Mackinac Island Camping Trip: The Ultimate Guide

Located in Lake Huron in the state of Michigan, the natural beauty of this remarkable and unique location makes Mackinac Island camping trips a popular pastime for travelers and tourists from across the region and the country.

mackinac island camping

The rugged natural beauty of the island and surrounding region has been drawing visitors for well over a century, taking advantage of everything from the hiking trails to the fishing and everything in between.

While Mackinac Island is a beautiful island with a lot of open spaces, there is no camping permitted on the island itself, but with its close proximity to the mainland and a plethora of options to choose from, many people, especially those looking to enjoy the island’s beauty on a budget, choose to enjoy Mackinac Island as a day visitor paired with their camping trips throughout the summer season.

Don’t let the fact that you can’t camp on the island itself deter you from planning your own Mackinac Island camping trip; with a little planning ahead, you will be sure to find a wealth of options close by for all your outdoor adventure needs!

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Camping Trip: The Ultimate Guide to Planning

With a wealth of campgrounds just twenty minutes or less from the island by ferry, the fact that you can’t camp on the island itself is not a deterrent for outdoor enthusiasts looking to plan a Mackinac Island camping trip.

mackinac island camping

While the use of the island is restricted for camping, you won’t feel burdened due to its regulations. Everything you could expect from a camping experience can be found within close range of the park and everything the island itself has to offer. 

There are two ferry ports to choose from when traveling from your camping site to Mackinac Island, St Ignace and Mackinaw City are both serviced by the same lines and offer free shuttle service to all the closest and most popular accommodations, including the popular Mackinac Island camping grounds.

Parking is also available, sometimes even free, depending on the season but be aware that during the peak summer tourist season, the lots can fill up fast.

The ferries are all first come first serve and during the peak seasons, will depart every fifteen minutes, so the lines are quite manageable considering how popular the island is as a tourist destination! From port to port, the ferry trip takes around 15-30 minutes, so you will be able to get to the island in no time! 

Tickets cost around $27 round trip for adults and $15 round trip for children. Those who wish to save some money can benefit from researching ahead of time to find potential deals and discounts, either through their campground or by booking early or online.

Once you are on the island, you will be able to enjoy all the historic sites and the charm of the area. Horses are available for rent as well as bikes and the carriage rides throughout the city and nearby park lands are affordable and easy to find.

Mackinac Island

Those who are looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the area during their Mackinac Island camping vacation will find plenty of outdoor activities on the island itself.

arch rock

Arch Rock

Biking trails and hiking trails through the wooded lands and the mountainous areas put nature right at your fingertips and make this one of the best options for those who are seeking to reconnect with nature during their trip to this landmark American vacation destination. 

The most popular of the nearby camping sites is located near Mackinaw City, featuring a plethora of options for every budget level and experience level, this campground has the same natural beauty of Mackinac Island as well as stunning views of the region.

Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping Resort has over 200 sites with options at every level, from budget savvy options starting as low as $15 a night during the summer season. Don’t forget your family camping tent for these rates. 

For a more luxurious option, you can choose from lakefront cabins or extra large RV sites with all the hook-ups, including electricity and water.

Right next door to the camping grounds is a historic mill offering tours and events throughout the year and Mackinaw Mill Camping Resort also owns its own 18-hole golf course, offering stay and play discount deals for those who wish to enjoy the added recreational activities provided by this comprehensive site!

mackinac island camping

Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping Resort also has a huge list of amenities to make your Mackinac Island camping trip a comfortable and enjoyable experience. The property features playgrounds for children and pet friendly areas as well as hiking and biking trails (with rentals available if you aren’t bringing your own bike.)

A mile-long stretch of sandy beach offers beautiful views of Mackinac Island situated just across the water, including views of the popular Grand Hotel.

You could visit the island by day, and then come back to your campground in the evening.

