Skip to main content

Rules and regulations

The following rules, regulations and policies were put in place to enhance safety, create a welcoming environment and protect parks and campgrounds for future generations.

Find ALL DNR rules and regulations »

General state park and recreation area rules

State land use rules

Read the state land use rules relevant to state parks and recreation areas.

Recreation Passport

A Recreation Passport is required for entry into state parks and recreation areas, DNR-managed boating access sites (or boat launches), state (rustic) forest campgrounds, parking for hundreds of miles of trails...

Park hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Only registered campers are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. with the exception of occasional events.

Alcohol

Alcohol possession and use is limited or prohibited at some state parks. Learn alcohol restrictions.

Pets

Pets are welcome on a 6-foot leash in state parks, campgrounds, some state park cabins, state forest campgrounds, non-designated bathing beach areas, most harbors, the majority of trails and many boat launches. Learn about pet-friendly recreation and rules.

Event permits, shelter rentals, etc.

Some events on public lands, such as weddings, 5K races, festivals, tournaments, require a permit. Learn about the types of events and requirements.

Hunting

All state recreation areas are open to hunting unless designated closed. All state parks are closed to hunting unless designated open. Find a list of parks and recreation areas where hunting is allowed.

Metal detecting

Metal detecting is allowed in designated parks when it is conducted in ways that do not damage the resources or violate state laws. Any items found must be reviewed by park staff and may be retained for further investigation. See a list of parks where metal detecting is allowed.

Research

All research activities within state parks, recreation areas, boating access sites and rail trails are required to have a use permit. Most research projects will require no fees, bonding or insurance, but will require submittal of a report at the conclusion of the project in place of monetary payment. Learn about the process for obtaining a land use permit for research

Fireworks

Fireworks are not permitted.

Fishing

With the exception of Free Fishing Weekends, if you are over the age of 17 you are required to have a license to fish. Buy your fishing or hunting license.

Commercial use of state lands

Businesses and individuals using public-owned lands, such as state parks, trails and boat access sites, for commercial operations must obtain a permit.

Camping rules

  • Campsite visitors

    Only registered campers are allowed in the park after 10 p.m.

    Reservations

    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. Visit MiDNRReservations.com or call 800-44PARK. View camping modification and cancellation policy.

    Camping and overnight lodging

    • Check-in on your arrival date is 3 p.m. and check-out on your departure day is 1 p.m. for campsites.
    • Check-in on your arrival date is 4 p.m. and check-out on your departure day is noon for overnight lodging.
    • Campers must check in upon arrival at the campground office or with the "yellow phone" in the off-season. Pick up the yellow phone and it will automatically connect you to the call center, M-Th 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat-Sun 9 a.m.-10 p.m.). If you arrive after call center hours, please check the campground office window for information on site availability and instructions on how to self-register.
    • Camping is permitted in designated sites only.
    • No more than 6 people per campsite and two vehicles per site. A motorhome does not count as a vehicle when used as the camping unit.
    • In tent-only campsites, as many tents as necessary to accommodate a single camping party are permitted within the boundaries of the site. In other sites, one primary camping unit (ie. truck camper, trailer, RV, etc.) and one tent are allowed with the exception of children who may occupy up to two tents on the same site as their parents or guardians.
    • Campfires are permitted in designated fire rings only.
    • Discharge of firearms, air guns, slingshots or arrows aren't permitted in campground boundaries.
    • A responsible person (18 years or older) must register and be a member of the party camping each night.
    • Radios, generators or other amplified devices may not create excessive noise.

    Sanitation/dump station fees for non-registered campers

    To help reduce impacts to park infrastructure and protect natural resources, non-registered campers are required to pay a $10 fee and have a Recreation Passport to utilize sanitation/dump stations except for locations where infrastructure can't withstand additional use. Locations (SP= State Park; RA= Recreation Area) that do not allow non-registered campers to utilize sanitation/dump stations include Baraga SP, Burt Lake SP, Cheboygan SP, Fort Custer SP, Hoeft SP, Holly RA (currently closed), Interlochen SP, North Higgins Lake SP, Port Crescent SP, Rifle River RA and Twin Lakes SP.

    Firewood

    Please purchase heat-certified firewood sold in parks or purchase firewood that has been certified as heat-treated at local stores and roadside stands. In an effort to save Michigan's trees, we are considering a proposed firewood policy to combat this issue. Learn firewood policies.

    Transfer (or sale) of existing reservations

    Conducting commercial activity on state land is a violation of the notice 299.922(dd) and MCL 324.504. Selling or renting a state-owned campsite, cabin, lodge, or harbor slip is defined as commercial activity. Reservations must be canceled if they cannot be used by the original reservation holder; selling the site and transferring to another party is prohibited and park staff may not honor a reservation that has been sold and transferred.

    Fireworks

    Fireworks are not permitted.

  • The majority of the state forest campgrounds are first come, first served! Camping fees and registration procedures are posted at the information kiosk at each campground.

    The following are the exception and accept advance reservations through our online reservation system at MiDNRReservations.com:

    Learn how SFCGs work »

    View state forest campground operating dates, amenities fees »

  • Backpacking or car camping (also known as dispersed camping) is permitted on state forest land as long as your site is located more than one mile from a state forest campground. It's free of charge. The following applies:

    • Campsites cannot be located in a state park, recreation area, state forest campground or state game area and must be located more than one mile from state forest campgrounds.
    • The campsite or adjacent area cannot be posted "No Camping."
    • A backpacking registration card must be prominently posted at the campsite for the duration of the stay. It's your responsibility to ensure that the registration card remains legible. Placing the card in a zip-top bag is recommended.
    • State land rules must be followed at all times.

