Union Bay Modern Campground

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Campground - entrance sign

DNR website

Campground phone:  906-885-5207

Reservations Information

Dates of Visit:  August-September, 2011

Union Bay is a seasonal campground and is only open from mid May to mid October.  During that time you can call the campground and the helpful rangers and staff can provide details on sites that you might not get from the Reservations Center.

To get info on individual sites (maximum size RV, etc.) from the Reservations Center, you have to enter the dates you're thinking of and your specifics, and that will open a chart with the sites available and more descriptions, along with a link to a map showing availability on site map.

The campground has 99 sites available for RVs and tents.  All sites have electric service.  During my visit in 2011, all were 30 amp.

Union Bay Campground entrance

Entrance into campground past registration station

The road to the right leads to lakefront sites and to the left for interior sites.  See site map below for campground and site layout. (See separate MichiganMiles pages for Lakefront Sites and Interior Sites, and Sunsets at Union Bay.)

Union Bay Campground - Site Map

Union Bay Modern Campground – Site Map (click for full size on DNR site)

While technically sites 1-7 are on the lakeside and the map makes them look so close, a bluff and heavy foliage prevents direct access to the lake from these first few sites. The picture of the entrance above shows the middle of Site 5 on the right. 

Site 30 shown on the map is actually a day use area with large picnic table and bbq pit, next to a short path that leads to Lake Superior.

Union Bay - road to lakefront sites

Here you're coming down the road with Site 10 on the left and the first trailer you see on the lakeside is in Site 13.  Before that and not able to be seen from this vantage point, are Sites 9 and 11, and the motorhome parked lengthwise is in Site 15.

Union Bay - Interior Row of CG

This shows the interior road starting with Site 66.

Union Bay - bathhouse

Further down the road is the only bathhouse.  It has showers, toilets, and even a small laundry room with a coin operated washer and two dryers. 

Union Bay - stairs to bathhouse from lake row

From the lakeside sites these are the stairs to the bathhouse.  Note there are no bathroom facilities on the same level as the lakeside sites.

Union Bay - Site 72

The higher level of the interior sites can be seen from this Site 72 with a view of the lake below.

Union Bay - Outpost

There’s the Porcupine Mountain Outpost store right outside the entrance to the campground.  It's open from May through mid October.  They have souvenirs, some camping supplies and clothing.  They sometimes have pre-made sandwiches from a local vendor, but besides soft drinks and milk, there are no real groceries here. I went to Ontonagon (25 miles away) for groceries and to eat at Syl's (a must-do) during the time I was here.

Jimmy Newkirk - Park RangerDuring my visit, I was glad to meet Jimmy Newkirk, a particularly helpful Park Ranger and he told me about planned future improvements, like 50 amp service at some sites and updating the bathhouse.

He called the Porcupine Mountains "a park of contrasts – wild and modern at the same time – city water, yet it's also a designated wilderness area."  It does have a true wilderness feel with both rustic and modern campgrounds, as well as yurts for those without RVs.  Yet it is easy to get to with great roads and loads of beautiful scenery along the way.

Jimmy was at Tahquamenon Falls for 1-1/2 years before coming here and said "There's a different user group here. At Tahquamenon, people basically came to see the falls, a more concentrated area to explore. Here, there are 60,000 acres with over 90 miles of trails. There's definitely something here for everyone."

He and his wife, Heather, love living in the Porkies, even if they have to plan their shopping trips more in advance.  The nearest WalMart is in Ironwood, about 60 miles away.  Heather is a talented photographer – her "Naturally Inspired Photography" of the UP and scenes at Union Bay are truly inspiring!

Jimmy said the most common complaints about this campground is that there are no pull-through sites and not enough that are suitable for large RVs.  Tips:  the bugs are worse in June and July (especially on the shoreline) and get better in August.  The first two weeks in August are pretty busy with lots of kids enjoying their last hurrah before school starts.  If you like quieter times, the last two weeks in August are for you.  They picked this time for the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival, and I sure was glad I was there for that!


