Summer Camping Up North Michigan
Here at The Mighty Mitten we love ALL seasons—yes, even the fifth month of winter. The world looks beautiful with its latest coating of snow, and it’s especially amazing how bright things are at night when everything is snow-covered! But, enough of that... even though we love winter, like everyone else, we are starting to think about our summer vacations. And for The Mighty Mitten, summer means lots of time in northern Michigan, lots of great art shows, and lots of camping! We’re excited to hit some of our favorite camping spots this summer, and to test out some new ones. Here are our Michigan summer camping destinations so far:
D.H. Day - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - Glen Arbor
D.H. Day is one of our favorite campgrounds in the whole state. We were a little worried when two years ago they switched from their first-come, first-serve campsite acquisition method to reservation-only, but it looks like they ironed out the kinks last summer because we had no trouble booking our site this year! D.H. Day is just a few miles from Glen Arbor and is right smack dab in the middle of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The campground itself offers a big, beautiful beach perfect for swimming, rock-hunting, and beach fires, and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Bike Trail cuts right through the park. If, like us, you love long bike rides, D.H. Day is the perfect jumping off spot to hop on the trail and bike as far as you’d like. We also love to tube the Platte River while we’re camping at D.H. Day and snorkel in the Crystal River. Both are just a short drive away! And of course, it’s practically essential to close out each sun-filled, water-soaked day with a refreshing beer at Art’s Tavern, right in downtown Glen Arbor.
Fisherman’s Island State Park - Charlevoix
We camped for the first time last year at Fisherman’s Island and we’re excited to return this summer! This campground is a few miles outside of Charlevoix proper, but feels very private and remote. It is not on an island, but rather gets its name from the island that sits a couple hundred meters offshore. You could swim to it on a nice day, if you’re brave! At times of lower water, this island has turned into a peninsula but with the current high water levels, it's definitely back to an island this year! Unfortunately, these same high water levels have made the southern part of the park, where we camped last year, totally inaccessible because the water has covered the road. We were amazed when we drove in last summer at the waves crashing up onto the road (and onto our car!) and wondered aloud if the road would still exist in 2020. And now we have our answer! Still, the park is absolutely stunning--densely wooded with large campsites and very peaceful and quiet. If you’re looking to be close to town but have more privacy, Fisherman’s Island is a great bet!
(Video of Lake Michigan splashing the road to the campground)
(Fisherman's Island in the background.
Taken from where Inwood Creek meets Lake Michigan.)
Presque Isle Campground - Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
There are many different areas to camp within the Porcupine Mountains and it can be challenging to figure out what’s best! This year we settled on the Presque Isle Campground, which is right on Lake Superior and has the Presque Isle River running directly through it. If that isn’t enough to explain our choice, you can also easily access tons of trails right from the campground and it has a whole loop that is generator-free, so for tent campers like us the peace and quiet is amazing! We’re looking forward to doing some great hikes and exploring all the beauty that the Porkies have to offer, but no visit to would be complete without seeing Lake of the Clouds!
Lake Margrethe State Forest Campground - Grayling
We’re also looking forward to returning to a hidden gem that we discovered last year while camping during our annual participation in the Great Lakes Relay. Located six miles from Grayling, Lake Margrethe State Forest Campground was one of our favorite camping experiences in 2019. No large RVs are allowed in this campground, as all the sites are rustic. Lake Margrethe is absolutely beautiful, very clear, and extremely shallow.
When we were there in mid-July, we spent almost two hours standing waist deep in the lake hanging out and enjoying the sunset. You can walk right into the lake from the campground and there are lovely picnic areas to relax at as well. Wildly, while we were enjoying the lake, we saw a boat slowly following behind what at first we thought was a large water bird, but it turned out to be a fawn that had accidentally swam very far out into the lake and gotten lost! The boaters were not amused by our suggestion they get a bigger net, but they kindly guided the fawn back to shore where it jumped out and took off into the woods. We hope it found its mama!
We were only able to stay at Lake Margrethe for one night last year, but we hope to extend our stay this summer.
One of The Mighty Mitten’s favorite things about Michigan is how there is still so much to discover in our beautiful state, even after living here for our whole lives! Please stay tuned for more camping experiences and recommendations!