Seasonal free and discounted amenities for the popular summer season include access to an arcade, heated swimming pool, miniature golf, hayrides and on-site shower facilities and gift shops.

Picnic areas and group event sites are available as well, making it a great option for things such as business holidays and family reunions. One of the biggest benefits to this Mackinac Island camping resort is the free shuttle to and from Mackinac Island ferry, which will have you zipping to the island in roughly 20 mins or less!

ferry to Mackinac

Mackinaw City KOA is another budget friendly option located within the city limits of nearby Mackinaw City. Featuring everything from basic tent camping sites to cabins and proper lodging, as well as glamping experiences for the more luxury minded outdoor enthusiasts, the Mackinaw City KOA has everything you need within close proximity to a wealth of options available on the island itself.

Beaches, hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking as well as bike rentals and biking trails are available around the grounds and a seasonal heated pool as well as recreational areas and game make it a great option for relaxing in the lazy summer afternoons.

mackinac island camping

A wealth of picnic spots and grills make it easy for travelers to not only get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of the area but also save a bunch opposed to the cost of dining out. A free shuttle to the Mackinac Island ferry makes it even easier to enjoy everything there is to see and do during your Mackinac Island camping trip! 

Straits State Park is located north of the Straits of Mackinac on St Ignace in Michigan and is another popular destination for outdoor adventurers planning a Mackinac Island camping trip.

Conveniently located with breathtaking views of the nearby Mackinac Bridge that are second to none.

Beaches, camping sites and RV hookups are available as well as guided walking tours and history tours of all the nearby sites and attractions. Playgrounds for children and hiking trails for the outdoor enthusiasts provide plenty of options for everyone while miniature cabin rentals starting as low as $49 a night make camping accessible to everyone, even those that don’t have all the gear and equipment necessary to enjoy the experience.

There is plenty of wildlife around the state park and rangers are available during the peak seasons to answer any questions or provide more information to visitors so they can truly enjoy the context of this remarkable region of the United States Great Lakes area.

St Ignace is also home to a bevy of its own popular destinations and recreational activities, making it a great option for exploring this area of Michigan in addition to the things available on Mackinac Island itself. 

For outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, a Mackinac Island camping trip is one of the top items on their bucket list.

The second National Park to ever be created in the United States (and dissolved just 20 years later and recorded as a State Park), Mackinac Island is a paradise of wilderness, forest and mountain that is teeming with flora and fauna of all kinds. Whether you are a veteran camper or new to the scene, a Mackinac Island camping trip can be tailored to all levels of experience and budget.

From glamping and luxury cabins to rustic tent sites, the wilderness is yours to explore in the areas surrounding the island. While camping on the island itself is prohibited, the campsites are so conveniently close, you’ll feel as though you are right there on the island! Camping is a budget friendly option for travelers worldwide and a trip to Mackinac Island is no exception.

Because summer is the best time to enjoy the outdoor life, it can get quite busy, so be sure to plan ahead and book your sites early so you too can enjoy all the natural beauty of the region as well as all the historic charm that has made Mackinac Island such a popular Great Lake tourist destination.

Tips for visiting Mackinac Island:

No cars are allowed on the island. So everything will be done on foot, bike or local taxi of horse and carriage. 

High season is during the summer and that is when you will find the most people on the island. Not everyone stays on the island, and thus you will see an influx of foot traffic of day visitors. You can technically enjoy the island in a day – so if you only have a day, it works. 

There are plenty of places to eat on the island but if you want to save some money as a day visitor, eat breakfast at your campsite and pack a lunch to bring. However, there are some budget friendly options like Mighty Mac, The Mustang Lounge and The Chuck Wagon, if you want to dine on the island.

Bring comfortable walking shoes. Once you get on the island, go explore! Beauty is around every corner and best enjoyed by foot. If you want to see the outskirts of the island, a bike would be best since it is just over eight miles around. 

Pin for Pinterest:

mackinac island camping


Leave a Reply