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Michigan State Parks

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USA Parks
Northeast Region
Thunder Bay River State Forest
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Afternoon Hike ©
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10 sites for tent and small trailer use. Located along the Thunder Bay River providing water access to every campsite. Small boat launch on the campground. Wah-Wah-Tas-See Pathway access. Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump. Sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. Check with State Forest Campground Manager for seasonal availability.
History of the Area
Thunder Bay River State Forest, located in northeastern Michigan, has a rich and interesting history dating back to its establishment in the early 20th century.

The forest is named after the Thunder Bay River, which flows through the area. Native American tribes, including the Ojibwa, Potawatomi, and Ottawa, inhabited the region for centuries and relied on the river for transportation, fishing, and hunting. These tribes had a deep connection to the land and its resources.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the region began to attract European settlers who recognized the value of the forest's timber. Timber companies, led by Henry R. Bridge and later Louis Wickes, acquired large tracts of land in the area. They established sawmills and started logging operations, harvesting the valuable pine and hardwood trees.

However, excessive logging led to deforestation and environmental degradation. The timber industry declined in the 1920s, leaving behind denuded land, stumps, and slash heaps. Recognizing the need for reforestation and conservation, the state of Michigan acquired over 9,000 acres of land around the Thunder Bay River in 1922 to establish the Thunder Bay River State Forest.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program established during the Great Depression, played a crucial role in reshaping the state forest. CCC workers planted millions of trees, built roads, trails, and recreational facilities, and implemented erosion control measures. Their efforts transformed the barren landscape into a thriving forested area.

Thunder Bay River State Forest became a popular destination for outdoor recreation, such as camping, hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation. Over time, the state forest expanded in size as additional land was acquired and incorporated into its boundaries.

Thunder Bay River State Forest spans over 2,800 acres and is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It provides a diverse habitat for wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and various bird species. The forest also serves as a water catchment area for several rivers and streams.

The history of Thunder Bay River State Forest is a testament to the importance of conservation and reforestation efforts in the face of ecological destruction. It stands as a reminder of the region's rich natural heritage and the tireless work of the CCC and other conservation-minded groups in preserving and restoring the forest for future generations.
The Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forest campgrounds and state trail parking lots. Details and information on how to obtain your Michigan Recreation Passport can be found by visiting the MICHIGAN RECREATION PASSPORT web page.
Clear Lake State Park, located in the Thunder Bay River State Forest, offers modern campsites and recreational activities. Atlanta State Forest Campground provides rustic camping options on the banks of the Thunder Bay River. Avery Lake State Forest Campgrounds has 24 sites for tent or small trailer use with views of Avery lake which also allows trout fishing. Rush Lake SPNM is suitable for those seeking a primitive camping experience away from motor vehicles noise pollution while Brown's Fishery & Camping Resort near Hubbard Lakeside Park offers full hookups including electric/water/sewer services plus free WiFi access throughout their property grounds for overnight stays either in rented cabins or personal RV/tent . Lastly Fletcher Floodwaters Dispersed Camping Site is perfect if you want a remote setting without amenities but it does have boat launch facility nearby into Fletcher Pond known locally for its excellent variety fish species availability year round seasonally depending upon weather conditions.

Nearby Vacation Rentals
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Thunder Bay River (on site): Bass, Pike, and Panfish.

Fletcher Pond (11 miles West): Pike, Bass, Crappie, and Walleye.

Lake Huron (11 miles East): Walleye, Salmon, Trout, and Bass.

Thunder Bay River State Forest is located near Alpena
Nearby Parks

Wah-Wah-Tas-See (on site): 1.5 miles of flat terrain with Native American interpretive information.

Norway Ridge (3 miles NE): 7 miles, slightly rolling terrain. Hike, bike, and cross-country skiing.

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Area Campgrounds
Campers Cove R.V.
5005 Long Rapids Road
Alpena, MI
Thunder Bay RV Park & Campground
4250 US 23 South
Alpena, MI

9 miles SW of Alpena via M-32 and Indian Reserve Road
Nearby Parks

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Michigan State Parks