Michigan State Parks That Border Lake Michigan
The state of Michigan boasts one of the best state park systems in that nation, with more than 100 parks and recreation areas that see more than 20 million visitors each year. Michigan residents can gain access to any of these parks for an entire year by adding the Recreation Passport ($11) when they renew their driver’s license, also making our state park system one of the best values in the nation. There are also more than 13,000 campsites in the state park system, giving visitors the chance to set up a tent or motor home in beautiful forest settings or even next to one of the Great Lakes. Today we will take a look at the state parks that border Lake Michigan, which are renowned for their sandy beaches and dunes.
Holland State Park – One of the crown jewels of Michigan’s state park system, Holland State Park features more than 300 campsites between two units – one near Lake Macatawa and the other on Lake Michigan. A large, sandy beach on Lake Michigan next to the channel than connects it to Lake Macatawa is a popular swimming spot that fills up nearly every day of the summer, and other nearby attractions include “Big Red” – the Holland Harbor Light and Mt. Pisgah – a towering sand dune.
Grand Haven State Park – This state park continues to get national attention and awards, with thousands flocking to its sandy beach each day of the summer. The park also features more than 170 campsites, and a large pier with a bright red lighthouse.
Muskegon State Park – With two campgrounds and more than 240 campsites, this is one of the more popular state parks in Southwest Michigan. Situated on Lake Michigan as well as Muskegon Lake and the channel that connects the two, this park also features an excellent beach, miles of hiking trails across sand dunes and several day use areas.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park – With more than 14 miles of trails, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a hiker’s paradise. The park also features two miles of sandy beachfront on Lake Michigan, although it takes a little bit of a hike to get there. This is a day-use only park, with no campsites.
Petoskey State Park – Located between Petoskey and Harbor Springs, this state park is popular because of its sandy beach on Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan as well as for its dunes and hiking trails. There are 180 campsites split between two units.
J.W. Wells State Park – Wells State Park features more than 150 camping sites, with a handful of those lying within a hundred feet of the shoreline of Green Bay on Lake Michigan. More than 3 miles of shoreline, a sandy beach for swimming and a day use area for sports and picnics make this a popular destination for Upper Peninsula visitors.
Fayette Historic State Park – A former iron-producing town that has been restored to the way it looked in the late 19th century, Fayette is a beautiful state park featuring miles of hiking trails and a great glimpse into Michigan’s history. The park sits on the shores of Big Bay de Noc on Lake Michigan and also has 60 semi-modern camping sites.
Leelanau State Park – Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula in the heart of Michigan’s wine country, this state park features a day-use area as well as a small campground. The Grand Traverse Lighthouse is also found here, and is open as a historic museum in the summer. There are also 8 miles of hiking and skiing trails.
Orchard Beach State Park – This park lies just north of Manistee and features a beautiful sandy beach on Lake Michigan. More than 160 campsites here fill up quickly in the summer months, and there are also 3 miles of hiking trails.
Ludington State Park – This park has a little bit of everything: hiking trails through dunes, woods and around a lake past an old dam, sandy swimming beaches, a river, a historic lighthouse that can be entered and abundant wildlife! Big Sable Point Lighthouse is a popular, semi-difficult hike and miles of sandy beach are beloved by summer visitors. Four campgrounds contain more than 350 campsites, yet the park is almost always at or near capacity during the summer.
Silver Lake State Park – This is split into two units, with one featuring the Little Sable Point Light (shown above) and the other featuring miles of large, sandy dunes that can be part of a memorable day hike or used for recreational vehicle fun. There’s plenty of beachfront here for swimming, kayaking and more and the beauty of this landscape will keep visitors coming back for future vacations. More than 2,000 acres of dunes are the main attraction, and there are also 200 campsites in the campground.
Mears State Park – This 50-acre park in Pentwater features a beautiful swimming beach next to the channel connecting Lake Michigan and Pentwater Lake. There are 175 campsites, a hiking trail and a picnic area as well.
Van Buren State Park – Some of the most impressive sand dunes in Southern Michigan can be found at Van Buren State Park south of South Haven. There are more than 220 campsites here, and a large swimming beach with several picnic areas.
Grand Mere State Park – A mile of sandy shoreline, as well as several dunes and inland lakes, makes Grand Mere State Park a great place to visit. This day-use park may not have any camping available, but it boasts miles of hiking trails and chances to view several rare plants.
Warren Dunes State Park – Nearly one million people visit this park each year, with the towering sand dunes and sandy beach being big draws. The largest dune, Tower Hill, rises nearly 240 feet above the lake, and there are more than 200 modern campsites in one campground and around 30 in a separate rustic camping area.
Wilderness State Park – One of the most rustic parks in the Lower Peninsula, Wilderness State Park offers more than 22 miles of hiking trails. There is a 250-site modern campground as well as cabins for rent, and one of the few sandy swimming areas in the park is at the campground. This i also a popular destination for mountain biking and kayaking, as miles and miles of scenic shoreline entice visitors to contine exploring.
Fisherman’s Island State Park – Highlighted by five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, this park near Charlevoix has more than 80 campsites as well as three miles of hiking trails that provide views of scenic dunes.
Traverse City State Park (Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park) – This park is located in a busy part of Traverse City just off of US-31, and has 350 modern campsites. There is a pedestrian trail that connects to a beautiful beach on Grand Traverse Bay, and it is easy to connect to the local bicycle trail from here as well. If you’re looking for convenient camping with many entertainment options nearby, this is the place for you.
Duck Lake State Park – This state park may be day-use only, but it is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking as well as winter activities. Located just south of Whitehall in Muskegon County, Duck Lake State Park is a 728-acre park with a large sand dune and great swimming beach at the mouth of Duck Lake.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park – Miles of hiking trails in and around scenic dunes keep visitors coming back to this park that is north of Grand Haven and south of Muskegon. The day-use area has one of the nicest beaches in the area, and the Gillette Visitor Center offers interpretive displays of dune ecology and wildlife. The campground has nearly 300 sites, and it is easy to hike from there to the beach or other trails.