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Attention: Anticipated status for 2015 summer season Clark Lake Boat Landing- OPEN Clark Lake Day-Use building- OPEN Sylvania (Clark Lake Campground)- OPEN Crooked Lake Road and Boat Landing- UNDER CONSTRUCTION, delays with possible closures. See details below.


part ofOttawa National Forest, US Forest Service
Status: Open through Thu Dec 31 2015   Season Dates


The Sylvania Wilderness encompasses 18,327 acres of primitive lands and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Visitors can camp in 50 designated campsites within the Sylvania Wilderness. Visitors enjoy endless canoeing, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Anticipated status for 2015 summer season, see details below:

Clark Lake Boat Landing- OPEN

Clark Lake Day-Use building- OPEN

Sylvania (Clark Lake Campground)- OPEN

Crooked Lake Road and Boat Landing- UNDER CONSTRUCTION, delays with possible closures.

The Sylvania Recreation Area underwent major road improvements in 2014 in the Clark Lake area. The roads, sidewalks, and parking areas were completely redone, including culvert replacement, draining improvement, and paving at the following locations: all of the roads around the Sylvania Entrance Station, the road to Clark Lake boat landing and day-use building, Clark Lake boat landing parking lot, day-use parking lot, and all of the campground loops and parking spurs. Winter weather early in the fall delayed completion, so the work was 95% complete in 2014. The final layer of asphalt must be laid, as well as some finishing work in the parking area by the Day-Use building. Dates for this work will not be determined until road weight restrictions are lifted in the late spring/early summer. This work may cause short-term temporary delays, but the roads will remain open during construction.

The Clark Lake Day Use Building was completely renovated and modernized, both inside and out. A completely new water system and septic system were installed, which include modern bathroom and shower facilities. Each bathroom has multiple private showers and changing areas (one accessible shower in each bathroom), electric hand dryers, baby changing stations, and new sinks and toilets! The exterior of the building had some siding replaced and repaired, a new asphalt shingle roof, and a new color scheme! Some work will need to be completed early in the 2015 summer season, but we do anticipate the building to open for much of the summer.

The Sylvania (Clark Lake) Campground will be open this season. Open season dates have not been set; we are currently working to select a new concessionaire to operate the campground under a special-use permit.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION on the ROAD TO CROOKED LAKE and the CROOKED LAKE BOAT LANDING Summer 2015- DELAYS and CLOSURES POSSIBLE. We anticipate receiving funds necessary to renovate the road to the Crooked Lake boat landing and the parking area at Crooked Lake. Closure is not certain at this time, as a contract has not been awarded, but please consider this information when making a camping reservation and planning your trip. We will notify the public of the schedule if/when a contract is awarded. Parking will be available on the Clark Lake side and all other trailheads into Sylvania Wilderness.

Please call our Visitor Center at (906) 358-4724 or the Sylvania Entrance Station (open May15) for current conditions.

Natural Features:

The old-growth forests and pristine lakes in the region provide habitat for a wide range of animal and plant life, including rare orchids, bald eagles, loons and osprey. The wilderness contains 34 named lakes, some with sandy beaches and others surrounded by record-size red and white pines.

The Ottawa National Forest is comprised of nearly 1 million acres and is located in the western reaches of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The forest's rolling, forest covered hills extend from the south shore of Lake Superior to the Wisconsin border. Lakes, rivers and waterfalls are found throughout this beautiful landscape.


Sylvania's abundant lakes provide plentiful non-motorized boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing opportunities. Other popular activities include hiking and viewing wildlife.


Sylvania Wilderness Backcountry Camp is not a physical campground located at one location. The 50 individual sites are located along eight lakes within the Sylvania Wilderness. Camping is allowed only at designated sites.

Campsites are primitive, but each is equipped with a campfire ring and a wilderness latrine.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Beach Access
  • Berry Picking
  • Boat-In Sites
  • Boating
  • Campfire Rings
  • Canoeing
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Drinking Water (Hand Pump)
  • Educational Programs
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Lake Access
  • Parking Area
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Pit Toilets
  • Showers
  • Snowshoeing
  • Swimming
  • Trash Collection
  • Visitor Center
Know Before You Go
  • Special rules apply within the Sylvania Wilderness and must be observed by all visitors;
  • click here for these rules and a detailed map
  • Prior to camping any time between May 15 through Sept 30, visitors are required to handle reservations, fee payment, registration and watch a Leave No Trace video at the Sylvania Entrance Station (Sat-Thu 8:30-5, Fri 8:30-6); call (906) 358-4404 for information
  • A $5/day or $20/season facility pass is required for use of the developed facilities within Sylvania Recreation Area; pass includes parking, as well as hot showers at the Clark Lake Day Use Area
  • Motorized, mechanized or gas-powered vehicles, including portage wheels and bicycles, are not allowed; some exceptions can be made for electric motors by contacting the entrance station
  • Wheelchairs are permitted
  • Be prepared to portage your canoe
  • Before July 15, landing on islands is not allowed in order to protect nesting loons
  • Metal or glass food or beverage containers, including deposit bottles, cans and styrofoam may not be taken into the wilderness
  • Camping is free and open at designated sites outside the reservation season on a first come, first served basis from October 1st through May 14th
  • Click here to learn more about Ottawa National Forest
  • Don't move firewood: To limit the spread of invasive tree-killing pests, firewood from outside the area is not permitted. Some states have quarantines and may confiscate your firewood. Please help protect our forests from invasive species by obtaining your firewood at or near your camping destination and burning it on-site. Visit dontmovefirewood.org for more information.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
46.24472, -89.31056
46°14'41"N, 89°18'38"W

Wilderness campsites can be accessed from Sylvania Recreation Area or from entry points on the perimeter of the wilderness (see map).

To reach Sylvania Entrance Station and Recreation Area: From Watersmeet, travel approximately 4 miles west on U.S. 2 to County Road 535, then drive south on CR 535 approximately 4 miles south to the Sylvania Recreation Area.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:


Phone Number:

Information:  (906)358-4724
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