When it comes to camping, Michigan abounds with options. Hundreds of campgrounds dot the landscape, from the forests of the Upper Peninsula to the shores of Lake Erie. A select few provide accommodations year-round. And while winter camping should certainly be approached with caution, hardy campers can find plenty of places to pitch a tent in even the coldest weather.
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Year-Round Camping in Northeast Michigan
Overlooking the northern tip of Lake Huron, Cheboygan State Park includes about 75 campsites available year-round. They're shady and secluded, with campfire rings, picnic tables, electrical hookups and access to modern restrooms and hot showers. Electricity is not available in the campground during the off-season, which varies from year to year but typically runs from November to March. Park features include a swimming beach, boat launch, playground, picnic areas and hiking trails. The trails are open in winter for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and the waters of Duncan Bay offer ice fishing for northern pike and panfish.
Year-Round Camping in Northwest Michigan
Spanning half a million acres, northwest Michigan's Manistee National Forest is a prime destination for outdoor recreation any time of year. The forest is home to dozens of fishing streams and lakes and hundreds of miles of trails, including a section of the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail. Manistee National Forest also includes more than a dozen campgrounds, most of which provide primitive campsites best suited for tent camping. A few, including the Twinwood Lake, Diamond Point and Bowman Lake campgrounds, remain open all year. Each has just a handful of quiet tent sites, with no amenities other than vault toilets. These areas are not maintained in winter, so they may only be accessible on foot during snowy conditions. Campers are responsible for carrying in all necessary equipment, including drinking water, and leaving no trace of their presence. Campgrounds in the forest are remote and secluded, especially in winter, so always let someone know where you're going before entering the forest.
Year-Round Camping in Southern Michigan
Waterloo Recreation Area encompasses about 20,000 acres, with four campgrounds that include more than 300 campsites. Accommodations range from primitive to modern, and sites are open to tents and RVs. During the warmer months, many sites include electrical hookups, access to modern restrooms and hot showers. In winter, the Waterloo Portage Lake Campground stays open but electrical hookups are not available, and the modern restrooms and showers are often closed, leaving only vault toilets. Waterloo Recreation Area has more than 40 miles of marked trails, which are open to hiking and mountain biking in summer and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.
Year-Round Camping in the Upper Peninsula
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the most wild and undeveloped part of the state. Numerous campgrounds give visitors a place to stay while they explore its vast forests and pristine lakes. Tahquamenon Falls State Park, centered around the Tahquamenon River and its namesake falls, is open all year, though the amenities are significantly reduced in winter. Campers can choose from nearly 300 campsites, of which more than 150 are open year-round. Summer visitors can hike or bike through the woods, rent a canoe and fish for trout in the river and watch the thundering waters of Tahquamenon Falls tumble nearly 50 feet from the rock face. In winter, the splashing water creates ornate ice sculptures in the gorge below.