Northern Michigan is a paradise for camping enthusiasts, offering lush forests, serene lakes, and stunning landscapes that provide the perfect escape from the digital hustle. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a newbie eager to dip your toes into outdoor adventures, Northern Michigan has something for everyone. The region boasts a variety of camping experiences, from rustic backcountry sites to modern campgrounds with full amenities. Its diverse terrain and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for hiking, kayaking, and simply relaxing in nature. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best campgrounds in the region, tailored for Gen Z adventurers.

1. Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Imagine waking up to the sound of cascading waterfalls and chirping birds. Tahquamenon Falls State Park, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is famous for its majestic waterfalls – the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. The Upper Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, boasts a drop of nearly 50 feet and stretches over 200 feet across, offering a breathtaking view that draws visitors from all over. The Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls flowing around an island, provide a more intimate and serene experience, perfect for a peaceful morning or afternoon adventure.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park spans over 50,000 acres, making it a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers a variety of campsites to suit different preferences. For those who love a touch of luxury while camping, the modern campsites come equipped with amenities like electricity and hot showers. These sites are perfect for glam campers who want to enjoy the great outdoors without giving up certain comforts.

If you’re a purist who prefers a more rugged, back-to-basics experience, the rustic campsites are ideal. These sites offer a true wilderness experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in nature. Picture setting up your tent under a canopy of trees, cooking your meals over an open fire, and falling asleep to the soothing sounds of the forest.

One of the highlights of Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the extensive network of hiking trails that meander through the park. These trails range from easy, family-friendly paths to more challenging routes that reward hikers with stunning panoramic views of the falls and surrounding forest. The North Country Trail, which passes through the park, is a favorite among avid hikers, offering a great opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes of Northern Michigan.

Water enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing in the park’s pristine waters. Paddling through the serene Tahquamenon River provides a unique perspective of the park’s natural beauty, with chances to spot local wildlife like deer, beavers, and a variety of bird species. The river’s calm waters make it suitable for paddlers of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned adventurers.

After a day of exploring, there’s nothing better than unwinding with a cold drink. Fortunately, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is home to the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, located near the Upper Falls. This cozy brewery offers a range of craft beers brewed on-site, as well as delicious food made from locally sourced ingredients. It’s the perfect spot to relax and reflect on the day’s adventures while enjoying the company of friends or fellow campers.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is more than just a camping destination; it’s a place where you can reconnect with nature, challenge yourself with outdoor activities, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of exploring rugged trails or the tranquility of a riverside paddle, this park has something to offer every type of camper. So pack your bags, grab your gear, and get ready to experience the magic of Tahquamenon Falls State Park.


  • Hiking trails with scenic views
  • Kayaking and canoeing opportunities
  • Nearby brewery for a chill evening

2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you're into jaw-dropping views and Instagram-worthy spots, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a must-visit destination. Located along the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this stunning area stretches for over 40 miles and is renowned for its colorful sandstone cliffs, pristine sandy beaches, and crystal-clear blue waters. It’s the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a variety of camping options, but it’s especially popular among those who crave solitude and adventure. Backcountry camping is a major draw here, providing a truly immersive wilderness experience. Imagine setting up your tent in a secluded spot, surrounded by the sounds of nature and the fresh scent of pine trees. With over 100 miles of hiking trails, the area is a haven for those who love to explore off the beaten path. Whether you're trekking through dense forests, meandering along the shoreline, or scaling rocky cliffs, every trail offers something unique and awe-inspiring.

The cliffs themselves are the star attraction. Rising up to 200 feet above the lake, these magnificent formations are painted in hues of red, orange, yellow, and green, thanks to the minerals in the rock. Kayaking or boating along the base of the cliffs provides a dramatic and up-close view, revealing hidden coves, arches, and waterfalls that are inaccessible by land. For the adventurous, guided kayak tours are available and highly recommended, offering a safe and thrilling way to experience the rugged beauty of the shoreline.

Beach lovers will find plenty to enjoy at Pictured Rocks as well. The park boasts numerous sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking. Miners Beach, one of the most popular spots, offers stunning views of the cliffs and a peaceful place to relax by the water. For those interested in water sports, the clear waters of Lake Superior are ideal for activities like snorkeling, paddleboarding, and even scuba diving, where you can explore shipwrecks lying just offshore.

Hiking is another highlight at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The North Country Trail, which spans the entire length of the park, offers some of the best hiking experiences in the region. This trail takes you through dense forests, across streams, and along the top of the cliffs, providing breathtaking views at every turn. One of the most popular hikes is the trek to Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach, where you can see a striking rock formation with a lone pine tree growing out of its top, and then relax on a secluded beach with stunning views.

