Stake out the Wolverine State

camping-clrBy Henry Zeman

Michigan is a camping enthusiast’s paradise as the state has plenty of campgrounds to choose from, both private and municipality-owned. Everywhere you go in this state you’ll find some great camping. There’s little wonder why Native Americans favored this state. Of course, they were the first campers, and at times, fought over the right to live here and camp here as well.

Undoubtedly, the most popular campgrounds are Michigan’s beautiful state parks that hug the shorelines of lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior. During peak season these campgrounds are usually full, so be forewarned: You must make reservations well in advance of your trip. But these campgrounds are popular for a reason. They offer facilities that attract the crowds, such as clean restrooms, electrical hook-ups, fresh water and other modern amenities.

If you really like to rough it in a primitive setting, the state has campgrounds that are sure to please your rugged soul. If you’re looking for a place to spread your camper under a towering white pine, there are campgrounds that will suit your needs.

For this writer, one of the finest trips would be canoeing down one of our storied rivers, such as the Pere Marquette or the Big Manistee, where roughing it in style appeals to many families. I can’t think of a finer way to unwind than to set up a tent after swinging a paddle most of the day and listen to the gurgle of a trout stream before slipping into slumber. Oh yes, you can fish the stream, too, and maybe catch a trout for your supper!

Most of the state’s campgrounds cater to fishermen, and fisherwomen, too – nestled ideally close to some water, either long a picturesque inland lake or some gin-clear trout stream. Where can you find these campgrounds? The quickest place to find a campground is searching on the Internet. A couple of sites to explore are Michigan’s Association of RV Parks and Camp-grounds at or Michigan’s Depart-ment of Natural Resources at The number of facilities offered is staggering.

There are thousands of miles of hiking trails in the northern part of the state where you can carry your gear on your back and really rough it in style. One appeal of Michigan’s forests is that there is little chance of encountering any dangerous animals that could spoil your day. There are black bears that make their home in northern Michigan and timber wolves in the Upper Peninsula, but rarely, if ever, do they become a problem for campers.

Visitors to this state can be sure that their camping trip will be a great adventure with myriad sparkling lakes and streams offering countless recreational opportunities or tranquil getaways. So come to Michigan, pitch your tent and enjoy. ◊

Henry Zeman, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is a freelance writer and photographer, and a 20-year member of OWAA.


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