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Landscape at sunset of the shoreline of Lake Michigan at Van Buren State Park, Michigan, USA

Van Buren State Park is a popular recreational area located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, just minutes from South Haven.

It was established in 1965, and is named after the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren – having been created as a result of a land purchased by the State of Michigan in the 1950s.

Covering a distance of over 400 acres, the park is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue water, and picturesque dunes. Attracting visitors from all over Michigan and beyond who come to enjoy the natural beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities the park has to offer.

Popular with those who enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, boating, birdwatching, and picnicking, this Michigan state park is a terrific destination to immerse yourself within the bosom of nature.

Whether you are coming for a day trip or planning a longer stay, there is no better place than Van Buren State Park to relax your mind and reinvigorate your soul.


Patrons at Van Buren State Park are able to partake in a wide selection of fun leisure and recreational outdoor pursuits while they are there.

Outlined below is a brief summary of some of the most popular activities you can do during your time at the park.

Boating at Van Buren State Park

Boating is a great way to explore Lake Michigan and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the park.

Unfortunately, the park does not offer boat rentals, so visitors must bring their own watercraft.

However, the park does have a boat launch area that provides easy access to Lake Michigan, as well as a parking lot for vehicles with trailers. This boat launch is open from May to October.

Boaters who head out onto the water must follow all state and federal laws and regulations, including having the proper safety equipment on board.

Fishing at Van Buren State Park

For anglers, Van Buren State Park offers a variety of fishing opportunities, with Lake Michigan being the main draw. The lake is known for its excellent fishing, particularly for salmon, trout, and bass.

Guests can choose to fish from the shore, by boat, or on the fishing pier on Lake Michigan. However, to do so they will need to hold a valid Michigan fishing license.

Hiking at Van Buren State Park

Van Buren State Park offers several hiking trails for visitors to explore. These trails offer a chance to take in the park’s wonderful natural beauty and observe its diverse flora and fauna.

The Van Buren Trail is the main hiking trail in the park, and it stretches for two miles through a wooded area along the shore of Lake Michigan. This trail is open year-round and offers a moderately challenging hike, with some areas of steep incline and steps to navigate.

For those looking for a shorter hike, the Dune Ridge Trail is a half-mile loop that takes visitors through a wooded area and up and over a dune ridge. Should you tackle this, you will be able to take in scenic views of the park and Lake Michigan.

In addition to these main trails, the park also has several shorter trails that wind through wooded areas and offer a chance to see wildlife and local plant life. The trails range in difficulty from easy to moderate and can be accessed from the main parking lot near the beach.

Picnicking at Van Buren State Park

Picnicking is a popular activity at Van Buren State Park, with a number of picnic areas dotted throughout the park.

These picnic areas offer shaded spots to relax and enjoy an outdoor meal, providing grills and picnic tables for your convenience.

In addition to them, the park also has a beach house that can be rented for picnics and events.

Birding at Van Buren State Park

Van Buren State Park is a noted spot for birdwatching, with over 170 bird species recorded in the park.

The park’s picturesque and diverse habitats, including wetlands, woods, and dunes, provide opportunities to spot a wide variety of bird species.

Some of the bird species that can be spotted in the park include bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and sandhill cranes.


Pets are welcome at Van Buren State Park, with designated pet-friendly areas available throughout the park.

Pets must be kept on a leash and under control at all times. The park also offers a dog beach, where pets can swim and play off-leash.


With its beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Michigan, the campground at Van Buren State Park is a terrific place to base yourself during your stay.

Overall there are 220 campsites available across two campgrounds. One of which is located on the beach and the other on a wooded dune overlooking Lake Michigan.

The beach campground offers 121 campsites with electric hookups, as well as modern restrooms and showers. While the second campground, located on a wooded dune overlooking Lake Michigan, offers 99 campsites with electric hookups.

The campsites at the latter are nestled among the trees, so offer a more secluded and peaceful camping experience.

The wooded campground also has modern restrooms and showers.

Both campgrounds have fire pits and picnic tables at each site, and firewood is available for purchase at the park office. The campsites can be reserved online or by phone up to six months in advance.

For those who prefer a more rustic camping experience, Van Buren State Park also offers a hike-in rustic campground.

The hike-in campground is located in a wooded area just a short walk from the beach and offers 12 primitive campsites.

These hike-in sites are not accessible by car, and campers must carry all of their gear to the campsite. While the hike-in campground has a pit toilet, there is no running water or shower facilities.

However, campers do have access to all the facilities of the main campground, including the beach, modern restrooms and showers, and the picnic shelter and playground at the beach campground.

Park Location

Van Buren State Park
23960 Ruggles Rd,
South Haven Charter Twp, MI 49090
Phone: 269.637.2788

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Van Buren State Park: