Brighton Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Featuring year-round RV camping, Brighton Recreation Area is a stop you don’t want to miss! The 4,947-acre park has a combination of high, irregular ranges of hills interspersed with several lakes. You’ll find oak forests, thick hedgerows, and open meadows in the uplands, while the lowlands include grassy marshes, shrub marshes, and dense swamp timber for the whole family to explore. The Bishop Lake modern RV campground offers 44 sites with electrical hookups and a modern shower building. There are also three rustic campgrounds, a group day-use area, and six picnic shelters located throughout the park. This park is sure to have sites and amenities for all camping styles to enjoy. Brighton Recreation Area has two unique features not found in other parks in the area. The first, Jump Island, is located on Bishop Lake and offers an inflatable water park experience. The water park includes an obstacle course, an inflatable iceberg, slides, and more challenges that allow you to run, jump, and slide through the water. The second unique feature found in this beautiful park is the Brighton Recreation Riding Stables. If you are looking for an experience for the equestrian in your group, look no further than the Brighton Recreation Area. The park has 18 miles of bridle trails, and the riding stables offer group horseback riding, pony rides, lessons, and more. What is even better is that you can bring your horse and stay at the unique and rustic equestrian campground. There are many other things to do at Brighton Recreation Area, including picnicking, fishing, and swimming. Since the park is open year-round, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing; just be sure to pack your winter coat because the Michigan winters can be chilly. The Brighton Recreation Area is sure to have everything for your group to enjoy, and it offers all of this along the stunning Bishop Lake shoreline. Make sure to include this park on your next RV trip to the Midwest because it is sure to impress.

RV Rentals in Brighton Recreation Area

Transportation in Brighton Recreation Area

Driving

Brighton Recreation Area is located about 50 miles north of Detroit, and 43 miles southeast of Lansing, Michigan. On the way to the park, you will most likely take I-96, I-94, and several local highways, all of which are free and easy to pass through with your RV. If traveling from Detroit, you will pass through the interstates as many of the overpasses have a higher clearance, but if you travel along the local or city roads, be aware that they may have lower clearances.
If your route takes you through Brighton, slow down as you travel through Main Street in downtown Brighton. Park Headquarters is located on Chilson Road. Across from the headquarters is Bishop Lake Road, which heads east about one mile to the main trailhead at the Bishop Lake campgrounds and Day-Use Area. There is plenty of parking throughout the park, especially at the campgrounds, Park Headquarters, and Bishop Lake. If you are driving an RV, please be aware that there are several unpaved roads throughout the park. Several of the unpaved roads connect the park with the local paved roads, and the unpaved roads connect campgrounds and the Bishop Lake area.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Brighton Recreation Area

Campsites in Brighton Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Appleton Lake Campground

Appleton Lake Rustic campground features rustic cabins and the Group-Use Area, with access to vault toilet facilities. With 25 sites, this campground offers similar amenities as the Murray Lake Campground, including access to two vault toilets and one hand pump for water. Also, this campground provides nearby access to dumpsters. At the Appleton Lake Rustic campground, you'll find expansive baseball fields for all to enjoy as well as a picnic area near the campground's entrance. If you would like to spend time out on the beautiful Appleton Lake, you will be happy to know that this campground has access to a nearby boat launch.

Murray Lake Campground

The Murray Lake rustic campground is only open on the weekends during the peak season from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This campground has 25 rustic sites and has access to two vault toilets and one hand pump for water. Located along both Murray Lake and Little Murray Lake, RVs can access each of the rustic sites by traveling along the two gravel roads in the campground area. Also, this campground is located near four different trail entrances that are used year-round for hiking, mountain biking, and cross country skiing in the winter.

Horseman's Campground

Horseman's Campground is a seasonally-operating campground with 17 sites created to give equestrians a comfortable place to camp near their horses. Since the campground is close to the riding trails, the proximity makes it easy to get out and explore without the hassle of trailering a horse to and from the park. The Horseman's Campground only permits RVers with horses, and the sites a generally large enough to fit a horse trailer. The largest spaces accommodate equipment up to 40 feet in length. All of the sites are primitive, and there is a vault toilet available for campers.

