Wilderness State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Wilderness State Park was originally named Emmett State Game Refuge in 1922. The land was set aside to raise game bird and other animals to provide more animals for hunting. In 1927, when the park was placed under the Park Administration, the name changed to Wilderness State Park. What started out as small game reserve became a 10,00-acre park that now offers activities all year round. The beauty of the park can be seen in its meadows, dunes, forests, and wetlands. With such a large diversity in the landscape, there are a lot of places to explore and relax with your family

The park offers 250 campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs. A few of the sites have full hookups, but if you don’t want a full hookup, you can use a less modern site. There are three campgrounds throughout the park and rustic sites are available for day campers as well. The park has a 26-mile shoreline along Lake Michigan, where you can fish, walk, or launch your boat.

Wilderness State Park has two peak seasons - summer and winter. There are plenty of activities to entertain the entire family, no matter when you visit. Summer offers the beach, hunting, fishing, hiking, metal detecting, and occasional mountain biking. Winter offers cross-country skiing, hunting, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. With the park being close to Mackinaw City, you are able to get a few groceries and maybe even stop by one of the many restaurants in the area. The park allows alcohol and you can make a reservation up to six months in advance. Reservations can be made from March to December for RV and trailer Camping. So what are you waiting for? Make an RV reservation for Wilderness State Park today.

RV Rentals in Wilderness State Park

Transportation in Wilderness State Park

Driving

Located on the northern tip of Michigan and running along Lake Michigan, Wilderness State Park is easy to find. It is 10 miles from the city of Mackinaw, which offers plenty of places for shopping, groceries, and fine dining. The park is a 15-minute drive off I-75, so all you will have to do is look out for the sign pointing the way to the entrance.

The roads into the park are paved, with signs directing you to the different campsites. Most of the campsites are either gravel or dirt. The park headquarters is near the entrance and you can also visit the camp store on your way in or when you leave. It is recommended that you walk or ride a bike around the park to have a better experience.

Due to the location of the park, keep in mind that the park RV and trailer campsites will only be open from March to December. While these dates are good for avoiding winter storms, it is best to be careful when you travel when a storm is on the way. Take time to check the weather forecast. You can always call the park to find out whether they are closed or not. In the spring and summer, be watchful of flash floods and road closures due to the lake rising. In fall and winter, be mindful of blizzards and snowstorms.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Wilderness State Park

Campsites in Wilderness State Park

Reservations camping

St. Ignace / Mackinac Island KOA

In the beautiful north woods of the Straits of Mackinac, St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA offers modern bathrooms, a camp store, an updated play area and gameroom, improved full hookup sites and much, much more! Conveniently located near the waterfront town of St. Ignace, Michigan, St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA is at the gateway to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, land of pristine forests and stunning lakes. Free rides to the ferry that takes you to Mackinac Island are accessible on-site. St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA also features a miniature golf course, an off-leash playground for your pooch and a snack bar. The swimming pool is open seasonally. Have a big rig? No problem, with the 80’ pull-through sites.

Mackinaw City / Mackinac Island KOA

Beautiful Mackinac Island is just a free shuttle ride away. Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island KOA is your perfect base camp for exploring this impressive part of Michigan, with sites like Colonial Michilimackinac and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse nearby. There are many, many miles for hiking or bicycling, bird watching and more. You can even rent a bike from the campground, and then enjoy the heated seasonal pool when you get back. Or, drive a couple miles to relax on a Lake Michigan beach. There’s a dog park on-site, too! Pull-through sites can accommodate rigs up to 70 feet, and there are restrooms and laundry facilities on the grounds.

A-R Campground

This campground has 18 sites with full hookups. There are no modern bathrooms at this site, but they are within a mile of the campground. The sites are small but offer you more privacy with the capacity to hold up to a 50 foot trailer or RV. These sites are some of the most popular ones in the park and are often reserved far in advance due to the amenities that they offer. A-R Campground offers a view of the lake and shade of the forest. You can stay here a maximum of 15 days and you may reserve your spot up to six months in advance. You are required to have recreation passport which you can pick up at the park’s headquarters or order online.

