NP Campground Review – Platte River Campground, Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI
A lovely, relaxing, green and wonderfully laid-out campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, NW MI. We loved it!
Link to campground here: Platte River Campground, Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI
Link to map location here: Platte River Campground, Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI
- Site Quality = 4/5
Site quality here is quite literally the nicest we’ve seen in a public park in Michigan. The campground has spacious, paved sites with absolutely excellent separation & privacy (lots of trees, bushes and space between sites). Each site has a very nice “sitting area” which includes a large, flat tent pad, metal picnic table and fire pit. Sites lengths vary from ~30 feet to up to 50 feet in length and some sites are double-wide. When you park all wheels (including tow car) need to be on the pavement, so check site length carefully before you book. Main ding? A sub-set of the sites are very unlevel -> there is a picture of each site on the reservation system (recreation.gov) as well as on campsitephotos.com, but it can sometimes be difficult to judge levelness. The largest/longest sites do tend to be more level than some of shorter ones. There are 4 main loops with slightly different specifics:
- Loop 1 (Sites 101-142): These are all 50-amp electric sites with a mix of pull-through (9 sites) and back-in sites. Pull-throughs are nice, but some of them have posts in the way of the curves which means they are not as easily accessible for “beast-size” rigs as the back-in sites. All sites have nice separation and privacy with lots of trees from partially to fully shaded.
- Loop 2 & 3 (Sites 201-224, 301-327): These are all 50-amp electric sites, all back-in. Nice separation & privacy throughout with lots of trees from partially to fully shaded. You can’t really go wrong here.
- Loop 4 (Sites 401-453): This is a NO Hookup, NO Generator (NONE at all) loop so if you book here you need to be aware of that before you come. Also tree canopy varies from partly to fully shaded so solar power (for those who rely on that) is limited. Sites are spacious and quiet although some of the smaller sites do seem to be more unlevel than the other loops. This is where we stayed.
- Walk-In & Group Sites: The campground also has a separate section for walk-in (hike-in) tent camping (very nice, very private) and a large group site.
- Facilities = 4/5
Very nice facilities here. Flush toilets and spacious shower stalls with separate area to hang your clothes, moveable shower heads and some of the nicest warm water I’ve had in a public shower. Only slight ding? The showers and toilets were somewhat dirty/sandy at the end of each day.
- Location = 5/5
You come here to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore and for this purpose the location rocks. The campground is within the park, with a lovely walking trail to Lake Michigan and only ~15-20 mins drive to every overlook, hiking trail and sightseeing location possible. You are also only ~5 miles from Empire which is a very small town, but has several coffee shops, a few eateries and a decent grocery store (for a larger, more comprehensive store drive just ~10 mins further to the IGA in Glen Arbor -> It’s excellent and carries many local specialty products). Lots of easily accessible beaches nearby too.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
This is an awesome spot for doggie! There is a lovely ~1 mile hiking trail to Lake Michigan directly from the campground which is not only 100% dog-friendly on the trail, but also allows doggies on the beach and in the water (north section of beach only). In addition to this almost every trail within Sleeping Bear (except for the Dune Climb) is dog-friendly, plus there are several dog-friendly beach sections within easy drive. Great spot for paws!
Overall Rating = 4.5
BONUS ALERT = Camp Walking Distance To The Beach at The National Lakeshore!
Summary: This can be a hard campground to get into but oh my is it worth it! It’s a wonderful, spacious, green peaceful spot on the southern end of beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in NW Michigan. Sites are paved and well-separated, accommodating sizes from 30 feet up to 50 feet in length. Lots of trees for privacy and large “sitting areas” containing picnic table, tent pad, picnic table and fire pit. Plus this place is just wonderfully quiet. You really feel like you’re “deep in the woods”. Only ding is that some of the sites are rather unlevel, plus while three of the four loops in camp offer 50 Amp electric, the fourth is a NO-hookup, NO-generator loop (sites 401-453) so if you book be aware of that before you come. Everything else about camp simply rocks. You are right in the very midst of Sleeping Bear Dunes, with a lovely 1-mile hiking trail to the lakeshore and an easy 15-20 min drive to every sight and overlook there is to see in the area. Plus the entire area is incredibly dog-friendly! All trails (bar one) within Sleeping Bear allow dogs, plus there are over 15 miles of beach allowing dogs including the one accessible from camp. This was by far the NICEST public campground we’ve stayed at in Michigan and we wished we could have stayed longer. We absolutely loved the location, the nature and the quiet and we’ll definitely stay here again if we came back to the area.
NOTE/ This campground gets crazy busy in season (mid-May to mid-Oct) and reservations are **highly** recommended during this time. Even when we came here in mid-Sept all the electric sites were fully booked. Outside of the season the campground is first-come-first-serve.
Extra Info: Usable cell signal (2 bars ATT LTE, 1-2 bars Verizon LTE). 122 total sites, all reservable online from mid-May to mid-Oct. Sites cost $27/night for 50 amp electric (96 sites), $22/night for no hookups (53 sites). In addition to the nightly rate you must also pay the entrance pass to the National Lakeshore ($15 park pass for 7 days) OR/ you must have a National Parks Pass. On site dump station and potable water.
