20 Michigan State Parks

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The mitten glove-shaped state of Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes. In fact, Michigan is the only state that touches four lakes: Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Superior. There are a whopping 101 state parks in Michigan and recreation areas in its system.

With so much space and beautiful scenery, planning a Michigan state park trip should be on your list if you are visiting the Great Lakes or the upper Midwest region. Here are our pick of the top 20. 

Michigan State Parks

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20 State Parks In Michigan

1- Petoskey State Park

Petoskey State Park is in the northern area of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on the banks of Lake Michigan in Emmet County.

The little bay beside the park is known as Little Traverse Bay and beachcombers are attracted to the area to look for the beautiful rock fossils known as Petoskey stone.

You can rent kayaks along the sandy shoreline to explore the bay area.

This is also a beach that’s accessible to wheelchair users; you can even borrow beach wheelchairs from the concession stand.

If camping is part of your Michigan state park plan, you’re in luck as there are two separate campgrounds with enough room for trails and tents.

Petoskey State Park is at 2475 M-119, Petoskey, MI 49770.

2- Thompson’s Harbor State Park

beach, water, blue sky and pine trees
Enjoy the beach at Thompson’s Harbor State Park in Michigan.

Thompson’s Harbor State Park is on the shores of Lake Huron between Cheboygan and Alpena.

This state park offers the perfect natural escape, with seven miles of undeveloped shoreline to explore. 

The dunes that you can see in this Michigan state park are believed to have formed around 12,000 years ago when the lake levels became too high.

This area is also known for having the largest population of the dwarf lake iris flower, Michigan’s state wildflower.

This rocky and sandy shoreline is an example of the raw beauty of Michigan.

Thompson’s Harbor State Park is at Posen, MI 49776.

3- Warren Dunes State Park

Warren Dunes against blue sky
Exploring Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan is an adventure you’ll love.

Warren Dunes State Park is in southwestern Michigan, only around a 1.5-hour drive from Chicago to Indiana.

This is one of Michigan’s best state parks, covering around 1,952 acres (790 ha) along three miles (4.8 km) of Lake Michigan’s shoreline and showcasing some amazing dunes.

Some of the dunes in the park are 260 feet (79 m) high, providing you with lovely and expansive views over Lake Michigan.

There are many things to do in the park, including climbing up and down the dunes or rolling.

You can walk along three walkways leading to the water’s edge.

In summer, enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking (rentals are available at the north end of the beach).

In winter, this Michigan state park becomes a haven for sledding enthusiasts who enjoy the snow-covered dunes and cross-country skiers.

Warren Dunes State Park is at 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125.

4- Straits State Park

Straits State Park is right by the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.

Did you know that the Mackinac Bridge is the third-largest suspension bridge in the USA, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge?

From the water’s edge of this state park, you get clear views of the Mackinac Bridge and this is a great park to pass through if you are driving through Michigan.

You can stop off and walk along the interpretive trails for bridge views.

There’s also the Father Marquette Memorial which provides insight into the meeting of the French and Native Americans during the 17th century.

Amenities include a picnic area, playground, showers and bathrooms.

Straits State Park is at 720 Church St, St Ignace, MI 49781.

5- Tahquamenon Falls State Park

aerial view of fall trees flanking tahquamenon falls
On of the most stunning state parks in Michigan to visit in the fall is Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is on the east side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 15 minutes drive outside the small lakeside township of Paradise.

This is another of the most popular state parks and well worth the drive to the northern part of the state.

Upon arriving at the park, most people head straight to the two large waterfalls, known as the upper and lower falls.

The waterfalls are on the Tahquamenon River, which has high levels of tannin that give it its brown colour.

You can view the falls from an observation deck.

40 miles of hiking trails meander through the surrounding forest past small streams and beautiful wildflowers at the end of spring and into summer.

If you plan on spending some time exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, definitely check out Tahquamenon Falls campsite which has around 300 tent pitches.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is at 41382 W M-123, Paradise, MI 49768.

6- Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Michigan state parks Porcupine mountain
The lush landscape of Porcupine Mountain State Park in Michigan.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan’s largest state park on the Upper Peninsula’s western side.

The state park is vast, covering 60,000 acres (24 281 ha), and set in a vast forest and a large area of Lake Superior’s shoreline.

The park is a hiker’s paradise with more than 100 miles (161 km) of trails.

