Michigan is home to a number of parks and outdoor spaces that have been welcoming visitors from all over the world for centuries.
You can find recreation areas, state parks, RV parks and forest campgrounds in almost every corner of the state, though most people are attracted to those surrounding Lake Michigan or Lake Superior because of its breathtaking beauty.
1. Bald Mountain State Recreation Area
Blue Mountain State Recreation Area is a 4,367-acre green space which can be found near Michigan’s stunning Lake Orion. The park is home to only recreational facilities in the world to ever be designed by renowned architect Gunnar Birkerts, a Latvian American who was mostly based in Detroit. The building complex comprises five mid-century modern resources such as men’s and women’s bathhouses, concession stands, a pump house, and more - together, they are called the Lower Trout Lake Bathhouse Complex and Contact Station and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The surrounding recreational area is mostly popular with anglers and hunters who come there to catch geese, rabbit, deer, bass, and trout. More things to do in Michigan
Address: 3361 S Lapeer Rd, Orion Charter Township, MI 48360, Phone: 248-93-6767
2. Fayette Historic State Park
Located within the historic town of the same name, Fayette Historic State Park is a lovely place that is situated between Sand Bay and Snail Shell Harbor in the Big Bay de Noc of Lake Michigan. The town itself is extremely popular as it used to be an industrial community which manufactured charcoal pig iron but was later reconstructed into a living museum to give visitors an idea of what life was like there in the late 19th century. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the park itself is only 711 acres and was established in 1959. Visitors who come there love to spend their time hiking on the 5+ miles of trails, which are groomed in the winter to accommodate cross-country skiing. There are also 61 semi-modern campsites which are situated besides playgrounds, picnic shelters, and restrooms. More romantic getaways in Michigan
Address: 4785 II Rd, Garden, MI 49835, Phone: 906-644-2603
3. Harrisville State Park
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Featuring a magnificent day-use area as well as a popular campground, Harrisville State Park is perfect for visitors who are looking to spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days in one of Michigan’s parks. You’ll find much of the park to be cedar and pine trees as well as long stretches of sandy shores which lead to Lake Huron. It is one of the oldest state parks in Michigan, having been established in 1921. Since then, the park has grown in size as well as facilities. You’ll find a number of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, several picnic areas with rentable pavilions, and even an area designated for metal detecting. The park hosts many events throughout the year, many of which are dedicated to music and art; their annual sand sculpture contest occurs every summer and is extremely popular with visitors. More Michigan beaches
Address: 248 State Park Rd, Harrisville, MI 48740, Phone: 989-724-5126
4. Hartwick Pines State Park
Hartwick Pines State Park is an IUCN category v protected landscape and seascape that was established in 1927. It is one of the oldest state parks as well as the fifth biggest in the entire state, spanning at 9,762 acres. While exploring the park and its old-growth forest of red pines and white pines, you’ll be able to see what a majority of Northern Michigan was like prior to the logging area. One of the park’s most popular features is the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum, which is filed with exhibits, artifacts, and photographs from Michigan’s lumber boom years.
Address: Grayling, Michigan 49738, Phone: 989-348-7068
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5. Hiawatha National Forest
Hiawatha National Forest is an 894,836-acre protected area which was established in 1931. The national forest comprises six designated wilderness areas which visitors can explore: Round Island Wilderness, Rock River Canyon Wilderness, Horseshoe Bay Wilderness, Delirium Wilderness, Mackinac Wilderness, and Big Island Lake Wilderness. There are also five National Wild and Scenic Rivers located within Hiawatha: Whitefish River, Indian River, Carp River, Tahquamenon River, and Sturgeon River. There is so much that you can see and do while you’re there, but the most popular activity that most visitors come to the park for is camping. Favored campgrounds include Carp River Campground, which allows fishing, Bay View Campground, which has a secluded beach, and Monocle Lake Campground, which is great for RV campers.
