Located in southern Michigan, Fort Custer State Recreation Area over three thousand acres of beautiful forests and lakes for nature lovers to explore. There are over 25 miles of multi-purpose trails that lead you throughout the park’s forests and its three lakes. And the forests are populated with dozens of species of birds, as well as a variety of mammals, making it a great destination for those interested in photography or wildlife viewing. History buffs will love the fact that this land used to be home to Camp Custer, an Army training center during World War II.
Once you’d had enough hiking, you can head out onto any of the three lakes or the Kalamazoo River. The waters are well populated with a wide range of fish species. Plus, the park is open to hunting, with particularly good deer hunting. The campground in the park is huge, with over 200 sites for you to pick from for your campervan. They also all have electrical hookups for your rig, so you can camp with full modern comforts.
Located in southern Michigan, Fort Custer State Recreation Area can be reached from multiple major cities in Michigan and the surrounding states. Once you get to the park, the roads are well maintained and RV friendly, so you don’t have to worry about getting your rig to the campsite.
If you are driving from Detroit, take I-94 west out of the city, and you can reach the park in around two hours. Coming from Chicago, take I-94 east from the city, and you will get to the park in about two and a half hours.
The park’s roads are all relatively straight and well-maintained. Even those with large rigs don’t need to worry about tight corners. However, wintertime visitors should know that there is often ice and snow on the roads. You should consider having snow chains in case of a winter storm.
There are over pet-friendly 200 sites for you to choose from at the campground located within the park. All of the sites have electrical hookups, as well as a picnic table and a fire pit. You will also have access to drinking water, showers, and sanitation stations.
The sites are a short walk from Jackson Hole Lake, where you’ll find swimming areas, picnic shelters, and a boat launch. You can also easily walk to the hiking trails from the campgrounds, and follow them to reach the park’s main facilities near Eagle Lake.
The sites can all be reserved online, and they are open year round. You can reserve a spot up to six months in advance, and you must book at least a day before you plan on arriving. The park fills up quickly during the summer, so you should book early if you plan on coming during peak season.
Fort Custer State Recreation Area has one of the best networks of hiking trails that you’ll find in the state. There are 25 miles of trails for you to explore in the area. Wander your way through the beautiful second growth forests and walk across the prairies.
The hiking is great from April through October. Visitors in spring will be able to see an incredible display of bright colors in the prairies. And those who come in fall can enjoy the beautiful sight of the forests turning. No matter when you come, you’ll find dozens of species of birds and mammals populating the park.
The park is also a popular destination for hunters. Deer are the favored game, but you’ll also find plenty of turkey and small game, such as coyote, hare, and quail.
Most of the park is open to hunters, but there are certain zones where hunting is prohibited. Consult the park map to make sure you are in bounds. You can also ask park officials, to make sure that you are hunting in the right areas. You’ll also need to make sure you have a Michigan state hunting license.
The three lakes found in the park are also great places to take a swim on a hot summer day. The swimming areas are well maintained, and the one at Eagle Lake is monitored during the summer, in case you are worried about your children.
You’ll also find concessions near the lakes, as well as picnic areas. And the parks network of hiking trails is close by, so you can head straight from a hike to the water.
With three lakes offering hundreds of acres of water, Fort Custer State Recreation Area is a great place for boating. You can also connect to the Kalamazoo River, should you want to canoe or kayak outside of the park and explore the surrounding areas.
There are multiple boat launches to help you easily get out onto the water. Didn’t bring a boat with your rig? The park offers a wide range of boat rentals, from kayaks to larger vessels.
With three lakes for you to choose from, there’s plenty of waters for anglers to explore. The fishing is great from the shore or from one of the bridges that span the water. And there are multiple boat ramps that make it easy to get your vessel out onto the water.
You’ll find a wide variety of fish species inhabiting the three lakes of the park, including channel catfish, bluegill, bowfin, bass, and carp. Fishing is great from April through September, although peak seasons will vary depending on the species of fish. If you try to ice fish in the winter, the park does not guarantee the safety of the ice, so head out onto the lake at your own risk.
The park's network of trails is also popular with dog sledders. The trails are all well maintained in the winter, making for excellent sledding through the forests and around the lakes. If you come during a cold spell, you may also be able to head out onto one of the frozen lakes- but always at your own risk! Unfortunately, there are no rental options for sleds or for dogs, so you’ll have to come equipped with both.