The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan offers some of the best backpacking and backcountry camping in the Midwest. Hiking and camping go hand in hand. For a place to be considered a great hiking destination it needs an impressive trail system with good camping.
I have already covered the quality of the hiking trails in a previous post, but the camping in the park deserves a closer look. The backcountry camping in the Porcupine Mountains is exceptional and right up there with places like the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, I think the backcountry campsites in the Porkies are even better than the ones found in the Smokies.
The best part is the variety of camping options and camping places. First of all, you are allowed to camp almost anywhere in the park, which is a plus. The only negative about the make your own camping spot is you cannot build a fire.
There is really no need to find your own camp spot though because there are plenty of designated campsites with campfire rings where you can enjoy a toasty blaze all night. Another benefit of the designated spots is the bear poles. Most designated backcountry camping in the Porkies have bear poles. You can hang your food over 15 feet high in a minute instead of the hassle of hanging your food.
Over the years, many of the backcountry sites have been improvised by previous hikers. Some of the campsites have tables, benches, and along some Lake Superior spots they have protection from the wind.
Speaking of Lake Superior, another awesome aspect about the camping places in the Porcupine Mountains is you have a nice choice of environment. You can camp along a mountain stream on the Little and Big Carp River Trails or you can camp along Lake Superior and watch a beautiful sunset on a rocky great lake shoreline.
Some people enjoy hiking, but do not enjoy the outdoor camping aspect: sleeping out under the stars and with bears is not for them. I enjoy doing this myself, although I prefer my camping free of bears; however, I get it that it is not for everyone.
These people would love the Porcupine Mountains as they have several backcountry rustic cabins and yurts. These cabins do not have luxurious soft beds, indoor heating, and a shower, but they are a step up from a tent. They do have spring mattresses, indoor wood burning stoves, and most importantly, four walls and a roof to separate yourself from the elements and the bears. For those that do not know what a yurt is, they are elaborate tents. Check out this link of the cabin photos and yurt photos.
The great thing is these cabins are found throughout the park at some of the most beautiful places. There is a cabin along both Lake of the Clouds, Mirror Lake, and Lily Pond and there are also cabins along Lake Superior. The lake spots have rowboats and canoes for use as well. There are not many parks anywhere that have cabins in the middle of the wilderness, so the Porcupine Mountains are unique in that respect.
Visitors do have to hike to these cabins, so there is still roughing involved as you will need to backpack in all your provisions. There is also two regular campgrounds for those who just want to camp near there car with no struggle to get to a cabin.
These cabins are not cheap. In fact, the price is rather ridiculous. They cost $68.00 a night, so it would be best to go in with multiple people to help share the cost. The backcountry campsites are free although there are per day charges and an entrance fee into the park. I camped two nights in my tent and my fee was $44.00. You can make reservations here. The reservation page shows a complete list of amenities for each cabin.
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