Monday, August 22, 2011

Best Au Sable River Camping Spots

If you live in Michigan and play in the outdoors, then you've heard of the mighty Au Sable River. 120 miles, from Grayling to Oscoda, this river winds through endless stretches of the Huron National Forest and drops through 6 hydroelectric dams.

Whether you plan to canoe the entire river (as I did) or simply go out for an overnight, you'll love the Huron National Forest camp sites along the Au Sable River. Most of these sites require backcountry camp permits and reservations. If, however, you plan to camp in out-of-the-way spots on the side of the river (non-designated camp sites) then you won't need any reservations or permits.

The best camping areas on the Au Sable are Cook and Foote Dam Ponds. Each of these "ponds" (they're more like lakes especially when you're trying to canoe thru them) has a myriad of potential camp sites. Paddle 20 minutes and you're sure to pass by a camp site with impeccable views over the ponds, a rope swing, and a fire circle. The tall pine forests and sandy soil in the area make a beautiful combination.

If you can only pick on camp site to use, choose a primitive camping site on either Cook or Foote Dam Pond.

Want permits? Contact the Huron Shores Ranger Station: (989) 739-0728.

Did I mention that there's no mosquitoes? I traveled the length of the Au Sable from August 16-20th and got, maybe, five mosquito bites the entire time. Leave the tent and bring a tarp to sleep out under the stars with views over glassy calm waters.

Expect to see lots of Great Blue Herons, turtles, Whitetail Deer, and Bald Eagles.

If you're looking to camp on the Au Sable River, I would highly recommend avoiding the touristy campgrounds and instead, find yourself a little slice of paradise on a sandy island under the stars. No permits, reservations, or fees required.


  1. This very nice and interesting adventures, for sure your idea is working best for me.

    Zion National Park Camping

  2. We are looking the do some primative camping and kayaking this summer and found your article helpful. We live in Alpena, just north of the AuSable. Just one question, where would you launch and exit, on a two night camping trip, and is there a livery that picks you up at the end, and brings to back to your vehicle? Thanks for the input.


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