The Perfect Weekend Camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula central region
The perfect weekend camping in Michigan’s Central Upper Peninsula 3-day weekend itinerary. Go camping, explore gorgeous shorelines, and learn history, as you discover all the beauty Michigan has to offer. This camping guide to the UP central region will be a weekend you never forget. What part of Michigan is considered the Upper Peninsula? The U.S. state of Michigan is made up of two major peninsulas, the upper and lower. The peninsulas are separated by the Mackinac Bridge.
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Where is the center of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?
The UP is connected to the lower peninsula by the Mackinac Bridge, around a 4-4.5 hour drive from Detroit. At 5 miles long, it is currently the fifth-longest suspension bridge in the world. As you drive north towards the UP Lake Michigan is on the left and Lake Huron on your right. When you enter the UP you will be in the central region, head west an hour or so and you’ll arrive at Indian Lake State Park.
How to Get there
Locals of the Lower Peninsula will often say I’m going “up north” for the weekend. Which could be anywhere north of their local county. Memorial Day weekend, my fiance and I took our fur babies camping up north to Michigan’s central UP region to welcome the beginning of the summer season. “Up North” for the weekend took us 6 hours north of Detroit straight up I-75 to the central region of The UP.
Best Time to Visit Michigan’s Central Region
The summer months (Late May-August) are best for tent camping in The UP. Temperatures range from the mid-’70s to the low 90’s, depending on how close to the waters you go. Lake Superior touches the northern part of the region, while Lake Michigan/Huron (depending on what side of the Mackinac Bridge you’re on) borders the southern region.
Where To Camp for a weekend in Michigan’s Central region
Indian Lake State Campground
We left right after work Friday to make the most of our three-day holiday weekend in Michigan’s UP central region. Arrived at our campsite at night per usual (we’re getting SO GOOD at setting up camp in the dark). We camped at Indian Lake State campground for the weekend, it was centrally located for all the activities we had planned. The park is composed of two campground units (some sites with electricity) that are three miles apart and separated by Indian Lake.
Muskallonge Lake State Park
This state park is located between the shores of Lake Superior and Muskallonge Lake. The park area is well known for its forests, lakes, and streams. The park was the former site of a lumbering town and an Indian encampment.
Fayette Historic State Park
Fayette Historic State Park encompasses 711 acres and a historic townsite that was once an industrial community of Fayette (1867 – 1891). During the 24 years in operation, 500 residents lived in or near Fayette. In the hay days, iron smelting furnaces made more than 229,000 tons of pig iron. Experience life as it was in this off-the-beaten path upper peninsula Michigan remote partially restored town. The park boasts more than
5 miles of hiking/biking trails, and 90′ Dolomite limestone cliffs looking over the townsite, and the harbor. Recreation includes a boat launch, modern lodge, picnic area with open-air shelter, swimming, 61 sites in a semi-modern campground, and a Visitor Center.
Glamping weekend in Michigan’s Central Upper Peninsula
Muskellunge Lake State Park also houses a unique glamping experience in a train caboose-style cottage. Off the beaten path log cabin rental! Quiet, peaceful, and your own private lakefront. Dog Friendly!
Yurts, Cabins, Safari Tents, and Tent sites are available for rental in the Paddlers Village. Restrooms and showers are located in a community building along with a dishwashing station. Grills, picnic tables, and fire rings at each site. Relax on the beach with views of Grand Island and Lake Superior.
Paddler’s Village is located on Lake Superior at the western gateway to the Pictured Rocks and Grand Island in the Hiawatha National Forest. Munising, Michigan is only 2 miles east of the village and has several gift shops, restaurants, and adventure companies. Nearby, are the Tahquamenon Falls, Grand Marias, Marquette, and the Mackinac Island area is only 2 hours to the southeast.
Cost of Camping in Michigan State Parks
- Annual: $36
- Daily: $10 (good for entry and re-entry to any state park for the day)
- Towed motor vehicle (only if it’s being used): $7 at state parks (can only be purchased if the towing vehicle has an annual nonresident pass, good for the length of stay).
- Commercial daily pass $18 at state parks (24k+ lbs and/or seating capacity of 16+)
- A $5 convenience fee is not applied to nonresident passes
Where to purchase
- MiDNRReservations.com/Store (annual only)
- Michigan state parks and recreation areas (annual, daily, towed vehicle, and commercial)
- DNR customer service centers (annual only)
- Self-registration envelopes and fee pipes at many state parks, boating access sites and state forest campgrounds (annual, daily, and towed vehicle).
Michigan has some INCREDIBLE state campgrounds, I would recommend booking early, as most fill up quickly during the summer. Our campsite for the weekend was right on the lake! Check out my packing guide for what gear I use. *Note* If the state parks are all full, there are privately owned campgrounds in the area as well as cabin rentals.
Central Upper Peninsula Attractions map
Kitch-iti-kipi known as “The Big Spring” is another gem in The UP’s crown. The 40 ft. deep spring pumps over 10,000 gallons of water a minute! Be sure to ride the self-operated observation raft across the spring, it offers a unique perspective, providing striking views of the bottom. Big Spring is located inside Palm Brook Springs State Park, and is beautiful all year round. The spring doesn’t freeze! Visiting in the winter to see the crystal clear blue waters surrounded by a winter wonderland would be an epic adventure. (Mental note made)
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is 40 miles of breathtaking lakeshore along Lake Superior. There are nearly 100 miles of hiking trails winding through dense forest that will take you to waterfalls, pristine beaches, and other secluded beauty.
Go Hiking in Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula
Deciding which hike to do will be tough, there are so many things to explore! I would recommend doing a couple of hikes inside this bubble of nationally protected land to best see the beauty the UP has to offer. Michigan is so incredible! As we hiked along the lakeshore north country trail suddenly it went from dirt to boardwalk as we crossed over some swamplands. As we continued further, I looked around… we were completely surrounded 360 degrees by bright yellow flowers.
Relax at Chapel Beach
Explore the Chapel Beach area and hike to the waterfall nearby! Chapel Beach is a popular 6-mile round trip day-hike, that starts from the parking area at the end of Chapel Road. This picturesque sand beach has high bluffs, the mouth of the Chapel River, and the famous Chapel Rock. Pets are not allowed on all trails and beaches in the Chapel area.
Take A Dip in Lake Superior
At the end of the hike, there was the opportunity to cool off in a bath of crystal clear ABSOLUTELY FREEZING Lake Superior water. I wouldn’t recommend swimming for too long, while the surface temperature of Lake Superior varies seasonally, the temperature below (660 ft; 200 m) is 39 °F (4 °C) I dipped my toes in and decided that was enough for me! 😊
For more on what to do in Michigan’s U.P check out my post on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Eastern Region!