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8 Best Camping Spots in Northern Michigan

Camping in Northern Michigan during the summer and fall offers all the ingredients for a perfect trip — pristine lakes, beautiful weather, and friendly people. Northern Michigan also sits right between two great lakes: Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This means you can find camp spots on or near the shores of either lake.

Additionally, camping in Northern Michigan opens the door to a plethora of hiking, biking, and boating routes you won’t soon forget. This part of the state is truly one of the country’s best-kept secrets. It even features massive sand dunes along the shores of the great lakes. 

It’s little wonder that RVers and campers alike have considered this part of Michigan a true gem for eons. Let’s dig in to discover more about Northern Michigan and get to know the eight best camp spots in this part of the state. 

Where Is Northern Michigan?

Not to be confused with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan is the very northern tip of the main section of the state. One of its major towns is Traverse City, and the region’s culture is a far cry from the urban settings of places like Detroit. 

Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan
Enjoy beautiful views of the Great Lakes in Northern Michigan.

Michiganders often say their state looks like a hand with a mitten on it. You can find Northern Michigan at the very top of the mitten.

What Is Special About Northern Michigan?

Northern Michigan is exemplified by small towns, natural beauty, friendly people, and mild summer weather that make this a camping oasis. It’s a special place because it really is an RVing playground.

You could camp beside one of the hundreds of lakes in this region. You could also explore massive sand dunes at places like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Or you could enjoy wonderful small towns like Traverse City or Mackinaw City — the gateway to Mackinac Island.

Northern Michigan is special because there is something for everyone to love. 

Pro Tip: Check out these 7 Best Places to Camp While Visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.

When Is the Best Time for Camping in Northern Michigan?

Summer and early fall are the best times to camp in Northern Michigan because you’ll benefit from beautiful weather that’s not too hot or cold. This weather is great for hiking, biking, fishing, and water sports on beautiful freshwater lakes.

RV parked in Northern Michigan state park
Northern Michigan has many amazing state parks you can RV camp in.

As a bonus, if you travel in early fall, you might get lucky enough to see the leaves start turning in the wooded vastness in this part of Michigan.

8 Best Camping Spots in Northern Michigan

We’ve already established Northern Michigan as one of the best regions in the U.S. for RV camping. Now, let’s dig into the eight best camp spots for you to explore as you journey through this region.

1. Wild Cherry RV Resort

Address: 8563 E Horn Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653

Amenities: This RV resort features 94 full-hookup sites, cement patios, picnic tables, and 50 amps service to some sites. It’s a full-service campground and perfect for camping in Northern Michigan. It also features limited bandwidth WiFi, large lots, and a very peaceful setting.

Pet-Friendly: Yes, however, no more than two dogs are allowed. You have to leash your pets.

Why You’ll Love It: Wild Cherry is a stone’s throw from Sleeping Bear Dunes, epic biking and hiking trails, and a chain of quaint Michigan small towns. Each has its own special character.

And, they don’t call it Wild Cherry for nothing. The resort is in what’s known as the “cherry capital of the world.” There are 24 orchards and tasting rooms within 10 miles of the resort.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

Video of Wild Cherry RV Resort, MI from Shari G.

2. Hartwick Pines State Park

Address: 3612 State Park Dr, Grayling, MI 49738

Amenities: A modern RV campground within a state park with many full hookup sites. It also offers a shower house, dump station, playground, and nearby trails.  

Pet-Friendly: Yes. Pets must be on a leash and under owner control at all times. 

Why You’ll Love It: It boasts natural beauty and abundant hiking/biking trails, which is great for camping in Northern Michigan. This campground sits in one of the largest state parks in Michigan and is named for its 49 acres of old-growth pine — some of the last in the state. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 7/10

Hartwick Pines State Park Walk Around

3. Sun Outdoors Petoskey Bay Harbor

Address: 5505 Charlevoix Ave, Petoskey, MI 49770

Amenities: This is truly a luxury RV resort that features furnished vacation rentals, spacious sites that are paved and offer built-in fire pits, and nice grassy areas between each spot.

It’s also a gated property that features WiFi, cable hookups, laundry facilities, a fitness center, a movie theater room, and a hot tub, among other things. 

