The Ultimate Guide To Backcountry Camping In Michigan

By Charles •  Updated: 04/17/22 •  13 min read
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If you’ve ever spent time in the backcountry and slept under a canvas of stars, then you know how rewarding it is. However, some of you may not have experienced backcountry camping and might be wondering what it is all about. Either way, then some practical advice may be in order to help you plan the perfect trip backcountry camping in Michigan.

Table of Contents

What Is Backcountry Camping And Why Should You Try It

In short, backcountry camping is simply spending time camping in the backcountry, away from any developed campgrounds or amenities. This type of camping requires a bit more planning and preparation, but it is well worth it for the solitude and peace that you’ll find in nature.

There are many reasons to try camping in the backcountry, but here are a few of the most compelling:

  1. Get away from it all – If you’re looking to truly unplug and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, camping in the backcountry is for you. There are no distractions or noise pollution in the backcountry, so you can truly relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
  2. Connect with nature – When you’re disconnected from technology and the modern world, you have more time to appreciate and connect with nature. Camping is a great way to reset and recharge away from the stresses of daily life.
  3. Challenge yourselfBackpacking can be challenging, but that’s part of the appeal. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can help you grow as a person and appreciate all that nature has to offer.

10 Must-See Destinations For Backcountry Options In Michigan

There are countless beautiful places that offer backcountry access in Michigan, but here are 10 of the most popular destinations:

  1. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – This massive state park is located in the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and features miles of backpacking trails, waterfalls, and scenic vistas.
  2. Isle Royale National Park – This remote island park in Lake Superior is only accessible by boat or seaplane, making it the perfect place to get away from it all. The island is home to wolves, moose, and over 200 shipwrecks.
  3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – This majestic Lake Michigan shoreline Michigan features towering sand dunes, forests, and miles of backpacking trails.
  4. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Another spectacular lakeshore is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks is known for its colorful sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
  5. Huron-Manistee National Forests – This massive forest spans over a million acres and features two-thirds of Michigan’s inland lakes and rivers.
  1. Hiawatha National Forest – This forest is located in the Upper Peninsula and is known for its waterfalls, old-growth forests, and backpacking trails.
  2. North Country Trail – This 4,600-mile hiking trail goes through seven states, including Michigan, and is the longest backpacking trail in the United States.
  3. Tecumseh Trail – This 100-mile backpacking loop goes through the Huron-Manistee National Forest and is known for its scenic vistas and backcountry camping sites.
  4. Manistee River Trail – This popular backpacking trail follows the Manistee River for over 40 miles and features stunning views of the river, forests, and wildlife.
  5. Jordan River Trail – This backpacking trail is located in the Lower Peninsula and follows the Jordan River for over 20 miles. The trail is known for its scenic views, wildlife, and fishing opportunities.

What You Need To Know Before Backcountry Camping In Michigan

Now that you know some of the best locations for the perfect backcountry campsite in Michigan, it’s time to start planning your trip. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind before heading out into the backcountry:

Get a backcountry permit – If you’re planning on taking a trip to a national park or one of the state parks, visitors may be required to use designated campsites or could be restricted to a camping area. These campsites will require a backcountry permit. The following links will take you to the national park service or state websites that give you information or designated sites and permits.

Be prepared – This can be challenging, so it’s important to be prepared before heading out. Make sure you have the proper gear, food, and supplies for your trip.

Know your limits – Spending time in the backcountry can be physically and mentally challenging, so make sure you know your limits before embarking on a trip.

Leave no trace – One of the most important things to remember when camping in prestine areas is to leave no trace. This means packing out all of your trash, respecting wildlife, and being mindful of your impact on the environment.

How To Choose The Perfect Backcountry Camping Site In Michigan

When you’re planning a backcountry camping trip in Michigan, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the perfect campsite. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision:

The location – The location of your campsite is also important. Make sure to choose a site that’s close to water (a stream, river, or lake), has good sun exposure, and is far away from any potential hazards like a steep cliff edge or riverbanks.

Consider the weather – Weather can be unpredictable, so you’ll want to choose a campsite that will be comfortable in the forecasted conditions. If it’s going to be hot, look for a site that has shade and is near water. If it’s going to be cold, you’ll want a site that is sheltered from the wind.

Check for hazards – Before you pick a campsite, take a look around and make sure there are no hazards that could potentially harm you or your gear. Look for things like poison ivy, wasp nests, and loose rocks.

Think about your gear – You’ll want to choose a campsite that matches the type of gear you brought on your trip.lot of gear, you may also want to consider a car-camping site.

Pick a comfortable spot – You’ll be spending a lot of time at your campsite, so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable. Look for a level spot that is large enough to accommodate your tent and gear.

The type of terrain – The type of terrain you camp on will also affect your choice of campsite. If you’re camping in an area with rocky terrain, you’ll want to choose a site with level ground to make sleeping and cooking more comfortable.

backcountry camping michigan
Bureau of Land Management, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Best Time Of Year To Go

backcountry camping michigan
NPS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Your best backcountry options in Michigan depend on a few factors, including the weather and the type of trip you’re taking but can technically be done year-round.

