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Michigan State Land Map Camping

Luzerne Horse Trailhead & Campground

Michigan’s secret State owned Camping spots, GPS co ordinates

Huron Manistee National Forest This is a free, developed campground for horseback riders, however it is not required to have a horse to camp here. Its a popular campground for RVers and van dwellers too. This campground is noted for its thick, dense canopy of trees with lots of shade. There is a noted issue with gypsy moths here, which are known to cause itching and rash if you come into contact. Read more about Luzerne Horse Trailhead & Campground on FreeRoam.

Lake Perrault Dispersed Campground

Lake Perrault is located on the Keweenaw Peninsula in the northern most section of the UP. This small lake is located just off the highway and has room for 6 or 7 groups adjacent to the lake. Larger rigs may have a tough time turning around here, so if youre in a large RV you may want to look elsewhere. This is a convenient location to dispersed camp in Michigans Upper Peninsula as youre just a short drive from the town of Houghton and adjacent to the Baraga State Forest Area.

There are no services at Lake Perrault, so youll need to properly dispose of all waste and come prepared to be self-sufficient.

This is a popular spot to camp for free in the area, so you will want to arrive early if youre looking to secure a site during the peak summer months. Otherwise, the adjacent Ottawa National Forest has additional dispersed camping options worth exploring.

Water: No, but may be able to pull from Mammoth CreekCrowds: BusyMap

A good option for those looking for free and dispersed camping in Huron National Forest is the McKinley Trail Camp. Similar to the Marzinski Trail Camp described above, this camping area is meant to provide free camping for those exploring the forest via horse, but all are welcome. While not technically dispersed camping, McKinley Trail Camp is free and the sites are well spaced giving campers a feeling of solitude.

To the west of Whelan Lake youll find the town of Ludington as well as some nice beaches on Lake Michigan.

What You Need To Know About Dispersed Camping In Michigan

Michigan does not have BLM land but plenty of forest service land. Most of these public lands are located in the northern half of the lower peninsula and through the upper peninsula. If you are really looking to get away from it all look in the upper peninsula as it is very remote.

Youll need to follow a few rules to preserve the land around you when dispersed camping in Michigan. Theres usually a limit to how many days you can stay in the same area within a month for public lands. Another general rule is to camp at least one mile away from campgrounds, 100 feet from any stream, and 150 feet from a roadway.

Once you find your ideal location, use in satellite view to check your route. Have a hard copy map of the area, and arrive during the daytime since your spot wont be marked.

Read on for additional rules to follow.

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Free Camping East Of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

GPS Coordinates: 46.6279, -86.09573

This free camping area in the Upper Peninsula is only 1.5 miles from the Log Slide Overlook and Au Sable Light Station of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, found in the forest right at the border of Pictured Rocks.

Some of the cleared free camping spaces are like a big field and you may be camping near others, all surrounded by tall trees. There are no amenities here, but drinking water is available at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from an unthreaded spigot.

To get to this camping area, turn south off H-58 onto Rhody Creek Trail . At around .75 to 1 miles down Rhody Creek Trail, youll see cleared areas that are free to camp in. Rhody Creek Trail is a maintained gravel road and any sized RV should be able to comfortably boondock at this free camping spot.

Dispersed Camping In The Forests Of Michigan

Deer Hunting News For Michigan

Dispersed Camping in Michigan National Forests

There are three National Forests in Michigan that are supervised by the United States Forest Service. One of these is located on the states Lower Peninsula and the other two are situated on the Upper Peninsula .

The one that is located on the Lower Peninsula of Michigan Huron-Manistee is actually not contiguous. As its name suggests, it is comprised of two separate forests. The Manistee National Forest is located in western Michigan, while the Huron Forest can be found in the eastern part of the state.

In my opinion, those wishing to engage in dispersed camping in the state of Michigan should prioritize these National Forests above other areas. Speaking generally, all three of these forests have regulations and rules that are quite similar and they all allow some form of dispersed camping.

However, the rules do vary a bit from one National Forest to another, which is precisely why I recommend doing a bit of online research before actually heading to any of these places. You can, of course, also contact the local field offices for the most up-to-date info.

Heres a list of National Forests in Michigan, together with links to guidelines regarding dispersed camping in each of these forests:

  • Escanaba State Forest
  • Copper Country State Forest

Those wishing to pitch their tents in one of these forests are required to follow these rules:

If you need a tent recommendation, check out our Coleman tent review.