During the winter, these trails turn into thrilling ski, snowmobiling and snowshoe trails.

In summer, you can go fishing, mountain biking or camping.

You can’t leave the park without hiking or driving to the Lake of the Clouds lookout, it’s beautiful and picturesque.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is at Carp Lake Township, MI 49953.

7- Post Crescent State Park

The 640-acre (260 ha) Post Crescent State Park is in Michigan’s thumb area (the little bit of the state that’s shaped like the thumb of the mitten).

The park is just a five-minute drive from Port Austin in Saginaw Bay.

The park is home to three miles of pristine sandy shoreline, where you can enjoy fishing and canoeing on the lake.

There are also hiking trails, such as the 2.5-mile (4 km) Day Use Trail through pine and oak trees and along the rolling dunes.

If you are looking to stay the night, check out the campground’s geodesic domes, hammocks, camper cabins, cottages and traditional tented sites.

Post Crescent State Park is at 1775 Port Austin Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

8- Grand Haven State Park

Grand Haven State Park is all about the beach.

This state park is on the western side of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, around 40 minutes’ drive outside of Grand Rapids.

The beach is packed in summer with people looking to soak in the sun.

Boats bob along on Lake Michigan, and colourful parasols line the beach.

Be sure to head there early on weekends and holidays to ensure you get your perfect beachfront spot to sunbathe, play beach volleyball and swim.

Head along Grand Haven Pier and check out the red lighthouse.

As well as enjoying the beach, take a short boardwalk stroll to Grand Haven for shopping, restaurants and to see the world’s largest musical fountain!

Grand Haven State Park is at 1001 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417.

9- Palms Book State Park

The beautiful Palms Book State Park is just a few miles outside of Manistique on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This state park is home to Michigan’s largest freshwater spring, Kitch-iti-kipi, which translates as the ‘Big Spring” and is 200 feet (61 m) across and 40 feet (12 m) deep.

When the sun comes out, the colour of the water looks mesmerising and perfectly turquoise.

The water is clear, so you can watch the brook trout swimming beneath the surface.

For added interest, the hand-cranked wood raft is a fun way to see more of the spring.

This park may be small, but it’s a fun little spot for those exploring the Upper Peninsula.

Palms Book State Park is at Thompson, Manistique, MI 49854.

10- Ludington State Park 

Ludington State Park Michigan
The serene Ludington State Park in Michigan.

Right on Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park is a popular Michigan state park.

Nature lovers must head to this 5,300-acre (2144 ha) state park just north of the city.

There are sand dunes, hardwood forests, around seven miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and marshland to explore.

The varied environment makes it a great spot for kids who love discovering new things and being outside.

The park is home to 18 miles of marked trails.

Along these routes are historical and natural information boards to learn more about the area.

Ludington State Park is at 8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431.

12- Hartwick Pines State Park

Michigan state parks Hartwick Pines
One of the stunning Michigan state parks to explore is Hartwick Pines State Park.

Head to Michigan’s central northern area of the Lower Peninsular, and you will find the Hartwick Pines State Park just off Interstate 75, less than 10 minutes north of Grayling.

This park has an excellent display of forest pines, with some of the oldest standing at around 120 feet tall.

This is an excellent park for local history lovers and where you can learn all about the area’s 1800s logging industry.

At the logging museum, there’s a chance to practice old fashion logging on a two-person saw with a park ranger.

Head to the visitor centre first to pick up all the information about the area. 

Hartwick Pines State Park is at 3612 State Park Dr, Grayling, MI 49738.

13- P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

The P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is another Michigan state park that’s all about the dunes.

This state park is in Norton Shores, around 40 minutes drive from Grand Rapids.

The park is also just a 15-minute drive from Grand Haven State Park, so exploring both parks on the same day is feasible.

You can explore the golden beaches and dunes during summer and enjoy a lovely sunset.

The park has a couple of trails that are perfect for exploring.

When the snow comes in winter, this state park turns into a snowy haven for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is at 6585 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441.

14- Mitchell State Park

Mitchell State Park sits between two lakes in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula: Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac.

Also referred to as William Mitchell State Park, this area is popular for camping, fishing and boating.

The two lakes are connected via a historic canal that runs right through the park.

As well as water activities, there’s also a 221-site campground that offers tented spots.

Both lakes have their own beaches so you can spend a little time at both.

