Michigan State Parks: Indian Lake

Two people by Indian Lake State Park Sign

Indian Lake State Park is a very peaceful and scenic state park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Located just off US-2 a few miles west of the town of Manistique, this 840-acre state park is a great basecamp for anyone into outdoor adventures.

Indian Lake State Park is located on the shores of Indian Lake, the 4th largest lake in the Upper Peninsula. According to historical records, Native Americans originally occupied the land and called it M’O’Nistique Lake.

The state park consists of two separate units located three miles apart. The main portion includes a modern campground and a large day-use area developed in 1933 by the CCC and WPA. The second, and much smaller West Shore unit, was developed in 1965 and has a rustic campground and a small picnic area.

Outdoor Enthusiasts Paradise

For those who enjoy being in nature, this is the state park for you.

As mentioned, Indian Lake State Park is located on Indian Lake. The lake is 8,400 acres. But its maximum depth is just 20 fee. So, it’s ideal for non-motorized watercraft, small fishing boats, or pontoons. It also would be a great lake for stand up paddleboarding!

Surrounding the state park is the Hiawatha National Forest and the Lake Superior State Forest. Both offer an abundance of recreational activities including hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ORVing, and more.

Also nearby is the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite spot for wildlife and bird watching.

Kids playing on the beach at Indian Lake State Park
Kids enjoy the beach at Indian Lake State Park

Camping at Indian Lake

You’ll find two camping options at Indian Lake State Park – a modern campground and a semi-rustic campground.

The modern campground has 145 sites. Most sites are decent-sized but have no privacy. There are enough trees to provide shade, but it is sunny enough if you have solar panels. If you’re lucky, you can grab one of the prime spots on the bluff with a view looking out over Indian Lake. Most sites have 20 and 30 amp, but a few now have 50-amp service.

Down the road, at the semi-rustic campground, you’ll find 72 sites split into six identical loops of 12 sites each. While there still isn’t a whole lot of privacy, these sites are more wooded and peaceful.

Now, what do we mean by semi-rustic? The campground has no running water, only a vault toilet and a handpump. However, each site has 20-amp service. This is nice for campers who want to run lights, a small fan, electric frypan, or other small appliances.

Beaches and Picnics

The day-use area at the main Indian Lake State Park unit is quite large. It has a nice sandy beach for swimming, which is perfect for kids since the lake is so shallow. There also is a playground, volleyball net, horseshoe pits, boat rentals, and a small boat launch.

You’ll find plenty of grills and picnic tables scattered around to have a picnic. There also are two gorgeous stone pavilions that were constructed by the CCC in the 1930s You can reserve them in advance for a private gathering. Or you are free to eat your lunch while sitting by the stone fireplaces when not reserved.

There also is a smaller day-use area near the West Shore Unit. It has a small parking lot, four picnic tables and a swing set. We found this to be a perfect spot for just sitting and enjoying the lake.

Inside CCC-built pavilion
Inside one of the old CCC-built pavilions

Palms Book State Park

Looking for something unique to do while staying at Indian Lake State Park?

If you head north from the state park about 7 miles, you’ll find Palms Book State Park. This state park is home to the famous Kitch-iti-kipi – or Big Spring.

This is a natural freshwater spring that is so crystal clear you can see the water bubbling up from underground. Be sure to take the time to visit Palms Book State Park and ride the raft out over Kitch-iti-kipi. (For a taste, check out this video of our trip there.)

Raft at Palms Book State Park
The raft at Palms Book State Park

We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. We have a video about Indian Lake State Park here. You can follow us on Instagram, our Facebook page, and Twitter. Plus, you can see our progress as we visit each park on this interactive Google Map. You also can keep track of our activities on social media with the hashtags #hikecampgo and #mistateparks100.

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