In the northwestern portion of Michigan’s “mitten,” sandwiched between two picturesque inland lakes is Interlochen State Park. The 200-acre virgin white pine park is a popular spot to kick back and enjoy the beautiful scenery, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, water skiing, or swimming. Touring opportunities abound: From the internationally recognized Interlochen Center for the Arts just across the street to nearby Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Read on to find out what you need to know about camping at Interlochen State Park:
Campground: Interlochen State Park’s campground is HUGE! While there are site numbers up to the 500s, I would estimate there were around 450 sites divided into two areas, which may make helping you select a great site a bit challenging. But before I discuss sites in those two areas there are two things that you MUST know about this campground:
- There are trees EVERYWHERE! This was truly one of the most difficult campgrounds I have had to navigate. There are trees near the edge of the roads and many sites have trees in scattered locations that (depending on the size of your camper) make backing-in/pulling-out difficult at best and in some cases just plain crazy hard. (But don’t let this scare you away from the campground: If you plan ahead and read more, there are still plenty of great sites!)
- Some parts of the campground have two to four sites sharing ONE electrical box! In the video below I stated that it might take 100-150 feet of electrical cord to connect: Kristin made me measure and I overstated things a bit, so I stand corrected. Several sites, though, will require 50+ feet of cord because you will have to run the cord under your camper and then a further distance to the box. We saw several campers who had their 30 amp cords plugged into a regular utility extension cord then plugged into the box (yikes!).
North Campground (sites 1-220)
- If you have a big rig you almost have to be in the North Campground loop. The pull-through sites are 50 amp and are very nice. They do not offer the most privacy or direct views of the lake but these sites were occupied by some very large rigs that seemed to have no issues getting into the sites.
- Sites 17-39 (the odd sites only) are a bit crowded but offer 50 amp and great views of the lake.
- Site 49 is a gem: It is 50 amp, fairly long, and has a very large awning-side campsite area.
- Sites 159-200 are in a heavily wooded area where navigation around trees becomes a big challenge for larger rigs.
South Campground (sites 300-506):
- All sites that back up to another site (i.e. all sites that are on the interior of loops) will share an electrical box with at least one other campsite and possibly up to three other sites.
- Many of the sites to the north of the roadway that splits this loop are very sloped and therefore not on my suggested list of sites.
- Sites 353, 354, 355, 357, 358, and 359 offer some of the most private sites in the campground.
- Our site, 383, was very nice since it was paved and fairly large. However, the scattered trees made backing in and then pulling out VERY DIFFICULT! On the way out it took Kristin and another gentleman watching both sides of the camper so I didn’t scrape any trees.
- Site 389 is a gem because it has a great view of the lake and is a fairly large campsite. And since the bathroom parking lot is across from it, it would be a lot easier to back in and out of it.
The campground was not strict about how you parked your rig on the campsite. People arranged their sites in all kinds of creative ways. Our fire pit and site had not been tidied up after the last guests, and we did not see state park staff patrolling like we have seen at other Michigan state parks.
I have included a video of the campground below to help you get a feel for it:
And here are some pictures from the campground:
Bathrooms: The two North Campground bathrooms have been remodeled and were in good working order. The South Campground has two bathrooms as well: The one in the middle of the South Campground is larger and has more showers. The South Campground bathrooms have not been remodeled: A few faucets did not work properly and the showers had “rusty” shower heads. During our stay the bathrooms didn’t stay the cleanest, but that is likely due to there not being enough bathrooms/showers to adequately service this very large campground.
Amenities: In addition to access to the two beautiful lakes, there were a great deal of amenities right in the campground:
- multiple boat launches
- a swimming beach
- camp store
- sand volleyball
- baseball field
- basketball court
- picnic pavilion
Touring: Right across the street from Interlochen State Park is the world renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts, where students from 3rd grade to adulthood can participate in art education programs. We had read that some people camp at the state park and then bike or walk across the street to attend free concerts and events.
Also nearby in the city of Interlochen is Bud’s, which was the perfect spot to snag a scoop of ice cream. Yummo!
Another popular nearby touring destination is Traverse City, but we only had time to drive through because we spent every free moment at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This was our second visit to the region–the last visit was five years ago when our littlest was still a baby! Now he’s 6! Kristin and I both agree that Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of our favorite places that we have visited thus far in our travels! Check out the video recap I made from our dune climb:
While we were in the national park, we drove through the NPS Platte River Campground and we will DEFINITELY plan ahead and camp there on our return trip as it was one of the nicest NPS campgrounds we have ever seen. The sites are well-spaced and some even offer electric hook ups. Kristin also did a quick tour of the bathrooms, and they received her stamp of approval. The challenge is that many sites there cannot accommodate our length camper, and the sites that are big enough book quickly! (The electric campsites have a six-month reservation window.)
Here are some more photos from our visit to this beautiful part of the country. (We’re working on creating a post with tips for visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes, so stay tuned!)
Dates of Stay: 6/22-25/2017
Cost: $23 per night + $8 online reservation fee + Michigan state park passport fee.*
*Michigan DNR sites require a passport for entry. It’s $11 annually for residents, $9 for a daily nonresident pass, or $32 for an annual nonresident pass. We went ahead and purchased the annual pass, since we were scheduled to camp at several Michigan state parks on this trip.