Popular State Park Backcountry Campgrounds Available by Reservation Only in 2023

BARAGA COUNTY, MI — Reservations will now be required to camp at backcountry sites at a remote state park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Monday, Aug. 1, that all 22 backcountry campsites at Craig Lake State Park will transition to reserved-only sites beginning with the 2023 camping season. According to the DNR, this change is being made to help combat the degradation of the park’s natural resources and to make it easier to locate campers in the event of an emergency.

Annual visitation to Craig Lake State Park has continued to rise in recent years, reaching just under 69,000 visitors in 2021, according to the DNR, raising concerns about scattered camping in unauthorized areas.

“These changes will help alleviate some of the natural resource degradation issues that are closely linked to unauthorized and scattered camping,” said Craig Lake State Park Supervisor Debra Gill. “By booking campsites in advance, visitors can plan their trips and see which sites are available and which are not. We hope this will help eliminate the unauthorized scattered camping we see when campsites are full.

Gill added that the changes will allow staff to look up visitor location information before entering the field, ultimately allowing for a faster response time in emergency situations.

“Due to the remoteness of Craig Lake State Park, time is of the essence when someone needs assistance, and that will help staff and visitors immensely,” Gill said.

The 2023 backcountry camping season will run from May 20 to November 1. Campers looking to grab one of these remote locations can make reservations six months in advance, starting Nov. 20, 2022. Reservations can be made in the middle of reservations. com or by calling 1-800-44PARKS.

The cost of camping is $20 per night for up to six people per rustic campsite. All backcountry sites are numbered and feature a metal or stone ring of fire.

Backcountry campers will need to visit the nearby Van Riper State Park Campground office to check in before entering the backcountry.

Check-in times are posted from noon to 7 p.m. May 20-October 1 at the Van Riper State Park Campground Office. At all other times, visitors should use the yellow telephone located at the Van Riper State Park Campground Office.

See the park’s map and backcountry camping information at Michigan.gov/CraigLake.

Craig Lake State Park is the most remote state park in the state park system and spans more than 8,400 acres in Baraga County, according to the state. The park contains six full lakes and many small ponds as well as a variety of wildlife.

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