25 BEST State Parks in Michigan
With roughly 100 state parks in the state, the best Michigan State Parks can be difficult to choose between.
Visit any one of these amazing locations and you’ll find miles of hiking trails, rustic or modern campsites or even mini cabins, all in a natural setting to better enjoy the beauty of Michigan. You’ll find parks throughout the state from northern Michigan to the River Raisin in southeast Michigan; from the north country of the Upper Peninsula to Grand Haven and beyond.
Whether you visit in the summer or autumn for your Michigan fall foliage tour, or even during the winter to enjoy popular activities like cross country skiing or snowshoeing, you’re sure to find fun in these best Michigan state parks.
Visit one of these amazing 25 state parks to experience the best Michigan has to offer, and start planning your getaway now.
Best Michigan State Parks in the Upper Peninsula
Palms Book State Park
Sawmill Dr, Manistique, MI 49854
Home to the beautiful Kitch-iti-kipi, the largest natural freshwater spring in Michigan, Palms Book sits on the south edge of the Upper Peninsula, in the Hiawatha National Forest. It was named a state park in 1926, after being sold to the state on the condition that there will be a ban on camping.
This pristine U.P. oasis is 388 acres of natural beauty and plays host to both Indian Lake and Kitch-iti-kipi. Over 10,000 gallons of water pass between the pond to Indian Lake each minute.
Be sure and visit Kitch-iti-kipi, also known as “The Big Spring.” It sits at 40 feet deep above a bed of limestone and sand, with a manually propelled observation raft for visitors to see the pond from above. The raft has a glass bottom, so it’s possible to peek down and see the fish swimming below.
PRO-TIP: Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Fayette Historic State Park, which is less than an hour’s drive away. It’s a unique spot on Big Bay DeNoc, and features both a historic townsite that tells the story of the ore smelting industry that once ruled the area, and a beautiful natural area with a nice beach. You’ll also find almost six miles of hiking trails.
Keweenaw National Historic Park
25970 Red Jacket Road, Calumet, MI 49913
Located at the very tip-top of Michigan in the Keweenaw Peninsula, this is a very unique park and worth exploring.
This national park offers a different visit from many parks across the United States. This historic site helps to define the copper mining history of the Keweenaw Peninsula. There are guided tours, museums, and different heritage sites for the curious guest to adventure through.
Immigrants, investors, and their families came to Michigan’s northernmost peninsula in the 1800s as part of the great mineral rush. Different learning opportunities for kids and adults alike are available at this historic treasure.
Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park
M-94 and Sundell Rd Intersection, Sundell, MI 49885
Established as a state park in 1946, this near 1,000 acre park sits in the Upper Peninsula, near the coast of Lake Superior. This wonderous site is located in a beautiful gorge of white pine trees and a maple forest.
Stunnning waterfalls are scattered throughout and are accessible by moderate hikes. Different observation decks help visitors to view the remarkable falls. The Laughing Whitefish River feeds these sites and creates falls down limestone cliffs.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
41382 West M-123, Paradise, MI 49768
It’s no coincidence that this miraculous park is located in Paradise. With nearly 50,000 acres along the Tahquamenon River, waterfalls cover the area. The Upper Falls is one the largest waterfalls in the east with a 50 foot drop that stretches 200 feet across.
The Lower Falls is smaller but still not little with five different waterfalls surrounding an island. Rowboats can take visitors to hike on this island and be truly surrounded by the beautiful falls. Numerous wildlife can be seen in this amazing park, including moose, bald eagles, porcupines, and otters. Tahquamenon Falls is popular in the summer and the fall, but the winter is a fun time to visit, too. You can ride on a dogsled to explore the area, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, MI 49931
Cross Lake Superior to find a beautiful oasis at this island refuge. Backpackers love this site for its isolation. With over 165 miles of trails and 36 different campgrounds, the rugged traveler in all of us will want to visit.
Mount Desor is marked as the highest point at 1,334 feet. Only accessible by ferry, place, or private boat, Isle Royale is an amazing part of not only Michigan, but of the nation’s beloved natural areas as it was established as a National Park in 1940.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
33303 Headquarters Road, Ontonagon, MI 49953
This sprawling state park in the western Upper Peninsula is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the pristine Lake of the Clouds taking center stage. You’ll find a natural playground of 60,000 acres featuring waterfalls, rivers and streams and an old-growth forest with endless miles of hiking trails in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The Lake Superior shoreline here is simply stunning here, too.
Next to Isle Royale, this is one of the most remote state parks in Michigan.
You will, however, find accessible viewing platforms for the Lake of Clouds and stunning vistas of the Porcupine Mountains, as well as a mix of modern, rustic and backcountry camping.
Best Northern Michigan State Parks
Mackinac Island State Park
Mackinac Island, MI
Michigan’s first state park, Mackinac Island is a must-see destination for visitors and residents. This glacie- created wonder has beautiful rock formations, historical sites and monuments, and over 70 miles of trails. The unique island does not allow vehicles other than emergency engines, so be prepared to do some walking or biking to the many must-see attractions, like Arch Rock, on the island.
