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Getaway to Craig Lake State Park

Camping offers a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and connection with nature. Whether it's under the stars, by a crackling campfire, or waking up to the sound of birdsong, camping immerses individuals in the natural world, providing an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Craig Lake State Park, nestled in the pristine wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is the most remote in Michigan’s state park system, and embodies the essence of “getting away” at its finest. Established in 1971, the park spans over 8,000 acres of forests, lakes, and streams, offering a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Named after Fred Craig, a prominent early settler in the region, the park boasts a rich history dating back to the days of logging and mining in the late 19th century. Today, visitors can explore the remnants of these industries while hiking the park's trails or paddling its tranquil waters. With its unspoiled landscapes and diverse wildlife, Craig Lake State Park continues to captivate adventurers seeking an authentic outdoor experience steeped in history and natural beauty.

There are six lakes in the park, three of them named for the children of Frederick Miller of the famed Miller Brewing Company, numerous small ponds and a variety of wildlife such as deer, black bears, beavers, loons and moose. Craig Lake is 374 acres and features six islands and high granite bluffs along its northern shoreline. In keeping with the Miller beer theme, a nearby lake located northwest of the park is named High Life Lake. So, what is the connection to the Millers? The Miller family owned thousands of acres of wilderness in this part of the U.P. Two of Craig Lake State Park's cabins were originally Miller family cabins. Unfortunately, tragedy ended the Miller family's attachment to this pristine piece of land. Frederick Miller was 48 when he and his 22-year-old son, Frederick Jr., died in a plane crash in Wisconsin in 1954. The crash killed everyone on-board except Fredrick, who died from his several hours later. After the tragedy, the Miller family sold their Upper Peninsula land to a Marquette-based logging company, at which time the state of Michigan -- which already owned about 2,100 acres in the area -- acquired some of the land as well. This land would eventually become Craig Lake State Park.

One of the reasons that the park is a haven for those who seek solitude is that the road to access the park is extremely rough. On top of that, the campsites are very remote, challenging to get to, and most of them are accessible to paddlers only. Sounds perfect right? For those not interested in the commitment of accessing the remote sites, there are cabins and yurts to stay in. All 22 designated back-country campsites within Craig Lake State Park have transitioned to reservation-only sites beginning with the 2023 camping season. The cost to camp is $20 per night for up to six people per rustic campsite. Back-country campers will need to visit the campground office at Van Riper State Park to check-in prior to entering the back-country. Quietly hiking along the trail system or paddling across one of the many lakes, be sure to keep an eye out for bear, deer or the majestic moose that call this park home. Evenings spent by a crackling campfire listening to the loons calling in the distance, this is truly a magical place.

Seeking wilderness provides a profound opportunity to disconnect from the noise of modern life, allowing one to reconnect with nature's serenity and find solace in its vastness. Immersing oneself in the wilderness offers a chance for introspection, adventure, and a deeper appreciation for the natural world's beauty and resilience. In our opinion, the remote Craig Lake State Park is the perfect getaway for those seeking their own piece of heaven.

Need help planning your adventure? We have topo maps and plenty advice on our favorite camping sites!

craig lake location
craig lake sign
ariel view of Craig Lake State Park