Restrooms: NoMap

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

National Park Service

Miles of sand beach, bluffs that tower 450â above Lake Michigan, lush forests, clear inland lakes, unique flora and fauna make up the natural world of Sleeping Bear Dunes. High dunes afford spectacular views across the lake. An island lighthouse, US Life-Saving Service stations, coastal villages, …

  • Hiawatha National Forest

    Near Saint Ignace, Michigan

    This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Hiawatha National Forest! Lifelong memories are built during these special times and we are happy to help with any information gathering you’ll need to make this trip a safe and enjoyable one. Please be sure to print …

  • Huron-Manistee National Forests

    Near Oscoda, Michigan

    This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Huron-Manistee National Forests! Lifelong memories are built during these special times and we are happy to help with any information gathering you’ll need to make this trip a safe and enjoyable one. Please be sure to…

  • Ottawa National Forest

    Near Ewen, Michigan

    This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Ottawa National Forest! Lifelong memories are built during these special times and we are happy to help with any information gathering you’ll need to make this trip a safe and enjoyable one. Please be sure to read and…

  • Where Is Dispersed Camping Allowed In Michigan

    Generally speaking dispersed camping is permitted on public land managed by the United States Forest Service in Michigan. It is broadly allowed on these lands, expect where it is explicitly prohibited. That means that in Michigan, dispersed camping can generally be found in any of the three national forests by looking along Forest Service roads or inquiring directly with the Ranger District Office where you plan to camp.

    In addition to USFS land, Michigan also has a network of State Forests that permit dispersed camping. The regulations for camping here are slightly different from the USFS, and we provide additional context and details on State Forest dispersed camping in Michigan below.

    US Forest Service Dispersed Camping in Michigan

    The US Forest Services manages three National Forests within Michigan. Two of these, Hiawatha & Ottawa, are located on Michigans Upper Peninsula, while Huron-Manistee is located on the Lower Peninsula. Although Huron-Manistee are listed as a single national forest, they are not contiguous, with Huron National Forest located in eastern Michigan and Manistee located in western.

    Michigans National Forests are listed below along with a link to the dispersed camping guidelines for each area:

    • Au Sable State Forest

    The following rules apply when dispersed camping in one of Michigans State Forests:

    Michigan Camp Registration Card for Dispersed Camping

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    What You Won’t Find

    Electric hookups: There are no electrical units in campsites or common electrical sources. Please plan ahead for cell phone and medical device charging.

    Wi-fi: Wi-fi is not available because these rustic campgrounds are typically located in more remote locations with less access to infrastructure. As technology access changes, Wi-Fi could become available in some locations.

    Free Hiawatha National Forest Site

    Dispersed Camping Michigan

    GPS Coordinates: 46.018146, -84.719897

    This is a single free camping spot in Michigans Upper Peninsula, found off I-75 in Saint Ignace, about 25 minutes north of the Mackinac Bridge.

    This primitive camping spot in the U.P. offers a single fire ring as its sole amenity. Theres a steep trail leading from the campsite to the Carp River found below.

    Although located pretty close to the interstate, the campsite is secluded and all we noticed was more of a constant hum from traffic.

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    How To Find Dispersed Camping In Michigan

    In general, with a little knowledge of where to look, experience navigating forest service roads, reading USFS maps, and camping in remote locations, you should be able to find plenty of dispersed campsites in Michigan. Although the state isnt as well known for its free camping as some of the Western States, youll find far fewer campers in Michigans National and State Forests.

    We recommend using a combination of online apps/websites and USFS maps to find dispersed campsites. Our favorite resources for Michigan dispersed camping are below:

    • Freecampsites.net Our go to resource for finding free camping in the US. Simply enter your desired location and filter through the results.

    Leave No Trace Principles & Dispersed Camping

    One of the most important considerations when dispersed camping is to follow Leave No Trace principles. This will minimize your impact and ensure your campsite can be enjoyed by future visitors. Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping:

    Green Road is located within the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, which is part of Huron-Manistee National Forest. This dispersed camping area gets great reviews for its proximity to Lake Michigan, privacy of the sites, and relatively easy access for most vehicles. There is a small fee for the Nordhouse Dunes area when dispersed camping, but we think this is well worth it for access to this beautiful area.

    Free Lake Perrault Camping On The Keweenaw Peninsula

    GPS Coordinates: 47.029353, -88.731405

    Looking for some Keweenaw Peninsula camping, especially if its free? Lake Perrault is your spot.

    This is primitive camping in the northernmost part of Michigan, so dont expect more than some cleared areas, fire rings, and a few picnic tables. Some of the spots are right on Lake Perrault while others are higher up in the forest with a little more seclusion.

    Because this isnt a loop, nothing over 40 feet should drive down to this free camping area, as its pretty tight when turning around.

    Finding the road to get to Lake Perrault free camping is a little tricky and Google Maps isnt especially helpful. From M-26, turn at these coordinates: 47.028587, -88.725228. Its the only road off M-26 near the lake. Then just follow the road right down to the lake and youll see the campsites.

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    Where Is The Proposed Expansion

    It includes large parcels of state-owned land branching off in multiple directions from the existing camp surrounding the city of Grayling. In total, the proposed expansion comes to more than 160,000 acres.

