It’s hard to beat the sandy shores of Lake Michigan when you’re craving a camping vacation. Even better, there are some seriously amazing campgrounds on Lake Michigan, most of which come with sweeping lake views, white sand shorelines, and towering natural sand dunes.
These seven state parks boast campgrounds that are a stone’s throw from the beach and are just right for a much-needed RV beach vacation. Let your cares drift away as you revel in the warm sunshine and cool lake breezes of pristine Lake Michigan.
1. P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
Set on 3 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is a stunner, favored by both day-use visitors and campers. A large modern campground has scenic campsites across four paved loops. There are plenty of wide lots for big rigs too, so you thankfully won’t feel like you’re on top of your neighbors.
Can’t-Miss Stops on a Road Trip Around Lake Michigan
Like most state parks, nearly all sites have electricity, but none of the sites have water or sewer hookups, though there are water spigots across the campground. Stop in the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center to get schooled on the natural sand dunes, then climb 193 steps to the dune overlook for sweeping views across the glittering lake and sandy shoreline beach.
2. Ludington State Park
Ludington State Park draws in campers with a historic lighthouse, hiking trails, a boat launch, and a fishing lake, as well as seven miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan. There are three modern campgrounds, each named for trees you’ll find at this popular state park: Beechwood, Pines, and Cedar. There is also primitive hike-in camping at Jack Pine Campground.
The Beechwood Campground is the largest with 147 campsites, but the Pines Campground is closest to Lake Michigan. The 112-foot-tall black-and-white striped Big Sable Point Lighthouse is a huge draw and is open for visitors to climb to the top from May 1 to October 31. Bring your pup for a splash along a designated stretch of dog-friendly beach.
3. Silver Lake State Park
Silver Lake State Park is a favorite not only for its proximity to Lake Michigan, but for its miles of natural sand dunes, large swimming beach, and a scramble area for off-road vehicles. Here you’ll find the only sand dunes east of the Mississippi River that welcome ORVs. Load up your ATVs and side-by-sides, you’re in for a seriously unforgettable experience. You can rent ORVs, too.
Alternatively, you can book guide-led dune tours that take guests out to one of the tallest dunes at the state park. The large campground is mostly shaded and 13 sites are on the 690-acre Silver Lake, an inland lake at the park. Plan to trek across sand dunes, build sand castles on 4 miles of shoreline, and climb to the top of Little Sable Lighthouse.
4. Indiana Dunes State Park
At Indiana Dunes State Park, you’ll be wowed by more than 3 miles of white sandy coastline along the southern shore of crystal-clear Lake Michigan. At the wooded campground, there are large, level sites for RVs up to 55 feet long (all back-in sites). A footpath from the west loop leads to the beach, while a nature trail on the east loop guides campers to the nature center.
Where to Camp When Visiting Indiana Dunes National Park
Sand dunes tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan, making it a must to complete the 3 Dune Challenge, a 1.5-mile loop that requires climbing to the top of the park’s three tallest dunes, Mount Jackson, Mount Holden, and Mount Tom. In all, there are more than 16 miles of hiking trails, as well as the 9.2-mile Calumet Trail, a multi-use trail for hikers, bikers, and joggers.
5. Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
This 4,160-acre state park is divided into two parts, a North Unit and a South Unit. The campground is located in the South Unit, along with a bike trail, camp store, swimming beach, and picnic areas. The campground is wooded, the sites are spacious, and it’s a short walk to Lake Michigan. It’s hard to go wrong with this lakeside state park.
5 One-Tank Road Trips From Chicago, Illinois
The state park’s diverse ecosystem is home to more than 650 plant and wildlife species, located just an hour from Chicago. Pay a visit to the dedicated nature preserve in the North Unit, which is also home to Sand Pond, a popular spot for fishing. The state park has more than 5 miles of hiking trails, an expansive swimming beach, and a large marina.
6. Kohler-Andrae State Park
Kohler-Andrae State Park is a fan favorite thanks to large, wooded campsites and an easy 5-minute walk to the beach from nearly any site at the campground. Even better, several beach access points help ease crowding on the shoreline. In addition to the family campground, there are two group campsites and one accessible cabin so all can enjoy this beautiful state park.
More than a half-dozen hiking trails allow campers to explore various sections of the park, including wetlands, sand dunes, a white pine forest, and a fishing pond. The Dunes Cordwalk runs parallel to Lake Michigan and is a top trail for shimmering lake views. Stop in the Sanderling Nature Center for nature films, hands-on exhibits, and seasonal ranger-led programs.
7. Harrington Beach State Park
Harrington Beach State Park may have just over 1 mile of sandy shoreline on Lake Michigan, but this stretch is widely considered one of the loveliest in Wisconsin. You’ll also find wetland ponds, a hardwood swamp, and a limestone quarry lake. The campground is on the small side, with just 69 sites, but that’s what makes this one a favorite. There are five hike-in sites, too.
The campground is about .25 miles from the swimming beach, but an easy and refreshing trail leads to the beach and guides visitors alongside Quarry Lake for scenic views. The beach allows dogs, but only south of the “point.” Park at the welcome center for a very short walk to the sandy shoreline. You’ll also find a picnic area and a children’s playground.