Backcountry Camping

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers some of the best backpacking in Michigan. Choose from these 4 options for a unique backcountry experience. Review the Backcountry Camping Regulations before you come.

White Pine Backcountry Camp - Permits for White Pine may be obtained at the Platte River Campground Ranger Station during the summer or from the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center the rest of the year. This camp has 6 sites and is located about 2 miles from the Trail's End Road trailhead on the Platte Plains hiking trail south of Empire just off of M-22. The camp is located about 1/2 mile from the Lake Michigan shore where you can obtain fresh water. There is no well water at White Pine, so if you use water from Lake Michigan, it must be treated before drinking it. See a map and picture of a typical camp site.

South Manitou Island - Camping is permitted at only three locations - the Bay (25 Individual Sites and 3 Group Sites), Weather Station (20 Individual Sites and 3 Group Sites), and Popple Campgrounds (7 Individual Sites). Obtain a map of the island and hiking trails when you get your permit. Low impact camping is the rule. This minimizes human impact on the fragile natural resources. More South Manitou Island information.

North Manitou Island - Wilderness camping regulations are in effect on North Manitou Island. A backcountry permit and fee payment must be completed before camping. Obtain a map of the island and hiking trails when you obtain your permit. All trash must be packed off the island. Camping is allowed almost anywhere on the island except within 300 feet of the Lake Michigan high water mark, lakes, streams, ponds, springs, buildings or other camps. Camping is prohibited on any trail.

The only designated campground is the Village Campground contains 8 designated campsites, 2 fire rings and one outhouse. There is a limit of 2 tents and 4 people per site. More North Manitou Island information.

Don't take firewood to the islands! The State of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine strictly prohibits transporting firewood to North and South Manitou Islands. Island campers may collect dead and down wood found on the island for personal use during their visit; however, unused wood must remain on the island.


Backcountry Camping Regulations

  1. Camping Permits and Park Passes are required.
  2. Pets are prohibited in the campgrounds.
  3. Camp only in designated sites (does not apply to North Manitou Island).
  4. Fires are permitted only in the communal metal fire rings.
  5. Use down and dead wood only.
  6. Do not leave a fire burning unattended. Put out all fires before leaving the campground.
  7. Carry out all trash.
  8. Snowmobiles, bicycles, or any wheeled vehicle is prohibited from being on the trail or in the campground.

Last updated: December 22, 2017

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