Bishop Lake Campground

Drive your RV to the Bishop Lake Campground and camp along the shore of the park’s largest lake. This pet-friendly campground has 144 modern campsites with 20 and 30-amp electrical hookups. There are no water hookups, but there are several drinking water spigots throughout the campground. Each campsite has a fire pit and a picnic table, and your shade varies depending on the space you choose. Don't forget to bring your leveling blocks! This campground is divided into two loops. The Lower Loop is closer to the lake and the toilet and shower building, while the Upper Loop has more trees and more shade. There is a paved path with stairs that runs from the Upper Loop to the toilet and shower building.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Brighton Recreation Area

In-Season

Hiking and Biking

There are almost nine miles of paths designated only for hikers. RV campers will be happy to know that all hiking trails begin at the Bishop Lake Day-Use Area next to the campground. The trails will take you through wooded hills, past the wetlands, or along the lake. The Bishop Lake Day-Use Area also serves as the major trailhead to 14 miles of mountain bike trails. Experienced riders will enjoy the Torn Shirt Trail with its steep uphill curves and narrow, heavily wooded stretches. Intermediate riders will prefer the Murray Lake Trail.

Jump Island

Jump Island offers the ultimate water sports experience filled with action-packed adventures. This vibrant attraction allows RV visitors to run, jump, and explore the excitement of a floating aqua park. Features include a 14-foot inflatable iceberg, 16-foot slide, obstacle course challenges, and runways that use your abilities to balance, walk, run, and slide on water. Due to safety guidelines, all-island participants must be 48 inches or taller.

Lakefront Leisure

There are several lakes located within the Brighton Recreation Area, so fishing and boating are very popular activities at this park. Bishop Lake has a large fishing pier a short distance from the boat launch and is an excellent spot for paddling and fishing. The lake connects to Caroga Lake via a small channel that is accessible to small boaters seeking more water exploration. Plus, the lake is surrounded by a forested shoreline that provides solitude and chances to view wildlife. Campers can rent canoes, kayaks, and other small watercraft during the peak season from May to September. There are boat launches on Chilson, Appleton, Bishop, and Chenango lakes, and an EZ Launch Accessible Transfer system is also available on Bishop Lake. This system allows park guests in wheelchairs to safely transfer to a canoe or kayak.

Horseback Riding

Another way to traverse the park is on horseback. Bring your horse and enjoy riding the 19 miles of beautiful trails. Gallop over hills and through meadows, trot through forests and wetlands, and stop by a lake or stream for a brief respite for both you and your horse. Brighton Recreation Area has equestrian-friendly amenities, including a staging area, a picnic shelter, an electric well, and a 17-site rustic equestrian campground. This campground allows RV visitors to spend extra time exploring the park on horseback while allowing them the opportunity to sleep in the great outdoors close to their equine friends.
There is a privately-operated riding stable on the park grounds. Don't fret if you don’t have a horse because you can visit the riding stable and rent a horse for the day or even take a guided trail tour. The riding stable offers rentals, lessons, and guided trail rides.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing

While rowing and swimming are activities that use every major muscle group, you can’t row or swim at Brighton Recreation Area during a cold Michigan winter! Therefore, cross-country skiing is the perfect winter sport that provides an excellent cardio workout. There are two styles of cross-country skiing: traditional and skate skiing. Traditional cross-country skiers keep their skis pointed straight forward, and their feet do not have to leave the ground. Skate skiing involves movements closer to those of roller skating. Whichever style you prefer, enjoy the peacefulness of floating across the snow during the beautiful Michigan winters.

Hunting

Brighton Recreational Area has an abundant wildlife population, and hunting is allowed during the legal hunting seasons. There is no summer hunting at the park, and fall hunting season begins around mid-September and ends at the end of March. Area wildlife game includes turkey, deer, and rabbit. The park is also open to trapping. If you are a hunter, you should familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations about hunting on state land, as well as be sure that you have the proper permits before heading out.

Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is a unique recreational activity at Brighton Recreation Area, and it can be a surprisingly addictive hobby. Michigan, and the Great Lakes region as a whole, once served as host to an impressive Native American community. If you find an artifact, it could be a remnant of the communities that once lived in this region.
Metal detecting must be conducted carefully to not damage natural and cultural resources, and it is only allowed in designated areas. While searching for metal, you may find coins, jewelry, and historical artifacts. The park staff must review any items found, and these items may be retained for further investigation. Why? Many artifacts and objects found have the potential for historical or monetary value; don't worry, you'll be like a real-life archaeologist exploring the hidden remains in the park, and there is a good chance you will get your treasures back.
Since metal detecting is a popular activity for both campers and day-use visitors, RVers will be happy to know that the campground is off-limits for metal detecting unless you are a registered camper.

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