    The area proposed for military use encompasses almost all of the wetlands visible from US-127 west of Houghton and Higgins lakes. It also includes stretches of the Manistee and the Au Sable rivers, though Camp Grayling Commander Col. Scott Meyers told Bridge Michigan in an interview last week that training exercises will not take place near those stretches of river.

    Regulations And Rules Concerning Michigan Dispersed Camping

    Click on a county to find the camping and trail opportunities.

    The best thing about dispersed camping is undoubtedly the fact that it can be done without things that usually go hand in hand with pitching a tent on a developed campground. In other words, there is no need for reservations, permits, fees, and similar requirements.

    However, that doesnt necessarily mean that there are no rules at all. For example, you cant camp for more than two weeks during a 1-month period. You also cannot camp near developed campgrounds, picnic areas, or trailheads.

    While the best course of action is to just contact the local field office and find out everything about the regulations concerning the particular area youre planning to camp in, here are some general rules you should always follow while engaging in this activity:

    • Responsible camping Always pick a spot without too much vegetation and keep your campsite reasonably small. While pitching a tent, do not build any kind of platform for it or dig trenches.

    When it comes to washing your clothes and other stuff, always do it at least 200 feet away from wetlands, lakes, streams, and rivers. Use only plain water and biodegradable soap.

    • Answering natures call Whenever you feel like answering natures call, do it as far away from the aforementioned water sources as possible. Dig a hole, do your business, and then bury the waste.

    Items like used toilet paper always need to be packed out. This is because animals usually dig these things up and scatter them throughout the wilderness.

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    General State Park And Recreation Area Rules

    State land use rules

    Read the state land use rules relevant to state parks and recreation areas.

    Recreation Passport

    A Recreation Passport is required for entry into state parks and recreation areas, DNR-managed boating access sites , state forest campgrounds, parking for hundreds of miles of trails…

    Park hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    Only registered campers are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. with the exception of occasional events.

    Alcohol

    Alcohol possession and use is limited or prohibited at some state parks. Learn alcohol restrictions.

    Pets

    Pets are welcome on a 6-foot leash in state parks, campgrounds, some state park cabins, state forest campgrounds, non-designated bathing beach areas, most harbors, the majority of trails and many boat launches. Learn about pet-friendly recreation and rules.

    Event permits, shelter rentals, etc.

    Some events on public lands, such as weddings, 5K races, festivals, tournaments, require a permit. Learn about the types of events and requirements.

    Hunting

    All state recreation areas are open to hunting unless designated closed. All state parks are closed to hunting unless designated open. Find a list of parks and recreation areas where hunting is allowed.

    Metal detectingResearchFireworks

    Fireworks are not permitted.

    Fishing

    With the exception of Free Fishing Weekends, if you are over the age of 17 you are required to have a license to fish. Buy your fishing or hunting license.

    Commercial use of state lands

    Firewood

    Fireworks

    Discover Camping In Michigan

  • USDA Forest Service

    Near Saint Ignace, Michigan

    Located in Michigan’s wild and scenic Upper Peninsula, the Hiawatha National Forest’s dramatic shorelines lie nestled up to Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan — three of the five great lakes. Our lake shores, lighthouses, islands and abundant snow create a place of respite and play within a day’s d…

  • USDA Forest Service

    Near Cadillac, Michigan

    Lying between the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, is the nearly one-million-acre Huron-Manistee National Forests.

  • USDA Forest Service

    Near Bruce Crossing, Michigan

    I want to… I Need to Know About…

  • National Park Service

    Near Shingleton, Michigan

    Sandstone cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, sand dunes, inland lakes, deep forest, and wild shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The power of Lake Superior shapes the park’s coastal features and affects every ecosystem, creating a unique landscape to explore. Hiking, camping, …

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    Free Camping In The Lower Peninsula

    In the lower peninsula, the Huron-Manistee National Forest is a great place to start. With close to 1 million acres and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, there are many inexpensive campsites to be found in addition to the countless dispersed campsites within the forests.

    Among those that are free – on the Manistee side closest to Lake Michigan – look for Cooper Creek Road and Green Road near the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. The Nordhouse Dunes are a great place to explore as well as camp. The National Forest Service has a helpful map and brochure that explains all the details. A great hike can be had from several approaches to the Big Sable Point Light House.

    Despite the area having a remote feel, the Upper Hamlin Grocery Store on Nurnberg Road is a conveniently located stop for fresh water, a dump station, and supplies. The Lake Michigan National Recreation Area is just to the north and Ludington State Park to the south.

    Further into the Manistee National Forest are a half dozen free campsites. In the north section, east of the town of Manistee, is the and Government Landing Campground on the Manistee River just upstream from the Tippy Dam. There are another half dozen mostly lakeside rustic camping areas further south in the forest.

    Heading to the north end of the lower peninsula just before the Mackinaw Bridge is French Farm Lake Campground. While some reviewers didnt find it worked for them, most found it worthy of 4-5 stars.

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