Address: Manistique, MI 49854, Phone: 906-428-5800
6. Holland State Park
Since it was established in 1926 Holland State Park has grown tremendously over the years in both size and facilities. Nearly two million people flock to the park every year, making it one of the most visited state parks in Michigan. The public recreation area, which spans 142 acres, has an array of activities and amenities for visitors. You can spend your time there hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, or playing in the playgrounds. There is a popular dune area and you’ll also be able to see stunning views of Holland Harbor and the Holland Harbor Light, “Big Red”. More Michigan lakes
Address: 2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424, Phone: 616-399-9390
7. Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park comprises the main island of Isle Royale and hundreds of smaller islands adjacent to it. The park covers 894 square miles, of which 209 square miles are land and the rest are the surrounding waters. Isle Royale National Park was established in 1940 as a means of protecting it from development; in 1980 it was declared a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. The entire park is situated within Lake Superior but is along the international border and is nearby the Canadian Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. Recreational features include hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking routes, campsites, rentable cabins, fishing spots, and designated picnicking sites among other things.
Address: Lake Superior, Michigan, Phone: 906-482-0984
8. Keweenaw National Historical Park
Having been established in 1992, Keweenaw National Historical Park is a fairly newer addition to Michigan’s many outdoor spaces. The 1,869-acre park is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places because it has several structures and natural attractions which celebrate the life and history of the Keweenaw Peninsula. One of the largest and oldest lava flows is located within the park, making it one of the few places on Earth where you can recover 97% pure native copper. Some of the 21 heritage sites that you can visit while at the park include the Carnegie Museum, the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, the Delaware Copper Mine, Laurium Manor Inn, and the Quincy Mine Hoist and Underground Mine.
Address: 25970 Red Jacket Rd, Calumet, MI 49913, Phone: 906-337-3168
9. Ludington State Park Beach
Located between the shores of Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park Beach has several ecosystems you can explore within its 5,300-acre space. You’ll be able to explore everything from sand dunes and forests to lakes, dams, and rivers. One of the park’s most prominent features is the Big Sable Point Lighthouse; it stands at 112 feet high and was first lit in 1876. Visitors can take a tour of the beautiful lighthouse during certain times of the year. Another of the park’s famous aspects is Hamlin Lake where visitors can go swimming, canoeing, or even enjoy ice fishing during the winter months.
Address: 8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431, Phone: 231-843-2423
10. Maybury State Park
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Comprising 944 acres of mature forest, open meadow, and gently rolling terrain, Maybury State Park has been a popular place to visit ever since it opened to the public in 1975. There are so many outdoor recreational activities you can participate in while at the park, though it originally became popular as a picnicking haven because of its sprawling fields and isolated woods. Some of the things you can do while there are go hiking, hiking, horseback riding, pond fishing, and cross-country skiing. Visitors are also urged to visit the playgrounds, stables, and the Maybury Farm, where they can enjoy educational programs and go on hay rides.
Address: 20145 Beck Rd, Northville, MI 48167, Phone: 248-349-8390
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11. Muskallonge Lake State Park
With trails for hiking and snowmobiling as well as other amenities for swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking, and camping, it’s no wonder that Muskallonge Lake State Park is one of the most popular public recreation areas in Michigan. The 217-acre land can be found between the shores of Muskallonge Lake and Lake Superior and was once the site of a Native American encampment. Activities you can partake in during your visit are geocaching, hiking, ATV riding, snowmobiling, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing in the namesake lake or Lake Superior for smallmouth bass, northern pike, salmon, trout, and walleye.
Address: 29881 Co Rd 407, Newberry, MI 49868, Phone: 906-658-3338
12. Muskegon State Park
Governed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Muskegon State Park is a 1,233-acre outdoor space that was established in 1923. The park is extremely popular during the summer months as visitors come from far and wide to take a refreshing swim on the one mile of beach on Muskegon Lake or the two miles of beach on Lake Michigan. Other than swimming, you can also make use of their hiking trails, fishing piers, picnicking sites, campgrounds, and boat launches. During the winter, trails are open for cross-country skiing, and ice fishing and ice skating are also offered.
