10 Best State Parks in Michigan
Did you know, no matter where in Michigan you are, you're never more than a half-hour's drive from a state park, state forest campground, or state trail? That's the word from Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who oversees such parks. And boy are they beautiful. From the Warren Dunes to Mackinac Island, here are the 10 best state parks in Michigna!
One of Michigan's best-known parks, Sawyer's Warren Dunes shows off much of what Michigan has to offer in one handy pass. With three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails, and dune formations that reach as high as 260 feet above the lake surface, you'll get a great look at Michigan's best features all at once. With 221 campsites and three mini-cabins on hand, you'll not only be able to take in everything the park has, but spend the night as well.
On the immediate opposite site of the state from Warren Dunes, you'll find Port Austin's Port Crescent State Park. Home to 565 acres of woods and some of the best beaches Lake Huron can offer, you'll find just about everything you could ask for here. Whether you're planning to fish, hunt—yes, there are hunting opportunities here—or just hike the seven miles of trails, it's all you could ask in one parcel of the Saginaw Bay area. When you've had enough for the day, 137 modern campsites await.
Augusta's Fort Custer State Recreation Area didn't always serve as a state park. No, back in the days of World War II, it was actually a training ground. From those martial beginnings came a 3,033-acre park packed with forest, hiking and biking trails, swimming, fishing and more. It's dog-friendly, so those with a buddy in need of a walk will find plenty of new sights—and smells—on hand here, and when you throw in a few other amenities like a beach with an ice cream shop, the end result is a park to suit most any taste.
Located just outside of Muskegon, Hoffmaster State Park offers plenty of the features commonly expected of a Lake Michigan state park, including swimming opportunities. However, Hoffmaster offers a key difference in the form of its Dune Climb Stairway, a 193-step hiking trail/stairway that takes you to the top of a dune 190 feet above the lake. The views from there, of course, are commonly regarded as worth the hike.
Spanning 142 acres in the town of Holland, this state park offers plenty of opportunity to soak up all the great outdoors has to offer. The park is best known for its “sugar sand beaches” and breathtaking sunsets that you’ll just have to snap a photo of. Enjoy activities including boating, fishing, hiking, paddling, swimming, and much more.
Come check out Michigan's answer to classic horror literature at Sleepy Hollow State Park! Located just outside of Laingsburg, Sleepy Hollow offers 2,678 acres to check out. Though the name may sound creepy, the park's primary attraction is anything but: it's Lake Ovid, an entirely man-made lake that's actually the largest such body of water in the immediate area. Packed with spectacular fishing—bass of several types as well as Michigan's famous bluegill—Lake Ovid is a sight to see and a joy to fish. Not into fishing? Consider the birdwatching, hiking and even equestrian trails on hand.
Seven lakes! Yes, you read that right. Seven Lakes State Park is home to that many. Visitors here get access to 240 acres of water for recreation and 1,434 acres of total land mass, meaning that you'll get the best of it all. With some top-notch fishing—the ever-present bluegill are on hand, along with tiger muskie, walleye and more—as well as swimming beaches, boating, and hiking trails, your outdoor experience cravings should be taken care of.
Because of course Traverse City has a state park, and an awesome one at that. Though it's one of the smaller parks we've seen at 47 acres, it still packs plenty into that smaller acreage. With a separate beach area that features a playground and picnic tables and fully 350 campsites—all with electrical hookups—it's exactly the kind of place to come and spend the night in a more outdoorsy fashion. Throw in the TART Trail—a 10.5-mile bike trail that actually goes through Traverse City—and the complete experience is waiting for you.
Come see where the state park system began in Michigan with Interlochen State Park. The first officially-recognized state park in Michigan, Interlochen State Park was purchased for $60,000 back in 1917, which would be about $1.275 million today. This 187-acre park is between Green Lake and Duck Lake, two of Michigan's most well-known fishing spots. It's also home to one of a few easily-reached sites of old-growth red pine timber can be found, dating back to before the European settlement. So for great fishing and ancient trees, Interlochen's got you covered.
While most everyone is familiar with Mackinac City, and Mackinac Island, what's likely much less known is that 80 percent of Mackinac Island is actually state park. Mackinac Island State Park, more specifically, offers everything that Mackinac Island can, therefore, from the tourist parts to the limestone cliffs, beaches, and everything to see in between. For one of the most varied and unique state park experiences you'll get in Michigan, just head for Mackinac Island!