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SOUTH MANITOU GROUP, MI

Photo: SOUTH MANITOU GROUP
Status: Open year round.   Season Dates
 

Overview

South Manitou Group Campground is a tent-only backcountry facility on South Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. Campers must take a 1.5-hour ferry or boat ride to reach it, and must backpack their gear into the campground from the dock.

This facility is comprised of three reservable group sites at Bay Campground and three others at Weather Station Campground. Each site is open to groups of nine to 20 people only. Smaller parties must plan to occupy multiple first-come, first-served individual sites at Popple, Bay or Weather Station Campgrounds on the island. Bay is the closest campground to the dock (less than a mile) and a short walk from the beach. Weather Station overlooks Lake Michigan from the bluffs on the south side of the island; the hike from the ferry is about 1.3 miles.

If group sites are full, your group may be able to split up into multiple individual campsites. Be sure to make reservations for the ferry (231-256-9061) for transportation to the island. For more information, call 231-326-5134 x328

Summer temperatures range from the upper 70s to 90s during the day and drop about 20 degrees at night. Winters are cold, with daytime highs in the 20s to 30s and lows in the 10s and 20s; snow is usually on the ground from late November through March.

Natural Features:

South Manitou Island is part of an island chain in Lake Michigan that extends north to the Straits of Mackinac. The island consists of a ridge of tilted layers of limestone, buried under a blanket of glacial debris. It features unique sand dune formations, 10 miles of pebble beaches and a grove of old growth white cedars that date back over 500 years. The campgrounds lie on sandy soils among younger forests.

Recreation:

There is no shortage of activities on South Manitou Island. Visitors can hike around the 10-mile perimeter of the island via pebble beaches, take a tour of the South Manitou Island Lighthouse during summer months, view the 1960 shipwreck of the Francisco Morazanon or go on a motorized tour to learn the history of the island.

Visitors can also hike day-long excursions to unique sand dune formations and old growth cedar forests. Both campgrounds have beach access where campers can beachcomb and swim; group sites are closer to the beach at Bay Campground than at Weather Station.

Facilities:

Water is available on the island at Bay Campground, Weather Station Campground, the Village and the School House located on the old farm site. Group campsites are secluded and set apart from one another. Each site has a fire pit for open fires (firewood must be purchased or collected in the park). Wooden pit toilets are provided, however campers must bring their own toilet paper.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Campfire Rings
  • Drinking Water
  • Group Camping
  • Hiking
  • Lighthouse Tours
  • Pit Toilets
  • Ranger Station
Know Before You Go
  • South Manitou Island is accessible only by private boat or passenger ferry; potential visitors must call Manitou Island Transit at 231-256-9061 for ferry availability before making camping arrangements; the fee for group camping does not include transportation to the island; check the Plan Your Trip to the Islands page for more information
  • This is a tent-only, backcountry campsite; all gear must be backpacked in; no wheeled vehicles can reach the facility
  • Bay, Weather Station and Popple campgrounds have individual campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis on the island; the island is open to camping year-round, but there are no off-season services available
  • Be prepared for diverse weather conditions that may cause ferry delays
  • Maximum of 10 tents allowed per site
  • The transportation of firewood to North and South Manitou Islands is strictly prohibited. This is pursuant to the State of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine. Campers may collect dead and down wood for personal use during their visit; however, unused wood must remain on the island.
  • Chipmunks frequent the camping area; food and scented items must be hung from a tree and never kept in tents or backpacks
  • No electricity; drinking water is available
  • An entrance pass for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is required per vehicle; $10 for a park pass (good for seven days) or $20 for an annual pass
  • Campers must bring their own toilet paper
  • The park has pebble beaches rather than sand; water shoes are recommended
  • No pets allowed

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
45.01246, -86.0947
45°0'45"N, 86°5'41"W

From Traverse City, Michigan, take M-22 to Sutton's Bay. Go west on M-204 from Sutton's Bay towards Leland. Turn north at the junction of M-22 and M-204 to Leland. Take the ferry from Leland to South Manitou Island.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

SOUTH MANITOU GROUP
Leland Harbor & W. River St
Leland MI 49654

Phone Number:

Information: (231)326-4700