16 Michigan State Parks You Should Visit in 2016

16 Michigan State Parks You Should Visit in 2016

Petoskey State Park Sign

Michigan is home to more than 100 state parks, more than 140 state park campgrounds and 13,500 campsites, and nearly 900 miles of state park trails. The state also manages many boat launches, recreation areas and state forest campgrounds. For just the cost of $11 (payable with driver’s license renewal), Michigan residents can get into these parks all year long – what we consider to be the best value in the nation. Non-residents can get a passport for $31 for the year or pay a daily permit fee of $9. Beaches, lighthouses, sand dunes, historic buildings, scenic views, abundant wildlife and well-maintained trails are among the things that draw visitors from all around the world to our state parks each year. With the start of the new year we decided to highlight 16 Michigan State Parks You Should Check Out in 2016 – a list of popular parks as well as ones you may not have known about.

Bridge on the Island Trail

Ludington State Park – Sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park is more than 5,000 acres of paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. The park is home to three campgrounds with more than 350 campsites, more than 20 miles of hiking trails and opportunities for canoeing, biking and cross-country skiing. Visitors can hike to Big Sable Point Lighthouse, and climb the 112 foot tall tower for amazing views. Swimming is great on Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, and fishing and tubing are popular things to do on the Big Sable River. Check out our Photo Gallery Friday: Ludington State Park for a look at trails, wildlife, camping and the lighthouse. 8800 M-116, Ludington, MI

Holland State Park

Holland State Park – There’s one main reason nearly 2 million people visit Holland State Park each year, and that is the stunning sandy beach on Lake Michigan. Two campgrounds here (one near Lake Michigan, one near Lake Macatawa) combine for more than 300 campsites, and those who want to do more than tan or swim can enjoy taking in views of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse (known locally as “Big Red”) or hiking to the top of nearby Mt. Pisgah, a sand dune that rises more than 150 feet above the lake. 2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI

Saugatuck Dune State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park – There is no campground at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, but visitors can enjoy 14 miles of hiking trails and two miles of Lake Michigan beach. A journey through the woods and over dunes gets you to the lake, where you can relax and cool off after a semi-strenuous one-mile hike. Check out our Photo Gallery Friday: Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Winter post to see more of what opportunities there are for snowshoers and all-seasons hikers. 6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI

Fayette Main Buildings

Fayette Historic State Park – A historic town that was home to an iron-smelting operation in the late 1800s, Fayette has been restored to give visitors a glimpse back in time. The harbor is surrounded by tall dolomite cliffs, and hiking trails lead past old houses, blast furnaces, a charcoal kiln and many other buildings. Most structures, like the machine shop, company store and hotel, are open for self-guided tours. There is also a 61-site semi-modern (electric, no showers) campground. Check out our Photo Gallery Friday: Fayette Historic State Park for more pictures. 4785 II Road, Garden, MI

Little Sable Point Light, Silver Lake State Park

Silver Lake State Park – Unlimited summer fun is in store for visitors to Silver Lake State Park, where sand dunes can be explore on foot, in your own vehicle or with Mac Woods Dune Rides. There are miles of sandy beach on Lake Michigan to explore, swimming opportunities, and a 200-site campground. The Little Sable Light is in the day-use area south of the campground, and it’s worth noting that this is the only place east of Utah where a private vehicle can be driven in the summer – this helps explain why this park is incredibly popular and busy from June-August. 9679 W. State Park Road, Mears, MI

Tawas Point Lighthouse

Tawas Point State Park – The Lake Huron shoreline here and a Victorian-era lighthouse makes it feel more like Massachusetts than Michigan, which helps explain the charm of Tawas Point State Park. The lighthouse is open for tours and tower climbing, the area is an excellent one for bird-watching, and a nature trail covers two miles. The campground is modern and has nearly 200 sites. Visitors keep coming back to swim in the shallow, warm water of the bay, and the proximity to Saginaw (1 hour), Detroit (1 hour) and even Grand Rapids (3 hours) definitely helps. 686 Tawas Beach Road, East Tawas, MI

Palms Book Big Spring Raft

Indian Lake State Park/Palms Book State Park – Indian Lake is the fourth largest inland lake in the Upper Peninsula and is a popular spot for fishing and kayaking. There are two campgrounds with more than 200 campsites: a 145-site modern campground on the south shore and a 72-site semi-modern unit on the west shore. There is a swimming beach, playground, and many opportunities for nature hikes. Palms Book State Park is a day-use area located at the northern terminus of state highway M-149, a 15-minute drive north of US-2 at Thompson – 7 miles northwest of Indian Lake State Park. Our Photo Gallery Friday: Visit the Big Spring Kitch-iti-kipi post has more photos and video. It features Kitch-iti-kipi, the Big Spring, which can be viewed by a trip on a self-propelled wooden raft. 8970 County Road 442, Manistique, MI (Indian Lake SP)

PJ Hoffmaster State Park

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park – Located between the busy Muskegon and Grand Haven State Parks, Hoffmaster State Park features a beautiful stretch of sandy Lake Michigan beach, 10 miles of hiking trails, sand dunes and a hands-on visitor center. Three miles of trail are open for cross-country skiers in the winter. The modern campground has nearly 300 sites and there is also a group use area and semi-modern options. 6585 Lake Harbor Road,
Muskegon, MI

