Big Island Lake Wilderness

Permits & Regulations


Currently, there are no permits required for camping or day-use in BILW. Camping at designated campsites is allowed and encouraged.

Special Fishing Regulations A valid Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) fishing license is required for fishing in BILW, so consult your copy of the current year's MDNR Fishing Guide or contact the MDNR for up-to-date information. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 6835 Hwy 2/41/35, Gladstone, MI 49837.


  • Groups larger than 6 are prohibited at campsites.
  • Groups larger than 10 are prohibited from traveling together or congregating.
  • Overnight camping at designated sites is allowed in Big Island Lake Wilderness. A designated campsite consists of a site post, metal fire ring and rustic pit latrine. Twelve designated campsites are available for overnight use (please refer to the attached map.)
  • Random camping is prohibited within 200ft. of any lakeshore or designated site; and/or within 100 ft. of any trail or portage.
  • Camping is limited to 14 days. 
  • Keep all tents and equipment within 15 feet of the campsite post.
  • Campfires are prohibited except in Forest Service provided metal fire rings located at designated sites. Keep fires small and use only downed vegetation. Be sure to put your fire dead out.
  • Glass food and beverage containers, including returnable beverage containers, are prohibited.
  • Bury food waste at least 6 inches deep, at least 100 yards from any campsite. Fish entrails can be disposed of in a similar manner. By keeping food smells away from campsites, you help reduce the threat of unwanted attention from rodents, bears, and other animals.
  • Deposit human waste in latrines or, in the absence of a latrine; it should be buried using the "cat hole" method. Use a small backpacker's trowel to dig a small 6" hole and to cover waste and toilet paper. This method eliminates unsightly and unsanitary conditions sometimes found around campsites.
  • The use of soaps and/or detergents in lakes or streams is prohibited.
  • Do not burn trash; pack it out. Wilderness visitors should follow the "pack-it-in, pack-it-out" method of handling trash. 

Recreation Areas