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Michigan DNR camping reservations up 8 percent. Book now for busy sites.

Grand Haven State Park
Michigan state park camp reservations continue to increase as more people want to spend time outside. (RozenskiP / Shutterstock.com)

LANSING — Reservations for Michigan state park’s campgrounds are up by 8 percent compared to this time last year, and popular sites are going fast. 

Campers can reserve overnight stays at state parks six months in advance. Those wishing to spend the summer holidays there should not wait to book a reservation, according to Ron Olson, chief of Michigan’s parks and recreation department.

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Last year, the state set a record with 1.45 million camp night reservations. 

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“That’s good that we are up by 8 percent because we had a (really) strong year in 2021 and we can’t keep exponentially increasing at that same rate,” Olson said. 

Michigan has 145 state forest campgrounds and offers 3,000 rustic campsites. Campsite reservations in 2021 were up by 25 percent compared to 2020, according to Olson. State park campgrounds have been 93 percent to 97 percent occupied on holidays like Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day. 

“There are spots available in May and June but a lot of the sites that people like to go to during those months have probably already been chosen,” Olson said. “If you’re interested in camping on the Fourth of July, you need to get on that because the window for reservations is going to open in the next couple of days.”

According to Olson, some of the state parks with campsites that generally sell out are Ludington and Grand Haven state parks on Lake Michigan and Young State Park on Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City.

“Those are all near the top places people book,” Olson said. “That’s not to say people don’t book elsewhere, but those are the very highly coveted places that people try to get into.”

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According to Olson, more people started reserving campsites in 2020, after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Like parks nationwide, Michigan had record visitations when camping reopened in the latter part of June that year. 

“We had a lot of folks that wanted to get outdoors and go to a park,” Olson said. “We have big open spaces and it was a safe way to spend your time under the circumstances.”

All of the state park’s campsites are currently operating, Olson said. In past years, due to high water levels, Olson said some sites were flooded which prevented people from camping. 

“We had some flooding along Lake Huron and in southern Michigan but only a few get compromised in that way,” Olson said. “Now that water is receding, generally speaking, we don’t anticipate that the sites will flood. We hope that problem doesn’t reappear in the spring.”

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