Traveler Tales: Huron-Manistee National Forest

Exploring our Nation's National Forests
Andy and Kris Murphy's RV parked at a campsite at Huron-Manistee National Forest

Huron-Manistee National Forest

Where the Forest Meets the Sandy Dunes of Lake Michigan

Are you ready to slow down, relax and unplug from the daily grind? Spanning nearly a million acres across northern Lower Michigan, the Huron-Manistee National Forest is a nature lover's paradise. Once two separate forests, this expansive land offers diverse camping opportunities, miles of pristine trails and breathtaking views along the Lake Michigan shoreline. We were so excited to add this National Forest to our Michigan must-dos this year, and it did not disappoint!

Camping Opportunities at Huron-Manistee National Forest

We stayed at Lake Michigan at Manistee campground, part of the Lake Michigan Recreation Area inside the forest. This campground offered cozy campsites nestled within the forest and proximity to Lake Michigan beaches. We were pleasantly surprised at the “big rig friendly” campsites offering long driveways and spacious campsites. Our 44’ Keystone Fuzion toy hauler fit with ease. 

Andy and Kris Murphy's RV parked at a campsite at Huron-Manistee National Forest

This campground offers four camping loops for RVs, vans, tents, and car campers alike. Two of the loops, Orchid and Oak, are reservation-based (recommended for larger rigs), while the other two, Violet and Hemlock, are first-come, first-served. There are no hook-ups at any of the campsites, so be sure to pack in all of your necessities including ample water.

Camping Opportunities in Huron-Manistee

What you need to know about RV camping before you go.

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Things to Do in Huron-Manistee National Forest

  1. Walk to the Beach from Camp

    A short, scenic walk to the beach from the campground is a must. Follow the signs and you'll find an easy path leading to the sandy shores. Be sure to check out the informational signs at the stairs, which provide interesting facts about local wildlife, beach rules and information on the landscape. This spot is perfect for a morning walk and marks the northernmost point of the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. The beach proximity was also great to take the kids for fun in the sand. Don't forget to bring bug spray and sunscreen!

    Andy and Kris Murphy's kids playing in the sand at Lake Michigan in Huron-Manistee National Forest

  2. Hike the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area

    Just a 20-minute drive south of the campground, you can embark on a three-mile hike to a secluded area of Lake Michigan where rare and endangered wildlife call home, such as the Piping Plover. This hike offers a mix of easy-to-moderate terrain on sandy paths. It's a great forest hike with an epic ending on the beach, making it perfect for hikers of all ages. The highlight of our trip was entering through a tunnel of trees onto the sandy dunes beach. These grassy and wide sand dunes were not heavily trafficked and offered incredible views of the beach.

    A sandy trail leading to Lake Michigan at Huron-Manistee National Forest captured by Andy and Kris Murphy

  3. Sunsets Over Lake Michigan

    Remember that beach walk from camp? Take advantage of the stunning sunset on the beach every night of your stay. The glimmering sun stretching over the beautiful lake is a sight to behold and one you will remember for a lifetime. As the day draws to a close, there's no better way to end your adventure in this natural paradise than by relaxing on the beach and watching the sun dip below the horizon.

    The Andy and Kris Murphy family watching the sunset over Lake Michigan at Huron-Manistee National Forest.

The Huron-Manistee National Forest offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities and peaceful camping experiences. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a nature enthusiast looking for an escape, this destination has plenty to offer. So, pack your gear, embrace the serenity of the forest and savor the moments where the forest meets the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan.

Toy Haulers

Many people think of toy haulers as the wild-child of the RV world.  Sometimes that’s true. While the toy hauler originated as a mobile man-cave complete with diamond plate walls, this popular RV type has evolved into much more. Today you might want to think of toy haulers as open-concept living spaces with multi-purpose utility.

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