Mitchell State Park is at 6093 M-115, Cadillac, MI 49601.

15- Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park michigan
One of the state parks in Michigan to explore in winter is Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

Another state park in the Grand Rapids area and on the shores of Lake Michigan is the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

Saugatuck Dunes is 40 minutes from Grand Rapids and Grand Haven State Park.

Though there are many similar state parks along the Michigan coastline, this one is particularly beautiful, not least because fewer people seem to visit.

You do have to hike into this beach, so that’s one of the reasons you can expect fewer visitors.

There’s around 2.5 miles (4 km) of Lake Michigan shoreline to explore and 13 miles of hiking trails that meander through the sand dunes.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park is at 6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423.

16- Fayette Historic State Park

Fayette Historic State Park Michigan
One of the interesting Michigan state parks for history buffs is Fayette Historic State Park.

You can find this state park on the top of the Garden Peninsula on the Upper Michigan Peninsula, looking out across Big Bay De Noc on Lake Michigan.

The area has an industrial past and was known for producing pig iron from the 19th century.

Today this state park preserves the history of that industry and the company town that was built there.

As well as learning about the history, you can also head to the natural area, which boasts a lovely beach and six miles of hiking trails.

Fayette Historic State Paris is at 4785 II Rd, Garden, MI 49835.

17- Muskegon State Park

This park sits between the inland Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.

This is another state park in Michigan’s Grand Rapids area (around a 50-minute drive).

The park is home to three miles of tranquil coastline and grassy dunes, making for that perfect sunny and sandy summer photo.

People visiting the park enjoy everything from camping to fishing, sunbathing, swimming and boating.

There are also 12 miles of hiking trails; in winter, five miles are lit for cross-country skiers.

Muskegon State Park is at 3560 Memorial Dr, North Muskegon, MI 49445.

18- Negwegon State Park

Negwegon State Park receives fewer visitors than some other Michigan state parks, not because it’s not beautiful but because it’s on a quieter stretch of coastline.

This park on Lake Huron is next to the Thunder Bay River State Forest, close to Harrisville.

Fishing and hiking are the park’s primary activities.

If you are looking to escape city life and connect with nature, this is a great place to go to.

There are only four walk-in camping spots, and its forested terrain makes it a beautiful place to feel at home among nature.

Due to the fact, it’s a primitive park, it’s an amazing place to go stargazing.

Negwegon State Park is at Ossineke, MI 49766.

19- Colonial Michilimackinac State Park

Colonial Michilimackinac State Park is at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula, where the Mackinac Bridge crosses to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This is one of Michigan’s most visited state parks.

Colonial Michilimackinac is a reconstructed French fur trading village and military base that dates back to 1715.

History lovers will enjoy this park as you’ll appreciate the work that went into more than 60 years of archaeological excavation in the area.

Historical interpreters are stationed around the fort in costume, ready to answer any historical questions.

You can see cannons, muskets, and mortars and the workings of what agricultural life would have been like at the fort.

It’s a super exciting day out that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Colonial Michilimackinac State Park is at 800 N Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701.

20- Bay City State Park

Bay City State Park is nestled in eastern Michigan along the shores of Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.

Right at the heart of this state park is a unique natural environment… The Great Lakes’ largest freshwater wetland is still thriving.

You can learn more about the Tobico Marsh at the Saginaw Bay Visitors Center.

As well as the marsh, there’s the beautiful sandy beach on Lake Huron.

The beach area is backed by woods, meadows and, in summer, a vast array of stunning wildflowers.

Keep your eyes peeled for songbirds who migrate to the park.

Bay City State Park is at 3582 State Park Dr, Bay City, MI 48706.

20- Mackinac Island State Park

Last but by no means least, there’s Mackinac Island State Park.

To the east of the Mackinac Bridge is Mackinac Island.

This state park can be reached by taking the ferry departing from Mackinaw City (at the Lower Peninsula’s tip) and St. Ignace (at the bottom of the Upper Peninsula).

As well as being a fun island park, this was Michigan’s first state park.

The island is home to more than 70 miles of trails, an excellent way to view the island and its geological formation.

No vehicles are allowed on the island, so come prepared to walk or bike.

One of the top attractions is Arch Rock, which on a sunny day, wouldn’t look out of place in Bali.

The island is also home to a military fort and The Grand Hotel if you wish to stay a few days.

Mackinac Island State Park is at 7029 Huron Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!