Shoreline Camping With Trailer - U.P.

My bride and I are planning to vacation in the U.P. this year. We bought an E2 popup camper and would like to camp next to the water in a private location instead of dealing with the whole campground scene. Anyone have any recommendations?

Big or little lake?
We hauled a camper to Kingston Lake State Forest campground about 13 years ago in August. The roads in were horrible and slow going but that kept the crowds down. We camped on the lake- not entirely alone but it was quiet- a good place for fishing. My then-5-year-old daughter woke me one morning with a flopping fish kiss- yuck. There could be other state forest lakes like that to try up there.

As for quiet campgrounds on the big lakes that are vehicle-accessible, if anyone knows of 'em tell me very quietly and I promise to keep your secret.

electricity? showers?
if you want these things then expect to have more neighbors.

There are state campgrounds in the upper and lower peninsulas that have “primitive” facilities (pit toilets, no power). That keeps away the motorized behemoths and their scene. Far fewer campers, period. Be sure to check ahead on specific campgrounds as the state closed about 24 for budgetary reasons and does not permit camping on them.

If you can, try going up before mid June. The cool nights keep some folks away and keep the black flies down (esp before Memorial Day). Camp on the weekdays and travel on the weekends and you’ll miss even more of the crowds.

do recognize that the Michigan state parks, and esp those in the UP, are much nicer, and better run, than what you might imagine for a state park. Every out of state co-camper or paddler I’ve been with has pretty much raved about them. They offer a lot considering all the horrendous budget cuts over the last decade or so.

check out the waterfront sites at Indian Lake State Park. I was there last August for a kayak

symposium - the park was full, but peaceful and well run, clean hot showers, ice, firewood.

Quiet hours meant quiet. No assholes tolerated.

Plus how cool is it to have your kayak tied up

at the base of the high shoreline just behind your campsite :smiley:

congratulations to you both and hope you have a wonderful honeymoon!

second all that
You’re going to have neighbors. Or vacant campsites next door.

But U.P. campgrounds aren’t as overburdened as L.P. campgrounds. Look at a state forest or national forest (NOT park) guide, anything in the U.P. called “primitive” you can count on having a relatively isolated site.

Private campgrounds
i.e commercial ones…

all the extras and you only have to deal with their capacity…so look for a nice small one.

Portage Bay St. Forest Campground
Like many state forest campgrounds, you’ll have relative privacy. This campground (

is on the Garden Peninsula with lake frontage on Portage Bay in Lake Michigan. The campsites are buffered by trees on all both sides. Last summer we camped at Fayette State Park, just across the peninsula. Once we drove over to Portage Bay for a day paddle we regretted setting up at Fayette. Paddling was good there, around Fayette, and also at the tip of the peninsula.

Drummond Island
township park. No showers but electricity. I go there in September and have the joint virtually to myself. Regulars tell me August after the herring run, it slows down and is almost empty. It is a beautiful spot.

I am from NC, but have camped at Kerr lake on many occasions. While we were there once, they had created a new camping space that was far apart from the rest, with trees on sides excpet for the waterside. What I am getting at is,if you call and ask at one of the campgrounds that have already been mentioned, they may have something like this. Now, if you talk with someone that is a romantic, they may would help you. Try all those mentioned, even the ones with water and electricity. The one are Kerr Lake I was referring to had all that.

Hiawatha Water Trail
Check out the Hiawatha Water Trail for some beautiful paddling and camping in primitive sites. This is not a car-camping scenario. It is between west of Marquette and goes east to at least Grand Marais and takes in the uncomparable Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island.