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The Complete Guide to Camping in the Upper Peninsula

Camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan puts you up close and personal with nature. Lakes, rivers, forests, and wildlife abound in “da U.P., eh?” (Bordering Canada, you’ll hear a lot of “ehs” in the Upper Peninsula!) 

The peninsula’s vast landmass features minimal population and towns, making camping one of the best ways to stay during your visit. Keep reading to find out where to camp.

Getting To The Upper Peninsula Of Michigan

The first step to camping in the Upper Peninsula is getting there. If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is kind of a long way from anything!

This is because it is a peninsula, only connected to the rest of the US Lower 48 along a roughly 200-mile border with Wisconsin and the mighty Mackinac Bridge (pronounced “mack-ih-naw”).

While Wisconsin is a great state to explore on your way to the “U.P.” the true Michigan experience is driving across the massive 5-mile long suspension bridge. There is a small toll, but the thrill of driving 150 feet over the Straits of Mackinac is worth it!

Varied Opportunities for Camping in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula provides the opportunity to camp on various terrains. Approximately eighty-four percent of the Upper Peninsula is forest. Living in the forest are many wildlife types, including moose and wolves.

Forest camping gives you access to hiking and off-roading. And in the winter months, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are very popular.

Michigan's Keweenaw By Air | Mortons on the Move

Lakes, rivers, and streams are also predominant in the Upper Peninsula’s geography. Three of the Great Lakes border the peninsula–Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. With these three major lakes and various interior water sources, you can easily access fishing, boating, and other water sports when camping here. 

There are also mountains, somewhat of a rarity in the midwest. The Porcupine Mountains are among the most popular and afford you amazing hiking and some of the cleanest air around. Waterfalls and wildlife are highlights of this terrain. Use the state park’s campground within the region to gain easy access throughout your visit.  

Best Camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

We don’t want you going to this gorgeous destination without any idea of where to stay. The following is a list of some of the best campgrounds in the Upper Peninsula. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park Rivermouth Campground

Location: 41382 M-123, Paradise, MI 49768

The Rivermouth Campground is five miles south of Paradise, Michigan.

About: Tahquamenon Falls State Park Rivermouth Campground sits on the Tahquamenon River with multiple points of access to overlook the majestic waterfalls. The Upper Falls has a drop of nearly 50 feet and spans more than 200 feet across.  

While the falls are the main attraction, there are many activities in and around Rivermouth Campground. From cycling to fishing, you can stay active in the area. Or if you want to kick back, the campground is in a beautifully wooded, peaceful place. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park Rivermouth Campground offers 20 and 30-amp hookup sites ($28/night) and some 50-amp ($32/night). There’s a dump station in the park too. 

camping near Tahquamenon falls in the upper peninsula
Tahquamenon Falls

Straits State Park Upper Peninsula Camping

Location: 720 Church St, St Ignace, MI 49781

Straits State Park is on Lake Huron in St. Ignace, Michigan, just as you enter the Upper Peninsula across the Mackinac Bridge.

About: You’ll find excellent views of the famous Mackinac Bridge from Straits State Park. It really makes you feel like you’re camping in the Upper Peninsula when you look south to the Lower Peninsula. 

There are loads of restaurants and shops in St. Ignace. From St. Ignace and Straits State Park, you can fish, boat, bike, bird watch, and hike. The state park has a beach as well. You can also take a ferry ride from St. Ignace to explore Mackinac Island. 

You’ll find very few cars on this island, which will seemingly transport you back in time. If you have your bike, take it with you on the ferry and ride around the island. It’s an 8.2-mile loop. Plus, you can load up on homemade Mackinac fudge. 

Straits State Park has 30-amp and 50-amp hookup sites and a mini-cabin for rent with a dump station in the park. Sites are $22 per night for semi-modern, $30 per night for 20 and 30-amp, and $34 per night for 50-amp. The mini-cabin is $52 per night.

Local Tip: Michigan’s State Parks have some of the very best campgrounds. Here are our favorite Upper Michigan State Park campgrounds.

Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula
Mackinac Bridge

Soo Locks Campground

Location: 1001 E Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

The Soo Locks Campground is on the St. Marys River and 1.5 miles from the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (pronounced “soo saint marie”). 

About: The Soo Locks Campground is a private campground in the Upper Peninsula that has 100 camping sites with water and electricity. There are restrooms, a store, a recreation room, and a dump station.

The campground is perfect for a visit to the Soo Locks, which enable ships to pass between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. You can view this phenomenon from Soo Locks Park. You can also take boat tours of the locks to experience them for yourself. Additionally, Sault Ste. Marie has several maritime-themed museums

Sault Ste. Marie is also a gateway to Canada. An international bridge crosses the St. Marys River and connects Michigan to Canada, and you can see right into Canada from the campground! You’ll also likely get Canadian stations on your TV.

soo locks in Sault Ste. Marie
Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie

Twelvemile Beach Campground

Location: Alger Co. Rd H-58, PO Box 399, Grand Marais, MI 49839

Twelvemile Beach Campground is on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore of Lake Superior and is 16 miles west of Grand Marais, Michigan.