For those interested in history and culture, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore also offers a glimpse into the past. The area is rich with stories of Native American history, early European explorers, and the shipping industry that once thrived here. You can visit historical sites like the Au Sable Light Station, a lighthouse that has guided mariners for over a century, and learn about the area's maritime heritage.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a paradise for those who love natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and serene solitude. Its combination of colorful cliffs, pristine beaches, and clear waters make it an unforgettable destination for backcountry camping, hiking, and water sports. So pack your gear, charge your camera, and get ready for an epic adventure at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


  • Stunning cliffside views
  • Water sports and beach activities
  • Backcountry trails for hiking and exploration

3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

For a mix of adventure and relaxation, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the perfect destination. Nestled along the northwest coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, this stunning park is famed for its massive sand dunes and breathtaking scenic overlooks. Whether you're seeking an adrenaline-pumping hike or a tranquil spot to unwind, Sleeping Bear Dunes offers an experience like no other.

The highlight of the park is undoubtedly its towering sand dunes. These dunes, some of which rise over 450 feet above Lake Michigan, provide a challenging yet rewarding adventure. Climbing the dunes is a workout, but the panoramic view from the top is worth every step. Imagine standing on a dune summit, with sweeping vistas of the azure lake stretching out before you and miles of sandy shoreline below. It's a sight that leaves you in awe and makes for the perfect Instagram shot.

For those who love hiking, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers a variety of trails that cater to all levels of fitness and experience. The Dune Climb is a popular starting point, offering a strenuous but exhilarating ascent up the dunes. Once at the top, you can continue your adventure on the Dunes Trail, which takes you through a landscape of rolling sand hills and eventually leads you to the stunning shores of Lake Michigan. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is another must-do, featuring a series of overlooks and trailheads that provide easy access to some of the park's most picturesque spots.

The park isn't just about dunes, though. Its crystal-clear lakes are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Glen Lake, in particular, is a favorite among visitors for its striking blue waters and sandy beaches. Whether you're looking to take a refreshing dip, lounge by the water, or explore the lake by kayak, you'll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the pristine beauty of these inland lakes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore also offers a touch of culture and history. The nearby historic villages of Glen Haven and Port Oneida provide a glimpse into the region's past. In Glen Haven, you can explore a restored blacksmith shop, general store, and maritime museum, all of which offer insights into the area's 19th-century logging and shipping industries. Port Oneida, with its well-preserved farmsteads and rural landscapes, tells the story of early settlers who worked the land and shaped the community.

Camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes is an experience in itself. The park offers a range of camping options, from modern campgrounds with full amenities to rustic sites that provide a more back-to-nature experience. Whichever you choose, you'll be surrounded by the park's natural beauty, with the sounds of rustling leaves and the gentle lapping of waves providing the perfect soundtrack to your stay.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a diverse and captivating destination that caters to both thrill-seekers and those seeking tranquility. Its blend of towering dunes, clear lakes, and historic charm make it a unique spot for a memorable outdoor adventure. Whether you're hiking the dunes, swimming in the lakes, or exploring historic villages, you'll find plenty to love about this beautiful corner of Northern Michigan.


  • Dune climbing and hiking trails
  • Crystal-clear lakes for swimming
  • Historic villages nearby for a touch of culture

4. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Escape to one of the most secluded spots in Northern Michigan, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Fondly known as "The Porkies," this area offers a true wilderness experience with vast forests, rugged terrain, and over 90 miles of hiking trails. Spanning nearly 60,000 acres, it's perfect for those looking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and fully immerse themselves in nature.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking solitude and adventure. Its remote and serene atmosphere is a major draw for visitors who want to experience the tranquility of unspoiled nature. The park’s dense forests are home to an impressive variety of trees, including old-growth hemlock and maple, creating a lush, green canopy that offers shade and beauty throughout the year.

One of the park’s standout features is its extensive trail system. With over 90 miles of hiking trails, there is something for everyone, from easy walks to challenging backcountry treks. The Escarpment Trail, one of the park’s most popular hikes, offers stunning views of the Lake of the Clouds, a picturesque lake surrounded by rolling hills and dense forests. The trail runs along a high ridge, providing breathtaking vistas that are especially spectacular during the fall when the foliage bursts into vibrant colors.

For those who enjoy wildlife watching, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park does not disappoint. The park’s diverse habitats support a wide range of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, foxes, and countless bird species. Bird watchers will find the park particularly rewarding, with opportunities to spot bald eagles, osprey, and a variety of migratory songbirds. The quiet, undisturbed environment makes it easy to observe these creatures in their natural habitat.

Camping in the Porkies is an experience like no other. The park offers a range of options, from rustic cabins and yurts to backcountry campsites. The rustic cabins, scattered throughout the park, provide a cozy retreat with basic amenities, perfect for those who want a bit of comfort while still being close to nature. For the more adventurous, the backcountry campsites offer a true wilderness experience, allowing you to set up camp in remote locations far from the crowds.

