rentals, hayrides, canoeing and the Mystic Creek Golf Club with mini golf. Plus there are organized activities including a fitness program, arts & crafts, games, afternoon hikes, evening campfires and a weekly talent show and an open-air dance every night.
Swim in a pool in the shape of Michigan with a road map on the bottom at the Indian River Jellystone Park RV Resort. This campground with more than 160 camp sites is adjacent to the 406-acre Burt Lake State Park with a 2,000 foot sandy shoreline. The Indian River complex offers RV hook-up services, sports and games, hiking trails, Yogi Bear cartoons and wagon rides, mini-golf, laundry facilities and other camping amenities.
West Houghton Lake Camground offers 128 camping sites on 33 acres. Pets are welcome here and families can enjoy a playground, volleyball, basketball, baseball, a game room, Wireless Internet, hiking and boating and fishing on Houghton Lake.
Upper Peninsula RV Campgrounds
There are more than 20 RV campgrounds in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula. Here’s a sampling:
The Saint Ignace KOA is the perfect location if you are interested in combining your RV vacation with a side trip to Mackinac Island. The camp offers RV hook-ups, swimming pool, mini golf and tours. If you must be connected during your vacation, the camp offers free Wireless Internet.
Want fudge but don’t want to take the trip to Mackinac Island? Reserve your RV vacation at Gitche Gumee RV Park on Lake Superior 15 miles east of Marquette. Along with an on-site Fudge Factory, there are 95 full hook-up sites, swimming pool, private showers, cable TV and Wireless Internet, laundry facility, club house and access to a two-mile sandy beach. Make Gitche Gumee your base camp for touring UP sites.
Anglers hook up at Whitefish Hill RV Park and Campground in Rapid River just five miles from Little Bay De Noc for great fishing – charter boats are available. The campground is RV ready with full hook-up service, private showers/bathroom, laundry and recreation center with free computer modem service. Pets are welcome on leash. There are nearby hiking trails and two lighthouses less than 20 miles away – Historic Peninsula Point Lighthouse in Stonington and Sand Point Lighthouse.