Have you ever found your dream Michigan State Park campsite and logged on to the Michigan DNR reservation website at 8:00 am only to lose out on it?! If you follow us, you know that we LOVE camping in Michigan State Parks. And, we also LOVE camping in the lakefront sites that are nearly impossible to reserve with so much camping competition out there. We’ve experienced the despair of losing out an amazing campsite many, many times. And, we hear others sharing their frustration in our Facebook community.
We’ve learned a lot over the years and are happy to share. Following these tips won’t give you a 100% guarantee of reserving the site you desire but we hope it helps you increase your success rate a bit!
Our Top 9 Tips for Reserving a Popular Michigan State Park Campsite
1. Pay Attention to Internet Speed
We’ve noticed that we’re less likely to be successful booking campsites at home because we don’t have super fast internet. When we REALLY want to book a site we’ve been known to head to a family member’s house or even a coffee shop (you know, when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic!)
2. Use the Reservation Website’s System Time Feature
Located in the upper right corner of the reservation website, this feature will help you make sure you’re hitting “reserve” right when the campsites open at 8:00am on weekdays and 9:00am on weekends.
3. Monitor the Campsite Availability Calendar
If you’re determined to book a specific campsite, check the calendar availability for the campsite you’re hoping to reserve so you know exactly when it will be available to reserve.
4. Set Reminders to Reserve Your Michigan State Park Campsite
“Alexa, remind me to book a campsite at 9:00am on Saturday!” This is our preferred reminder method but whatever works for you – do it! There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing you forgot to reserve your campsite.
5. Log Into Your Account Ahead of Time
This tip is less about getting the campsite in your cart and more about making sure you are able to complete your reservation without issue. Since the reservation website can be slow and prone to freezing during the most popular reservation days, being logged in before it really counts is helpful.
6. Be Flexible with Your Reservation Dates
When we want to book one, exact campsite or area, we will be flexible with our vacation dates to give us a better chance to get the site we want. For example, we’re hoping to book a lakefront campsite at Wilderness this summer. We’ll be attempting to book every lakefront campsite that comes open between mid-July and mid-August, giving us a one month window and multiple attempts to book our vacation. It’s not always ideal but we’ve found that we’d rather compromise our vacation date than which campsite we reserve.
7. Use Multiple Computers
When we’re attempting to book a really popular site, we’ll both attempt to book it on separate computers hoping it increases the chance of one of us getting it. We sometimes do this from different locations because of tip #1. Yes, we’re crazy but we just love a good lakefront campsite!
8. Have a Backup Plan
If we can’t be flexible with our dates and must book something on a specific date, one of us will attempt to reserve the site we really want and the other will attempt to reserve a less popular campsite (like a one in the back instead of lakefront). If we are lucky enough to get both in a cart, we’ll pick just one to reserve.
9. Wait 20 Minutes After Booking Time
Don’t forget, those who are unable to complete their reservations after they initially go into their cart will lose them if for some reason they don’t complete the reservation. We’ve noticed that at around 8:20am or 9:20am (depending if it’s a weekday or weekend) sites will begin to come available again. We booked our reservation for July 4th this year by staying patient after we were unable to book our first choice campsite.
Good luck reserving campsites! If you need some inspiration for where to camp this year, check out our reviews.