    Download backpacking registration card (PDF)

    Map of state forests and campgrounds

    Please note: The map can be used as a measurement tool to determine state forest boundaries and which locations are more than one mile from state forest campgrounds. Camp registration cards are also available at local DNR offices.

Reservation info

Reservation modification & cancellation policies

  • Reducing the number of nights after a camp is established at the park

    Once checked in at the park, if customers choose to reduce their stay or check out early, a refund will be calculated as a percentage of unused camp night fees based on the number of months the reservation has been held (see sliding modification/cancellation formula).

    If the customer checks out before 1 p.m., that night’s camp fees will be included in the refund formula. If the customer checks out after 1 p.m., that night’s camp fees will NOT be included in the refund formula.

    View all camping rules & regulations

    Modification and cancellation policy

    You may cancel or modify your camping reservation online at MiDNRReservations.com or by calling 800-447-2757. Please note that the original nonrefundable reservation fee, a cancellation fee and a reduced-stay fee will be assessed.

    Once campsite reservations are made, they cannot be canceled or modified more than five months before the arrival date.

    The following fees will be assessed if customers cancel or modify their camping reservation 1) before the arrival date or 2) on or after the arrival date.

    1. Nonrefundable reservation fee (paid at the time a reservation is booked): $8 for reservations made online and $10 for reservations made through the call center.
    2. $10 cancellation/modification fee.
    3. Reduced-stay fee (an incremental fee determined by the length of time a reservation is held and the number of eligible nights canceled); see sliding modification/cancellation formula below.
      1. If canceled or modified before the arrival date, all unused camp nights are eligible for the reduced-stay fee per the sliding modification/cancellation formula.
      2. If canceled on the day of arrival or later, the first night’s fee and the cost of any nights that have already passed will be charged at the full rate. Any remaining unused nights are eligible for a refund using the sliding modification/cancellation formula.

    Reservations that are canceled on the same day the reservation was created will be assessed the $10 cancellation/modification fee only.

    Modifications to reservations that do not affect the length of stay will be assessed the $10 cancellation/modification fee only.

    Modifications to reservations that result in an increase in the length of stay will be assessed the additional nights’ fees only and NOT the $10 cancellation/modification fee.

    Reservations are held until 3 p.m. two days after the scheduled arrival date. Failure to check in within 48 hours of the check-in time on arrival date will result in a “no-show” status and will incur the loss of two nights' fees plus the reduced-stay fee (assessed on remaining unused nights using the sliding modification/cancellation formula).

    Sliding modification/cancellation formula  
    Months reservation held % of unused nights charged
    up to 2 months 10%
    2 to 3 months 15%
    3 to 4 months 20%
    4 to 5 months 30%
    5 or more months 40%
    • The original reservation fee is non-refundable
    • Changes and cancellations cannot be made more than 11 months in advance of arrival date.
    • Cancellations made any time after processing this reservation until the close of business the day before your scheduled arrival date will incur a $10 cancellation fee. If you cancel on your day of arrival or later, you pay a $10 cancellation fee and forfeit the first night’s camping fee as well as the fee for each night that has passed.
    • Reservations are held until 3 p.m. two days after your scheduled arrival date. If arriving after 3 p.m. two days after your scheduled arrival date, you must modify the reservation to delay the arrival date or cancel the reservation. Penalties will apply. Failure to do so will be considered a no-show with the loss of 2 night’s fees.
    • Changes to this reservation prior to your day of arrival (i.e. change of dates or change sites within the same park) will incur a $10 modification fee.
    • Changes and cancellations cannot be made more than 11 months in advance of arrival date.
    • Cancellations made any time after processing this reservation until the close of business the day before your scheduled arrival date will incur a $50 cancellation fee. If you cancel on your day of arrival or later, you pay a $50 cancellation fee and forfeit the first night’s camping fee as well as the fee for each night that has passed.
    • Reservations are held until 3 p.m. two days after your scheduled arrival date. If arriving after 3 p.m. two days after your scheduled arrival date, you must modify the reservation to delay the arrival date or cancel the reservation. Penalties will apply. Failure to do so will be considered a no-show with the loss of 2 night’s fees.
    • Changes to this reservation prior to your day of arrival (i.e. change of dates or change sites within the same park) will incur a $50 modification fee.
    • The original reservation fee is non-refundable.
    • Changes and cancellations cannot be made more than 5 months in advance of arrival date.
    • Cancellations made any time after processing this reservation until close of business the day before your scheduled arrival date will result in a refund of fees paid minus the non-refundable reservation fee. For cancellations/modifications made on the day of arrival, you'll forfeit the non-refundable reservation fee, the first night's dockage fee and any night’s dockage fee that has passed.
    • Reservations are held until 5 p.m. on the scheduled arrival date. If arriving after 5 p.m. on the scheduled arrival date, you MUST contact the Harbormaster to notify staff of late arrival. If you're late, and you fail to call, the reservation will be cancelled as a no-show with the loss of a two-night fee.
    • The original reservation fee is non-refundable.
    • Changes and cancellations can be made anytime after a reservation has been created
    • Cancellations made any time after processing this reservation until the close of business the day before your scheduled arrival date will incur a $10 cancellation fee. If you cancel on your day of arrival you forfeit the shelter use fee.
    • Reservations are held until 8pm on the scheduled arrival date. Failure to register on arrival will result in a no-show cancellation with the loss of all fees.
    • Changes to this reservation prior to your day of arrival (i.e. change of date or change of shelters within the same park) will incur a $10 modification fee.