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Camping & lodging rules

bird's eye view of lake and trees with yellow and red leaves

Camping & lodging rules

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

View ALL rules & regulations »

Camping rules

  • Campsite visitors

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


    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 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.


    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 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

    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.