You can also tour the island in a horse and buggy, traveling through time while visiting historic sites immersing you into Michigan’s history. Visit the military forts or enjoy time at one of the many shops. The Grand Hotel is a Michigan landmark and a blast from the past that lines part of this beautiful island.
Mackinac island is the jewel of the Michigan travel industry with around million people visiting each year.
Petoskey State Park
2475 M-119 Highway, Petoskey, MI 49770
Sitting on Little Traverse Bay, a mile of beautiful beach is perfect for finding the coveted Petoskey stones. Petoskey State Park hosts the Old Baldy Trail to the top of Old Baldy Dune where beautiful views are available for visitors. Little Traverse Wheelway is a 26-mile paved path just outside of this state park’s main entrance. Originally Ottawa Indian territory, the city purchased the land in 1934 and was established as a state park in 1968.
Petoskey State park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan, located just a few miles away from Michigan’s popular Tunnel of Trees.
Leelanau State Park
15310 N. Lighthouse Point Road, Northport, MI 49670-9717
Scenic Leelanau Peninsula is home to some of Michigan’s most visited tourist destinations, including Fishtown in Leland and charming Suttons Bay. The Leelanau Peninsula houses another beautiful park perfect for your northern getaway.
The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum is located at the tip of this peninsula, where visitors can tour the restored home and witness an incredible view of Grand Traverse Bay. This lighthouse was built in the 1850s and stands tall still today after some restorations. Campsites and cabins are available for lodging at this state park, as you enjoy hiking or skiing trails throughout the day or go on a search for Petoskey stones along the coast.
Harrisville State Park
248 State Park Rd, Harrisville MI, 48740
Visitors love Harrisville State Park for the amazing beach access, in fact, there are some prime beachfront camping sites here. One of the oldest Michigan state parks, Harrisville State Park was established in 1921 and houses 195 campground sites. There are miles of hiking trails here, including the Cedar Run Nature Trail, which offers a beautiful path for hiking, walking, or running.
Water activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or swimming allow for a refreshing take on your vacation. A three-mile paved trail connects the park to charming Harrisville for a nice walk into town and visit the beautiful harbor. The swimming beach, picnic area, softball diamond, playground, and other outdoor activities make this the perfect place for a family visit.
Tawas Point State Park
686 Tawas Beach Road, East Tawas, MI 48730
The “Cape Cod of the Midwest” is located where Tawas Bay and Lake Huron meet. Tawas Point State Park is great for bird watching, as it is a stopover site for hundreds of migrations.
At 183 acres, this lakeside site offers modern campground sites with shallow and warm swimming sites. Historical and natural trails wind around the park for walking and hiking. The Tawas Point Lighthouse has been remodeled several times but is still in Victorian-era style, the only style representative on the Great Lakes. You’ll want to plan enough time to visit downtown East Tawas.
Hartwick Pines State Park
3612 State Park Dr, Grayling, MI 49738
The largest state park in the lower peninsula, Hartwick Pines displays a beautiful forest with old-growth pines standing over 120 feet tall. This park visits the logging industry of the 1800s and offers insight to the early natural areas of Michigan before loggers took over.
The Hartwick Pines Chapel is a place of rest and peace surrounded by lakes, streams, swamps, and hills. A historic museum and replicated logging camp provides a learning opportunity in logging, blacksmithing, and carving. With a picnic area, playground, and covered shelter, the 100-site campground allows those who want to stay a beautiful opportunity.
Ludington State Park
8800 W. M-116, Ludington, MI 49431
Popular for the amazing campgrounds and beaches, Ludington State Park rests on seven miles of Lake Michigan coast. Big Sable Point Lighthouse is an iconic site that campers love to hike to, a 1.8 mile path. Be sure and bring your camera, you’ll want to grab pictures of this scenic Lake Michigan lighthouse. There are 21 marked trails for hiking and scenic sand dunes to offer a beautiful view of the lake.
Hamlin Lake Dam was constructed during the logging era and is only a short walk away. The Lake Michigan Beach House is a landmark built in 1935 for visitors to attend events and view different exhibits. Plan some time to visit Stearns Park in Ludington and walk the pier that juts out into Lake Michigan.
BONUS: NATIONAL PARK in Northern Michigan
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630
Perhaps one of the most amazing natural wonders in the state, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a National Lakeshore with dunes that rise 450 feet over Lake Michigan. With a number of lighthouses and museums to choose from, the fun only begins with learning experiences. There are roughly 100 miles of trails for hiking and skiing in this beloved state park.
While everyone enjoys time spent on the dunes, the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear takes between three and five hours, as well as a lot of energy and drinking water. One of the best ways to take in the spectacular beauty of the dunes is to take the 7.5 miles ride along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which has 12 stops which tell the unique story of the dunes and showcase its beauty.
Best Michigan State Parks in in West Michigan
Silver Lake State Park
9679 W. State Park Road, Mears, MI 49436
Home to one of the the only sand dune riding opportunities east of the Mississippi River, Silver Lake State Park is a wonderful getaway for adventurers. It stretches three miles along the Lake Michigan coast and hosts nearly 2,000 acres of sand dunes. Mac Wood’s Dune Rides is a great way to experience the mountainous dunes on a 40-minute tour. A modern campground helps allow for a full weekend of fun, including time spent on inland Silver Lake, one of Michigan’s most popular inland lakes.
