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Guide to Living at the Station

Cabins from the 1920s are still in use at the Biological Station

Welcome to UMBS, a unique research and educational resource of the University of Michigan since 1909! 

This page has been compiled to answer practical questions about your stay at the Biological Station and tries to capture the spirit of the place.

If your questions are not answered, please let us know.  

Arriving at the Biological Station

To use facilities or reside at the Biological Station, you must submit an Application for Housing/Research Status for each person in your group at least 2 weeks prior to your scheduled arrival (note: students taking classes and REU participants do not have to submit a housing form). You must arrive and depart on the dates indicated on your form or notify us of any changes at least 2 weeks in advance. 

All residents and visitors must check-in at the Administrative Office in the center of camp upon arrival & departure. Plan to arrive when the office is open, 8am - 5pm weekdays, to receive housing & parking assignments. If you arrive when the office is closed, housing assignments are posted on the wall next to the office, or on the outside door of the office.

2021 Spring Session

Virtual for 2021.

2021 Summer Session

For faculty, TAs, and students, arrival date depends on paired course schedule. 

Travel to UMBS

Allow at least 4 hours travel time if you are driving from Ann Arbor (routes and maps). If you are unable or do not wish to drive yourself, transportation via U-M vans may be available by previous arrangement with us.  

If you are travelling by bus or air, we can arrange to pick you up in Pellston if given sufficient notice. Please call (231)539-8408 well ahead of your arrival date with your travel information. Please call again on the day of your scheduled arrival to confirm the arrangements. If you arrive at other destinations, you will need to provide your own transportation to the Biological Station.


Northern Michigan has an invigorating spring climate. Plan to bring warm bedding and clothing for cool and sometimes damp weather. Expect some rain, especially in the spring. During the summer months, temperatures usually range from 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit (10-22 degrees Celsius).

Parking & Driving

To maintain the unique atmosphere of camp, driving through campus is not allowed unless absolutely necessary, and speed limits are not to exceed 10 MPH. Parking is assigned for visitors and residents upon arrival. Please park only in your assigned space and display your parking permit in the front window. Please do not drive through camp or park near cabins or labs. Your cooperation keeps the dust down and creates a safer and more pleasant environment for all.

Housing and Daily Living Logistics

Biological Station residents live in the nearly 100 cabins or in three residence buildings. Students usually live in one- room, 2- or 3-person rustic cabins, which are served by central shower and toilet facilities. Specific roommate requests must be mutual and are honored insofar as possible. Families are generally assigned larger cabins with attached baths. All residents are responsible for keeping their own accommodations clean.

Housing is furnished with the essential furniture only (twin beds, desks, chairs, lamps). Laundry machines can be operated with quarters and through the PayRange app. Laundry detergent and basic toiletries are available in the store. 

What to Bring

Life is informal at the Biological Station. Clothing should be chosen for comfort and with changing weather in mind. Bring clothes you can layer: it can be 50 degrees in the morning and 80 degrees by early afternoon. Students need sturdy shoes to wear in streams, bogs, etc. Also consider bringing the following:

  • Flashlight
  • Insect repellent 
  • Water bottle/mug 
  • Jeans/shorts 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Backpack
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts 
  • Washcloths & towels 
  • Fan
  • Alarm clock
  • Heavy socks 
  • Soap & toiletries 
  • Clothes hangers
  • Clothespins
  • Swimwear
  • Bedding/pillows
  • Sleeping bag/blanket 
  • Hat & gloves  
  • Laundry bag/hamper
  • Heavy coat 
  • Lighter jacket 
  • Rain coat/pants 
  • Phone chargers
  • Sewing Kit
  • Mirror


The Camp Store stocks a few items for sale: course supplies, stamps, postcards, toiletries, and t-shirts. Pay with check, credit card or cash. No ATM or cash back at the Biological Station. OFFICE/STORE HOURS WILL BE POSTED OUTSIDE THE BUILDING. **Note: Camp Store closed for summer 2021.**

Quiet Hours & Noise

Because of demanding study schedules and the close community lifestyle, quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Any activities during these hours must be quiet and not disruptive. Please respect the varied schedules of other residents. If you do bring speakers or a television, please plan to use headphones. Be considerate of your neighbors. Noise and music should not be audible outside your cabin.

Laundry Facilities

High-efficiency washers and dryers are in the laundry building near the dorm. You can pay ($1.00/load) with quarters or using the PayRange app. Bring laundry soap. There are also clothes-lines behind the dorm for energy efficient drying! Bring clothespins.


