do not feed wildlife sign

15 Essential Tips For Camping In The Upper Peninsula Of Michigan

Camping in the upper peninsula of Michigan can be an amazing experience, but there are a few things you should consider and plan for before starting out.

Whether you’ve been camping a few times or are a complete beginner, keep in mind that camping (especially in remote areas) requires preparation and consideration of weather, trails conditions, wildlife habits, proper gear, and site availability.

The best way to have a great trip is to plan ahead!

hiking boots, water bottle, first aid kit

Ready to start planning your next U.P. camping trip? Great!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article….

15 Essential Tips For Camping In The Upper Peninsula

Thinking of camping in the U.P? Here are a few tips to keep in mind!

Pack Any Special Food You Need

When camping in a new location, it’s always best to be prepared. If you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, make sure to pack your own supply of that food. In the U.P., there are several camping spots that do not offer nearby grocery stores and those that do may not have what you need or want.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen And Most Importantly- Bug Spray

Bugs can be terrible in the U.P. depending on where you stay and the season. Not every town or store will have your preferred products so be sure to bring your own.

spraying bug spray on legs

Check For Ticks

There are many tick-borne illnesses so it’s important to check for ticks!

To help prevent ticks from attaching themselves to you or your pet, consider using insect repellents or permethrin, and always check yourselves (and pets) for ticks during and after camping.

Be Aware Of Bear Protocols

Every camping location has different procedures on what to do if you encounter a bear and the best ways to avoid them. Be sure to check with the camping location or the DNR for proper protocols.

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources has a great article about bear safety with tips that could literally save your life!

bear in area sign

Plan For Health Needs And Emergencies

Whether camping in the U.P. or at home, it’s always good to plan for possible health needs and emergencies (in case you need medical attention).

Be sure to bring any medications, a well-stocked first aid kit, and know where the nearest hospital or medical center is in relation to where you are staying.

Trust me on this one- it’s no fun to need a hospital and not know where it is. (PS- there is no hospital in Mackinac City, it is across the bridge in St. Ignace. Ask me how I know……)

Also, be sure to bring extra food and water in case you get stuck due to weather, car trouble, or any other mishap.

Check Cell Phone Coverage Map (And Bring Back-Up Communication)

Cell signal in the U.P. can be awful! That’s not always a bad thing, but if you have an emergency, need help, or are trying to contact someone for any reason, you need to know where you will have a signal and if you need to use another form of communication.

Coverage maps aren’t always totally accurate, but they will give you an idea.

emergency supplies

Check The Weather, Pack Extra

Depending on where you live, whether in the U.P. could be a little colder at times-especially if you’re near one of the Great Lakes or enjoying a fall camping trip.

Be sure to pack an extra sweater or hoodie, a pair of long pants, and socks. You may have those on your list in the spring or fall, but bring at least one of each in the summer too.

It can get chilly at night (and long clothes help keep mosquito bites to a minimum!)

Make Reservations Early

Camping in the upper peninsula is a favorite summer activity for a lot of people, so be sure to make your reservations early. Also, just an FYI- while this is changing, many campgrounds still do not offer online reservations so you may have to email or call.

weather forecast on a tablet

Practice Using Your Equipment Before You Go

Are you new to camping? Have a new tent or RV? Has it been a few years since you enjoyed the outdoors?

It’s awesome that you’re going out into the great outdoors, but be sure to check all of your equipment (including your first aid kit) before you go.

Make sure you have all of the parts and pieces and you know how to use them so you don’t get stuck trying to put up a new tent in the rain (again, ask me how I know…) or without essential equipment.

Don’t rely on your phone or GPS for directions

Phone service, GPS, and wi-fi are spotty in the upper peninsula so be sure to print out directions or bring an up-to-date map.

looking at a map for directions

Bring Proper Shoes/Boots

Wear (or at least bring) closed-toe shoes when camping because camping sites can often be rocky, have roots and branches, or, if you plan to do any hiking, you will need shoes or boots- sandals or flip flops probably won’t work well.

Bring A Flashlight (And Extra Batteries!)

Camping in remote areas can mean no electrical lights.

While there may be another camper nearby with a flashlight you can borrow if necessary, it’s always good to have one with you especially when camping solo.

person camping holding a flashlight

Leave No Trace

This particular rule applies to camping in general (and should be followed all the time!), but camping in the upper peninsula takes it up a notch, especially when camping at one of Michigan’s beautiful state parks or forest campgrounds.

Be respectful of your camping neighbors and your surroundings- don’t make more noise than you need to, respect wildlife and their habitat, and clean up after yourself.

Basically, try your best to leave no trace that you were ever there.

Be Extra Cautious When Swimming In The Great Lakes

Michigan has more freshwater coastline than any other state and camping near the Great Lakes is lovely. But, please remember that the lakes can be dangerous!

People drown every year because they get in over their heads, get caught in big waves, or find themselves being pulled out to deeper water.

If you do go swimming (in designated areas) be sure you know how to swim well and make sure to always wear a life vest!

large waves on Lake Superior

Do Not Try To Touch The Wildlife

Camping in the upper peninsula and enjoying its beautiful nature means that you will probably encounter some wildlife. Please remember that the animals are wild!

Don’t try to get close, take selfies near them, touch or pick them up, or move them (even if they seem injured!).

If you think an animal needs help, by all means, call the authorities, but please do not go near or touch wild animals.

*2 Bonus Tips For A Better Trip

Here are two extra tips that I felt should be included. While not absolutely necessary, they could help you have a more enjoyable trip 🙂

Be Prepared To Slow Down

In a lot of places, people seem to live a little slower.

Service may not be as fast in a restaurant, traffic may seem slower in some places, and there aren’t as many amenities and options as bigger areas.

While this isn’t the case for every town/city in the U.P., it is for some, so if you’re used to a fast-paced life you may have to adjust your expectations (and be kind to the servers, business owners, and other people working to help you).

But, isn’t a slower pace of life one of the best reasons to visit?

Enjoy As Much As You Can

Getting away from it all can’t last forever, so be sure to enjoy the beauty, adventure, and experience that camping in the upper peninsula has to offer!

And be sure to do it as often as possible 😉

campfire tricks

Last Thoughts About Camping In The Upper Peninsula Of Michigan

Camping in the upper peninsula of Michigan is one of my family’s favorite things to do and I hope you can plan a camping trip up there soon too.

Of course, camping anywhere means being prepared with the right equipment, knowing how to have fun but being safe, and camping ethically-but camping in the U.P. adds a few extra precautions and things to consider (especially if camping near the Great Lakes).

I hope this article was helpful and you have an amazing camping trip in the upper peninsula!

camping in the upper peninsula

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