The park’s rugged terrain is also ideal for other outdoor activities. Anglers can enjoy fishing in the park’s many rivers and lakes, while kayakers and canoeists can paddle along its serene waterways. In the winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even winter camping.

One of the unique attractions of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is its series of waterfalls. The Presque Isle River, which flows through the park, features several beautiful waterfalls, including Manabezho Falls, Nawadaha Falls, and Manido Falls. These scenic spots are perfect for photography, picnicking, and simply enjoying the soothing sounds of flowing water.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a pristine and secluded paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Its combination of vast forests, abundant wildlife, and diverse recreational opportunities make it an ideal destination for anyone looking to escape and reconnect with nature. Whether you're hiking along scenic trails, camping under the stars, or simply soaking in the serene atmosphere, the Porkies offer an unforgettable wilderness experience.


  • Remote and serene atmosphere
  • Abundant wildlife and bird watching
  • Rustic cabins and backcountry camping

5. Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping

For a more social camping experience, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping is a popular choice among Gen Z campers. Situated just a short distance from the iconic Mackinac Island, this campground offers an unbeatable combination of location, amenities, and activities, making it a perfect destination for those looking to mix relaxation with a bit of fun and social interaction.

Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping spans over 200 acres, offering a wide variety of campsites that cater to different preferences and camping styles. Whether you prefer tent camping, RVing, or staying in a cozy cabin, you’ll find an option that suits your needs. The campground's well-maintained facilities ensure a comfortable stay, with modern restrooms, showers, and laundry services available for guests.

One of the main attractions of Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping is its close proximity to Mackinac Island. Just a short ferry ride away, the island is a must-visit destination known for its historic charm, scenic beauty, and unique mode of transportation—bicycles and horse-drawn carriages, as motor vehicles are not allowed on the island. Spend a day exploring the island's historic sites, such as Fort Mackinac, and enjoy the famous Mackinac Island fudge.

Back at the campground, there's no shortage of activities to keep you entertained. The heated pool is a favorite spot for campers to cool off and relax, while the mini-golf course offers a fun way to challenge friends and family. For those who love to explore, bike rentals are available, allowing you to take in the beautiful surroundings at your own pace. The campground also has basketball and volleyball courts, ensuring there's always something to do.

Nature lovers will appreciate the campground’s scenic trails and waterfront views. The property boasts a mile-long shoreline along Lake Huron, providing stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge and Straits of Mackinac. It's a perfect spot for morning walks, evening strolls, or simply sitting back and enjoying the natural beauty. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck in the lake, while kayaks and paddleboards are available for those who want to get out on the water.

Socializing is a big part of the Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping experience. The campground’s friendly atmosphere and communal areas make it easy to meet fellow travelers. Whether you're sharing stories around the campfire, participating in organized activities, or just striking up a conversation with your neighbors, it's a great place to make new friends and create lasting memories.

The campground's convenience and full-service facilities make it a comfortable and hassle-free choice for campers. In addition to modern amenities, there is an on-site camp store stocked with essentials, snacks, and souvenirs. This ensures that you have everything you need right at your fingertips, allowing you to focus on enjoying your camping experience.

Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping offers a vibrant and social camping experience that combines the beauty of Northern Michigan with a variety of recreational activities and modern conveniences. Whether you're exploring Mackinac Island, relaxing by the pool, or making new friends around the campfire, this campground provides the perfect setting for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.


  • Proximity to Mackinac Island
  • Variety of recreational activities
  • Full-service facilities for a comfortable stay

Pro Tips for Gen Z Campers

Camping in Northern Michigan can be an unforgettable experience if you’re well-prepared. Here are some tips to make your trip smooth and enjoyable:

  1. Pack Smart: Bring essentials like a good quality tent, sleeping bag, and portable charger. Don’t forget your camera for those scenic shots!
  2. Stay Hydrated: Always have enough water and snacks. Hydration is key, especially if you’re hiking.
  3. Leave No Trace: Respect nature by cleaning up after yourself. Keep the campgrounds pristine for future campers.
  4. Check the Weather: Michigan weather can be unpredictable. Pack accordingly and always have a rain plan.
  5. Explore Local: Make time to visit nearby attractions and support local businesses. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Whether you're looking for a thrilling outdoor adventure or a peaceful retreat in nature, Northern Michigan's campgrounds have got you covered. Each site offers unique experiences that cater to different camping styles and preferences. So, pack your bags, gather your friends, and set off on an unforgettable camping trip in Northern Michigan.

Stay connected with more insights from the vibrant world of outdoor adventures at Woke Waves Magazine.

#Camping #NorthernMichigan #OutdoorAdventures #GenZTravel #TravelGuide

Jul 1, 2024

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