Northern Michigan Camping 101 with the DNR

Camping 101 is an educational program operated by the Michigan DNR that teaches novice outdoor enthusiasts the basics of camping, fishing, and hiking in Northern Michigan’s outdoors.  It’s the perfect program for both kids and adults to experience the outdoors without any guesswork, as Camping 101 provides equipment and expert assistant to help you during your outdoor adventures. For this reason, Camping 101 is great for those who want to plan a group camping excursion but lack the gear or means of organization to do so. Whether it be a youth group, a scout troop, or just a collection of your closest confidants, Camping 101 has got you covered—from canoeing to cooking the perfect s’more. Here’s MyNorth’s exclusive introductory guide to Northern Michigan Camping 101.


Photo by MDNR

Photo by MDNR

The North Face Adventure Trailer

← With lots of kids in tow, wrangling up the equipment required for a group camping trip can be a royal pain. Luckily, thanks to the folks at North Face, Camping 101 has a trailer stuffed with nearly all the gear your party needs—even if you have up to 40 adults or 60 kids. This includes tents, sleeping pads, cook stoves, camp chairs, flashlights, fishing poles, lanterns, and even roasting sticks (for the quintessential hot dog dinner followed by a fine dessert of s’mores). However, there are essentials you’ll want to pack yourself: propane for the stoves; water jugs; clotheslines and pins; cooking utensils (pots, pans, dishes, silverware, dishwashing equipment and soap); garbage bags; a tacklebox and bait; and, last but certainly not least, food. Although the Adventure Trailer resides in southern Michigan, arrangements can be made for it to travel Up North—otherwise, additional gear is available in Northern Michigan and can be transported to different locations. Best of all, there is no charge for use of the gear, only campsite fees apply. To book the trailer or for more information, contact DNR Recreation Programmer Elissa Dennert at [email protected]

(Note: for any camper that is 17 or older who plans of fishing, a fishing license is required. For fishing seasons, types of licenses, and how to purchase a license, visit the DNR Fishing License page.)

Northern Michigan Campsite Availability

Several Northern Michigan campsites are available for group camping that are compatible with Camping 101 and can be booked up to six months in advance. These sites include the Keith J. Charters State Park in Traverse City, Interlochen State Park, Petoskey State Park in Petoskey, Burt Lake State Park, and Cheboygan State Park. Rustic group camping in these areas is extremely economical: fees are applied on a nightly basis and usually range from $3-5 per camper. In order to book a site, contact the park you wish to stay at. Typically there is a 20-person minimum for group sites.

A recreation passport is required for any vehicle entering the state parks, information on this and how to acquire one can be found on the DNR Michigan Recreation Passport page.

On-Site Camping Assistance

Even the powerful utility of the Adventure Trailer would be completely useless if you don’t know how to operate the equipment and set up your site. Camping 101 has all the bases covered: depending on availability, the DNR will find a site suited to your group’s size and provide expert help from the park staff by assisting your party set up camp, cook over a camp stove, start a fire, and more.

So now that you’ve been schooled, what are you still doing on your computer? Reserve the Adventure Trailer and assemble your clan, the wild is calling!


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