The 15 Best Places to Camp in the Midwest

Find the perfect place to pitch a tent this summer

The Midwest has a diverse selection of camping areas surrounding the Great Lakes, as well as other parks with rivers, plains, hills, valleys and waterfalls. You’ll find opportunities whether you're looking for modern amenities or a place to pitch a tent and rough it.

  • 01 of 15
    Badlands National Park
    ••• Scott Olson/Staff/Getty Images

    This 244,000-acre park contains one of the richest fossil beds in the world. It also has plenty of animals roaming the plains, from prairie dogs to bison. The park has two campgrounds, including a backcountry site, that are both open year-round.

  • 02 of 15
    Big Sable Point Lighthouse
    ••• corfoto/Getty Images

    This park offers beautiful views of the forests and marshland and has nearly seven miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. You’ll also find sand dunes and a must-see lighthouse. Hikers will love its eight trails that cover 18 miles.

  • 03 of 15
    Devil's Lake State Park
    ••• Amy Bayer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    You won’t run out of nature’s beauty while camping here. The park is filled with natural wonders, such as a sandstone bridge, gorges, sandy beaches and an incredible lake for boating and fishing. Hikers and mountain bikers should check out the park's more than 29 miles of trails.

  • 04 of 15
    Looking north from Empire Bluffs at Sleeping Bear Dunes over Lake Michigan
    ••• Rod/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The dunes, hills, valleys and lakes at Sleeping Bear can be traced back to the Ice Age. Activities include a dune climb, scenic drives, a maritime museum, canoeing, campfire programs and ranger-led tours. This shoreline is one of the best places in the Midwest to set up a tent.

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  • 05 of 15
    The Rock House cave in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio
    ••• The Rock House cave in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Mark Spearman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This park has it all, from caves and bridges to waterfalls and gorges. Camping options are many. You can sleep at horse ranches, in a wigwam, by the river, at an RV park or at a private primitive site. There are also cabins and a modern retreat center.

  • 06 of 15
    The Beach at Indiana Dunes
    ••• pepplerchristine/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    In addition to some of the best beaches in the Midwest—on 15 miles of shoreline—this park has more than 70 miles of trails through prairies, forests and dunes. Activities include swimming, fishing and kite flying. If you enjoy birding, you're in luck—the area has a large diversity of birds traveling south for the winter.

  • 07 of 15
    Voyageurs National Park
    ••• National Park Service Digital Image Archives/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 0

    This is the only national park in Minnesota, and it’s located on the border of the United States and Canada. Four museum lakes give way to 344 square miles for water sports. Other activities include guided boat tours, ranger-led programs, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and swimming. 

  • 08 of 15
    Creek in Brown County State Park, Nashville, Indiana
    ••• Trail Seeds/Fliclr/CC BY 2.0

    Indiana’s largest state park has plenty of rolling hills and waterfront for biking, hiking, swimming and fishing. There’s also a large indoor aquatic center featuring a water slide. 

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  • 09 of 15
    Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
    ••• Babymestizo/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

    This Midwest state park is a modern camping spot with a family-friendly aquatic center, a lodge and restaurant. The park also has a nature center. Activities include golf, mini-golf, paddleboating, fishing, hiking, biking and horseback riding. 

  • 10 of 15
    Shades State Park
    ••• Trail Seeds/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Enjoy the quiet along the sandstone cliffs as you overlook Sugar Creek and hike to the Pine Hills Nature Preserve at this spring and summer camping destination. You can hike, canoe and bicycle. This is also a great area for bird watching.

  • 11 of 15
    Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Peninsula State Park
    ••• Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Peninsula State Park. Jim Bauer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This area has some of the best camping in the Midwest. Just outside the 468 campsites at this Door County park are a golf course, beach, lighthouse, bike trails and high bluffs that are part of the Niagara Escarpment. If you like watersports, try canoeing, kayaking, fishing or boating. There's also the Northern Sky Theater that family-friendly musical comedies. 

     

  • 12 of 15

    Families will especially enjoy this spot with a 300-foot waterslide, a Jumping Pillow bounce house, mini-golf and two playgrounds, all next to the Namekagon River. There's also biking, wagon rides and nightime treasure hunts.

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  • 13 of 15

    Scenic views are everywhere at this campground inside one of the country’s great parks, which is filled with rock formations, green meadows, brooks, vistas—and a lot of buffalo. Go trout fishing, horseback riding or hiking among the pine trees. Put this great place to camp on your list if you're visiting the Midwest.

  • 14 of 15

    Between the Silver Dollar City amusement park and popular Table Rock Lake, you can find scenic campgrounds, rustic cabins and RV sites. Amenities include a free shuttle to Silver Dollar City, a swimming pool, a game room and general store.

  • 15 of 15

    Although bird and animal watchers love this Midwest park, the real attraction is the trees. You’ll find sassafras, maple, oak, hickory and walnut around the 59-acre Walnut Point Lake and hiking trails. There's also geocaching, fishing and hiking.