Lakeshore Campground

The majority of the campsites in the park are located in the Lakeshore Campground. There is a lovely view of the lake nearby and a boat launch area. If you plan on fishing, this is a great campground to reserve a site at. Amenities included are a fire ring and picnic table. Restrooms and showers are within a mile of the campground. When reserving a site, make sure to check whether it is shaded or not, and what type of electric hookups are available. There are no water or sewer hookups in this area, but you can get your water from a site nearby, and there is a dump station relatively near as well. You can stay a limit of 15 nights at this campground and you will need a recreation passport to enter the site. You can order recreation passports online or pick one up in the park.

Pines Campground

Pines Campground offers some lovely shaded sites with electric hookups, and some, but not all, will also have water hookups as well. There are no sewer hookups, but they do offer a dump station within the park. The majority of the sites are covered in grass or dirt. Many of the lots can hold up to a 50-foot long trailer or RV. Amenities included are a fire ring, picnic table, restrooms, and hot showers. Keep in mind that many of the amenities will be shared with another campsite. The lots are rather small, but quite private. You will need a recreation passport to enter the campground, and you can either order one online or pick one up at the park headquarters. You are allowed to stay a maximum of 15 nights.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Wilderness State Park

In-Season

Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting has become a huge pastime in the last few years at the park. They have a special area along Big Stone Bay in which you are allowed to use a metal detector. There are a few rules that you have to follow on your journey to find treasure. You will have to turn everything that you find into the staff for them to decide whether you are allowed to keep your treasure. Some of the things you find will have historic significance and need to be further investigated. So the next time you decide to stop by in your RV make sure you bring your metal detector and go treasure hunting.

Skiing

In the winter, there is a 10-mile cross-country skiing trail available. It is a part of the North Country Trail that runs from New York to North Dakota. It runs through seven states and covers over 4,000 miles. Remember to dress warmly on the trails and bring a map and a compass with you when you go. If you have never been skiing, then you can learn from Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, also known as "the Porkies." They have been in business with this park for many years and they open for skiing in January. Be sure to check their website to stay up to date on when their season begins. They also offer rentals in case you forgot to bring your skis.

Fishing

In the summer, fishing is one of the many things that you have the opportunity to do at Wilderness State Park. There are over 11,000 inland lakes and fishing spots in Michigan. If you are older than 16 years old, you will need to purchase a fishing license. Be sure to follow the rules and regulations. There is also winter fishing available in some areas, so ask the staff where you can find the nearest fishing hole.

Off-Season

Hunting

You will need a valid hunting license regardless of your age if you plan to hunt. The price of the license will be determined on the type of game you wish to hunt. You are required to follow all hunting rules and regulations when you step onto the hunting grounds. No hunting is allowed within 50 feet of mowed areas. Deer, bears, turkeys, elk, waterfowl and small game are available in their respected seasons. If you are interested in trapping and fur harvesting, then you will need a different license.

Geocaching

Wilderness State Park is one of the many parks that participate in geocaching, which is a perfect activity that gets you out of the RV and into the wilderness. The park has a geocaching trail with 16 areas for you to find treasure with your family. To participate in geocaching, you will need a few things - a device that offers GPS, a pen or pencil, a sense of adventure, a pair of sturdy hiking boots, your own treasure to trade, and a water bottle. You can also bring along snacks just in case you get hungry, but remember to take your trash with you when you leave. Be sure to keep the cache area as undisturbed as you found it to keep the spirit of adventure alive.

Hiking

Over 16 miles of trails are available for hiking. The North Country Trail is also available for hiking and runs from New York to North Dakota. The trails are very woody and you are advised to bring a map and a compass with you when you go hiking. Remember to bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a water bottle to stay hydrated. The trails are open all year round and are maintained by the park.

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