J. W. Wells State Park is located on the southern finger of the Upper Peninsula. It is about halfway between Escanaba and Menominee, and not too far north of the Wisconsin border.
The state park sits along three miles of Lake Michigan/Green Bay shoreline, with more than 670 acres available for year-round recreational opportunities. Whether you’re into swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, or ice-fishing, Wells State Park is a great place to visit.
History of Wells State Park
The state of Michigan established Wells State Park in 1925 with land donated by the family of John Walter Wells. Mr. Wells was a lumberman who owned several lumber companies and sawmills. He also served as the mayor of the nearby town of Menominee for many years.
In the 1930s and 40s, the Civilian Conservation Corps had one of their camps on the land. When they were done replanting the forests and improving the local infrastructure, the CCC helped build the park’s water and sewer systems, along with the buildings and landscaping. Many of the stone buildings such as the pavilions, trail shelters, and lodge still stand.
Wells State Park camping options
The modern campground at Wells State Park is very pleasant with a gorgeous view of Green Bay. In fact, the outer loop of the campground has a few prime sites right along the water. I imagine these book up fast. Here is a link to a map of the campground.
I did appreciate that between a few of the prime waterfront sites were open spaces with benches so anyone in the campground can enjoy the view as well.
For the kids (and small adults!), there is a fantastic playscape in the campground. It includes a rubber surface underneath with slides, climbing walls, tire swings and more.
One thing we noticed is many of the 150 sites are quite large and spacious, with plenty of room to accommodate larger rigs or boats. The state park has upgraded and it appears more than half of the sites now have 50-amp service. While the majority of the sites are grassy, 8 ADA-accessible paved sites are available.
Another great feature is around 20 sites are non-reservable (meaning first-come, first serve day-of). Having that many non-reservable spots is fantastic, because sometimes you don’t know your travel plans in advance. So many of the state parks only have 1 or 2, if any, non-reservable sites and the reserved sites book up 6 months in advance.
Wells State Park also has 5 rustic cabins to rent. The cabins are pretty bare, with bunk beds, vault toilets, and a hand water pump. You have to bring all your own linens and cookware. The cabins are located in a different section of the state park and are tucked into the woods for a more private experience. Also available to rent for large groups is the Bay Stone Lodge. The Lodge sleeps 12 and comes equipped with indoor plumbing, appliances, and more.
Hiking, swimming and more
There are 6 miles of trail winding through Wells State Park connecting the campground, day-use area, cabins, and the woods. There are three rustic shelters located along the path. These trails are open to cross-country skiing in the winter, although the trails are not groomed.
A large picnic area with picnic tables, grills, volleyball court, horseshoe court and more are located in the day-use area. Shelters are available to rent.
The large sandy swimming beach is located in the day-use area. For those not staying in the campground, the restroom facilities have separate changing facilities.
And while most parks have started providing ADA-accessible walkways to the beach, Wells State Park has gone above and beyond. They constructed a cement ramp that allows a wheelchair or stroller to get right down to the sand.
If you have a boat, there is no boat launch in the state park. However, the Cedar River State Harbor and boat launch are located right next door.
For some folks in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, this state park may be quite a long drive, but we think once you get there you will agree it was worth the effort!
We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. We have a video about Wells 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.