Camping on South Manitou Island

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Planning a backpacking trip to the Manitou Islands? Check out these prep tips from a ranger.


Camping on South Manitou Island is only permitted at three following locations:


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.

Individual Campsites
Individual sites are limited to 4 persons and 2 tents. Campers must purchase a Backcountry Use Permit before camping (camping fees). Park passes and permits are available at the Fishtown dock in Leland during the summer months. During the off-season, you can contact the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire for permits. Upon arriving at the island, a park ranger will meet you at the dock to complete camper registration and to help you plan your visit.

Community (shared) fire rings are provided in the Bay and Weather Station campgrounds only.

Group Campsites
There are three group campsites at Bay Campground and three group campsites at Weather Station Campground, each designed to hold from 9 to 20 campers (maximum of 10 tents). Group sites are available by reservation 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

South Manitou Island group sites online reservation
Phone reservations: Reservation Center at 1-877-444-6777.
The center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern time.

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: June 2, 2022

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9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

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