If you haven’t been fall camping, you’re missing out on one of the best seasons to pitch a tent in the woods.
It’s not too cold yet, and the campsites typically aren’t as busy now that school is back in session. Plus, the changing colors and smells are in the air. You might need an extra layer at night, but daytime activities are far less sweaty in the autumn breeze.
There are more than 1,000 campsites in Michigan. We’re going to highlight a few of our favorites to get you started, but it’s hard to go wrong with any state park. Grab your tent or RV and embrace the call of the wild!
LUDINGTON STATE PARK, visitludington.com
Ludington has always been my personal go-to camping spot. For around $30 per night, you get a nice lot with a picnic bench, fire pit, and electric outlet, perfect for either tents or RVs. You also get access to miles of amazing hiking trails through the woods, along a lake, and out to the beach, not to mention the ability to rent boats and kayaks for the sizable Hamlin Lake.
It’s always a lively atmosphere without feeling crowded. The lighthouse on the beach is well worth a visit. Plus, you can drink! What’s not to like?
LUDINGTON KOA, koa.com/campgrounds/pere-marquette/
For quite a different experience nearby, check out the Kampgrounds of America at Ludington East/Pere Marquette River. It’s the perfect family camping spot with all the nice amenities, tucked away in the sprawling Manistee National Forest. If you want activities like wagon rides, petting farms, a swimming pool and other fun, this is the place to be. The spots here cost a little more, only because you’re getting more room to work with and more to do.
NEWAYGO STATE PARK, bit.ly/newaygostatepark
The beauty of Newaygo State Park is shocking. Each of the 99 campsites is large, with room for up to two cars. You get a firepit and picnic table, but no electricity, which may be why the fees are only $17 per night. If you want to rough it a little more, with fewer people around, this is the place to be. Plus, there’s a moderately difficult disc golf course wrapping around the campsites! Both sites are near Hardy Dom Pond, which is great for fishing and boating.
CHARLES MEARS STATE PARK, michigan.gov/dnr
If you want to camp RIGHT ON THE BEACH, head to Pentwater. These sandy sites — great for tents and RVs alike — are surrounded by lovely dunes. Come here to soak up the sun and dive into Lake Michigan, for roughly $30 per night. It’s the perfect place to squeeze in a tad more tan before winter arrives.
P.J. HOFFMASTER STATE PARK, michigan.org
Hoffmaster admittedly isn’t for everyone. If you want to get lit or stay up late with friends, head somewhere else. If you want a campsite resting in the shade of hundreds of tall trees and your family likes to go to bed and wake up early, this is your spot. There are plenty of spaces to explore, including hiking trails and three miles of lakeshore.
BALDWIN OAKS CAMPGROUND, baldwinoakscampground.com
BaldwinOaks has it all: a heated pool, on-site laundry, basketball, volleyball, tetherball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, hayrides and much more. The grass is well maintained, and each spot comes with a fire pit, picnic table, water, and electric. RVs, trailers and tents are all welcome, with rates around $40 per night. If you want all the amenities and more, this is your spot.
HORSE CAMPING, bit.ly/HorseCampMI
If you have a horse who’s every bit as ready as you to get out on the trails, there are dozens of places in Michigan to take your four-hooved friend. Do a quick search online to find spots like Ionia Equestrian-Rustic and Lake Dubonnet Trail Camp. ν