The coastal views along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore resemble scenes you’d find on a remote Caribbean island—but on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Resting on the northeastern shoreline of Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes features bluffs towering 450 feet above the water, nearly 100 miles of hiking trails, wooded forests, inland lakes, and two islands where you can backcountry camp and hike.
For RVers, there are plenty of places to camp, including a few National Park Service (NPS) campgrounds within the national lakeshore. This area also puts you near popular Michigan vacation towns like Glen Arbor, Leland, Suttons Bay, and Traverse City. It’s also less than 3 hours from the Mackinac Bridge, which connects to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Here are eight campgrounds perfect for exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and its many nearby attractions.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Campgrounds
1. Platte River Campground
Sitting near the Platte River, which empties into Lake Michigan, this is one of two RV campgrounds located within the national lakeshore’s boundaries. This campground is the perfect basecamp for hiking, biking, and kayaking and canoeing on the river.
Featuring both back-in and pull-through sites, the campground can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length. There are 179 sites, with 96 offering electric hookups. You can also tent camp at this location. The campground is equipped with restroom and shower facilities with running water and a dump station. Platte River is open year-round and reservable sites can be booked 6 months in advance. Some campsites are first come, first served depending on the time of year you visit. Reservations can be made online at Recreation.gov.
2. D.H. Day Campground
Putting visitors near the famed Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, as well as downtown Glen Arbor, the D.H. Day Campground is favored by RVers and tent campers alike. The campground is located within the northern district of Sleeping Bear Dunes with easy access to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, the Alligator Trail, and the beach.
Offering 87 dry camping sites, this campground is best for smaller rigs less than 35 feet. It’s open from mid-to-late April through the end of November (depending on the weather). Reservations are required from May through mid-October. Outside of those months, the sites are first come, first served. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table, and there is a dump station near the campground’s ranger station.
Other Campgrounds Close to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
3. Garey Lake State Forest Campground
Less than a 20-minute drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes, this rustic state forest campground offers peaceful scenery away from some of the more crowded camping areas. Campers can fish, canoe, and kayak on Garey Lake, or explore the Shore-to-Shore Trail system, which runs through the state forest. This 420-mile trail is open to hikers and equestrians.
With 13 sites for dry camping, Garey Lake is on the smaller side, but still a great spot for those looking to get off the beaten path. The campground offers vault toilets and potable water, and each site comes with a fire ring and picnic table. The campground is open year-round and all sites are first come, first served. You must have a Michigan recreation passport to enter all state-managed camping, boating, and recreation areas.
4. Platte River State Forest Campground
Camp on the banks of the Platte River at this rustic state forest campground. Less than 20 miles from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this campground offers a more relaxed setting for those looking for a quiet place to boondock near the Arcadia Dunes at the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve.
There are 26 first-come, first-served campsites shaded by a thick, forested landscape. Since this is a smaller campground, it’s best for smaller RVs and travel trailers. The campground features potable water and vault toilets. There’s a 15-day maximum stay limit and this location is open year-round. Since it’s in a state forest, you’ll need a Michigan recreation passport for entry.
5. Indigo Bluffs RV Park and Resort
For a more upscale experience near Sleeping Bear Dunes, Indigo Bluffs offers a variety of RV and camping accommodations. The campground is less than 10 miles from the national lakeshore, just outside of downtown Empire, Michigan. Featuring a heated pool, camp store, dog runs, a playground, and more modern amenities, there’s plenty to do at this campground when you’re not out exploring area attractions.
Campers can choose to stay at the campground’s RV park or resort. Both areas offer pull-through and back-in sites, partial and full hookups, bathhouses, laundry facilities, and more. While the resort section is best for larger rigs and Class A motorhomes, the RV park can accommodate RVs of all kinds. You can also rent cabins or rustic campsites for tents. The campground is open from early May through mid-October, and reservations can be made online.
6. Timberline Campground and RV Park
Sitting near Crystal Lake in Benzonia, Michigan, campers of all types will enjoy the many amenities offered at Timberline. Less than a 40-minute drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes, Timberline is the perfect basecamp for fishing and water recreation at either Crystal Lake or the Betsie River. The campground even features a cleaning station where you can prepare your catch of the day.
Choose from pull-through or back-in sites, partial or full hookups, or season sites for longer stays. The sites are spacious and each is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. Other campground amenities include a swimming pool, laundry and shower facilities, basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, and several other outdoor activity areas. The campground is open from April through October and reservations are required and can be made online.
7. Lake Ann State Forest Campground
Managed by Interlochen State Park, this campground can be found on the shores of Michigan’s beautiful Lake Ann. With its location between Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City, it’s an ideal spot for those looking to explore both of these areas. The campground is near many ORV trails, making it great for hiking, biking, and off-roading, in addition to water recreation of all kinds.
Featuring 30 sites for smaller RVs and tents, this is a first-come, first-served campground that’s open year round. The rustic campground offers potable water and vault toilets, and each site has a fire ring and picnic table. While this is a no-frills campground, it’s cheap, pet-friendly, and the location is perfect for a variety of activities. You will need a Michigan recreation passport for entry.
8. Empire Township Campground
Near the village of Empire and Sleeping Bear Dunes, this quiet campground puts RVers in a beautiful wooded area where they can kick back and enjoy the views. This is a great spot for RVers and tent campers alike, with both rustic sites and electric hookups, and its location is ideal for exploring this region of the Lower Peninsula.
The campground features 60 sites, nine of which offer electric hookups. Open from May 15 through September 15, visitors can make reservations online via email. There are coin-operated showers, restrooms, and a dump station on-site. Each campsite comes with a fire ring and picnic table—and your furry friends are welcome here, too.