Extra, Extra Info – OTHER CAMPING? If you are “best size” like us, Platte River is your ONLY option within the boundaries of the National Lakeshore. There is however a northern campground for smaller rigs, and a very nice private option for larger rigs just East of the Lakeshore.
- DH Day Campground – This campground is within the National Lakeshore, on the northern end. It is entirely first-come-first-serve, but it is only suitable for SMALLER rigs (~25-30 foot max -> no way we could fit here!). Sites cost $16/night. No hookups. See campground info HERE and reviews HERE.
- Indigo Bluffs RV Park & Resort – This is a private park just East of Sleeping Bear. Our friends Pam & John stayed here and declared it one of the nicest resorts they’ve ever stayed at. This campground can accommodate any-sized rig. Sites cost $41-$65/night depending on site. Full hookups. See campground website HERE and reviews HERE.
- Others – LOTS of additional campgrounds slightly further away from the Lakeshore so if you can’t get into any of the above, check out options further out.
Note/ You can see a picture of EACH and every campsite for Platte River Campground either on the reservation system (recreation.gov) or on campsitephotos.comSPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Paul Duggan says
Thank you for your wonderfully informative reviews.
Regarding Platte River, we have camped there many times over the past 25 years. It may be the best campground in Michigan, but as you stated getting in is tough. Leelanau Peninsula is the prettiest part of the state…in the Summer and Fall. I hope you now have an M22 sticker on the beast. We also have stayed at Glen Lake Trailer Park (too small for your MH), which is directly on Little Glen Lake. A stunningly beautiful lake…as is Big Glen Lake.
I wish we could have stayed on the peninsula a few more weeks. Leaves hadn’t quite started turning when we were there, but in a few more weeks I think it’ll be a glorious show.
Good tip on Glen Lake for smaller rigs.
Pam Wright says
I so love it when someone writes a review of a campground and discusses which sites are level. You are right about photos not showing the levelness of a site. Google Earth doesn’t show it either. Thanks for including such great info on the various areas:) I’m Campendium would love you to include all these photos:) Thanks for another wonderful review!
Very few parks list levelness on their sites, and it’s always something we have to think about, especially for our “beastly” size. I remember when we were traveling through IA years ago I was shocked that they listed “slope of site” on their State Parks reservation system -> for each and every site! I thought it was the coolest feature.
Deb Spencer says
Hey Nina. This location is on our bucket list for sure! While you are in the area check out Bontragers RV Surplus in White Pigeon. This is where I got my MCD shades for $25-35.Also, I’m sure you are aware of Rise-N-Roll (AKA Amish Crack). Their donuts are worth the glutton/sugar free violation. They leave a person speechless! Sam sends Polly his love!
WOW $35 for MCD shades is a frikkin’ deal. Cheers for the tip!
Another absolutely GREAT review. We were there a couple of years ago and I booked way ahead for an electric site because of the inability to use solar or generator. How many days can you go like that in the beast?
Hope you made it to the Grand Traverse Pie Company in Traverse City. Best cherry pie ever – other than David’s of course.
We did 3 days without a problem (ended up at around 50% on the batteries) so I figure if we had to we could stretch it another couple? We DID conserve some while we were there (turning off lights, not using TV) since we wanted to be sure we could make it, but it turned out not to be a problem.
I love the layout of the sites. It offers more privacy while still having neighbors. I rarely go to campgrounds, however, this looks like one I’d enjoy, in that respect especially. I love the pics too- a variety of RVs and good overview. Thanks!
Mark Seneker says
Thanks for posting the detailed information. I put the park on our list with a link back to your blog post. Wife is from Michigan so we plan to spend more time up there. We stayed last year in August on Lake Michigan when the water was warmer. Really was nice to be within walking distance of the lake at the particular park we stayed at. That area is a hidden treasure in terms of beaches.
It’s good to read about your travels to the area. Looking forward to more to include the central Midwest if that’s on your radar.
Sally Preston says
Great review, looks like a gorgeous park and site you found.
Do you alter your cooking style when you are on battery power; ie no microwave, cook on the grill, etc? What are your favorite RV-friendly snacks and desserts when you’re stuck inside due to inclement weather?
We looove to cook so we’re always looking up recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. Inside the RV we have a propane oven and propane stovetop which means we don’t use any battery power when we cook there (we have a convection-microwave oven too, but honestly we rarely use it even when we are hooked-up). So our cooking style really doesn’t alter when we boondock.
We make roasts and stews, do stir fries, whip up curries, create fancy salads, bake cookies you-name-it. We also have an outdoor grill, and Paul carried a smoker for many years, so sometimes we go that route too, but honestly there’s nothing we don’t cook when we’re off main power.
I have a cooking section on the blog with a few of my recipes. I haven’t had much time to work on it so there’s not much in there, but I hope to expand it over time:
As Paul stated Glen Lake Trailer Park is directly on Little Glen Lake. It no longer is a campsite. It is a private mobile home park now. Has been for several years. We live there during the summer months. We have a summer rental on Front St. in Empire and live there during the winter months. There is also Lake Leelanau Campgrounds outside of the National Lakeshore. It is near impossible to find any type of lodging during the summer without reservations. But please come to this area, (with reservations) there is so much to offer.