Address: 3560 Memorial Dr, North Muskegon, MI 49445, Phone: 231-744-3480
13. North Higgins Lake State Park
If you're looking for a day of lakeside recreation, then there’s no better place to go in Michigan than the 449-acre North Higgins Lake State Park. They have a popular swimming beach, a boat launch, fishing areas, and more land activities on their 1½ mile looped fitness trail, hiking trails, biking trails, and groomed cross-country skiing trails. Visitors who would like to stay there an extended period of time can choose to stay in one of the park’s two campgrounds or rent out one of their mini cabins which has facilities such as a kitchenette and restrooms.
Address: 11747 N Higgins Lake Dr, Roscommon, MI 48653, Phone: 989-821-6125
14. Petoskey State Park
Situated within the Bear Creek Township, you’ll find the 303-acre Petoskey State Park right beside Lake Michigan. The park was once the site of Tannery Creek where they processed several hides, primarily buffalo hide. You can spend hours climbing the vegetated sand dunes for stunning views of your surroundings or swimming in the park beach. In addition to the mile-long sand beach which is filled with the state stone, the Petoskey stone, you can also spend your time there picnicking in the designated facilities, walking the trail which leads to the Old Baldy sand dune, or staying overnight in one of their 178 campsites.
Address: 2475 M-119, Petoskey, MI 49770, Phone: 231-347-2311
15. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was established in 1966 and can be found on the south shore of Lake Superior. The main aspect of the park is its dramatic multicolored rock cliffs, which is what it is named after. During your adventure there you’ll be sure to come across some of their more unusual sandstone formations such as Chapel Rock or Miners Castle. Be sure to stop by Twelvemile Beach where you’ll see a white birch forest span out on one side and the remnants of several shipwrecks dotting the shoreline on the other; amongst the shipwrecks, you’ll also see the marvelous Au Sable Point’s 19th century lighthouse.
Address: Munising, MI 49862, Phone: 906-387-3700
16. River Raisin National Battlefield Park
River Raisin National Battlefield Park is a beautiful site with such a rich past that it has been recognized as a Michigan State Historic Site, on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and as a U.S. National Battlefield Park. As you explore the land, you’ll marvel at the fact that you are in one of only four National Battlefield Parks in the entire nation; in fact, it is the only one which marks a site of the War of 1812. You’re sure to have an incomparable experience as you learn about the Battles of the River Raisin and have a unique hands-in experience that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time.
Address: 1403 E Elm Ave, Monroe, MI 48162, Phone: 734-243-7136
17. Seven Lakes State Park
Located in Oakland County, Michigan, Seven Lakes State Park is a 1,434-acre space that was established in the late 1960s. It is governed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and is filled with activities and amenities that the entire family will enjoy. One of the most popular activities visitors participate in is fishing on Big Seven Lake; you’ll be able to catch an array of fish such as channel catfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike, black crappie, and yellow perch. Other things you can do including swimming, picnicking, camping, boating, hiking, mountain biking, and hunting.
Address: 14390 Fish Lake Rd, Holly, MI 48442, Phone: 248-634-7271
18. Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is a breathtaking 9,870-acre outdoor space that is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The wildlife refuge was originally established in 1953 as a way of providing and preserving the habitats of migratory waterfowl. Walk your way through one of the state’s largest and most productive wetland ecosystems or just sit and take in the views of the Saginaw River. Because of the several habitats you’ll find there, you’re sure to run across a number of flora and fauna including over 265 species of residential and migratory birds.
