DNR to Limit Number of Backcountry Campsites at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

March 14, 2018

Changes to protect park resources, improve backcountry camping experience
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is known for its remote backcountry experience.

Upper Peninsula, Michigan – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will limit the number of designated backcountry campsites at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, to better protect park resources and help ensure a quality backcountry camping experience.

At roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan’s largest state park, home to towering old-growth hemlock-hardwood stands, roaring waterfalls and spectacular sweeping vistas.

Annual visitation to the park is estimated to have grown to over 300,000 people.

In past years, backcountry campsites were available on a first-come, first-served basis, park rangers did not need to limit camping and campers could camp off-trail in a dispersed fashion away from designated campsites.

Over the past few years, park resources have been used heavily and the solitude of a wilderness experience backcountry campers are seeking has been compromised by overcrowding.
An intricate network of trails provides the backbone of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

“In recent years, we have had several nights that exceeded our capacity. We are now requiring campers to stay at designated campsites and we are limiting the number of registered campsites to 63 per night to protect the backcountry experience for all,” said Michael Knack, park supervisor. “Campers can now make a reservation for campsites and all backcountry campers will be required to camp on the specific backcountry campsite or campsites they have registered for.”

Backcountry campsites are numbered and have a metal fire ring.

“Reservations are strongly encouraged given popularity of the park’s backcountry and the number of available campsites,” said Bob Wild, a park interpreter at the state park. “We will most likely fill-up several nights this season.”

The backcountry camping limit of 63 permits nightly is equal to the number of campsites. The cost to camp for one night is $15 for 1-6 people. The maximum number of campers per site is six.

Backcountry camping reservations are available six months in advance for May 15 through Oct. 15 at www.midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-44PARKS. The remainder of the year is local sale only at the park.
Hemlocks and northern hardwood forests are among the prized attractions at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

An online reservation is not a backcountry camping permit.

Backcountry campers will need to visit one of three check stations when they arrive at the park to be issued their backcountry camping permit.Self-registration at the park is no longer offered.

Check-in is required at the park year-round to obtain a camping permit. After hours arrival requires next day check-in prior to entering the backcountry.

Check-in hours and locations include (all times listed are Eastern Time Zone):

  • May 15 through Oct. 15: Park Visitor Center, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Union Bay Campground Office 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 16 through May 14: Park headquarters, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

View the park’s backcountry camping map and information at www.michigan.gov/porkiesvc.

For general information on camping in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/camping.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or non-motorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through the Secretary of State’s office.

Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks.

Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

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