Sleeping Bear Dunes Camping: Discover the Best Campgrounds

8 Exceptional Campgrounds in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes camping is a must-do activity on any Michigan bucket list. Located in the beautiful Glen Arbor and Empire Michigan, along the stunning shores of Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a popular camping destination in the lower peninsula. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV sites, we’ve compiled a list of the top campgrounds you’ll want to explore when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes: What You Should Know

Before you embark on your camping adventure, here are a few important things to keep in mind:


Be aware of ticks, as they can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. As an extra precaution, avoid tall grasses and wear protective clothing. For more information on tick bites and how to recognize them, refer to the CDC’s webpage on the topic.

Be A Responsible Camper

It’s essential to leave your campsite in the same condition, if not better, than you found it. Take a few minutes before you leave to pick up any loose garbage, even if it’s not yours.

Campfire Safety

Always ensure that fire pits are completely extinguished, especially on dry days.

Garbage Disposal

Make sure bathroom doors and trashcan lids are securely shut to prevent critters from rummaging through your scraps. If you notice anything broken or not closing properly, notify a park ranger or employee on your way out.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park Passes

To access any of the campsites, you’ll need to purchase an Entrance Pass to the park. Standard passes start at $15/person and $25/vehicle per day, while annual passes start at $45. Passes can be acquired at various locations within the park. Campsite reservations, which incur a separate fee, can be made online or by calling the Reservation Center from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. at 1-877-444-6777.

Best Campgrounds in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Best Spot for Back Country Camping: South Manitou Island

For experienced campers, South Manitou Island offers a backcountry experience with miles of sand dune and forest hiking trails. Keep in mind that cellphone service is limited, so come prepared. The Bay Campground, located closest to the island’s dock, offers 25 individual camping sites and three group sites. Popple Campground is a 3.5-mile hike from the dock, while The Weather Station Campground is about a mile from the lighthouse.

Most Popular Camping: Platte River Campground

Reservations fill up quickly for this campsite, so it’s best to book in advance if you’re interested in camping along the Platte River. Open year-round, this site offers a range of camping options, from RV camping to tent camping and even backcountry camping. It features amenities such as showers, cell phone reception, an amphitheater, and potable water. Eight campsites are wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact the site’s management at 231-326-4700.

RV-Only Campsite: Indigo Bluffs RV Park and Resort

Located in Empire, MI, just a short drive from Sleeping Bear National Park, Indigo Bluffs offers RV park, resort, and cottage options. Camping fees start at $45 for RVs, $75 for the resort, and $200/night for cottages. The resort provides easy access to many of the park’s trails, including the Empire Bluffs Trail, Alligator Hill Trail, and the Old Indian Trail loop. Indigo Bluffs offers various amenities, such as pet-friendly facilities, Wi-Fi, laundry services, and RV hookup sites. Enjoy additional modern amenities like a heated pool, bathhouses, an outdoor gaming area, and a playground.

Tent-Only Camping: D.H. Day Campground

D.H. Day Campground offers the quintessential camping experience, with easy access to the dunes and nearby attractions like the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and Glen Lake. With 87 sites, the campground provides amenities such as a dump station, potable water, and internet access. It’s a perfect location for exploring the dunes and the charming town of Glen Arbor. Just a 15-minute hike away is Glen Haven, a restored port village. Keep in mind that there are no food storage lockers on site, so plan accordingly.

More Tent and RV Camping Near Sleeping Bear Dunes

  • Garey Lake Campground: Managed by Interlochen State Park, this rustic campground offers 13 cozy campsites near picturesque Garey Lake. Amenities include vault toilets, a hand pump for fresh drinking water, and a boat launch. Horseback riders are also welcome. Sites are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so reservations are not required.

  • Empire Township Campground: This 60-site campground in Empire offers campsites for both tents and RVs. Electric hookups, showers, wood, and ice are available on-site.

  • Brown Dog Farm in Cedar Michigan: This unique RV site offers a dog-friendly camping experience near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While there are no toilets, water, or electric hookups, you’ll enjoy a fabulous Leelanau County location and access to amazing camping near Sleeping Bear Dunes.

  • Lake Leelanau RV Park: With 196 spacious campsites equipped with full hookups, Lake Leelanau RV Park provides a range of amenities, including water, electricity, and sewer connections.

Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes and immerse yourself in the beauty of Michigan’s natural wonders. Plan your camping trip today and create unforgettable memories in this breathtaking national lakeshore.

About the Author:
Molly Grossman is a content writer and researcher with a passion for arts and nature. Currently pursuing her degree in English with a minor in business, she spends her free time hiking in local parks and indulging in a good book. Although not a native Michigander, Molly adores the state’s natural wonders and takes advantage of its backpacking opportunities. Ambassadeur Hotel