Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area


Sylvania and Clark Lake Entrance Station

WARNING, CLARK LAKE ROAD CLOSED: A major road construction project is taking place this summer in the Sylvania perimeter area. Closing the roads to public use is necessary for public safety and will also facilitate the completion of construction activities so that the period of closure can be kept to a minimum. The Road System to Clark Lake boat landing, the Clark Lake Campground and Day-Use Area will be closed and under construction throughout the entire summer camping season. THE ROAD TO CROOKED LAKE WILL BE OPEN UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. 

The road to Clark Lake will be closed until further notice. The Clark Lake Campground and Clark Lake Day-Use Building will be closed for the season. No parking will be available at the Clark Lake boat landing when the roads are closed. Parking is available at several trailheads in the Sylvania Perimeter Area and at Crooked Lake. Please be aware that parking areas are limited and you may have to change your access points to Sylvania Backcountry campsites. Hiking or portage distances to your desired campsite may increase due to parking availability. For current road closure status, please call the Sylvania Entrance Station 906-358-4404 (open May 15th- Sept 30) or the Ottawa Visitor Center 906-358-4724. The Sylvania Entrance Station will be OPEN for the season and your backcountry camping permits will be available there. The $5 daily or $20 annual fee will remain in effect while the Crooked Lake Road is open and vehicles are allowed to travel beyond the Entrance Station.  We apologize for the inconvenience. For more information and alternate access to your campsites please click here.


The Sylvania Wilderness and Sylvania Recreation Area, is located near Watersmeet, Michigan and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Combined with the adjacent Recreation Area, this 18,327 acre wilderness offers an outstanding experience for those who want to camp, fish, hike, canoe, ski, or enjoy the solitude of a wilderness experience. Few Wilderness compare to Sylvania. Here you will find 34 named lakes - some with sandy beaches, others surrounded by record-sized red and white pines. This large natural area with its old growth forest and pristine lakes provides habitat for a wide range of living things. While exploring Sylvania you might see threatened or endangered plants and animals. Camping is permitted at designated sites by permit only. Permits can be obtained on a walk-in basis at the Sylvania Entrance Station or can be reserved by selecting "Sylvania Wilderness BCTRY Camp" through Reserve America on line at Reservations can also be made by calling toll free, 1-877-444-6777. International calls can be directed to 518-885-3639 and TDD calls to 1-877-833-6777.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: The entrance station is closed for the season, and water has been shut off.  Primitive camping is allowed at designated backcountry campsites, and will be free until May 15, 2015.  There is ongoing road construction in the Sylvania entrance area.  The campground and day-use building are closed.  The road to Clark Lake is closed to all visitors.  The road to Crooked Lake is currently open.
Operational Hours: The Entrance Station is open May 15th - September 30th Saturday - Thursday 8:30 a. m. - 5:00 p. m. CST and Friday 8:30 a. m. - 6:00 p. m. CST
Rentals & Guides: Outfitters are available in surrounding towns.
Area Amenities: Accessible,Boat ramp,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees Daytime visitors to the Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation area will pay a fee for use of the facilities. Day Use fees will be implemented May 15 through September 30 annually through the Sylvania Entrance Station and are set as follows: $20 per vehicle for a season pass, $5 per vehicle for a daily pass. Camping fees are $10 per night for a wilderness campsite and $16 per night for Clark Lake Campground (auto access sites). Designated campsites have fire grates and wilderness latrines. The recreation area includes a day use building, hot showers, carry down boat landings, picnic areas, beach, parking areas plus other facilities.
Permit Info: Permits are required for entrance into the Sylvania Wilderness year round.  From October 1 to May 14 day permits may be obtained from trailheads and camping permits are available from the kiosk at the Entrance Station. From May 15 - September 30 all permits must be obtained from the Entrance Station.
Open Season: January
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Group Size-for any purpose (i.e., traveling together or otherwise congregating) is limited to ten people in the wilderness. However, no more then six people are allowed at campsites. Cans & Bottles-Non-burnable and disposable food and beverage containers including cans, bottles, and Styrofoam are not allowed. Permitted Containers include containers of fuel, insect repellent, medicines, personal toiletries and reusable plastic containers. Wheeled Vehicles-Bicycles or mechanical portaging wheels are not allowed in the Wilderness. Wheeled chairs are permitted. Dogs-Are allowed on a six foot leash in both the Wilderness and Recreation area. Dogs may only be off leash during sanctioned State of Michigan hunting seasons. They may not be left unattended and are not permitted in the Clark Lake Beach and Swimming area. Gas Powered motors are not permitted in the Wilderness to include gas powered boat motors are not permitted on any of the lakes within the Wilderness. Electric Motors are only permitted Crooked Lake with a maximum thrust of 48lbs (4 HP equivalent). Snowmobiling is not permitted anywhere within the Wilderness, including Crooked Lake. Aircraft Landings are not allowed and over flights are requested to remain at least 2,000 feet above the ground. Hunting, Fishing & Trapping-In season, and with a valid Michigan license. Sylvania Wilderness lakes have special fishing regulations, click here for a list of those regulations.
Closest Towns: Watersmeet, Mi is 7 miles to the east and Ironwood, Mi is 39 miles to the west.
Water: Handpump at Crooked and Clark Lake landing, pressurized water system at the RV Dump Station
Restroom: Vault toilet at the Entrance Station, Clark and Crooked Lake landing, and Clark Lake Day Use area
Passes: Golden Age/Interagency Senior Pass and Access Passes are accepted

General Information


From Watersmeet, Mi., take US 2 west approximately 4 miles to County Road 535, turn left onto County Road 535 and travel approximately 4 miles to the Sylvania Wilderness Recreation Area entrance on left.

Recreation Map

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Boat ramp Clark Lake & Crooked Lake - Carry Down Only
Camping trailer 48 campsites in the Clark Lake Campground
Toilets Vault toilet at the Entrance Station, Clark and Crooked Lake landing, and Clark Lake Day Use area. Flush toilets in the Clark Lake Campground and Clark Lake Day Use Building
Accessible Toilet in Loop 1 of Campground
Picnic tables In day use areas and Clark Lake Campground
Fee charged for some activities Facility Permit and Camping
Parking At designated trailheads, landings, and day use area
Tent camping 50 Wilderness campsites and 48 campsites in the Clark Lake Campground
Drinking water Handpump at Crooked and Clark Lake landing, pressurized water system at the RV Dump Station and Clark Lake Campground