Rustic Craig Lake State Park to become reservation-only in 2023

MARQUETTE — All 22 designated backcountry campsites within Craig Lake State Park will transition to reservation-only sites beginning with the 2023 camping season to help combat park natural resource degradation and make it easier to locate campers in emergency situations, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

The 2023 backcountry camping season will run from May 20 through Nov. 1, 2023. Reservations are available six months in advance, which means camping reservations will become available beginning Nov. 20, 2022. Reservations can be made at midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-44PARKS.

Annual visitation for Craig Lake State Park has continued to climb the last few years, seeing just shy of 69,000 visitors in 2021, the DNR said.

“These changes will help to alleviate some of the natural resource degradation issues that are tied closely to unauthorized, dispersed camping,” Craig Lake State Park Supervisor Debra Gill said in a news release. “By visitors being able to reserve the campsites in advance, they can plan their trips and see what sites are, or are not, available. We are hopeful that this will help eliminate the unauthorized dispersed camping we are seeing when campsites are full.”

She also said that in emergency situations, being able to look up visitor location information before getting into the field will allow staff to have a faster response time by knowing exactly where we are going.

All backcountry sites are numbered and have either a metal or rock fire ring. The cost to camp is $20 per night for up to six people per rustic campsite.

Backcountry campers will need to visit the campground office at Van Riper State Park to check in prior to entering the backcountry.

Check-in hours are all posted from noon to 7 p.m. from May 20 through Oct. 1 at the Van Riper State Park campground office. All other times, visitors must use the yellow phone located at the Van Riper State Park campground office.


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