Winter Camping in Michigan: An Ultimate Guide

Winter Camping in Michigan: An Ultimate Guide

Winter camping most certainly is not for everyone, and it is much recommended to practice in a backyard or someplace where you can easily get indoors if the conditions get too extreme. Especially before heading out to camp in an area such as Michigan which is popular for above average winters and lots of snow. However, as we all know, trying out something unfamiliar can lead to loads of useful experiences. It is no different when it comes to the world of camping.

If you’ve got all the criteria covered, winter camping in Michigan can surely turn out to be one of the most beautiful outdoor experiences that you may have. In this post, we’ve put together a few of the best recommended camping spots during the winter season in Michigan.

Rifle River State Recreation Area

Rifle River State Recreation Area

The recreation area features several campgrounds offering both modern and rustic camping options. The modern campground includes sites with electricity, modern restroom facilities, and hot showers, making it suitable for RVs and tent camping year-round. The rustic campground provides a more primitive camping experience for those seeking solitude and a closer connection to nature.

During the winter months, Rifle River State Recreation Area transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering opportunities for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The park’s trails are groomed for winter recreation, providing a scenic and exhilarating experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Huron-Manistee National Forests

These expansive forests offer numerous winter camping opportunities, with miles of trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Dispersed camping is permitted in many areas but be sure to check for any restrictions or permits required. Not to mention that you are going to need a 4X4 because these roads are not maintained during the winter.

Note that the snow might go up to 8 inches in case of heavy snowfall. And the spot you cannot miss here is Nordhouse Dunes. With a size of 3,450 acres, it is situated on the east shore of Lake Michigan.

The experience here is quite unique because of the wind off the lake, snow and ice and of course the lake itself. You can hike up to the Big Sable Point lighthouse on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan near Ludington state park.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a breathtaking natural destination located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, renowned for its stunning waterfalls, pristine wilderness, and outdoor recreational opportunities. We have talked about waterfall hiking before and how different the feeling is as opposed to a regular hike. Imagine that during the winter!

The falls often freeze partially, creating a spectacular icy landscape. You can participate in cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The park’s trails are groomed for winter recreation, providing a scenic and exhilarating experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Ludington State Park

Nestled between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park features scenic trails, winter birdwatching, and snowshoeing opportunities. The Cedar Campground is open year-round for winter camping. So are Beechwood and Pines and in total, they offer 352 campsites. Of course, the previously mentioned Big Sable Point Lighthouse is here too.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

This is Michigan’s largest state park which offers rugged wilderness, old-growth forests, and stunning Lake Superior views. The park offers rustic cabins and backcountry camping options for winter adventurers.

There are 11 campgrounds offering 250 sites to camp. Porcupine Mountains are home to numerous picturesque waterfalls, including the majestic Bond Falls and the enchanting Manabezho Falls. Like the rest of the parks, you get to engage in all the seasonal winter activities here as well.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Hartwick Pines State Park

Known for its towering old-growth pine forest, Hartwick Pines offers serene winter camping and groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It has seven hiking trails and 9,762 acres of ground. There are 100 campsites, and they also offer cabin rental options.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

This scenic area along Lake Superior boasts towering cliffs, frozen waterfalls, and colorful sandstone formations. While front-country camping (Little Beaver, Hurricane River, and Twelvemile Beach) is not available in winter, backcountry camping permits are available for adventurous backpackers.

The Lakeshore Trail is a popular multi-day backpacking route that stretches for over 40 miles along the lakeshore, offering hikers the chance to explore the park’s most scenic areas. Other shorter trails, such as the Chapel Loop and Miner’s Castle Trail, provide opportunities for day hikes with stunning views of the lakeshore.

Brighton Recreation Area

While southern Michigan may not have the extensive wilderness areas and rugged landscapes found in the northern part of the state, there are still some options for winter camping in the region. Here’s one such well-known location. Located near Brighton, Michigan, this state recreation area offers winter camping opportunities at the Bishop Lake Campground. While amenities may be limited during the winter months, the campground provides a serene setting for cold-weather camping. There are more than 200 sites in total which consist of modern, equestrian and multiple rustic campgrounds. Brighton Recreation Area also has trails for cycling, horseback riding and hiking.

Waterloo Recreation Area

Situated near Chelsea, Michigan, Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula and offers year-round camping at the Portage Lake Campground. While winter camping facilities may be limited, the campground provides modern amenities for cold-weather camping. The area consists of 11 inland lakes, a trail system and plenty of opportunities for fishing and hunting.

Year-round Campgrounds in Michigan for Winter

While many campgrounds in Michigan close for the winter season, there are still several options for year-round camping, especially in areas that cater to winter outdoor enthusiasts. Here are some campgrounds in Michigan that offer camping during the winter months.

Private Campgrounds

Some private campgrounds in Michigan choose to stay open year-round to accommodate winter campers and RVers. These campgrounds may offer amenities such as heated restrooms, full hookups, and winterized facilities. It’s best to contact individual campgrounds directly to inquire about winter availability and amenities. Here are some of the best recommended sites for RV camping.

Private Campgrounds
  • Traverse City KOA Holiday– This campground offers RV sites, tent sites, and cabins nestled in a wooded setting. Amenities include a heated pool, hot tub, playground, bike rentals, and planned activities.
  • Indigo Bluffs RV Park & Resort-Located near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this resort-style campground features spacious RV sites, rental cottages, and modern amenities.
  • Harbor Cove RV Resort & Campground-Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, this campground offers RV sites, cabins, and tent camping areas. Amenities include a heated pool, beach access, boat rentals, and a playground.
  • River Ridge RV Resort-Located near the Muskegon River, this resort-style campground offers RV sites, cabins, and cottages. Amenities include a clubhouse, heated pool, hot tub, fishing pond, and scheduled activities. It is a bit expensive though.
  • South Haven Family Campground-This family-friendly campground offers RV sites, cabins, and tent camping areas.
  • Duck Creek RV Resort-Situated along Duck Creek, this campground offers full-hookup RV sites, rental cabins, and tent camping areas. Amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub, mini-golf, fishing pond, and recreational activities.
  • Poncho’s Pond RV Park-Situated near Lake Michigan and Ludington State Park, this campground offers RV sites, cabins, and tent camping areas.

There you go. These are some of the best winter camping choices in Michigan. Another gentle reminder to practice backyard winter camping before getting into an actual outdoor winter camping experience. Once you are confident that you’ve got the right clothing and an appropriate tentsleeping bag to shelter you from the snow and wind, you can go ahead and enjoy the thrilling experience of winter camping.

Lynn Foster

Lynn Foster

Lynn Foster is a seasoned travel expert, creative writer and blogger, shares her global adventures on the Touripia blog.

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