Campsites seem like a weird thing to need to call dibs on, but a bill that has been introduced in Michigan would give residents of the state first dibs on campsite reservations at state parks.

State Representative Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan) proposed the bill on March 19. The bill (House Bill 5597) would give Michiganders the ability to reserve campsites two weeks earlier than those who do not reside in the state.

How to Reserve a Campsite at a Michigan State Park

Currently, reservation ability opens up to everyone six months prior to the date of check-in at Michigan State Parks. (ex. If you want to start your camping trip on the Fourth of July, you can go online or call to make your reservation starting on January 4.)

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Is It Really That Hard to Reserve a Campsite at a Michigan State Park?

I'm speaking from personal experience when I say, "Absolutely. Yes." I camp at Silver Lake State Park every summer with a pretty large group of people. We spend several weeks in the early months of the year on our computers and phones praying that we'll get the campsite that we're hoping to get.

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Could Changes Be Coming to Michigan State Parks Campsite Reservations?

It's entirely possible. In a release, Rep. Cavitt said,

It’s great to see so many people interested in camping in Michigan. But some of our most popular parks fill up so quickly that state residents have less than 20 minutes to get a spot before they’re gone. There should be perks to living in Michigan.

Cavitt also said something that many Michiganders have been saying for years.

Michigan families shouldn’t have to plan their vacations by huddling around a computer in December and praying for a nice campsite.

If the bill were to pass as-is, residents of Michigan would be able to start reserving sites at state parks two weeks before non-Michigan residents. It's unclear what that two-week window will look like, but in my mind, there are two possible scenarios:

  • The sites will become available to Michigan residents six months prior to the check-in day (as it is now), and then the sites will open to non-residents two weeks later.
  • Or, the sites would become available to Michigan residents six months and two weeks prior to the check-in day, and then non-residents would be able to reserve two weeks later.

The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee for further consideration.

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