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9 Best Traverse City Campgrounds for Visiting Northwest Michigan

Are you looking for options for Traverse City campgrounds to visit in northwestern Michigan? Traverse City is one of the top five foodiest small towns in America and minutes from the most beautiful place in America. And we want to help plan your trip by gathering a list of the top Traverse City campgrounds.

Let’s get started.

traverse city michigan beach

Why You’ll Love Camping in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, known as the Cherry Capital of the U.S., has four-season fun, making it a popular destination. This popular Great Lakes getaway city has over 230 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline along Grand Traverse Bay. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore stretches over 60 miles and includes stunning islands, a couple of dozen freshwater beaches, and coves. 

The city has a large craft beer industry and is a major wine destination. And this tart cherry capital has even named its airport after it: the Cherry Capital/Traverse City (TVC) Airport.

Aside from its beer, wine, and fruit-growing industries, the city also has numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts shows, making it the cultural and social hub of northern Michigan.

Things to Do in Traverse City

This is a city that never shuts down. You’ll find events and activities all around in every season.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore makes a popular attraction nearby, no matter the weather. Enjoy the sandy lake beaches in the summer or spend some time on the Platte River. Or, enjoy a ranger-led snowshoe hike during the wintertime.

You can also go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. In fact, TimerLee Hills north of Traverse City offers the state’s largest tubing hill. 

The area boasts an impressive amount of microbreweries, distilleries, and the Michigan wine trail, so you’ll have plenty of options for tastings and tours. 

You can even schedule a lighthouse tour. In the right weather, visit the many freshwater beaches, like Lake Michigan, Lake Leelanau, or Grand Traverse Bay.

Finally, the city has many annual events, like the National Cherry Festival in July or Blossom Day in May. In the winter, visit during the Traverse City Restaurant Week near the end of February. 

Or come over the new year and attend the Cherry Ball Drop. Enjoy Traverse City Beer Week, which pays homage to the city’s craft beer culture during the fall. And we can’t forget the Northwestern State Fair that happens each August.

You’ll likely want to try out many of these activities. Check out some of the best traverse city campgrounds to give you time to explore all that the city offers and connect with nature.

Traverse City Film Festival sign.
Enjoy the many event offerings Traverse City has to offer.

9 Best Traverse City Campgrounds for Visiting Northwest Michigan

If all those activities and attractions sound fun to you, you can make your trip even better by staying at one of these nine Traverse City campgrounds. You can explore Northwest Michigan at a primitive site or find luxury and amenities at an RV resort. Plus, many of these options welcome pets. Let’s explore.

1. Traverse City State Park Campground

Address: 1498 Munson Ave #1014, Traverse City, MI 49686

About: This urban campground sits on the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay and offers nearly 350 campsites with electric hook-ups. It has an on-site dump station and some paved or pull-through gravel spots. 

The west loop offers 50-amp hook-ups, while the other two offer 20 and 30-amp. This campground remains open year-round and has heated restrooms. Finally, it’s big rig friendly and accepts RVs up to 50’. Sites offer a fire pit and a picnic table.

Pet Friendly: You can bring pets to all Michigan state parks and campgrounds. However, your furry friends can’t enter swim areas and land protected for endangered species.

Our Favorite Amenities: This campground, only minutes from Traverse City, feels like you’ve entered a wooded retreat. You’ll have access to the quarter-mile public beach just across the road.

Plus, they offer onsite recycling. And, for more fun, you can take a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

2. Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort

Address: 4050 E Hammond Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686

About: This campground offers full hook-up spots big enough to fit the largest RVs. The majority of the campsites are pull-through.

They have a banquet hall onsite to host a reunion or large event. And, they offer equipment rental for your enjoyment, like bikes, adult big wheel trikes, and golf carts.

Pet Friendly: Your pup is welcome, provided you don’t leave them unattended and keep them on a leash.

Our Favorite Amenities: If your crew likes to stay active, then try out Timber Ridge. It offers themed weekends, crafts, bingo nights, and dodgeball.

It also has an outdoor laser tag course, a jump pad, and a heated pool. And you can even stay in a cabin, yurt, or cottage.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.5/10

Aerial image of Traverse City.
There is a campsite for every type of RV traveler in Traverse City.

3. Traverse City KOA Holiday Campground

Address: 9700 M-37, Buckley, MI 49620

About: This KOA campground, located fifteen miles from Traverse City, offers partial and full hook-ups. They have various options to fit your budget and sites that fit vehicles up to 90’ long. 

Many spots are pull-through and feature 50-amp service. Additionally, they offer cable and Wi-Fi. You’ll have all the amenities you’ll need onsite, like laundry, propane, and a camp store.

Pet Friendly: The Traverse City KOA has a K9 park for your dog to get in some unleashed time.

Our Favorite Amenities: This KOA offers gem mining onsite, a fun train, mini-golf, a ball pit, jumping pillow, and an RC car racetrack. You can also participate in crafts, movie nights, parades, and tie-dye events. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

Pro Tip: Finding somewhere to sleep in Michigan doesn’t need to be stressful! We uncovered How to Find Great Dispersed Camping in Michigan for you!

4. Traverse City’s Paradise Cove Campground

Address: 9851 S Perrins Landing Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684

About: This rustic campground has 16 campsites, making it an attractive option for those wanting something more private. Paradise Cove, located on Lake Leelanau, features an on-site bar and grill and a marina.

All sites have full hook-ups and either 30 or 50-amp service. You can also choose one of their lake view spots. 