This is a 10 minute slide show I did on YouTube that shows a picture of every site, along with description as it takes you through the campground as you would drive through.  Use the Play/Pause button if it goes too fast for you.  Take your time and savor this campground!



I stayed connected to the internet with my Verizon 3G aircard and phone worked here at the campground with no problems at all.  There is also free wi-fi at the nearby Visitor's Center.



Here's an article about some of my favorite times in the Porcupine Mountains published in the August 2012 edition of MotorHome Magazine, copied here with their permission.

Other Michigan Miles pages about Union Bay Campground:

General Campground Information

Lakefront Sites

Interior and Perimeter Sites

Sunsets from Union Bay Campground

And here are more pictures and descriptions of Union Bay Campground I posted to Facebook (they're public so you don't need a Facebook account to view them):

Union Bay Campground

Individual sites at Union Bay Campground

Short YouTube video I did about a wonderful, windy day at Union Bay and how much I love Lake Superior!

Lightening on Lake Superior (taken right in front of my campsite)



I'd love to hear your own experiences about places I've been - and what you think are "must-sees" - and I really value any suggestions and feedback from readers, so please let me have your 2 cents in Comments below:

  • Mokatz

    Thanks so much, Malia!  We are planning a family camping trip to the Porcupine Mountains, and your site was a great resource in choosing a site to reserve in the Union Bay campground.  Your descriptions and photos are so helpful, as well as an inspiration for the long drive from Missouri!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know that – it really is music to my ears and why I do these pages!

      Believe me, the Porcupine Mountains is well worth the drive from Missouri – Texas is even farther and I’m going back the second I can!

      I hope you’ll share your own experiences and have a great stay.


  • Great information Malia.  It’s also worth mentioning that there is good Verizon 3G phone service for those of us addicted to the internet.

    • Yep, I used my Verizon 3G aircard and phone here with no problems at all.  I share your addiction!  🙂

  • kramsey

    Hi Malia. My son and I just returned from Union Bay in the Porkies. Unfortunately, Jimmy is no longer the park manager, I was looking forward to meeting him. Didn’t get the chance to meet the new manager, but the park itself is more than I had hoped.
    First of all, the area is unmatched in its unspoiled beauty. We took a hike on one of the trails alongside the Presque Isle River, and the forested area we walked through was absolutely enchanting! A mother deer and fawn were feeding among some nearby ferns where some sunlight was breaking through the trees. I almost cried, it was so magical. I could go on and on!
    We found the campground to be very well kept, and our neighbors seemed to be of a more respectful and peaceful group than we sometimes find in the more “popular” state parks in the lower peninsula. I plan to return someday, although I will not book site 16 again. We had some heavy rain come through during our stay, and that site is a natural path for the rainwater from the upper level campsites on its way to Lake Superior (it is one of the beautiful lakefront sites, but right at the bottom of the stairs to the shower building). Since we were in tents, this was a problem. Other than that, I very highly recommend the campground!
    Thank you for all your priceless info on our precious state parks. I hope to see some updates or new reports on your jouneys!

    • I’m so glad you liked Union Bay as much as I did! But Jimmy was never the park manager – he is a Ranger and he’s still there, so sorry you missed meeting him – he’s a real hoot! Sorry you had such heavy rain that it made your site too yucky, but it sounds like you had some other magical moments to at least partially make up for that. Thanks so much for getting in touch and sharing your experience!

  • stacey

    Malia, is there a sand beach at this park or at the Union Bay campground? it looks like rock in the pictures. I was hoping to go here this year but am afraid my kids will miss the beach:)

    • Stacey, I had to go through my other pictures to see, since I think I remember it had at least a small sandy beach area, but I wasn’t sure. See if you can see this picture I posted to Facebook back then. This was on one side of the campground and it is sandy. If you can’t see it, let me know. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1965462295799&set=a.1953095306632.2098986.1220139478&type=3&l=8a3b2582a4&theater

      Plus, there’s an area nearby called Union Bay Landing that had a pretty extensive sandy beach.

      I don’t know how old your kids are, but the rocks around the campground sites are not hard to get around and they’re so interesting, too!