Plan the ultimate camping vacation up north with this Lake Superior Camping Guide. The itinerary includes Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Wondering about the best places to camp along Lake Superior? We have camped along this pristine lake within the USA and have put together this Lake Superior Camping Itinerary for you.
We love to camp along the Great Lakes. A few years ago we Circled Lake Michigan adding some stops along Lake Superior.
It took some time, but we finished the Lake Superior circle over the summer, adding in Wisconsin and Minnesota to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
While there are numerous campgrounds along the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, we have only included ones we are familiar with. All but one are public campgrounds, including municipal campgrounds, state parks, and national parks.
Best Lake Superior Campgrounds
This itinerary is set to go from east to west, starting and ending at the Canadian border. Whether you do all or part of the itinerary, you are certain to have a fantastic trip along the big lake called Gitche Gumee.
This is a 17-night 800+ mile itinerary, that does not include your travel to and from the lake. Suggestions on where to shorten the trip are scattered throughout this post.
Michigan State Park reservations can be made six months in advance. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required for entry into all MI state parks and harbors.
Minnesota State Park reservations can be made 120 days in advance. A Minnesota State Parks Vehicle Permit is required for entry into all MN parks and recreation areas.
For all other campgrounds, reservation information is included in the description.
Lake Superior Camping in Michigan
With 917 miles of shoreline along Superior, there is a lot to do and see along the lake in Michigan.
If you want to camp along Lake Michigan or Lake Huron in lower Michigan, then check out our Circle Mitten of Michigan Camping Itinerary.
|Destination||Recommended Stay||Don’t Miss This|
|Aune-Osborne Campground||1||Soo Locks|
|Brimley State Park||1||the beach|
|Tahquamenon State Park||2||the falls, Shipwreck Museum|
|Munising Tourist Park||2||Pictured Rocks Nat’l Lakeshore|
|Marquette Tourist Park||2||Little Presque Isle|
|Fort Wilkins Historic State Park||1||Copper Harbor Lighthouse|
|McLain State Park||1||sunset over Lake Superior|
|Porcupine Mountains State Park||2||Lake of the Clouds|
Aune-Osborn Campground sits along the St. Mary’s River in Sault Ste. Marie, which makes it the perfect place to watch great lakes freighters going to and from the Soo Locks. Many sites are close together, but it is all about the views of the river and Canada beyond.
Our review of Aune-Osborn Campground includes reservation information.
There is a large grassy area with benches along the river that give you a full view of the freighters going by, in case you do not secure one of the waterfront sites.
Things to do near Aune-Osborn
The Soo Locks are the main attraction in the area. We took a Soo Locks Boat Tour through the locks. It was amazing to experience the 21-foot water height difference between the lakes. You can also watch the boats go through the locks.
Other Sault Ste. Marie Attractions include the following:
- Valley Camp Museum
- Tower of History
- International Bridge
Brimley State Park
Just minutes west of Sault Ste. Marie is Brimley State Park. Our recommendation stems from the beauty of the park.
With 237 campsites, this great campground has access to a beautiful sandy beach with views of Canada. It is a great place to relax. Consider a day visit if you need to cut nights from your trip.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls is the most popular state park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is home to the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi.
350 campsites are spread out over five campgrounds in this large state park. The closest campground to the falls is Portage.
Campground details can be found in our review of Tahquamenon SP. You will also learn why the water over the falls is brown.
While you can see Tahquamenon Falls in 1 day, we recommend 2 nights, particularly if you want to explore the area or visit the shipwreck museum.
Things to do in and around Tahquamenon
There is not much in the way of commercial attractions because the park is so remote. Within the park you can hike, canoe, fish, look for wildlife, or attend a ranger walk.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point is recommended. See the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald and enjoy views from the lighthouse.
Munising Tourist Park Campground
We stayed at Munising Tourist Park, which is a municipal campground 3 miles west of Munising. This campground offers both modern and rustic campsites, many along the shores of Lake Superior.
There is a beach with accessible access, a shower house, laundry facilities, and there is wifi available.
Optional Camping near Munising
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has three rustic campgrounds with 67 campsites total. There are no water, electric, or sewer sites available. Reservations are encouraged, particularly during July and August.
Bay Furnace Campground is just west of the tourist park.
Things to do in Munising
- see Pictured Rocks by boat (rent a kayak or take a boat tour)
- visit Grant Island (take the 3-hour Grand Island Interpretive Bus Tour or explore by bike or foot)
- check out area shipwrecks by boat or diving
- see waterfalls
- mountain bike
Marquette Tourist Park
Marquette Tourist Park is a municipal campground with 110 campsites located a mile from Lake Superior. This modern campground is well maintained by friendly staff and a caring manager. I can’t say enough about how much pride they take in the park!
