Entry into state parks, state recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, and state trailhead parking lots requires a Recreation Passport.
State Park and Recreation Area Campgrounds
The many state parks and recreation areas throughout Michigan offer a diverse range of camping – modern, semi-modern, and rustic. Reservations for these campsites can be made up to six months in advance. For more information about camping in state parks and recreation areas, please see the rules pertaining to state park camping registration and campground usage.
In addition to campsites for tent and camper camping, there is a wide range of lodging opportunities including yurts, cabins, tepees, pop-up campers, and lodges.
State Forest Campgrounds
Michigan’s state forest campgrounds offer rustic camping opportunities throughout the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Every state forest campground is located on a river or lake, providing excellent access to fishing, boating and canoeing/kayaking and many have nearby trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature observation.
Accommodations range from 5 to 50 campsites, with group sites available at some campgrounds. All campgrounds have vault toilets and potable water from hand pumps. Some sites are remote and can only be accessed by hiking or by paddling down a river.
Camping fees and registration procedures are posted at the information kiosk at the campgrounds. Most of the state forest campgrounds are first come, first served and reservations are not available. However, reservations are available for the following campgrounds through the central reservation system:
- Lake Margrethe State Forest Campground in Crawford County
- Little Presque Isle (Rustic Cabins) in Marquette County
- Elk Hill Equestrian State Forest Campgroundin Otsego County
- Big Bear Lake State Forest Campground in Otsego County
Dispersed Camping (camping on your own in a state forest)
Dispersed camping can take place on state-owned land other than state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds or state game area campgrounds, and is free of charge. You can camp anywhere on state forest property as long as:
- the property is not posted "No Camping"
- you follow all State Land Rules
- you are more than one mile from a designated state forest campground:
- Here is a map of state forest boundaries and state forest campgrounds. You can use the measurement tools available on the map to determine where in the state forests you can set up camp in relation to the state forest campgrounds.
- Here is a list of all the state forest campgrounds.
You must also post a Camp Registration Card at your campsite. Post this card prominently at the campsite before making camp and leave it posted upon departure:
The Camp Registration Card may also be available at your local DNR Office.
Please note: It is recommended that the completed Camp Registration Card be placed in a zip-top bag to protect it from the elements. It is the responsibility of the camping party to ensure that the registration card remains legible.
Learn about Campground Host opportunities available at state park campgrounds and state forest campgrounds that offer family and group camping facilities.