100 Years of Straits State Park: Why We Love Camping Here

100 Years of Straits State Park: Why We Love Camping Here

Straits State Park Sign Michigan

One of the first state parks we ever camped at in the Upper Peninsula was Straits State Park in St. Ignace. This park had an excellent campground and was close enough to other attractions that it perfectly served as a base camp for our first foray into exploring the waterfalls and lighthouses north of the Mackinac Bridge. Straits State Park turns 100 years old in 2024, and to celebrate we thought we’d take a look at what we love about this park.

Father Marquette Memorial Places Plaque

Straits State Park was first a day-use park with no camping. It predates the construction of the Mackinac Bridge, and now has more than 250 campsites. In the summer months, you’ll typically have trouble finding a campsite here if you didn’t reserve months in advance, as Straits routinely ranks in the top 25 for Michigan state park campground usage. There are plenty of things to do right in St. Ignace, and Straits State Park is a perfect base camp for trips to Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, Sault Ste. Marie, and the historic attractions in Mackinaw City. Here’s a look at a few of the things we love about this park:

Straits State Park Campground

Camping – There are a total of 270 sites in the campgrounds at Straits State Park, and they are able to accompany a variety of camping equipment. From the Michigan DNR: “The upper campground loop sits on top of a bluff and generally has larger, more open sites, including some pull-throughs. All sites in the upper campground loop have 20/30-amp electrical service, with some 50-amp sites available. In the lower campground loops, sites are generally smaller and best suited for small trailers and tent camping, although some larger sites are available. Toilet and shower buildings in the lower campground loops are accessible and typically open later in the season, mid-May to mid-October. Non-waterfront sites in the lower campground loops have 20/30-amp electrical service, with some 50-amp sites available. Sites located along the waterfront feature views of the Mackinac Bridge and are considered semi-modern as they do not have electric hookups but have access to modern toilet and shower buildings, in season.” There are also two youth group use camping areas that can accommodate 50 guests in a tent-only setting.

Father Marquette Memorial Cover Photo

Father Marquette National Memorial – On the opposite side of I-75 is the Father Marquette National Memorial, where you will find information on the life of one of Michigan’s earliest explorers.Marquette founded a mission at Sault Ste. Marie in 1668 and one in St. Ignace in 1671 before moving on to Wisconsin. He then explored water routes on the Mississipi River and was on his way back to St. Ignace in 1674 when he died of dysentery near Ludington, Michigan. Today his name is well known by many in Michigan, as his name can be found as an Upper Peninsula county and city, the Pere Marquette River in the Lower Peninsula, the former Pere Marquette Railway, Pere Marquette State Forest and Pere Marquette Beach (Muskegon). Various tributes and statues can also be found around the state, and his bones are said to be interred on the grounds of the Ojibwa Indian Museum in downtown St. Ignace. The national memorial site centers around an open-concept structure that features a map of Marquette’s travels painted on the floor and several informative displays on the walls. You can also press a button on the wall and hear “Father Marquette” tell you of his travels and encounters with the native peoples.

Straits State Park Mackinac Bridge View

Mackinac Bridge views – As mentioned above, some campsites along the water have views of the Mackinac Bridge. There is a viewing platform at the day use area that offers great views between the trees, and another viewing area at the Father Marquette National Memorial. The Mackinac Bridge was opened in 1957 and has been one of Michigan’s most iconic landmarks ever since. Imagine being able to take a short walk to Lake Huron and see the bridge lit up at night before you go to bed – at Straits State Park you can!

Michigan Birding Trail Straits of Mackinac

Lake Huron shoreline – While the water here isn’t great for swimming since it is mostly rocks and not sand, it’s still scenic and has more to offer than just views fo the bridge. Keep your eye out for birds since this is a migratory flyway! Look for a short trail between the two lower campground loops as it leads to the water and a public use area.

Straits State PArk Hiking Trails St Ignace

Hiking trails – There aren’t miles and miles of hiking trails in Straits State Park, but what they don’t have in distance they make up for in scenery. The half-mile trail starts at the day use area and “features spectacular views of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge as it runs through the park. Starting at the viewing platform in the day-use area, the trail includes another observation platform about 100- yards from the trailhead and ends at a viewing area in the upper campground loop. The trail is steep, with hilly, rocky terrain and some steep grades. A portion of the trail coincides with the North Country Trail, and there are typically winter lantern-lit hikes offered a few times throughout the winter.”

Straits State Park Mini Cabin St. Ignace

Mini cabins – There are two mini cabins at Straits State Park. In recent years this has been our go-to for camping as we like the convenience of not having to bring a ton of equipment with us. Located in the lower campground loop, “each cabin sleeps four people and includes two sets of single bunkbeds, one with a full-size bed lower bunk. You’ll find a table and chairs, mini refrigerator, electric lighting and electrical outlets. There is no fan or heat. A picnic table, a fire pit and charcoal grill can be found outdoors. An accessible modern toilet and shower building is located nearby within the campground. You must provide your own linens.” The current price for mini-cabins is $62 per night.

Straits State Park Day USE

Picnic areas – For those looking to just stop by for the day or to enjoy a picnic away from their campsite, the best spots are found at the day use area by the viewing platform. Other picnic areas can be found near the parking lot at the Father Marquette National Memorial.

Michigan Photos 2020 Wawatam Lighthouse Sunrise COVER

From Straits State Park it is a short drive to downtown St. Ignace, where you will find: a beautiful boardwalk and the Wawatam Lighthouse, the ferry docks for Mackinac Island trips, the Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Anthony’s Rock, and many shops and restaurants.