Located among the marshy banks of Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, Bay City State Park contains 1,000 feet of pristine sandy beach and over 2,000 acres of wetland beauty. Visitors come from all over to see the shores of the Great Lakes and breathe in the cool arctic air that blows across the lake waters.
Visitors will find a plethora of activities to do in Bay City State Park. Families with children can enjoy the beach as well as a large playground which covers three acres. During the summer months, adults and children alike can participate in the park's nature programs and learn about the plants and animals around them. When brisk winds and white snow arrives in the winter, the park is transformed into a hotspot for winter recreation. Ice fishermen can go after pike, bass, catfish, and more when the lake freezes over while cross-country skiers can explore the nearly 2,400 acres of frozen terrain that make up the park.
With so many activities, visitors will often camp in the park overnight. The campgrounds are beautiful and have plenty of space, offering almost 200 electrical hookup sites, showers, and a sanitary dump station. This large Michigan park is an ideal spot for RV campers and nature lovers who want to experience the majesty and beauty of Michigan and the Great Lakes.
Just a half-hour north of Saginaw, Michigan, Bay City State Park is easy to reach. Visitors will follow state highways and local roads which are all paved and well-maintained, so enjoy the scenic drive. Once inside the park, visitors will want to proceed very cautiously. All major roads within the park continue to be paved, but many sections of the road are bordered by large trees on both sides. Visitors with larger rigs will want to be careful to avoid any low-hanging branches that might scratch their vehicle.
Inside of the campground, drivers will want to go especially slow as the roads have many tight turns that will be difficult for larger rigs. Keep an eye out for children and other park visitors who may be cross the roads on their way to their own campsite or other activities.
There is one main campground at Bay City State Park, and it has a total of 189 campsites that are available by reservation only. All of the campsites include electrical hookups with a select number having 50-amp hookups. A few of the sites have camping pads, but the majority are level, grassy areas where visitors can park their RVs. Many campsites are shaded by large trees that help campers stay cool during the hot summer months. Each site can accommodate up to six people and includes a fire pit and picnic table.
Be aware that it is prohibited to burn outside firewood or wood gathered from within the park. Approved firewood can be purchased on park grounds or from nearby vendors. Water spigots and drinking stations are spread out throughout the campground so that all campsites are within a short walking distance to water. Modern restrooms are centrally located in the campground. Pets are allowed within the campground, but they must be kept on a leash at all times and can never be unattended.
In addition to the individual campsites, the park has two mini cabins that are available by reservation only. These small cabins contain two bunk beds and can sleep up to four people comfortably. The cabins are equipped with electricity. They do not have heat; however, the park is willing to provide small electric heaters upon request. Each cabin also includes a mini-fridge and microwave as well as a picnic table, grill, and fire ring for camper use. Visitors who stay at one of the mini cabins are permitted full access to campground amenities. Be aware that there is no smoking nor pets allowed in the mini cabins.
There are two large campsites located south of the main campground that are available for group camping. These sites must be reserved ahead of time. Large trees surround the camp area and offer patches of cool shade for campers to refresh themselves. The group camping area also includes several picnic tables as well as multiple fire rings to accommodate larger groups of campers. Large trees surround the camp area and offer a bit of privacy and patches of cool shade.
The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center introduces visitors to the unique environment around Bay City State Park. Located near the entrance to the park, visitors will see exhibits about the park's Tobico Marsh, a diverse ecosystem of coastal wetlands. Children and adults can join in one of the scheduled programs, or they can simply view the exhibits themselves. They can also get a close-up look at the wildlife through a secret remote camera placed within the park.
During the winter months, cross-country skiers will feel right at home on the groomed ski tracks at Bay City State Park. Featuring over five miles of trails, skiers will have a full day of fun zooming through the fallen snow. The trails are relatively easy, so visitors of all skill levels will be able to explore the park's many acres of frozen wetland and forests. Lucky skiers may even catch a glimpse of some of the park's native wildlife. Skiers are asked to stay on the marked ski trails so as to minimize damage to the landscape.
With the entire park being situated on the shore, there is no lack of scenic picnic areas in Bay City State Park. Visitors can bring a lunch with them out on the trails to eat while observing the native wildlife at any of the park’s many observation points or even take a sack lunch with them to the beach. Additionally, the park offers five large picnic shelters that can be reserved ahead of time for larger picnicking groups.
With over 1,000 feet of shoreline along the water's edge, there is no telling what could have washed up and been buried beneath the sand. At Bay City State Park, metal detecting is an approved recreational activity that many visitors enjoy participating in. There are designated areas for metal detecting within the park on groomed beaches on either side of the boardwalk. Ask the park staff for details on permitted metal detecting areas. Also, keep in mind that anything you find must be evaluated by the park staff before you are allowed to take it home. Come search for buried treasure and keep a sharp eye out for any shells that can be taken home as a souvenir.
Bay City State Park features more than seven miles of trails that are perfect for exploring on a bicycle. The most popular trail, the nearly five-mile Tobico Marsh/Andersen Trail, is easily accessible and consists of dirt and gravel. This relatively easy trail is perfect for families who want to get out and see more of the park. For more experienced cyclists, the 17-mile Bay County Riverwalk Rail-Trail starts in Bay City State Park and follows the Saginaw River through Bay City. Visitors can stop in the city for lunch or continue down the trail to the Crow Island State Game Area, where they're sure to see thousands of local waterfowl and other wildlife.
There are plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife in their native habitat at Bay City State Park. The park has installed shoreline spotting scopes, viewing platforms, and boardwalks throughout the wetlands so that visitors can interact with the environment around them. The most exciting structures by far are the three observational towers that are spread out around the park. High up in these structures, visitors can get an aerial view of the park and use their binoculars to spot the wildlife down below. Make sure you pack those binoculars in your motorhome.