Camping Advice for the Perfect Michigan Outdoor Getaway

Family RV Camping GetawayLooking for the perfect spot to pitch your tent and catch up on some much needed family bonding? In Michigan, you’re never far from a campground or lakeshore. In fact,according to the  Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC)Michigan has 1,100 private campgrounds and more than 100 state campgrounds and recreation areas. Many are located along inland waterfronts while others are mere miles from a stunning Great Lakes shore. 

The combination of water, “singing sands” and stunning vistas make Michigan a top vacation destination in the summer, and campgrounds are at their peak occupancy. But, have no fear—a camping vacation is still possible without a reservation.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when trying to get some quality time in Michigan’s great outdoors without a reservation.

  •  Day tripper. Hoping to go to Charlevoix, but didn’t make reservations? Consider staying somewhere a few miles from your desired destination and pack-in for daytrips.  
  • Keep an open mind and adaptable travel plans. If you and your family are flexible with an itinerary and travel time, then there is a campground to be found. Sometimes going off the typical travelled terrain can help you find hidden gems like a farmers market with the sweetest peaches, or a quiet inlet not yet discovered.   
  •  Go mobile. With online help from (MARVAC), you can search for campgrounds in the general direction you are travelling and send an email or make a phone call to an area campground. Cancellations sometimes do happen, so inquire if you can be put on a list or notified if one occurs. If there is no wait list, try calling before end of business day or first thing in the morning to see if anything is available.  
  •  Go local. While staying at MARVAC-member campgrounds is recommended, sometimes prime camping spots can be discovered by talking with locals. So, if you find yourself on the road without a place to go, enjoy a breakfast, lunch or dinner at a local diner and talk with the staff to see if they have any suggestions.  


  •  Make it mid-week. If vacation plans allow, consider doing a mid-week trip as opposed to merging with weekend crowds. Check with your favorite campground to see if they offer Monday-Friday camping before taking the drive.  


  •  Find a forest. There are 138 state forest campgrounds with more than 3,000 rustic campsites in 4-million acres of state forest. Many of these sites are very remote, so don’t expect a lot of creature comforts, just creatures. 
  • MAP it out. The Michigan Activity Pass (MAP) is available to Michigan residents with a library card and allows for free access to state forest campgrounds, state parks, state national parks and historical and cultural destinations.  


Don’t know where to begin? Check out MARVAC for campgrounds and RV resorts perfect for your vacation.