If you’re looking for warm weather, the best time to go backcountry camping in Michigan is from late spring to early fall. This is also the busiest time of year for backcountry camping, so you may want to make reservations in advance. If you plan on camping in the summer, just be aware of black flies.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the best time to go backcountry camping in Michigan is from mid-fall to early spring. The weather can be unpredictable during this time of year, so you’ll need to be prepared for anything.

No matter what time of year you go backcountry camping in Michigan, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. Just remember to be prepared, know your limits, and leave no trace.

The Best Gear For Backcountry Camping Michigan

When you’re backcountry camping in Michigan, you’ll need to be prepared for anything. The weather can change quickly, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right gear to keep you safe and comfortable. Here are a few essentials to pack for your trip:

  • A Tent – A good backpacking tent is essential for any backcountry camping trip. Make sure to choose a tent that’s lightweight and easy to set up.
  • A Sleeping Bag – You’ll want a warm sleeping bag that can handle Michigan’s unpredictable weather.
  • Backpacking Food – Backpacking food is easy to cook and doesn’t require a lot of water. You’ll want to pack food that is high in calories and easy to eat on the go.
  • Proper Clothing – Layered clothing that can be easily removed or added as the temperature changes.
  • Hiking Boots – A good pair of hiking boots is essential for any backcountry camping trip. Make sure to break them in before you go on your trip.
  • Rain Gear – You need to be prepared for rain. Pack a rain jacket and pants to keep you dry in case of bad weather.
  • A Backpacking Stove – A backpacking stove is a must-have for any backcountry campers. It will allow you to cook food and boil water, even in the backcountry.
  • A First-Aid Kit – A first-aid kit is essential for any backpacking trip. Be sure to pack supplies for common injuries, such as cuts and scrapes.
  • A Map, Compass, and/or GPS – A map, compass, and/or GPS is essential. Be sure to know how to use them before you head out on your trip.
backcountry camping michigan backcountry camping michigan backcountry camping michigan

How To Pack For A Backcountry Camping Trip In Michigan

Now that you know what to pack for a backcountry camping trip in Michigan, it’s time to start packing. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

backcountry camping michigan
RomanKahler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Start With The Essentials. Make sure you have a tent, sleeping bag, backpacking food, and proper clothing before you add any extras.

Pack Light. Remember, you’ll be carrying everything on your back, so you don’t want to overpack.

Pack Smart. Organize your backpack so that the heavier items are closer to your back and the lighter items are at the top.

Be Prepared For Anything. Backcountry camping in Michigan can be unpredictable, so make sure you’re prepared for any situation.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to start packing for your backcountry camping trip in Michigan. Just remember to pack light, pack smart, and be prepared for anything. With the right gear and preparation,

How To Have The Best Backcountry Camping Experience In Michigan

backcountry camping michigan
Shadowmeld Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Backcountry camping in Michigan can be an incredible experience. Just remember to follow these tips to make sure you have the best trip possible:

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to start planning your backcountry camping trip in Michigan. Just remember to choose the right location, get a backcountry permit, and pack the right gear

Frequently Asked Questions

backcountry camping michigan
Yinan Chen, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

How do I get a backcountry permit in Michigan?

Contact the governing office of the area you plan to access. Our guide gives you links to most agencies that require backcountry permits.

How do I get a backcountry permit in Michigan?

Contact the governing office of the area you plan to access. Our guide gives you links to most agencies that require backcountry permits.

What are some good backcountry camping spots in Michigan?

There are many different backcountry camping spots in Michigan, so make sure to choose one that’s right for you. If you’re looking for a more challenging trip, head to the Upper Peninsula. For a more relaxed trip, try camping in the Lower Peninsula.

Is backcountry camping safe?

Yes, backcountry camping is safe if you take the proper precautions. Be sure to get a backcountry permit, pack the right gear, and be prepared for the weather.

Can you camp anywhere in a national forest in Michigan?

No, you cannot always camp anywhere in a national forest. Each forest has its own regulations. For example, they may limit how close you can camp to water, trails, roads, or structures.

Where are dispersed camping sites in Michigan?

There are dispersed camping sites all across Michigan. To find out about a few of these check out our guide.

Can you backcountry camp in Michigan?

Yes, backcountry camping is allowed in Michigan.

How to find the most remote camping spots in Michigan?

There are a few ways to find the most remote camping spots in Michigan. One way is to use Google Maps and look for areas that are far away from roads or cities.

Can you camp on state land in Michigan?

Yes, camping is allowed on state land in Michigan. However, there are some restrictions. For example, you may need to get a backcountry permit or camp only in designated areas.

Where can you camp for free in Michigan?

There are many places where you can camp for free in Michigan. You can check with the local ranger station to see if there are any free camping areas in the area.

Can you camp in a national park in Michigan?

Yes, camping is allowed in national parks in Michigan. However, there are some restrictions. For example, you may need to get a backcountry permit or camp only in designated areas.

Featured Photo – Bureau of Land Management, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles

Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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