Camping on South Manitou Island is only permitted at three following locations:
The Bay Campground is the closest campground to the dock, so if you want to minimize the hike with a pack but want a great camp site with only a short walk to the beach, this is the campground for you. Bring water filtration equipment because there is no source of purified drinking water. There are 25 individual sites and 3 group sites.
The Weather Station Campground overlooks Lake Michigan from the bluffs on the south side of the island. Camp sites are well secluded from each other and have fire pits for open fires. Follow the wooded trail past the lighthouse about 1.3 miles to the campground. Bring water filtration equipment because there is no source of purified drinking water. There are 20 individual sites and 3 group sites.
The Popple Campground is the furthest from the dock (about 3.5 miles), so you are likely to have fewer people camping there. The campground is close to the beach on the northern tip of the island. Bring water filtration equipment because there is no source of purified drinking water. There are 7 individual sites
Low impact camping is the rule to minimize human impact on the fragile natural resources.
There is no transportation for camp gear so you must pack it in (travel light). Food should be stored in hard containers or hung from a line to thwart chipmunks.
Don't take firewood to the 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. Transporting firewood when camping on the islands means you risk carrying tree-killing insects and diseases inside the firewood. The pests can spread to the trees and forest at the campground and begin to destroy those trees and forests. Help slow the spread of pests by gathering dead and down wood on the islands for firewood.
Community (shared) fire rings are provided in the Bay and Weather Station campgrounds only.
Reservations for group campsites at Bay and Weather Station campgrounds can be made (up to one year in advance) on-line and over the phone through Recreation.gov:
South Manitou Island group sites online reservation
If you have questions, please call the park at 231-326-4700.
The fee for group camping does not include transportation to the island. Check out our Plan your trip to the islands page for information on ferry reservations and other considerations for your trip.
Last updated: August 28, 2019