Lake of the Clouds Fall 2

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan’s largest state park (60,000 acres) offers endless outdoor recreation opportunities and some of the most stunning scenery in the state. Lake of the Clouds is one of the most popular spots in the park, and you’ll find it on the east end near the visitor’s center. Other reasons to visit this Upper Peninsula gem include more than 80 miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, mine ruins, Lake Superior shoreline and abundant wildlife. Black bears are among the large mammals frequently spotted in the park while moose, wolves and bald eagles are less common but sometimes seen. Campgrounds include the rustic Presque Isle campground (50 sites), the modern Union Bay campground (100 sites) and many backcountry and group use sites, cabins, yurts and a lodge. Manabezho Falls, Manido Falls and Nawadha Falls on the west end and Overlooked Falls and Greenstone Falls near the south boundary are just a few of the waterfalls that can be reached by short hikes; many more are located in the backcountry miles away from trailheads. Check out our Photo Gallery Friday: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park post for more pictures. 33303 Headquarters Rd., Ontonagon, MI

Muskegon State Park

Muskegon State Park – Winter sports enthusiasts will find a luge track, five miles of cross-country ski trails and ice skating opportunities at this unique Michigan state park. In the summer, a sandy beach on Lake Michigan is a popular spot for relaxation. Twelve miles of trails cover a wide variety of terrain, though the highlight is climbing sand dunes for incredible views. The South Channel campground has 139 sites, and the Lake Michigan campground features another 105 sites. The Muskegon South Pier Light can be seen from a day use area near the channel campground, and there is another mile of beach frontage on Muskegon Lake. 3560 Memorial Dr, North Muskegon, MI

Sun Petoskey SP Michigan

Petoskey State Park – Come search for Michigan’s state stone, the Petoskey Stone, on the sandy scenic beach at Petoskey State Park. The park is home to two campgrounds with 180 sites and modern amenities. The beach area has a playground, swimming area, wheelchair access, kayak rentals, volleyball and more. Two hiking trails cover three miles, with one climbing to the top of a dune known as Old Baldy. Check out our Photo Gallery Friday: Petoskey State Park post for more pictures. 2475 M-119 Hwy., Petoskey, MI

Straits State Park Mackinac Bridge View

Straits State Park – One of the most popular parks in the Upper Peninsula is also the first one you’ll come across after crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Straits State Park‘s 270 campsites fill up incredibly fast during the summer months, especially the handful of sites with views of the lake and bridge. A picnic area and viewing platform offers another view of the bridge, and there is a one mile trail for hiking. Straits also manages the Father Marquette National Memorial just west of the park on the other side of I-75. 720 Church Street, St. Ignace, MI

Van Buren State Park

Van Buren State Park – Michigan’s southwestern shoreline on Lake Michigan has become world famous for its sand dunes, and Van Buren State Park offers some of the best chances for exploring. The campground has 220 sites and trails take visitors through woodlands and up and down dunes. A sandy beach is a great place for swimming in the summer months. 23960 Ruggles Road, South Haven, MI

Upper Tahquamenon Falls Header

Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Michigan’s second-largest state park’s main attraction is the state’s largest waterfall: a 200 foot wide, 50 foot drop on the Tahquamenon River known as Upper Tahquamenon Falls. The park also provides access to Lower Tahquamenon Falls, a collection of waterfalls that surround a small island. You can rent a rowboat to travel to the island for an up-close view of these falls. There are 22 miles of hiking trails, including part of the North Country Trail. The elusive Michigan moose is sometimes spotted in the park, so keep an eye out on the drive in and out on M-123. A 188-site modern campground is located at the Lower Falls, the Rivermouth campground has 108 sites ranging from rustic to modern, and there is also a group-use area and a camper cabin. For more pictures, check out our Photo Gallery Friday: Tahquamenon Falls State Park post. 41382 W M-123, Paradise, MI

Muskallonge State Park Beach Lake Superior

Muskallonge Lake State Park – Few Michigan state parks offer the chance to get away from it all the way Muskallonge Lake State Park does. This park features frontage on both Lake Superior and Muskallonge Lake, and offers the chance to enjoy swimming beaches and fishing/boating opportunities. Grand Marais is 20 miles away and Newberry is 30 miles away, so make sure you’re well stocked and the car is full of gas before heading back here. The modern campground has 159 sites and a 1.5 mile hiking trail. This was the site of a lumbering town in the 1880s, as well as the Deer Park Coast Guard Life Saving Station. 30042 County Road 407, Newberry, MI

Fort Wilkins State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park – You won’t find a state park any farther north in Michigan than this one in Copper Harbor. A former U.S. Army fort has been restored to its 1840s appearance, and it even features costumed interpreters in the summer months. There is a four mile hiking trail, and the park also manages the Copper Harbor Lighthouse on the other side of the harbor. Boat trips head there daily in the summer, and give tours of the complex while displaying nautical artifacts from the area. The Fort Wilkins Historic State Park campground has 159 sites and modern amenities. The Northern Lights frequently put on quite a show here when conditions are right. 15223 U.S Highway 41, Copper Harbor, MI