About: Twelvemile Beach Campground provides easy access to the wonder that is Pictured Rocks. Best seen by boat, Pictured Rocks are cliffs of sandstone that cascade out of Lake Superior. You can see them for about 15 miles along the National Lakeshore. Also, there is 12 miles of beach you can access from the campground.

The area offers many recreational opportunities. You can hike dunes and trails that lead to waterfalls. There are also several remnants of shipwrecks visible near the AuSable Point’s Lighthouse. This memorable stop is a reminder of why the lighthouse was built in 1874. 

Twelvemile Beach Campground in the Upper Peninsula offers 38 camping sites. There are some tight turns in the park; therefore, the maximum RV length is 42 feet. Sites are non-electric, but there are water fills, pit toilets, and fire rings at $20 per night. If you have America the Beautiful Senior Lifetime, Senior Annual, or Access passes, you’re eligible for a 50% discount.

Pro Tip: Pictured Rocks is just one of the best national parks in Michigan. Add more to your travel bucket list!

Mortons Visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks

Bay Furnace Campground

Location: E7900 W, M-28, Munising, MI 49862

Bay Furnace Campground is in Munising, Michigan, across from Grand Island on Lake Superior’s Bay Furnace.

About: Similar to Twelvemile Beach Campground, Bay Furnace Campground provides easy access to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It’s about 7 miles from the western side. 

You can access a rocky beach from the campground and take in views of the Grand Island National Recreation Area. Close by are hiking trails, waterfalls, and boat cruises.

There are 50 non-electric sites at Bay Furnace Campground. Toilets and drinking water are available, and each site has a fire ring and picnic table. The park also has a dump station and potable water fill station. It costs $20 per night to camp at this Upper Peninsula campground, and they accept Golden and America the Beautiful National Park passes.

Mortons Hiking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Fort Wilkins State Park Upper Peninsula Camping

Location: 15223 US-41, Copper Harbor, MI 49918

Located almost as far north as you can get in the Upper Peninsula, Fort Wilkins State Park is in Copper Harbor, Michigan.

About: Camping in the Upper Peninsula is unique, and Fort Wilkins State Park checks this box. With a restored 1844 military outpost and one of the first lighthouses on Lake Superior, this state park is a history lesson. It even has costumed actors who interpret the Keweenaw Peninsula fort’s history for you.

The State Park sits between Copper Harbor and Lake Fanny Hooe. If you like fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing, you can do so here.  

Fort Wilkins State Park Campground has 30-amp and 50-amp sites, one cabin for rent, and a group site. The campground has a dump station and water fills. Sites are $25 per night for 20 and 30-amp hookups and $29 per night for a 50-amp hookup. The group site is $17 per six people, and the cabin is $75 per night.

fort wilkins state park in the upper peninsula of michigan
Fort Wilkins State Park

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Location: 33303 Headquarters Road, Ontonagon MI, 49953

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is on Lake Superior in Carp Lake Township, Michigan.

About: The Porcupine Mountains provide sweeping views of forests, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. Overall, it has a rustic and modern campground as well as backcountry camping. What more could you ask for when camping in the Upper Peninsula? 

This large wilderness area has approximately 60,000 acres of land to explore, with 90 miles of hiking trails. And in the winter, there’s a ski area

The campground has sites that range from $15-$28 per night. You can find site pricing and a hiking trails list by clicking here. The campground also has rustic cabins and yurts to rent for $68 per night, as well as the Kaug Wudjoo Lodge for $200 per night.  

camping in porcupine mountains wilderness state park in upper peninsula
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Camping in the Upper Peninsula Is the Way to Go 

If you’re looking for a great northern adventure, camping in the Upper Peninsula is the way to go. Planning your visit from late June through August gives you the best chance of warm-weather activities. 

If you visit in September, you could take yourself on a magical autumn tour when the leaves change color. And if you happen to go in the winter, hit up the local ski areas! 

kitch-iti-kipi springs in winter
Kitch-iti-kipi Springs in winter

We’d love to hear about your experiences camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What was your favorite part of staying there? Drop a comment below.

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Don Gagnon

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Great suggestions. I would also recommend the Marquette Tourist Park, run by the city of Marquette, and Pioneer Trail County Park in Gladstone. My wife and I are both from Gladstone, and go back to the U.P. every year. Don't forget to try a tasty Pasty while up there!

Mortons on the Move

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Great recommendations! Thank you! :)