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8-Day Travel Itinerary: Camping in Michigan’s U.P.

For those with a more rustic spirit, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a truly quintessential camping destination. Traditionally, campers arrive at one site, set up camp, and venture off on day hikes or fishing adventures. But for the truly ambitious, going on a camping tour of the peninsula’s most inviting camping destinations can be a creative and worthwhile alternative.

Days 1-3

Enter the Upper Peninsula via the Mackinac Bridge. Take I-75 to Highway 123 and head to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Choose either the modern campground or its rustic counterpart, both located near the Lower Falls.

Tahquamenon river in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Near the Lower Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Photo © Le Do/123rf.

Rise early the next morning, eat, and then properly store your food. Then set out on the Tahquamenon River Trail, a four-mile adventure that begins on the west side of the Lower Falls and continues along the river’s edge until you arrive at the Upper Falls. Break for lunch before heading back. While the trail is beautiful, its proximity to the river makes insect repellant especially important. High water levels can occasionally close the trail, usually in spring.

The next day, test your endurance a bit further. From your campsite, set out on the North Country Trail that runs through the park. It zigs and zags toward Lake Superior, following the river at points until its terminus at the mouth of the mighty Tahquamenon River. It is 10 miles each way, so only do as much as you can handle.

Day 4

Break camp and head down to Mead Creek Campground near the town of Germfask. It’s right on the edge of the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, a true paradise for wildlife photographers and nature lovers. Set up camp and relax for the rest of the day.

Travel map of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (East)
The Eastern Upper Peninsula

Days 5-6

Explore Seney: From the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center near the entrance road, choose any of a number of nature trails, where you can see and hear loons, nesting bald eagles, beavers, river otters, and perhaps an occasional bear or moose—all of which thrive in this protected habitat. If you prefer, rent a mountain bike from Northland Outfitters on Highway 77 and explore the refuge’s miles of picturesque roads. The refuge is quite large, so setting aside two days to see it will make your visit all the more memorable.

Days 7-8

Break camp and head to Indian Lake State Park, just a short drive down U.S. 2. Here you can top off your U.P. camping experience and fish, swim, or rent a boat to venture out on crystal clear Indian Lake. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out Kitch-Iti-Kipi, the fascinating natural spring in nearby Palms Book State Park.


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