Tawas Point State Park, near the town of Tawas, is at the end of a sandy peninsula that separates Tawas Bay from Lake Huron. It is located about an hour from the tri-city area of Saginaw-Bay City-Midland and about three hours north of Detroit. It is a very popular park on the Sunrise Side of Michigan.
Due to its location and geography, people refer to this area as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. It’s very pretty all year round, but especially in the fall when the leaves are turning colors.
Tawas Point State Park sits on land that once was the home of a U.S. Coast Guard Station, protecting the ships coming in off Lake Huron to the Bay.
Tawas Point State Park was created in 1961 after the federal government decided they were done with the Coast Guard station and declared the land surplus.
Tawas Point Lighthouse
Over the years there have been three lighthouses on the point. The original lighthouse was built in the early 1800s at the very end of the sandy point. However, mother nature ended up building up the sand so much that the lighthouse was no longer on the point.
The government built a new lighthouse in the 1870s, but eventually, it too found itself almost 1.5 miles inland. While this lighthouse still stands, it is no longer operational, and instead functions as a museum and is available for tours. (Check the Friends of Tawas Point website for details on hours of operation and admission costs.)
The newest lighthouse is an automated light tower and foghorn, no more than a metal tower really, that sits at the end of the peninsula.
Exploring Tawas Point
If you’re looking to explore Tawas Point State Park there are a couple of trails and an access road – however, high water levels often mean portions of the trails are underwater. Check with a park ranger before heading out.
One nice way to get around is via the paved bike path that runs through the park, connecting the campground, the day use area, and the lighthouse.
The state park is only about 183 acres but is very popular for both campers and daily visitors. It is a great spot for bird watching (part of the Saginaw Bay Heritage birding trail), swimming, and playing at the beach. A newer playscape, horseshoe pits, and volleyball net also are available.
One nice amenity is a beach concession stand with changing rooms, a deck, and picnic tables overlooking Lake Huron.
Tawas Point Campground
More than 190 sites in multiple loops make up the campground. However, while it’s a fairly wide-open grassy space, the sites are really packed together with no privacy in between. On busy weekends expect to make friends with your neighbors and it is likely to be noisy.
For campers, there is a small beach on the Tawas Bay side, which is much warmer than Lake Huron.
There are 6 to 8 paved, level handicap sites throughout the campground.
The bathhouse facilities have been upgraded and include individual gender-neutral shower stalls. The showers have residential showerheads, however, they have a push button so the water’s only going to stay on for a certain amount of time, with signs designating they are eco-friendly. On the outside of the bathhouse are a large sink and dishwashing area.
There also are four cabins and a yurt available to rent. Two are mini cabins and two are larger cabins with porches overlooking Tawas Bay.
Don’t forget the ice cream
When you’re at Tawas Point State Park, don’t miss out on popping into town for dinner, ice cream, or to check out the local gift shops. You can find many of these on the back of the state park map. You can also explore nearby historical, natural and cultural areas along the Lumbermen’s Monument Auto Tour. It’s always nice to help out the local economy.
We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. We have a video about Tawas Point State Park here. You can follow us on Instagram, our Facebook page, and Twitter. Plus, you can see each of the parks we visited on this interactive Google Map. You also can keep track of our activities on social media with the hashtags #hikecampgo and #mistateparks100.