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About 15 minutes southwest of Ellsworth, Michigan, you’ll find Torch Lake. It’s as though you’ve traveled to the Caribbean without leaving the United States. One guest writes on Google, “So beautiful, clean, clear water. It’s like being in the Bahamas but in Michigan.”
It’s no wonder Torch Lake, Michigan, camping is so popular in the summer. But you have to plan ahead if you ever want to make it to this stunning location. Let’s explore camping in this beautiful area.
Where Is Torch Lake in Michigan?
Torch Lake is the longest and deepest inland lake in Michigan at 19 miles long and an average of 111 ft deep.
The Ojibwa, a local Native American tribe, named the lake “Place of Torches” because they once used torches for hunting and fishing at night.
It’s situated on the northeastern side of Lake Michigan, just south of Highway 31.
Properties here sell for millions of dollars as it’s one of the most beautiful areas in the country.
Celebrities like Kid Rock and Eminem have second homes here.
Summertime at Torch Lake is very busy, with seasonal travelers spending weeks enjoying the stunning scenery and refreshing Michigan climate.
Torch Lake, Michigan, camping is also very popular, and campgrounds fill up months in advance. Some book a year in advance.
What Is Torch Lake Known For?
Torch Lake is known for its pristine beauty and turquoise waters. Enjoy the sandy beaches at the water’s edge.
Summer tourists especially love the Torch Lake Sandbar at the south end. More people boat in this part of the lake.
Additionally, many enjoy fishing.
You’ll likely catch lake trout, rock bass, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and pike. You can also find ciscoes, brown trout, steelhead, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, and whitefish.
The natural beauty and connection with the outdoors make Torch Lake, Michigan, camping so desirable.
Pro Tip: Learn Everything You Need to Know About Michigan Camping before you go
Does Torch Lake in Michigan Have Camping?
You can’t camp on Torch Lake.
In fact, the closest campgrounds that offer reservations for transients and seasonal visitors are several miles away.
So plan on driving to Torch Lake from other campgrounds in the area.
You’ll find million-dollar homes on the lake, not campsites.
Campgrounds Near Torch Lake
Torch Grove is the closest campground to Torch Lake.
However, due to its popularity, it has reduced the number of transients and seasonal travelers.
It is often booked out for a year ahead or more.
Don’t worry though, below are other campgrounds near Torch Lake that you may have a chance to book.
They offer various experiences, from rustic campsites to full hook-ups.
If you want to go camping near Torch Lake, Michigan, you won’t go wrong with any of these locations.
Honcho Rest Campground
Address: 8988 Cairn Hwy, Elk Rapids, MI 49629
Honcho Rest Campground sits along 900 ft of Bass Lake. This RV-only site doesn’t allow tents.
It has 97 RV sites equipped with sewer, water, electric, and cable.
Seven sites only offer water, electric, and cable.
You can also rent a cabin.
Fishing is quite popular with common catches of perch, small and largemouth bass, bullhead catfish, and crappie.
Campers can use row boats and a canoe during their stay. It also has a fish cleaning station, a laundry facility, and numerous bathrooms.
The kids can visit the few play areas, basketball courts, and a tetherball area.
Honcho Rest Campground has a great location to enjoy the town, just one mile from downtown Elk Rapids.
Chain O’Lakes Campground
Address: 7231 South M-88 Hwy, Bellaire, MI 49615
This Torch Lake, Michigan, camping spot lies 2 miles from Lake Bellaire and 7 miles from Torch Lake.
Chain O’Lakes Campground offers full hook-up sites and cabin rentals. The deluxe center campsites have 30 amps.
The premium sites in the northeast section offer 50 amp service.
You can go swimming, boating, and fishing in the area.
On-site, you’ll find a laundry facility, volleyball court, swimming pool, hiking trails, and several restrooms with showers.
During the summer, Chain O’Lakes Campground hosts a free ice cream social and a bonfire every Friday night.
And it has popcorn and a hayride every Saturday night. The property also has a petting zoo.
Keep in Mind: While you’re visiting Michigan, here are a few National Parks to add to your itinerary!
Rapid River Campground
Address: 7182 US 131 South NE, Kalkaska, MI 49646
Rapid River Campground offers rustic sites with no hook-ups, with water only, and some with water and electricity.
You can also rent a cabin. Located right off Highway 131, you have easy access to Torch Lake, Elk Lake, and Lake Skegemog.
The highway will also take you to all of the towns for shopping, dining, and exploring.
You can use the free Wi-Fi in the clubhouse.
Rapid River also features a camp store and a bathhouse.
The campground includes over 26 acres to explore and 700 ft of Rapid River riverfront.
You’ll find golf courses, casinos, theaters, wineries, and pubs all nearby.
Rapid River Campground offers a more scenic, natural experience than one full of activities and amenities.
Whitewater Township Park
Address: 9500 Park Road, Williamsburg, MI 49690
Fishermen and boaters enjoy White Water Township Park as it sits on the southwest side of Elk Lake.
It has a boat launch on the property.
The campground also features 55 sites for tents and RVs. Each provides 30 amp service.
In addition to the nightly rate, it has an $8 reservation fee per campsite.
Elk Rapids is a short, 10-minute drive north.
White Water Township Park offers guests access to a playground, soccer field, volleyball court, and bathhouse.
The rustic scenery includes views of Elk Lake and two miles of nature trails.
You can also access the beach area for swimming and enjoying the lake views.
Pro Tip: Looking to camp further north in the Upper Peninsula? These are the best camping spots!
Address: 12298 Barnes Park Road, Eastport, MI 49627
Barnes Park, located on Grand Traverse Bay, has 129 acres of woods operated by Antrim County.
Barnes County Park campground is the closest to Lake Michigan of all the campgrounds on this list.
Most sites have electricity, with only a few walk-in tent sites.
The campground features a water fill-up and dump station as well.
Guests have access to all of the Barnes County Park amenities.
These include a playground, picnic area, basketball courts, and a baseball field.
You also get beach access and two pavilions.
Although the campground sits on Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan, Torch Lake lies just across Highway 31.
Pro Tip: If Torch Lake campgrounds are booked, check out these campgrounds in Michigan that are perfect for your Great Lakes getaway
Add Camping in Torch Lake Michigan to Your Bucket List
If you can get a reservation for a campground near Torch Lake, make your reservation as long as possible. You might not get another chance to explore this beautiful area.
Plan a year in advance to have the highest chance of getting a site. Torch Lake, Michigan, camping may just become a yearly adventure. Come to relax or explore.
What are you waiting for? Start looking at next summer’s reservations today.