Muskegon State Park
3560 Memorial Drive, North Muskegon, MI 49445
Three miles of beautiful shoreline, Muskegon State Park sits on the western side of Michigan. Forested dunes allow for beautiful hikes on one of the many different trails. The blockhouse, originally built in the 1930s, is popular among visitors and sits at the highest point in Muskegon.
There are five different campgrounds in the area, including a yurt located in the east of the woods. The yurt sleeps seven people in a 20-foot-diameter shelter.
Warren Dunes State Park
12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125
This is one of the most popular travel destinations in Michigan, and with good reason. Located in southwest Michigan, Warren Dunes State Park stretches across three miles of Lake Michigan’s amazing shoreline. Pull into the expansive parking lot and you’ll be greeted by Tower Hill, a towering dune almost 250 feet tall.
Warren Dunes is 1,952 acres with four different campgrounds to choose from. The spectacular views offer a great location for hang gliding, a popular activity at the park. Forests, dunes, and wetlands create a home for many different types of birds, and you can spot many of them as you hike along the trails.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
6575 138th Ave, Saugatuck, MI 49453
The ultimate hiking adventure, Saugatuck Dunes State Park has 13 miles of trails to choose from. Four trails move over the sand to the Lake Michigan shoreline in Saugatuck.
The 300-acre Patty Birkholz Natural Area offers a safe refuge for three endangered plant species. Along to the beautiful natural experience, there’s a mountain bike trail that stretches two miles long and a disc golf course.
Holland State Park
2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424
Holland State Park is home to Big Red, a stunning lighthouse that sits guard at the channel entrance just south of the beautiful beachfront. Established as a state park in 1926, this westside location is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike.
With two campgrounds, a boat launch, and beach side playground, Holland State Park is a great place to spend a weekend, with beautiful sunsets over Lake Michigan to end your nights.
Two More Amazing State Parks in West Michigan to Visit
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park – 6585 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441
Grand Haven State Park – 1001 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Best State Park in Michigan’s Thumb
Port Crescent State Park
1775 Port Austin Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467
In the beloved “thumb” of Michigan sits Port Crescent State Park, and it might just be one of Michigan’s best-kept-secrets. Located between the popular Michigan resort towns of Caseville and Port Austin, this is the perfect location for splashing on the shores of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, or kayaking along the Pinnebog River.
Travel through a total of seven miles hiking through this natural beauty or visit the 900-foot boardwalk for a more relaxing visit. Catch your next prize while fishing in the Pinnebog River. Or visit at night to take in the northern lights if the time’s right: Port Crescent is a Michigan Dark Sky preserve.
PRO-TIP: Sleeper State Park in Caseville is also home to an amazing beach and some unique glamping options in addition to modern campsites.
Whether you choose to camp in the beauty of nature or state at a vacation rental, Port Crescent offers a beautiful vacation at the tip of Michigan’s thumb.
Michigan State Parks in Southeast Michigan
Belle Isle State Park
99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
One of the few island state parks in Michigan, Belle Isle stands strong in the Detroit River, just on the edge of the United State’s border with Canada. At 985 acres, there’s lots to do with remarkable views of both Detroit and Canada.
The Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse is the oldest marble lighthouse in the United States and is located at the north end of this island, still fully functioning. Enjoy time at the conservatory, aquarium, museum, or nature center for a more educational visit. Take the family to the swimming beach and slide down the Giant Slide for just one dollar!
Maybury State Park
49601 Eight Mile Road, Northville, MI
Maybury is the only state park in Wayne County that houses a full trail system. This crowded corner of the Great Lake State has hiking trails, paved bike paths, equestrian trails, and more for any type of adventurer. At 965 acres, the State of Michigan established this area as a State Park in 1975.
This was formerly a working farm and sanitarium, and the opportunity to experience the farm buildings still stands. Fishing piers can be reached via walking or biking. The many trails lead visitors through the woods to picnic areas, shelters, and quiet wooded areas.
Seven Lakes State Park
14390 Fish Lake Rd, Holly, MI 48442
230 acres of water intermingle with farmland, hills, and forests to create this state park. With different ecosystems colliding, seven little lakes eventually were formed into one large lake after a man made dam was built. There are four different marked trails to hike through the park’s 1,434 acres. This eastside park offers an escape into nature for swimming, hiking, or picnicking.
River Raisin National Battlefield Park – 333 N Dixie Hwy, Monroe, MI 48162
This historic park in Monroe preserves the site of an important battle in the War of 1812. The Battle of Frenchtown is commemorated here, and the story of this important battle is told through displays in the Visitors Center.
More Things to Do in Michigan
About the Author-
Content Writer Anna Barnhart is currently a fourth-year student at Grand Valley State University studying Writing and Psychology. She has been writing for years and hopes to continue writing for many years as a creative outlet and potential career. Currently, she is working on finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree and figuring out what career field she wants to enter after graduation in the spring of 2023.