Colorful Destinations for Fall Camping in Michigan

Guest writer Lauren Fryan, founder and leader of the Detroit Chapter of Mappy Hour, shares some of her favorite Michigan camping spots perfect for a fall adventure.

Tahquamenon falls surrounded by a fall forest
Tahquamenon Falls State Park | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann

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Michigan is the perfect place for an idyllic camping trip, especially in the fall! Set up camp under a colorful canopy of pristine woodland and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life to spend quality time with friends and family.

1. Jordan Valley PathwayAlba

The Jordan Valley Pathway is a beautiful loop trail (almost 19 miles total) with plenty of scenic outlooks for fall colors. The campsites here are large and have easy access for cars if you’d rather just pull up with your things.

2. Seaton Creek Campground Mesick

Manistee River Trail is a connector of the North Country Trail and has an amazing wooden bridge perfect for leaf-peeping. Seaton Creek Campground is located off the trail with accessible drive in options as well.

3. Blind Lake CampgroundGregory

This site is hike-in only, but it is worth it. With very few sites available to camp, this location is great for those in the southern half of the state that might want to be a little more remote. Tent camping only and right off of Blind Lake.

4. 12 Mile Beach Campground  – Grand Marais

Part of the beauty that is Pictured Rocks, this campground is on the list because of its accessibility and the view! With drive-up access, you can be right along Lake Superior with still many trees surrounding you. This is a perfect spot for larger groups with access to the Lakeshore North Country Trail for hiking.

5. Peterson Bridge CampgroundWellston

The only campground with access to the Pine River, this is a special place in Huron-Manistee National Forest. Under 2 hours from Grand Rapids- this is a great place to escape for amazing views along a beautiful river.

6. Keystone Landing State Forest Campground  – Grayling

Surrounded by trees and pretty much in the middle of nowhere, this is a perfect car camping spot. A couple of the sites lead you down to a small, beautiful creek- ideal for those who might like to fish.

7. Pete’s Lake CampgroundMunising

 Up in the Upper Peninsula in Hiawatha National Forest, this campground has access to a picture-perfect fall view. A simple drive-in campground makes it an awesome place for families. The lake also makes it a great place for those who might want to kayak, canoe or fish.

8. Crooked Lake Rustic CampgroundPinckney

This campground is located in the Pinckney Recreation Area off of Potawatami Trail. Right off of Crooked Lake, this campground is great for hikers and car campers who need a weekend getaway from Detroit. Lots of trees- great to go if you may have missed the colors in the northern half of the state.

9. Tahquamenon Falls State ParkParadise

This is a must-do if you are in the Upper Peninsula around fall. A perfect combination of waterfall and trees with campsites available.  There is also a River Trail to hike along the Tahquamenon River with amazing fall views.

When preparing to go camping in the fall, don’t forget a few of my go-to tips:

  • Bring tea or cider you can heat by the fire. Not only does hot tea make a cozy fall treat while camping, you can use the tea bags to cleanse your face and it feels awesome!
  • Layering is key! I always take more clothes than I think I’ll need. And don’t forget the base layers; they’ll keep the heat in when the nights get colder.
  • Be prepared for rain. Rain can be a major factor when camping in the fall, so a raincoat is a great to pack to protect against water and wind. I also make sure to have a tarp handy for under the tent and to tie up to trees for shelter in case it’s needed.
  • Know how to build a fire. I always try to start a fire with smaller sticks and leaves, and usually try to avoid using chemicals as they can be bad for the environment.
  • S’mores are a MUST! I like to switch out chocolate for Nutella to them even more delicious and a little easier to put together.

About the Author: Lauren Fryan is the founder and leader of the Detroit Chapter of Mappy Hour and a Designer at Carhartt. As an avid trail runner and backpacker, Lauren loves exploring the new trails and especially enjoys the peacefulness of being out in nature.