I’ve wanted to camp at the Lake Michigan at Manistee campground in the Manistee National Forest for years now. The campground is located between Manistee and Ludington on the shore of Lake Michigan and borders the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. The campground has four loops, two of which can be reserved in advance. First-come, first-serve campgrounds make me nervous, but I was able to secure a reservation for the weekend after the fourth of July without much difficulty. All of the sites are rustic (no electric or water) but two of the loops do have flush toilets (the other two have vault toilets) so I chose to stay in the orchid loop.
After two nights at Orchard Beach State Park, we moved to this campground for the weekend. Cell signal is pretty much nonexistent in the campground so this is not a place we would be able to stay when Chris needs to work. The sites here are very big and wooded giving great privacy. Even though we were here the weekend after the 4th of July, it was very quiet and not crowded at all. Every evening, families flocked to the beach to watch the sunset.
There is a hiking and biking trail from the campground to the beach. From the beach area, trails connect to the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Nordhouse Dunes is a 3500 acre undeveloped Wilderness Area along Lake Michigan with miles of trails through the woods. It is also one of the few areas in the lower peninsula where you can do dispersed camping. It is always fun to walk through and see the hammocks hanging in the trees along the cliff, looking down at the water.
Overall, Lake Michigan at Manistee is a wonderful rustic campground on Lake Michigan. It is a great place to reconnect with nature. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and is on our list of campgrounds to revisit. Reservations can be made 6 months in advance at Recreation.gov.