Nordhouse Dunes on Lake Michigan is one of the best places to paddle and camp in West Michigan.
We left thousands of people at a sold out huge state park in Ludington, paddled 4 miles north and camped, free, on a deserted beach. This was an unexpected camping spot as we were told about it several hours earlier by another couple kayaking around the park.
We could not believe we could camp for free, away from everyone near the beach, but you can. We parked at the state park, left info with them about when we would return and they do check on your car. If you don't come back they will go looking for you.
Lake Michigan isn't the best place for beginners, though. It can be very nice one day, and turn on you the next. Our first day out was incredible -- paddle down the beech, look at the dunes. Set up our camp and return to the water to fish and tip the boats over. We returned to water the following morning to find building seas and ended our kayaking in 10 ft+ waves after no longer making progress towards the park. When the waves break in every direction it's no place for a loaded kayak. We walked the kayaks through the surf.
Check the weather b4 you go. It's a great trip... when the weather is good.
State Park with power. Ludington is a typical tourist town; it has everything. Note: the state park is full most of the summer -- VERY BUSY.
16 ft Old Town Cayuga
17 ft Cheasapeake Light Craft
The usual State Park fees
Nordhouse Dunes were free... however, there are lots of restrictions on fires and trash and everything. Check the national forest website for rules.
Ludington State Park is north of Muskegon on US-31.