Just an hour’s drive from the Tri-Cities and popularly known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Tawas Bay in Tawas Point State Park is the perfect destination for your next family camping vacation. Located at the end of the sandspit, jutting into Lake Huron, you’ll find the ideal conditions for swimming, fishing, paddling, or just about any watersport you enjoy. With a magnificent lighthouse on the bay and 183 acres to explore, you certainly won’t get bored.
During the migration season, you can see more than 300 different species of birds in the park area, so bring your binoculars on your hike through the park. Of course, hiking and birding are always on the agenda in the spring and summer at Tawas Point State Park, but the fall and winter are great times to visit as well. Enjoy the autumn colors as the trees change, and visit the Victorian-style lighthouse.
The park is open in the winter too, and the camp host will even clear the snow from your RV campsite for you. Go ice-fishing or ice skating on Lake Huron or snowshoeing through a winter wonderland. There’s something for the whole family no matter what time of year you visit, so pack up the 5th wheel and the family and head to Tawas Point State Park.
Tawas Point State Park is in northern Michigan, just over three hours from Detroit and Grand Rapids. To reach Tawas Point State Park, you can take US-23. The whole drive from the point you take a turn from US-23 to the state park is beautiful. The road is lined with greenery on both sides. There is hardly any scope to get lost there; only one road branches out towards Tawas from US-23. Starting from Alabaster Township, there is a 13.5-mile non-motorized path that you can take if you prefer to walk or ride a bike. It takes you all the way to the state park.
Right next to the campground, there is a large parking lot that can accommodate cars and RVs. The parking is spacious and is only a two-minute walk away from the beach. There is a smooth paved road up until the lot. If you want to go in deeper, there is only a dirt road leading towards the Tawas beach. It’s best to leave your car and then explore the rest of the area on foot.
Just off the sunrise coast of Michigan, you’ll find an outdoor wonderland at the Oscoda / Tawas KOA. The campground offers level RV sites with full hookups. Guests can also take advantage of top-notch amenities including a heated pool, playground, gem mining, a jumping pillow, an arcade, and a fully-stocked camp store. The camp is just a few minutes from the Au Sable River - a great spot for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and tubing. It’s also just a skip away from Huron National Forest and the Wurtsmith Air Museum.
Tawas Point State Park has 193 electric-only campsites spread out across its large campground. It is surrounded by trees on all sides which provides adequate shade to the campsites. Only the campsites that are near the ponds on the outer sides offer very little shade. This campsite accommodates rigs up to 35 feet long. Larger rigs will have to stay at a nearby campground outside the park, such as KOA.
Most sites are a mix of grass and dirt while there are a number of handicap accessible campsites that are paved. Enjoy electric hookups as well as a sanitation station. The campground is with equipped restrooms, changing rooms, and a playground too.
For bonfires, make sure you are using only certified heat-treated firewood. In the past, invasive insects have hitched a ride on firewood and destroyed the greenery around. It’s a great site for those who want to try beachside camping and want to get closer to nature.
Four cabins are available at Tawas Point. Each cabin sleeps six people and has basic electricity. Microwaves and coffeepots are standard in each cabin as well as a refrigerator. The main bathroom building is nearby, supplying running water. Please be aware that no pets are allowed in the cabins.
Snowshoeing is not only great exercise, but it's great fun as well. You'll enjoy your winter visit, trekking through the park in search of the seasonal wildlife that frequent the area. Snowshoe to the lake for some ice-fishing or hike the Sandy Hook Trail before ending the day in the warm comfort of the Airstream Just make sure to pack some water for your hike because even though the trail is easy, it's a challenging hike in the snowy months.
Tawas Point State Park is one of the best birding spots in the region. The region around the state park and the lighthouse is home to more than 300 species of birds during peak migration. From bald eagles to piping plovers and Kirtland warblers, you are sure to find all kinds of birds here. Just make sure you don’t forget to bring your binoculars in your RV with you.
In the winter months, you can find the same walleye, bass, coho, chinook, lake trout, brown trout, and salmon in Tawas bay as you do in the summer. Because Tawas Bay provides a natural harbor for fishing, anglers will find some shelter from the harsh winter storms of Michigan, making it an ideal spot for ice fishing. Temporary shelters are allowed on the ice and ice fishing gear can be rented locally. Take your catch back to the comfort of your trailer for a hot seafood dinner with the family.
Lake Huron is a popular spot for ice skating in the winter and makes for a lovely holiday outing. Check for freeze depths at the park office and make sure to always skate with a partner for safety. Outdoor skating can be rough, so don't expect the smooth surface of a rink; however, there's nothing like an old fashioned day on the ice with friends to get you in the holiday spirit. At the end of the day, sip hot chocolate in the warmth of your RV or in the rental cabins available on site.
Although cross-country skiing opportunities are limited within the park, campers may want to travel just 19 miles northeast of the park to Corsair Ski Trail, where the terrain is relatively flat. Short but rolling hills make the trail ideal for getting a good workout.
There are no specified ski trails within Tawas Point State Park, but in the winter, there are some areas where you can strap on the skis and cruise along safely as long as the snow is somewhat packed. As always, be safe and pack plenty of water for your activity as cross-country skiing is a physically exerting activity.
Along the northern side of Tawas Bay is an 800-foot long and 25-foot-wide reef. Since the time it was constructed in 1987, the area has been thriving with different kinds of fish. It serves as a natural habitat for smaller fish. Because of this, the larger fishes are also attracted to the region. You can find walleye, bass, coho, chinook, lake trout, brown trout, and salmon at Tawas Bay. At the end of the day, you'll enjoy cooking up your catch back at the RV campground.
Nothing screams vacation like a good picnic with a beautiful view. Tawas Point State Park has picnic tables right next to the beach, so you can watch the ebb and flow of tides as you sip on your favorite drink. You could also read a book or bathe in the sun for a while. The beach is just right around the corner, so you can even jump in the water for a quick dip.
Paddle boating can be a fun activity that will keep the adults as well as the kids in your family engaged. Tawas Bay's clean water and idyllic scenery make it worth all the effort. Paddle boating at Tawas Point State Park is especially scenic at dusk. You can watch the sun disappear as a riot of color fills up the sky. Just be warned — your thighs and feet might ache a lot after paddle boating.
Not sure if hiking is for you? At Tawas Point State Park, you can give it a try. The Sandy Hook Trail is a scenic two-mile hike perfect for beginners or anyone wanting an easy and relaxing walk along the bay on one side and Lake Huron on the other. Along the way, you can find interpretive stops that can guide you about the area. However, if you are going with a pet, you will have to stay off the trail. Bicycles and pets are not allowed there.
The beautiful Victorian lighthouse on Lake Huron attracts history and architecture enthusiasts to the park. Built in 1878, Tawas Point Lighthouse is the only representative of a true Victorian-era style station that is built on the Great Lakes. Since its construction, it has been remodeled several times, but it still retains its historical charm and style. Tours are available in the summer, but check the schedule for the occasional winter tour as well. The lighthouse is lit up every night of the year and is a great photo opportunity on your visit to the park no matter what time of year you go.