Planning a trip this summer and not sure what the rules are for where you intend to camp? Here is a brief guide referencing the Michigan DNR website, to know where you can camp and what you need to enjoy your time there. Booking a campsite before your trip ensures that you’ll have a place to stay when you get to your destination. Check out the DNR’s website for more detailed information about bookings, registration, and obtaining permits. 


State Parks and Recreation Areas

  • Camping is permitted in designated sites only

  • Campfires are permitted in designated fire rings only

  • Reservations for campsites and harbor slips can be made up to six months in advance of planned arrival date, or 12 months in advance for overnight lodging facilities and day-use shelters


State Forest campgrounds

  • The majority of the state forest campgrounds are first-come, first-served! Camping fees and registration procedures are posted at the information kiosk at each campground.

  • Sites can be tough to claim, so picking a couple of potential campsites to explore is highly recommended. Check out the Michigan DNR’s interactive map for the different camping areas available throughout the U.P.


Dispersed Camping on State Forest Land

  • Backpacking or car camping (also known as dispersed camping) is permitted on state forest land as long as your site is located more than one mile from a state forest campground. It's free of charge. The following applies:

  • Campsites cannot be located in a state park, recreation area, state forest campground, or state game area and must be located more than one mile from state forest campgrounds.
  • The campsite or adjacent area cannot be posted "No Camping."
  • A backpacking registration card must be prominently posted at the campsite for the duration of the stay. It's your responsibility to ensure that the registration card remains legible. Placing the card in a zip-top bag is recommended.
  • State land rules must be followed at all times.
  • Use existing sites and avoid areas where impacts, such as vegetation loss, are just starting.


Backcountry Camping

  • Backcountry camping options are located in designated campsites. These campsites don't have as many amenities (ie. fire rings, picnic tables) and typically can only be reached by foot or boat, carrying in all gear and packing out all gear and trash. Check out this page on the Michigan DNR website for information on backcountry camping areas and how to obtain a permit.