Michigan State Parks Centennial: Wilson State Park

Smack in the middle of the Mitten (that’s the Lower Peninsula for you non-Michiganders) lies Wilson State Park. It is right off U.S. 127 in Harrison, making it very convenient for travelers. 

Located on the north end of Budd Lake, Wilson State Park clocks in at only 36 acres and is essentially just a campground and a small beach. 

The park was originally the site of the Wilson Brothers Sawmill and Company Store in the late 1800s. The land was deeded to the city of Harrison in 1901. In 1920, it was given to the state to be used as a park. It was officially dedicated in 1927. 

Sunset over a lake

Budd Lake

Budd Lake is home to many private residences, making it very popular in the summer for all types of water activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, and tubing. 

Beach

The size of the beach area is completely dependent on the water level. When we visited in May 2019, the beach was pretty much non-existent except a tiny portion above the retaining wall. The lake has submerged the normal beach at the bottom of the stairs. This could make for a crowded area on busy summer weekends, especially when you add in day-use visitors. The park expects many visitors given the size of the parking lot.

Floating water park in a lake

During 2019, Wilson State Park is hosting Jump Island, a Floating Water Park, featuring an inflatable iceberg, inflatable slides, runways and more. You can balance, walk, run or slide right on the water. Note: this activity does cost extra and there are minimum age and height requirements.

Currently, they acknowledge the beach is not ADA accessible but they’re working on it. The state is planning to add a boardwalk and Mobi-wheelchair.

For those who enjoy fishing, across the lake is boat access that is available for state park guests. Guests can then dock their boats close to the state park shoreline. 

Campground

There are approximately 160 campsites in two loops. Both loops include a number of non-level sites since the park is built into hilly terrain. So bring leveling blocks. All sites are a grass and dirt combo. They include a picnic table and fire ring. Electrical service is 20/30amp and there are a handful of pull-through sites available

The sites vary in size but due to large trees, narrow roads and site layouts, maneuvering larger rigs such as a Class A might take a 20-point turn. But those trees also mean decent shade during hot days. 

This is another one of those parks where the campground is right by the main road. The first row of campsites especially will be subject to the road noise. And it sits on a very busy main thoroughfare.

Another thing to keep in mind is that directly across the road is the Clare County Fairgrounds. This can be a draw or a hindrance. Wilson State Park is super convenient if you are attending an event there, but if drag racing is not your thing, the loud noise on certain days might be a bother. I recommend checking the Fairground schedule before booking your campsite.

Camper van in a state park

Overall thoughts

While we didn’t stay at Wilson State Park on this trip we have stayed here in the past and highly recommend site 125. It is on the far side of the campground away from the road. It is on a hill by itself overlooking the main loop. A path leads to the lake but the trees obscure the view. We enjoyed the site as it gave us a bit more space without feeling on top of a fellow camper.  

This is a good park if you: a) like watersports, b) are in the area for other things, c) need an overnight on your way north, or d) just want a place to hang out by a campfire for the weekend. 

And, I can’t forget to mention, the best part of staying here is that Wilson State Park is within walking distance of Walravens Country Gardens Fruit Market, which has the best ice cream. So definitely make a stop there during your visit!

We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. (We have a video about Wilson 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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