Michigan State Parks Centennial: Muskegon State Park

woman and man at entrance sign for Muskegon State ParkTucked in between Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, Muskegon State Park in West Michigan is home to forested dunes, two campgrounds, picnic areas, multiple trails, scenic lookouts, and more than 2 miles of sandy beach.

Activities in the winter include the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

The Lake Michigan campground in the northern section of the park is built right behind the dunes. Signs warn about doing your part as a visitor to help prevent erosion by not climbing on the dunes, but there is a stairway that provides access through the dunes down to the beach on Lake Michigan. One feature to consider when looking for campsites is there are some along the outer campground loop that are across from the dunes, and even a couple at the base of the dunes. That might be a neat view, assuming you brought along a broom to regularly sweep the sand back outside from your rig!

Privacy in the Lake Michigan campground at Muskegon State Park is minimal. We noticed lots of mature, tall trees. In the summer that probably means more shade at certain times during the day. But there are no low bushes, so there’s nothing between the campsites to act as a screen.

The Lake Michigan campground includes two loops with 106 sites of differing size, including some pull-through sites for longer rigs. We stayed in the smaller of the two loops. The second loop is closed during the winter. Privacy seems to be similar but the sites also seem much closer together and much smaller. The other thing we noticed is the second loop seems affected by the geography and terrain more. The whole section seemed to have more slopes, which means more work to do when leveling your rig.

Muskegon State Park also rents small cabins. If you’re not into using an RV or a winter tent or maybe you don’t have either of those, the cabins offer another option.

The state park has restroom buildings for showering and using the bathroom, although they are closed in the winter as in most state parks. Vault toilets are available year-round.

The Winter Sports Complex is across the road from the Lake Michigan Campground. It offers an ice skating rink and trail, snowshoe trail, and luge track. In the summer, it remains open for team-building exercises, kayaking, stand-up paddleboard on Muskegon Lake, and a fiberglass track for wheeled luge.

woman with zamboni
Jessi posed next to one of the original six Zambonis ever produced, which is on display at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. This one started its career at Madison Square Garden in New York.

As with other state parks open in the winter, Muskegon State Park will take care of plowing reserved sites. They did a pretty nice job with ours, giving us lots of space. In our Class B Roadtrek, we had plenty of room on site 15, which we realized in the summer would be a large pull-through site. They do their best to try to level the campsites for you. Ours was in good shape in terms of leveling. That can be tougher on some sites in Muskegon State Park because it’s right near the water and sand dunes. The geography of the place is going to affect some of the leveling.

Class B RV in winter campsite
Site 15 is a large pull-through site in the summertime. The DNR plowed it out just halfway for us since we still had plenty of room in our Class B RV.

One thing we liked about the Lake Michigan Campground is that each site has its own electric power pole and the numbers for the sites are on the poles as well as on the road in front of each site. Depending on where you’re parked and how long your rig is, you might need an extension cord. It does appear they leave the picnic tables out in the winter, but as we saw in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, you need to bring a shovel to scrape the snow and ice off.

In addition to the Lake Michigan Campground, there’s also Channel Campground with 147 sites. When you enter the state park and reach Lake Michigan, taking a left will lead you to Channel Campground. It’s near the channel from Lake Michigan and also has a beach on Muskegon Lake.

If you’re not into camping, the state park does offer a day-use area where you can park and visit the beach.

Google locator map of Muskegon State Park campgrounds

We enjoy winter camping, and the Winter Sports Complex was pretty cool. Jessi felt pretty strongly that the Muskegon State Park serves better as a summer park overall. There is a lot more to do in the surrounding towns of Muskegon (10 miles away) and North Muskegon (4 miles away). Plus there are two other state parks to visit in the area: Duck Lake and P.J. Hoffmaster.

There’s a vast network of bicycle trails in the area, as well, but those would be more inviting in the summer! Also, Muskegon boasts a couple of really cool historical ships to see when the weather is nicer. The World War II submarine USS Silversides is permanently berthed there, as is USS LST 393.

Ari toured LST 393 last summer. He wrote a blog post and produced a video about his experience.

Muskegon State Park blockhouseAnother nice stop in the summer would be the Blockhouse. It sits at the highest point of Scenic Drive, the main road through Muskegon State Park. On a good, clear summer day, you’d be able to look out all the way to Lake Michigan. There were no informational signs about the blockhouse, which was disappointing.

According to Google, the Works Progress Administration built it in the 1930s. Designers modeled it after a frontier fort. While nobody ever stood watch there, it’s neat to see the historical design. Unfortunately, local vandals burned the original to the ground in 1962. After rebuilding it and restoring it from vandals who struck again in later years, officials covered the building with a graffiti-repellent coating. They also installed security cameras. There is a small parking lot and it’s just a short hike up the hill. If you go, check out the building and climb inside for some cool views — once it’s open for the season.

woman and man on stairway to beach in Muskegon State Park in winter
The beach overlook and stairs are probably a lot more inviting in July than in February!

One interesting thing about visiting Muskegon State Park in the winter is the frozen beach and lake. The combination of wind, water, and cold air made cliffs on the beach out of ice. Usually, if you see artistic sculptures on the beach in the summertime, it’s because someone has been busy with sand and a shovel. But in the winter, it’s the wind and the water forming and reforming the ice and snow drifts. It’s cool to see what you get on a beach with different winter weather patterns.

 

Family on Michigan beach in winter
Jessi’s parents stopped by to visit us while we were camping at Muskegon State Park and checked out the frozen beach with us.

 

We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. (We have a video about Muskegon State Park published there.) 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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