Pet Friendly: Pets are welcome on a leash or tagline when outside your RV.

Our Favorite Amenities: If the water brings you to Traverse City for your upcoming getaway, this campground may work great for you. Dock your boat during your trip, or simply enjoy one of the many beaches nearby within a 20-minute drive. 

You can head over to Sleeping Dunes National Lakeshore 35 minutes away. Additionally, the campground offers free firewood, so enjoy those campfire nights.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.5/10

5. Arbutus Lake State Forest Campground

Address: N Arbutus Lake Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686

About: This small campground offers 25 sites suitable for small trailers or tent camping. You can get sites on a first-come, first-served basis. It has vault toilets and potable water on-site through a hand-pump well. This campground sits just 20 minutes from Traverse City.

Pet Friendly: As with all Michigan state forest campgrounds, you can bring your pets.

Our Favorite Amenities: We like that this campground sits right along Arbutus Lake. It has a beach area nearby and a boat launch site. You’ll also find great fishing with fresh bass, bluegill, and sunfish catches.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10

Woman walking through a row of Cherry trees in Traverse City
Stroll through the cherry trees or many vineyards Traverse City has to offer.

6. Traverse Bay RV Resort

Address: 5555 M-72, Williamsburg, MI 49690

About: Traverse Bay offers 217 sites. And you don’t have to worry about space as the sites come specially designed for fifth wheels and Class C motorhomes. Each spot includes full-service hook-ups and a concrete patio. You can also get free Wi-Fi and cable. 

Additionally, It has an outdoor heated pool, on-site spa, laundry, a fitness center, tennis court, and pickleball area. You’ll find well-manicured lawns and plush landscaping throughout the 150 acre-resort.

Pet Friendly: You can have up to two pets per site. And, they have a fenced dog park.

Our Favorite Amenities: The resort has daily shuttle rides to nearby Turtle Creek Casino. Or, opt to take one of their complimentary cruiser bicycles or tandems out for a spin. If your vehicle needs a good wash and wax, you can even get that at this resort.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

Pro Tip: In need for some sun and sand? Check out these Top 10 Beaches in Michigan You Must Visit.

7. Forks State Forest Campground

Address: 8585-8627 Brown Bridge Rd, Traverse City, MI 49696

About: This rustic campground is on the Boardman River. It offers only nine sites only suitable for tents or small trailers. It offers vault toilets and hand-pump potable well water.

You can get a spot on a first-come, first-served basis only. But you can make this campground your home base for exploring Traverse City, 25-minutes away.

Pet Friendly: Pets are welcome at this state forest campground.

Our Favorite Amenities: By staying here, you have access to state land for hunting. Stay at least 450 ft away from occupied dwellings. And, you can find plentiful trout in the river. Plus, bring all your paddlesports gear to explore Boardman River from the campground.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10

RV parked at campsite in Traverse City.
Let your inner adventurist shine while hiking, biking, swimming, and more in Traverse City.

8. Scheck’s Place State Forest Campground

Address: 6069 Brown Bridge Rd, Traverse City, MI 49696

About: This first-come, first-served state forest campground on the Boardman River has 30 sites. Bring your small trailer or tent here to serve as a base camp for your Traverse City vacation.

This primitive campground has no electricity, but it does have a vault toilet and potable water from a hand pump. The campground is secluded yet only a half-hour from downtown Traverse City. Plus, it only costs $15 per night to stay here.

Pet Friendly: This is another one of the many pet-friendly Traverse City campgrounds.

Our Favorite Amenities: Outdoor adventurers like mountain bikers, equestrians, ATV riders, and kayakers may especially love this campground. It’s a stop on the Shore-to-Shore Trail, stretching 420 miles east to west. And, you can access off-road vehicle (ORV) trails from your campsite.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.5/10

9. Leelanau Pines Campground

Address: 6500 E Leelanau Pines Dr, Cedar, MI 49621

About: Located on Lake Leelanau north of Traverse City, this lakeside camping resort has over 180 campsites with a mixture of full hook-up options such as water and electric and electric-only sites. Enjoy the day in Traverse City, a 25-minute drive away, or spend it at the resort’s sandy swimming area.

Pet Friendly: Feel free to bring leashed pets. 

Our Favorite Amenities: This is a family-friendly resort. You’ll find a laundry and modern bathhouses. It also has a boat launch area, a camp store, and a dump station on site. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.5/10

Pure Michigan Month of Travel! | VLOG #54

Enjoy Your Stay at One of Traverse City’s Best Campgrounds

From primitive to resort-style campgrounds, we hope at least one of these Traverse City campgrounds suits your style. Traverse City is a popular vacation area, so book your reservations in advance. Then, get ready to enjoy the many attractions in the area. And make sure you get a chance to eat lots of cherries.

Which of these Traverse City campgrounds fit your camping style? Tell us in the comments below!

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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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Mary Frederick

Wednesday 2nd of February 2022

As always, your articles are interesting and have such good information. As RVers who stay at the Traverse Bay RV Resort often, you have given good info but did leave out sort of the main point. There are three areas for staying, all on ample cement pads and a lot of lots with pavers to increase the outside area beautifully. The south end is for Class A motorhomes only as is the north end. The middle section has Class A motorhomes, fifth wheels and Class C also. It's a very friendly resort with great folks in charge of the resort and the owners/renters ready for visiting and fun.

Mortons on the Move

Friday 4th of February 2022

Thanks for sharing this info!