What to do in Van Riper State Park

Van Riper State Park boasts 1,200 acres with half a mile of Lake Michigamme frontage offering an ideal summer swimming location. Warm water temperatures and fine sand beach are a pleasant alternative to the chilly Lake Superior waters and its stone beaches. The park also has half a mile of Peshekee River frontage. First developed as a mining area, the park now supports several miles of hiking trails amid northern hardwoods and conifers.

Back in the late 1980s, 59 moose were moved from Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada to a release area several miles north of Van Riper State Park. The herd has grown considerably and may be viewed when traveling areas north of the park. Information is available at the park.

Van Riper is located in an area rich in scenic, historic and recreational sites. It is only a few miles east of the park where iron ore was first discovered in the Lake Superior region in 1845. Evidence of early mining ventures of almost a century ago can be seen along several miles of good foot trails that wander through the hills on the north side of the highway. A fine scenic overlook of Lake Michigamme is found along these trails. Open pit mines are still operating in the general area and the Iron Industry Museum located in Negaunee is well worth a visit.

Located in a conifer and hardwood forest, the Van Riper State Park offers an information center, sandy beach, hiking trails, two campgrounds and ideal fishing in the heart of moose country.

A modern campground is located in a stand of conifers and hardwoods overlooking the lake. Modern conveniences include hot showers, flush toilets and electricity. Camping facilities are open April 15 to November 15 with no modern toilets the first and last month. The beach is within walking distance of the campground.

A rustic campground adjoins the modern facility with hand pumps, vault toilets but no electricity. For a small fee, campers may use the modern bathhouse located at the modern campground. Groceries and supplies are available at the park store or in Champion, which is one mile east of the park.

Van Riper State Park is open to hunting for all species following regular State Regulations between September 15 and March 31. The terrain is mixed hardwoods and swamp offering ideal habitat for deer, bear squirrel, rabbit and grouse. The park is also open to trapping providing excellent muskrat, beaver and mink populations.

Lake Michigamme is one of the top walleye lakes in the Upper Peninsula supporting healthy populations of bass, perch, northern pike and muskellunge. A boat launch is provided. Improved woods roads also provide access to the many streams, lakes and the great forest that lie north of the park.

This remote park is excellent for sighting wildlife, catching game fish, hunting, lake swimming, hiking and camping. An information center enhances your exploration of Van Riper State Park.

Van Riper- Modern - (800) 447-2757, 147 site(s), $23/$21
Van Riper- Rustic - (800) 447-2757, 40 site(s), $14
Van Riper-Rustic Cabin - (906) 339-4461, $60

Van Riper-Overlook Trail - 1 (Miles), Hiking
Van Riper-Main Trail - 0.5 (Miles), Hiking, Cross Country Ski
Van Riper-Old Wagon Road Trail - 1.5 (Miles), Hiking, Cross Country Ski
Van Riper-Miners Loop - 0.25 (Miles), Hiking, Cross Country Ski
Van Riper-River Trail - 1.5 (Miles), Hiking, Cross Country Ski

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the park sits just west of Champion along US-41.

The Upper Peninsula normally experiences mild summers with average temperatures near 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). Winter temperatures average 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C). Rain and snowmelt in the region can reach up to 200 inches annually. Travelers should be aware that significant amounts of snow could fall within a relatively short period of time resulting in hazardous road conditions.

P.O. Box 88
Champion, MI 49814-0088

Phone: 906-339-4461

  • Van Riper State Park Travel Q&A