DNR limits backcountry campsites in Porkies

Campers can now make reservations

An intricate network of trails provides the backbone of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The park has towering virgin timber, secluded lakes and miles of wild rivers and streams in 60,000 acres.

ONTONAGON –The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will limit the number of designated backcountry campsites at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, to better protect park resources and help ensure a quality backcountry camping experience.

At roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan’s largest state park, home to towering old-growth hemlock-hardwood stands, roaring waterfalls and spectacular sweeping vistas.

Annual visitation to the park is estimated to have grown to more than 300,000 people.

In past years, backcountry campsites were available on a first-come, first-served basis, park rangers did not need to limit camping and campers could camp off-trail in a dispersed fashion away from designated campsites.

Over the past few years, park resources have been used heavily and the solitude of a wilderness experience backcountry campers are seeking has been compromised by overcrowding.

“In recent years, we have had several nights that exceeded our capacity. We are now requiring campers to stay at designated campsites and we are limiting the number of registered campsites to 63 per night to protect the backcountry experience for all,” said Michael Knack, park supervisor. “Campers can now make a reservation for campsites and all backcountry campers will be required to camp on the specific backcountry campsite or campsites they have registered for.”

Backcountry campsites are numbered and have a metal fire ring.

“Reservations are strongly encouraged given popularity of the park’s backcountry and the number of available campsites,” said Bob Wild, a park interpreter at the state park. “We will most likely fill-up several nights this season.”

The backcountry camping limit of 63 permits nightly is equal to the number of campsites. The cost to camp for one night is $15 for one to six people. The maximum number of campers per site is six.

Backcountry camping reservations are available six months in advance for May 15 through Oct. 15 at www.midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-44PARKS. The remainder of the year is local sale only at the park.

An online reservation is not a backcountry camping permit.

Backcountry campers will need to visit one of three check stations when they arrive at the park to be issued their backcountry camping permit. Self-registration at the park is no longer offered.

Check-in is required at the park year-round to obtain a camping permit. After hours arrival requires next day check-in prior to entering the backcountry.

Check-in hours and locations include (all times listed are Eastern):

— May 15 through Oct. 15: Park Visitor Center, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Union Bay Campground Office, 6 to 8 p.m.

— Oct. 16 through May 14: Park headquarters, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

View the park’s backcountry camping map and information at www.michigan.gov/porkiesvc.

For general information on camping in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/camping.

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