The park also has a playground, picnic tables, a small lake with a beach, and a kid’s mountain bike course.
Things to do in Marquette
Marquette is our favorite town in the UP. There is so much to do!
- walk or bike around town on the city bike path
- mountain bike or hike on the Noquemanon Trail
- tour the Marquette Maritime Museum
- shop or dine in town
- watch freighters being loaded
- visit Presque Isle Park
Presque Isle Park
We visited this park four times in our 2-day stay in Marquette. The road within the park is closed to vehicle traffic for 2 hours a day Saturday through Thursday.
It is fun to walk or bike through the park. There are numerous overlooks with amazing views of Lake Superior.
The Black Rocks are a popular spot for jumping into the lake. We saw a few jumpers when we visited, but we did not partake ourselves.
Sunset Point is a great place to watch the sunset. Stop for some ice cream on the way out of the park.
Keweenaw Peninsula Camping
The Keweenaw Peninsula is a beautiful place to go camping. If you need to shorten this itinerary, cut this portion and save yourself two nights and 134 miles.
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park
Fort Wilkins State Park includes living history exhibits of frontier military life, which kept the area’s law and order during the Copper Rush. Twelve buildings from as far back as the 1840s remain in the park.
The campground has an east and west section with a total of 161 sites. There is no cell service, but the park does have some unreliable wifi at the bathhouse.
You can explore the cute town of Copper Harbor, take a boat trip to see the lighthouse, view waterfalls, or take in beautiful views of Lake Superior.
McLain State Park
Travel along MI-26 or on Brockway Mountain Drive as you head west out of Copper Harbor. Stop and check out a view at one of the many parks or scenic outlooks along the way.
The campground has 98 modern reservable sites along the lake. The shower house is quite nice.
McLain State Park is a great place to search for agates and sodalite rocks. You can also go to the beach, hike, or pick berries.
McLain is great for viewing spectacular sunsets over Lake Superior.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Michigan’s largest state park is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This pristine wilderness has over 93 square miles of beautiful scenery. Numerous hiking trails lead to waterfalls, rivers, and amazing views of Lake Superior.
225 campsites are located throughout the park. Two nights are recommended to be able to see this huge park. We suggest one night at the modern Union Bay Campground and the other at the rustic Presque Isle Campground.
Lake of the Clouds, which has an ADA access trail, is one of the favorite spots to visit in the park. We also recommend Summit Peak Observation Tower.
Apostle Islands in Wisconsin
There are 400 miles of Wisconsin shoreline along Lake Superior. We focus on Bayfield as it is the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, highlighting the various camping options.
|Destination||Recommended Stay||Don’t Miss This|
|Apostle Islands Area||2||Apostle Islands Tour|
Apostle Islands Camping
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore consists of 21 islands and a 12-mile segment along the Bayfield Peninsula. There is camping available on 18 of the islands and at one campground on the mainland, but none of the campsites are accessible by car or RV.
The mainland campground is accessible only by hiking or kayaking. The island campgrounds are only accessible by sea kayak, motor boat, sailboat, or shuttle service.
Reservations are required for this national park property and can be made 30 days in advance. Get all the information on the NPS website.
Madeline Island Camping
Madeline Island is the largest of the Apostle Islands but is not part of the National Lakeshore. It is the only Apostle Island that allows commercial development and private ownership.
There are 350 year-round residents on the island and 2500 residents in the summer months.
Big Bay State Park Campground
Big Bay is a popular place to camp. This 2,350-acre state park has 60 campsites, 21 of which are electric.
Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Superior, a beach and boardwalk, swimming, and hiking. You can also explore the island by car or bicycle.
This campground is particularly difficult to get into because the Wisconsin State Park reservation window is 11 months in advance. I never plan that far ahead but have found some luck finding open sites due to cancellations. A vehicle admission sticker is required to visit Big Bay.
The island is accessible by ferry which can accommodate large recreation vehicles. No reservations are required for a ferry ride.
There are a few options for camping on the mainland in Bayfield, Wisconsin.
Dalrymple Park Campground is operated by the City of Bayfield. This first-come, first-served basis campground is located along the shore.
There are 28 campsites. Sites are small, therefore only suitable for smaller RVs and tent camping.
Show up early to secure a weekend site!
Apostles Islands Area Campground
I did not want to risk showing up at Dalrymple and not getting a site, so I made a reservation for Apostle Islands Area Campground. This is the only private campground on the itinerary.