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Why You’ll Love It: This is one of the most pristine RV parks for camping in Northern Michigan. It also sits just across the street from Lake Michigan. This is the place to go if you want a full assortment of amenities while you enjoy the natural wonders of this part of the U.S.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 10/10

Pro Tip: Enjoy some rest and relaxation time on one of these Top 10 Beaches in Michigan You Must Visit.

Lighthouse in Northern Michigan
Northern Michigan is a beautiful place to RV in any season.

4. Platte River Campground

Address: 5685 Lake Michigan Rd, Honor, MI 49640

Amenities: This campground within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features a wide variety of camping styles, from 96 electric-only RV sites to rustic tent sites. It also features a dump station, bathrooms, and potable water on tap. 

Pet-Friendly: Yes, and you must leash your pets. 

Why You’ll Love It: What’s not to love? This camping ground in Northern Michigan is in the middle of a national lakeshore. You’ll have epic lake views, sand dunes, and hiking trails right at your fingertips.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10

Platte River Campground - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - MI

5. Holiday Park Campground

Address: 4860 US-31 Traverse City, MI 49685

Amenities: Spacious sites, private beach and boat ramp on Silver Lake, non-motorized boat rentals, playground, laundry station, and bathhouses. 

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Why You’ll Love It: This campground is in Traverse City, so you’ll have access to a town featuring a wonderful culture. You’ll also still be right in the thick of Northern Michigan’s natural beauty. One of the biggest benefits of this park is its private beach on the lake, allowing you to enjoy the water for a swim or a boating excursion. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 7/10

Is it really the #1 RV park in Traverse City Michigan?- Holiday Park Campground

Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these 4 Best Mackinaw City Campgrounds for Enjoying Michigan Summers

6. Starlight Campground and RV Park

Address: 3060 Mancelona Rd, Mancelona, Michigan 49659

Amenities: Full hookup sites up to 50 amp, pull-thru sites, bathhouse, vintage camper rentals, volleyball and pickleball courts, and more!

Pet-Friendly: Yes, but there’s a pet fee of $25 per pet per stay up to a max of two pets. 

Why You’ll Love It: This cute and quaint family-run camping ground in Northern Michigan is how things used to be. It features wonderful wooded grounds and vintage campers for rent for a “Glamping” experience. They’ll even deliver items to your site — sort of like room service in the great outdoors. Starlight is also centrally located to many of Northern Michigan’s best attractions. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10

Airstream parked in Northern Michigan campground.
Great lakes, cherry orchards, and friendly people make Northern Michigan the perfect place to go RV camping.

7. Sulak Campground

Address: Branch Township, MI 49402

Amenities: This is a primitive campground nestled in a popular fishing area in Northern Michigan. It features 12 first come, first serve RV sites. Sulak Campground is in a national forest and doesn’t charge a fee for campsites. 

Pet-Friendly: Yes – must be leashed. 

Why You’ll Love It: This free campground is a popular spot for anglers, but it’s also a great way to boondock for a bit in this state without paying campground fees. It also sits along a scenic river which is great for morning walks. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 7/10

FREE CAMPING near LUDINGTON, Michigan, Boat access, Sulak Rec Area, Manistee National Forest,

8. Leelanau State Park

Address: 15310 N Lighthouse Point Rd, Northport, MI 49670

Amenities: This is a rustic campground that doesn’t have hookups, but it does feature epic sites at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. About half the campsites are located directly on the water.  

Pet-Friendly: Yes, but must be on a leash. 

Why You’ll Love It: The views and the access to nature. This campground is right in the middle of a 1,550-acre state park that sits at the top of a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. You’ll have nearly limitless access to these natural wonders as you camp here.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 10/10

Michigan State Parks 100: Leelanau

Enjoy Camping in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan is for RVing in the summer and fall. There’s nothing like rolling down the open road along highways that follow the great lakes, scenic roads dotted with cherry orchards, and campgrounds that put you right in the middle of it all. These campgrounds will be your ticket to an unforgettable Northern Michigan camping experience. 

Ready to travel even further north? Upper Michigan has plenty to see and do as well. Just be sure to check out The Complete Guide to Camping in the Upper Peninsula before you head out.

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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