What was once the largest seedling nursery in the world is now one of the most well-developed and charming state parks on the Upper Peninsula. There is lots of history at Michigan’s North Higgins Lake State Park as it's home to a large Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) museum. The whole family can learn all about the involvement of the CCC to preserve these lands at the Higgins Lake Nursery and Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.
There are plenty of outdoor activities at this 449-acre state park as well. Located right on the beautiful Higgins Lake, visitors enjoy year-round hiking, biking, swimming, boating, fishing, and more. Be sure to pack your cross-country skis in the campervan if you are coming in the winter.
Perhaps most importantly for your purposes, North Higgins Lake State Park has a large RV campground with lots of amenities. Whether you’re coming here for the weekend or the summer, your rig and your family are always welcome here.
Higgins Lake State Park is near Rosecommon. If you travel up Interstate 75 from Flint to reach the park, which is what most people do, Rosecommon is about three-fourths of the way between Lansing and Mackinaw City. For you out-of-staters, that’s the place where you must have your passport ready. Alternatively, you can take the direct route, which is Highway 127 north from Lansing. It’s almost literally a straight shot, although there are a few curves here and there. Highway 127 is also mostly a four-lane divided highway with decent visibility.
Inside the park, there is lots of large-vehicle parking near the boat launch, swimming area, and museum/trailheads area. The park is laid out in a very RV-friendly way, so you should have no problem navigating it. Just watch out for low-hanging branches, especially after a storm. There are trees, trees, and more trees at North Higgins Lake State Park.
North Higgins Lake State Park has two RV campsite loops which have 182 parking spots. Most of them have 20/30/50 amp electrical hookups and water lines. Both the West and East Loop have a restroom and shower area. There is an RV dump station between the two loops. These loops are not exactly on the water’s edge, but they are very close to it. All the back-in sites are very level with plenty of shade, and the park is tranquil and dark at night. Each site includes a fire pit and picnic table. Plus, you can bring your furry friend with you since these campsites are pet-friendly. This campground is open seasonally, typically from May to September.
Higgins Lake has deep waters and an island with lots of weeds. The deep water and the weedy island are excellent fishing spots. Flynn Island is pretty far out, so you’ll probably need a powered boat to reach it. Shore fishing isn’t bad here, especially since there is no designated fishing pier, but boat fishing is probably the way to go. The trout, carp, catfish, bass, walleye, perch, and oodles of other fish here usually swim in large groups. So once you find a good spot, stay there as long as possible. Minnows, worms, and artificial bait usually work well here.
Higgins Lake’s main boat launch is next to a very large parking area and the swimming area. This lake is one of the biggest ones on the UP, so there is plenty of room for recreational craft and fishing boats, whether they are powered or unpowered. The Higgins Lake Boat Club is on Flynn Island. For a small fee, members have access to a number of amenities, like a swimming beach and a clubhouse with a large fireplace. The annual Higgins Lake Boat Club Lightning Invitational is usually in late July or early August.
Here in the Upper Peninsula, the summer swimming season is rather short. We’re usually taking Father’s Day through the time NFL training camps begin (that’s mid-August for the uninformed). If you only have a few swimming weekends to get away in the camper, be sure you spend at least one of them at North Higgins Lake State Park. There’s something incredibly nice about a small sand beach amid tall trees that’s next to deep blue water. Swimming area amenities include a changing house and drinking water spigots.
When the first seeds went into the ground in 1903, Higgins Lake was Michigan’s first tree nursery. Its opening followed years and years of nearly uninterrupted logging. After maturing for a short while here, the pine tree seedlings traveled across the state and across the nation to repopulate depleted forests. If you see a large grove of trees anywhere in the Upper Midwest or Old Northwest, chances are, at least some of them came from Higgins Lake.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the CCC gave thousands of young men income and a sense of purpose. These workers transformed many wilderness state parks into the family-friendly destinations that they are today. Many parks around the country still include CCC handiwork, but North Higgins Lake State Park is one of the only parks that also has a designated museum. Cool exhibits include personal items from these Depression-era men.
Almost all of the eight miles of hiking trails at North Higgins Lake State Park begin near the CCC parking area. Like we said, this park is very conveniently laid out for RV travelers. If you only have time for one, we recommend the nearly two-mile easy looped fitness trail. It’s very scenic, so you could do as many laps as you wanted and probably notice something different every time. Longer cross-country trails are a bit further north, where there is even more nature to explore.