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Winter Camping in Michigan: Six Top Spots

Michigan winter camping

Six Amazing Places for Michigan Camping in the Winter

Michigan State Parks

Have you ever tried winter camping in Michigan? We all know that Michigan State Parks are a special treat for summer visitors, but did you also know that they’re a perfect spot for a wonderful winter getaway?

Michigan State Parks are a special place when the snow falls: the winter cabins become cozier, the trails become calm and the still silence of the woods is broken only by the crunching of snow underfoot as you explore the awesome beauty of the open land.

Winter in Michigan

Michigan’s breathtakingly beautiful winters are simply amazing: white, powdery snow sparkling under the sun and the crisp air filled with the scent of fresh pines.

A Michigan winter landscape is awe-inspiring: the blues of the lakes become deeper and trees seem to stand just a bit taller; casting long shadows on the bright, white snow. Snow-covered hills roll along against the backdrop of a blue sky.

If you’ve never traveled to Michigan in the winter, the time is now to discover this winter wonderland.

michigan winter campsite

Discover a Michigan State Park in the Winter

Here’s the great thing about Michigan State Parks: the range of activities you can do in the parks does not diminish in the winter; they simply change with the weather.

Activities like hiking take on a whole new meaning – whether it’s exploring Michigan’s endless outdoor trails by snowshoe or on cross country skis or just traipsing through forests of pine and hemlock in the fresh snow in your boots.

Michigan State Park Lodging

Many of Michigan’s state parks offer lodging opportunities, too, from camping sites to rustic cabins. With more than 100 state parks across Michigan’s upper and lower peninsula, you’re sure to find one to delight you this winter.

Top Spots for Winter Camping in Michigan

Read on to discover six Michigan State Parks to explore this winter:

Holland State Park

Holland State Park is located on Michigan’s west side, touching the shorelines of Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. One of the crown jewels in the Michigan State Park system, it’s known for its amazing view of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse, known simply as Big Red.

In the winter, Big Red stands out on a canvas of stark white snow and ice, enhancing its already-striking presence. The parks’ two miles of hiking trails are even more beautiful in winter, when the waves of wild and wonderful Lake Michigan lash the shore.

While it’s one of Michigan’s most popular state parks, in the winter the crowds thin out and the picturesque hiking trails are almost empty. It’s a perfect setting to take in beautiful views of the snow and ice formations along the coast.

Be sure and check out the two camper cabins available for rental year around.

Use our Top Travel Guide to Holland Michigan for more information.

Port Crescent State Park

If you’ve ever dreamed of looking up at a night sky full of stars and moons clearly visible to the naked eye, Port Crescent State Park is your perfect Michigan winter getaway.

Located on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay in the “Thumb region” of Michigan, Port Crescent State Park is a hidden gem, as those that visit will agree.

With more than three miles of wide, open shoreline, the park is home to one of Michigan’s seven Dark Sky Preserves. A dark sky preserve is an area designated to be void of any electrical light, amplifying and preserve the view of the sky. As a result, Port Crescent State Park ranks as one of the best places to see the stars.

Another perk of the dark sky preserve is that it makes Port Crescent State Park one of the best spots to have a chance at seeing the northern lights. Seeing the Northern Lights amidst a winter backdrop of Lake Huron is almost a storybook winter getaway.

Port Crescent State Park offers trails for both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Use the Port Austin Vacation Guide for more info.

Hartwick Pines State Park

If there is one tree associated with winter, it is the pine tree, and Hartwick Pines State Park is full of them. With almost 10,000 acres of old-growth forest, this towering pine forest set right in the middle of Michigan is a must on your Michigan bucket list.

Hartwick Pines State Park is a beautiful hiking destination year-round, but it reaches its full potential in the winter, when the mighty pines sag under the weight of the snow, creating a true winter wonderland. It’s so delightful, you’ll surely feel as if you’ve been transported into a life-sized snow globe.

Even for newbies, snowshoeing through the deep snow-covered pine trees will give you a memorable experience; Hartwick Pines is a top destination for the sport. Never been snowshoeing? That’s okay: the park even has a snowshoeing expert on hand to answer questions most days.

Hartwick Pines State Park is also popular with cross-country skiers; the gently rolling terrain through virgin pine forests is a gorgeous spot to get outside and enjoy winter in Michigan.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

It’s Michigan’s largest state park: 60,000 acres of forest, waterfalls, and wildlife, all tucked away in the farthest northwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

With more than 90 miles of hiking trails and a stunning Lake Superior shoreline, the opportunities for winter fun are endless.

In addition to the waterfalls scattered throughout the park, there are also many crystal-clear rivers and streams – cold but never actually freezing – rushing over smooth rocks and boulders that are an amazing sight.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park offers downhill skiing, cross country skiing, and extensive snowshoeing trails if you’re eager to get out into the snow. You can also take it a bit more slowly, hiking through the woods to catch a glimpse of the extensive wildlife in the area.

There is a wide range of accommodations at the park. You have the opportunity to either rough it at campsites or try the parks cabins and yurts.

Whatever you choose, Porcupine Mountains State Park is a gorgeous destination for Michigan winter getaway.

Check out our Travel Guide to to the Western U.P for more things to see and do!

tahquamenon falls state park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Let’s say it together: tuh-kwam-in-en.

If you are looking for a winter getaway in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the mountains sound too intense for you, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a destination where the sights are the main attraction. When visiting Tahquamenon Falls State Park, there are two areas you should be sure to add to your itinerary: The Upper Falls and the Lower Falls.

The Upper Falls, one of the larger waterfalls east of the Mississippi, can be admired via the Brink Viewing Deck. If you have never seen a waterfall in the winter, this is the one to see, it truly is impressive.

The Lower Falls offers a look at a smaller set of falls in the park, while they are not as impressive as the great falls, you don’t want to miss them.

Both falls have a unique brown color that is caused by tannins from the cedar swamp at the beginning of the Tahquamenon River. Because of this color oddity, the falls have earned the nickname root beer falls.
Tranquil any time of year, Tahquamenon Falls is perfect for anyone looking for a quiet getaway.

Muskegon State Park

Truly one of Michigan’s best family-fun vacation spots, the aptly named Muskegon State Park is located in Muskegon, near the shores of Lake Michigan.

Home to many activities ranging from hiking to cross country skiing, the park is gorgeous in winter evenings. That’s when five miles of the park’s trails are lit; creating a warm winter glow and making for a wonderful evening activity for the whole family.

The Muskegon State Park is also home to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, which offers a wide range of unique winter activities for all ages. This sprawling complex has everything when it comes to winter activities including three separate ice-skating rinks varying from ice hockey to kid-friendly skating.

It is also home to three Olympic luge tracks, which are perfect for learning to luge; something that is a new experience for everyone. Never been on a luge?

Think a small one- or two-person sled careening down any icy and winding track through the trees. you can trust us: when you finish your run, chances are good that you’ll head back uphill for another.

If you’re looking for just one spot to try something new this season that will thrill the whole family, Muskegon State Park is your perfect Michigan winter getaway.

You can find more to to in the Muskegon and Grand Haven area in our Travel Guide to Grand Haven.


About the Author
Patrick Crowley is a Content Manager with My Michigan Beach. A graduate of Oakland University with a degree in Cinema Studies, he is currently finishing a second in creative writing. Two of his greatest passions are film and the outdoors. When he is not watching movies, you can find him exploring the outdoors. He is delighted to be writing about the great state of Michigan and its many natural wonders.
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