This campground is located up the hill from the lake. It has 63 campsites, many with full hookups. This well-maintained campground has level sites and nice facilities. We enjoyed the swimming pond on a hot day.
Things to Do Near Bayfield WI
When you arrive in Bayfield, you will find a lot to do:
- visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Headquarters
- take a boat tour or charter around the islands
- visit shops and restaurants in the charming town
- watch the harbor from Bayfield Civic League Memorial Park
- explore Red Cliff
- kayak from Meyers Beach to the sea caves
- hike at Apostle Islands Maritime Cliffs State Natural Area
Lake Superior Camping in Minnesota
While it is only 145 miles from Duluth to the border of Canada, there is so much to see and do along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. You can even divert from the lakeshore and head into the Boundary Waters on the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais.
There are several state parks along Highway 61 that offer camping and scenic views. Check out waterfalls and views at Gooseberry Falls, Temperance River, or Tettegouche State Park.
|Destination||Recommended Stay||Don’t Miss This|
|Enger Tower||0||these views of Duluth & lake|
|Split Rock Lighthouse State Park||1||tour the lighthouse|
|Cascade River State Park||1||walk to the falls|
|Grand Marais||0||lighthouse, Artist’s Point|
|Judge CR Magney State Park||1||hike to Devil’s Kettle Falls|
|Grand Portage||0||national monument & state park|
Duluth is a great place to restock your groceries and take care of any other needs. Visit Enger Tower for amazing views of the city, lake, and the Aerial Lift Bridge.
While not on the itinerary, Spirit Mountain Campground is a good choice if you want to stay in the city. Ride the chairlift up and down for more incredible views of Lake Superior.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Split Rock has several camping options: the brand-new modern Shipwreck Creek Campground with RV sites, a campground with cart-in sites, and backcountry campsites. The new campground is a MUST stay!
There is a nice modern shower house and nice vault toilets around the campground. There is no dump station, so plan ahead!
Read our review of Shipwreck Creek Campground.
The admission to see the lighthouse, visitor center, and historic grounds is worth it. Take the trail down to the Tramway Building and beyond for incredible views of the lighthouse perched up on the rock.
Cascade River State Park
A short drive north of Split Rock is Cascade River State Park. This campground has 40 campsites, some of which have electrical hookups.
The newer shower house has a dishwashing sink on the north side of the building.
From the campground, an easy hike will take you to the waterfalls. The Cascades are viewed from a wooden bridge that spans the gorge.
We enjoyed the more challenging hike up to Lookout Mountain, which afforded us expansive views of Lake Superior.
Grand Marais is an adorable town on the North Shore. There are many cute shops and restaurants.
Park at the Artist Point Parking lot and walk out to the lake to see the lighthouse and point.
An added bonus is the Gunflint Trail, which starts in Grand Marais. This 57-mile paved scenic road has easy access to the Boundary Waters in the Superior National Forest. We had a great time paddling around in a canoe.
Grand Marais is also a great place to catch a seaplane or ferry to Isle Royale National Park.
Judge CR Magney State Park
The campground at Judge CR Magney State Park has 27 rustic sites with a picnic table and a fire ring. The older bathhouse has flush toilets and showers. Potable water is available in the campground.
The draw of this small park is the Devil’s Kettle. A moderate hike with a lot of steps takes you to this unusual waterfall.
Half of the water from the falls disappears into a hole. Lots of theories as to where the water goes have been disproven.
We thought the hike to these strange falls was worth it.
Grand Portage National Monument shows the partnership of the Grand Portage Ojibwe and the North West Company during the North American fur trade.
The Heritage Center has exhibits of canoe routes and the fur trade and Anishinaabeg Ojibwe heritage. The Grand Portage Stockade has living history demonstrations. Well worth the stop!
On the edge of the Canadian border is Grand Portage State Park. Take High Falls Trails from the beautiful visitor’s center to see Minnesota’s tallest waterfall. The river separates the United States from Canada.
This great location has a picnic area, a modern bathroom, and a gift shop.
Canadian Lake Superior Camping Suggestions
If you want to complete the 1200+ mile circle around Lake Superior, then you will have to go into Canada. We have not visited this side of the lake, but a friend suggests the following stops:
- Thunder Bay
- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
- Rainbow Falls Provincial Park
- Pukaskwa National Park
- Lake Superior Provincial Park (Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground or Agawa Bay Campground)
- Pancake Bay Provincial Park
We hope to complete the entire circle sometime soon.