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Spring Camping Season in Michigan - recommendations?

Spring is just around the corner and I'm already thinking about trips for late spring and early summer. I spent a lot of time in Michigan last summer and loved it all. Does anyone have a favorite family camping spot to recommend in Michigan? Bonus if it is in close proximity to water for kayaking and/or canoeing! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Hey there @REI-MichelleW !

Spring in Michigan is the best. No wait all the time in Michigan is the best! Oh how I miss it! Here are my favorite water-based camping spots, organized by type of body of water!

Lake Michigan: A quick google search and you will easily find the most popular campgrounds along this coast, but I like Orchard Beach SP for a less crowded experience (though weekends will still be packed). You are also close to the Manistee River, which is high on my list of favorites in Michigan!

Multi-day River Trip: AuSable River - any of the Huron-Manistee National Forest AuSable River sites are great for more rustic camping, you can day paddle if you camp on one of the ponds. I'm a big fan of the campsite on the island (I thinks it's #84...). For more family friendly and traditional camping, check out Alcona Park

Lake Superior: Whitefish Bay! Camp at Bay View Campground and from here you can get to Tahquamenon or St. Sault Marie easily and all the sites are right on the water. You literally are camping on a beach, we launched out canoe right from our site, it's about 5 miles to a little baby island you can picnic on. This is possibly my favorite drive-in campground in all of Michigan!

Lake Huron: The sunrise side is always beautiful and less crowded than it's western counterpart (check out East Tawas for amazing sunrises), but Port Crescent State Park is the best for paddling! You can head out to some really cool rock formations out of Port Austin and depending on how you drive home, you can check out some cool hieroglyphs on your way!

In-land Lakes: Everyone has their own favorite. Pick any of our lakes and you will love it for paddling. I'll let other folks chime in on theirs. Higgins Lake has always held a special place in my heart. And though on any of the larger lakes you will have to deal with speed boat wake, the Southern Campground has Marl Lake you can paddle in as well. 

Happy trails!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @REI-MichelleW ! I know this might be late response but I’m new to the site and am from Michigan. One of my favorite campsites growing up was called Camp Dearborn which is in Milford, MI (45mins northeast ish from Detroit). They have multiple options for spaces - simple tent spaces, small cabins with tarp walls, full cabins, and an RV/trailer area. There’s a pool, a man made lake, and a natural lake as well as many trails and activities you can do while there. We used to spend about a week there every summer. Staff at the campground also usually has activities for kids to do as well so it’s fun for everyone! Also I believe kayaking and canoeing are all allowed (at least in the natural lake) as long as you bring your own equipment. Hope this helps!