Backcountry Regulations

North Manitou Island Back Country Regulations

North Manitou is managed as wilderness with the exception of an 27-acre area around the village located along the east side of the island. Travel in the wilderness area is by foot only. We ask that visitors practice the 7-principles of Leave No Trace to ensure the wilderness is preserved for future generations to enjoy.


  • Camping permit and fee payment must be completed before camping.
  • Camping is strictly prohibited within 300 feet of the Lake Michigan high water mark, lakes, streams, ponds, springs, other campsites, and buildings, including historic farm structures.
  • Must camp at least 200 feet from trails.
  • The Village Campground contains seven designated individual sites and one group campsite on a first come first serve basis. There is a limit of two tents and four people per individual sites, group camping is limited to 5-10 people within the designated group site.
  • Campsite "improvements" such as the construction of rock walls, log benches, tree bough beds, new fire rings, and trenches are prohibited.


  • Open fires are prohibited in the wilderness area.
  • Fires are prohibited on the beach
  • Fires are permitted in community fires rings in the Village campground when weather conditions permit
  • Waste food and trash should not be burned in the fire pits
  • Keep fires small and do not leave them unattended.
  • All fires must be properly extinguished with water prior to departure or when left unattended
  • Dead and down wood may be collected for fires in the village campground. Gas stoves are permitted in the wilderness area.


  • Potable water is available only in the village. All other water should be treated.
  • Washing is not permitted at/in any water source
  • Outhouses are located only in the village and Village Campground.
  • All human waste and toilet paper must be buried at least 6 inches deep or packed out.
  • Solid human waste holes (cat holes) must be used out of sight and at least 100 feet from trails, campsites, buildings and must be 300 feet from water.
  • Info on water and sanitation.


  • Because of animals, campers should not store any food in tents or backpacks. Food should be stored in durable bags and suspended from a tree about 6 feet above the ground.
  • All trash must be packed out. Trash cans are located in the Village. Please place empty fuel cans next to the cans.


  • State of Michigan fishing license is required
  • Only artificial lures are allowed on or in Lake Manitou, and Tamarack Lake
  • Bass must be at least 18 inches in size and there is a daily limit of one
  • Boats without motors are permitted on the inland lakes, (wheels may not be used in transporting boats to the lakes)
  • Any watercraft brought to the island to be used in the inland lakes must be decontaminated free of charge by rangers to prevent the spread of non-natives.


  • Pets are prohibited on the island due to disturbance to visitors and wildlife
  • Bicycles, wheeled vehicles, motorized equipment are prohibited.
  • Explosives including fireworks are prohibited
  • Because of nesting piping plover, an endangered species, Dimmicks's Point area is closed to hikers from May 1st through August 15th.
  • Boaters may use the dock for unloading and loading only. Maximum tie-up time is 30 minutes and must not interfere with ferry service operations.
  • North Manitou Island DOES NOT have protected anchorage. Boaters who anchor their craft offshore do so at their own risk.

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