I was fond of Michigan for years. The vastness of Lake Michigan awed me. I was amazed by the yearly display of autumn color. The sparkling, white winters were dazzling. But I didn’t fall completely head-over-heels for The Mitten State until I started spending the night in her Great Outdoors.
Camping is a whole new way to experience everything this unique landscape has to offer. Something about sleeping and waking to the natural rhythms of the woods and water made me feel at home in a way I never felt before. Now, if anyone asks me about what to do here, the first thing I tell them is, “You have to go camping!” These are my top five reasons everyone should go camping in Michigan:
Beach-side accommodations – For less than it costs a family of four to go to the movies these days, you can pitch a tent or park you RV right next to prime beach real estate. You can fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the beach. You can take an early morning stroll along the beach, coffee in hand. We camped in the U.P. just steps from Lake Superior, so close we watched the sunset over Grand Island every night from our campfire.
Night Skies – If you want a good look at the night sky, you need low light pollution and an unobstructed view. You’ll find it at many Michigan campgrounds. A wide open beach on a clear night is one of the best places to lay back and watch the Milky Way twinkle. Michigan is far enough north you even have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights put on a show.
The number of campgrounds and sites to choose from – Between state parks and private campgrounds, we have over 160,000 campsites for you to choose from. You can pitch a tent, park an RV or stay in a cabin. Some campgrounds even have overnight accommodations in yurts and tepees. Many sites are in modern campgrounds with all the amenities, including plumbing and electricity. Other sites are rustic, back country spots where you may be the only people for miles. With so many choices, you’re sure to find a site that suits you.
Unique places you can’t stay otherwise – There are some unique places in Michigan where you won’t be able to spend the night unless you camp. The Manitou Islands inside Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are one of those. They sit out in Lake Michigan, just off the shores of the Leelanau Peninsula. Rugged and now uninhabited, rustic camping is allowed on the islands. You can explore ghost towns, the old lighthouse and hike the pristine forests on the islands.
Thick, green forests – Many of Michigan’s campgrounds, including the modern ones, are located in the woods. Even the beach-side campgrounds are often under forest canopies growing on top of the sand dunes that line the shores. There’s plenty of shade to keep your campsite cool on a hot day, and trees provide natural privacy screens between campsites. Pitch your tent at a rustic site in a state forest campground, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by nature and wildlife. It’s a peace and quiet you can’t experience anywhere else.
If you’ve never camped in Michigan, give it a try this summer. Stay one night, and I promise you’ll want to stay ten more!