Address: 6975 Mower Rd, Saginaw, MI 48601, Phone: 989-777-5930
19. Sleeping Bear Dunes
Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of the most visually stimulating outdoor spaces in the entire state. As you walk through the land, you’ll come across an array of habitats such as lush forests, towering bluffs, clear inland lakes, picturesque farmsteads, coastal villages, an island lighthouse, and even a U.S. Life-Saving Service Stations. Be sure to climb to the top of the high dunes because you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas straight across Lake Michigan. The park is constantly hosting fun and exciting educational and exploratory programs for visitors of all ages; join a ranger-led snowshoe hike and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Address: 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630, Phone: 231-326-4700
20. Tahquamenon Falls State Park
The second largest of Michigan’s state parks, Tahquamenon Falls State Park spans a whopping 46,179 acres. The centerpiece of the park is its namesake waterfall, which is a part of the Tahquamenon River and drains into Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior. The waterfall, which is also called Rootbeer Falls because of its golden-brown color, has a single 50-foot drop which is considered ‘Upper Falls’ and is followed by a series of rapids and cascades which is called ‘Lower Falls’. From the visitor center, there is a paved walking trail which leads directly to the falls, making it easily accessible to everyone.
Address: 41382 W M-123, Paradise, MI 49768, Phone: 906-492-3415
21. Van Buren State Park
Established in 1965, Van Buren State Park is a 400-acre land that is maintained and operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. You can find the park next to the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, in the southwest corner of South Haven Township. Much of what you’ll see at Van Buren include a popular swimming beach and forested sand dunes. They also have a modern 220-site campground that is open to overnight visitors who want to spend more time at the park. If you’re traveling with younger visitors, you’ll be delighted to know that there is a playground as well as a picnic area with necessary facilities.
Address: 23960 Ruggles Rd, South Haven, MI 49090, Phone: 269-637-2788
22. Warren Dunes State Park
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Warren Dunes State Park is a 1,952-acre green space that attracts over a million visitors annually because of its large sand dunes and beautiful lakeshore beaches. You’ll find the park, which came to be around the 1930s, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Out of its many dunes, some of the most popular are Mt. Edwards, Mt. Fuller, Pikes Peak, and the highest point in the park, Tower Hill. Because of the easy access the park has to the dunes, visitors love scrambling up its slopes and sandboarding. Some of the activities and facilities available there are hiking, swimming, a beach house, cross-country skiing, picnicking in designated areas, a playground, several campsites, concession stores, metal detecting, and seasonal hunting.
Address: 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125, Phone: 269-426-4013
23. J. W. Wells State Park
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, J. W. Wells State Park was originally the private property of John Walter Wells, a part owner of the Bird-Wells Lumber Company. Long after his death, his children donated the land, which includes 2½ miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, to the state so that it could be converted into a park. Since its establishment in 1925, the park has grown tremendously in both size and amenities. There are five distinct areas: the day-use area, the campground, the group camp, the residence, and the trails. Visitors often flock to the beach, the trails, or the day-use area; in the latter you will find a parking lot, picnic facilities, an informational kiosk, baseball and softball diamonds, and more.
Address: N 7670 M-35, Cedar River, MI 49887, Phone: 906-863-9747
24. Wilderness State Park
Wilderness State Park comprises not only beautiful wooded areas and numerous trails, but also 26 miles of stunning Lake Michigan shoreline. As you walk the trails and explore the 10,000 acres of land, you’ll find some great places to observe nature at its finest and get up close and personal with the flora and fauna there. There are recreational activities available all year long; for example, the hiking trails are converted to trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Stay overnight in one of the modern campsites with full hookups or go for a more rustic experience by staying at the tent-only campsites.
Address: 903 Wilderness Park Dr, Carp Lake, MI 49718, Phone: 231-436-5381
25. Yankee Springs Recreation Area
Yankee Springs Recreation Area is a 5,200-acre park filled with trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing; six miles of the North Country Trail passes through the park as well. Since it was founded in 1943, it has been a popular place for visitors to spend a day just reconnecting with nature. There are nine lakes located within the park; many of which offer recreational opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating. Visitors who enjoy camping will love that there are 200 modern campsites, 25 equestrian camping sites; there are also two cabins which are available for rent for those who prefer a less primitive camping experience.
Address: 2104 S Briggs Rd, Middleville, MI 49333, Phone: 269-795-9081
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