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Top questions about state park campgrounds, opening Monday

June 19, 2020

Man stirring fire at Straits State Park

Earlier this month, the Department of Natural Resources announced that camping, overnight lodging facilities and day-use shelters in Michigan state parks and recreation areas will reopen Monday, June 22. Since then, DNR parks and recreation staff have reported some repeated questions from customers. Here’s a look at the top three questions (and answers):

Do I need to have the Recreation Passport?

Starting Monday, June 22, yes. The required Recreation Passport – normally needed for vehicle entry to state parks, state forest campgrounds and state-managed boating access sites – had been suspended the past three months in order to minimize face-to-face interactions and the exchange of money between visitors and staff – precautions aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

Residents can purchase the passport when renewing license plates through the Secretary of State (for $12) or when visiting a state park (for $17). Out-of-state visitors can purchase the passport online or at state parks for $34 (annual pass) or $9 (daily pass).

Are bathroom buildings and other park amenities open?

At most locations, yes. Many state park amenities initially were closed due to COVID-19 public health and safety concerns, but now have reopened or are in process of reopening by June 22. Such amenities include bathroom buildings, hand-washing stations, sanitation stations, trash services, concessions, playgrounds, viewing platforms, fishing piers, sports areas, designated dog areas, picnic tables and shelters. Drinking fountains will remain closed until further notice.

Certain amenities at a handful of locations remain closed due to delayed construction projects. For information about a certain park, call that park’s main number or visit its Facebook page (where available). More information is available on the DNR’s COVID-19 response page.

Additionally, the DNR has developed new operational and sanitation procedures to ensure the safety of visitors, volunteers and staff. Some procedures – like checking in visitors, processing transactions and cleaning facilities – will look a little different and may vary by location. For example, visitors are encouraged to pay by debit or credit card to decrease the exchange of money.

Can I change my camping and overnight reservations?

Yes. Modifications to camping, overnight lodging facilities and day-use shelter reservations can be made by contacting the reservation center online at or calling 800-447-2757 (800-44-PARKS). Please note that the modification and cancellation policy can be found online. The DNR also has waived reduced-stay fees (percentage penalty) through Oct. 31, 2020.

There are still opportunities to book a stay in nearly all DNR facilities this summer and into fall. Reservations for campsites and harbor slips can be made up to six months in advance of a planned arrival date, or 12 months in advance for overnight lodging facilities and day-use shelters.

Finally, all visitors are reminded that everyone still needs to do their part to protect themselves and others while enjoying the outdoors. Practice proper social distancing when around people who are not part of your household, and wear a face covering when in an enclosed indoor space.

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos of various activities at state parks are available below for download./