Families of faculty, staff and students are an integral part of the Biological Station community. A Family Meeting for all parents and children will take place the first week of session. Responsibility for the conduct and safety of children belongs to the parents; UMBS cannot assume responsibility. Children may not be left unattended. A responsible adult in camp should always be accountable for minors. The Station tries to be as helpful as possible in maintaining safe and enjoyable conditions for families, but does not provide child care.


Because of the close community living style and surrounding natural habitats, pets are not permitted at the Station. Year-round residents may keep inconspicuous pets, but only with permission of the Director. Be sure your guests are aware of the "no pets" policy.


**Note: No guests allowed for summer 2021.**

But normally...

Your guests are welcome to visit you at the Station, but should check-in with the office for parking and plan to leave before 10:00 p.m. Overnight guest accommodations may be available for a nominal fee during spring or summer session for guests with business at the Biological Station. Casual guests should plan to stay at local motels. Guest accommodations are available in Cheboygan, Levering, Pellston, Petoskey, and Mackinaw City. 

Your guests are invited to eat with you in the dining hall for a per-meal charge. Meal tickets can be purchased in the office prior to meals. 

Please advise your guests that camping, picnics, pets, and recreational motor boating are not allowed at the Biological Station. Stay-overs in student cabins are not permitted. Unregistered visitors will pay guest fees accordingly.


For safety and emergency purposes, if you are going to be absent from camp overnight, please inform someone in the administration office. 


Cell phone coverage at the Station is generally good, but can be a little spotty. While the best reception currently seems to be with Verizon, most major carriers have some coverage. Courtesy phones (located in the Dorm Lounge and Lakeside Lab) are available for incoming calls, free local calls, or for use with a phone card or reversing charges for long-distance. Numbers will be posted, or ask at the office. Office phones are for business use and emergencies only. You may send and receive faxes in the office, but you will need your own phone card. 


U.S. mail is delivered once a day Monday through Saturday. Each resident at the Station will have a mailbox located in the Mailroom, which is next to the Store. Residents must make their own arrangements for pick-up and payment of outgoing shipments of UPS, FedEX, etc. Your mailing address while at the Station will be:

(Your Name)
9133 Biological Road
Pellston, MI 49769


The area outside the front of the dining hall is the social center of the Biological Station, as people gather for meals, mail, shopping at the store, volleyball, or simply to hang out.


Breakfast 7-8 am
Lunch 11:30 am-12:30 pm
Dinner 6-7 pm
*Sunday Brunch (served in place of lunch) 10:30-11:30 a.m.


The dining hall serves three meals per Mondays through Saturdays. On Sundays, two meals are served. See the schedule above. Every meal includes a vegetarian option.

For purposes of planning, it is important that you sign out on the bulletin board near the dining room door for meals that you will miss. (We cannot give refunds for absences, however.)

Residents are responsible for meal costs for their guests. Meal tickets can be purchased in the office prior to meals. 

Field Lunches

If you need to pack a lunch to take into the field (your instructor will tell you if you do), make your own lunch in the dining hall before 8 am. Provisions are made for each person to have two sandwiches, one piece of fruit, two cookies, and a serving of the relishes. Please do not use more than your share so that there will be enough for everyone. You should bring your own thermos or beverage container for class field trips.

If you’d like to conserve on the use of throwaway paper products, you may bring your own plastic lunchbox/bag and reusable containers. 

Health and Safety

The UMBS Health Service is in a cabin near the center of camp, across from the dining hall building.  It is open 24-hours a day with the nurse’s hours posted outside. Residents are responsible for their own health care expenses and must carry their own health insurance. Report health care needs to the Station nurse, administration office and/or your faculty. The Health Service Nurse provides only first aid and routine assistance for residents.


By state law and with respect for the environment and other residents, smoking is not permitted on UMBS property. 

Alcohol & Drug Policies

Illegal behaviors involving alcohol (e.g. underage drinking, drinking and driving) are prohibited. Alcohol is not to be present or consumed in public areas or events (labs, classrooms, vehicles, boats, beach, etc.). Legal consumption is allowed within (not outside) residence cabins. The University of Michigan is a "drug-free workplace.” Possession, sale and/or use of illicit drugs are not acceptable, nor is excessive or illegal use of prescription medications. Additional information is available in our Community Living Standards.

Swimming, Boating, and Fire Safety

Please see "Recreation and Activities" for more information.

Spring/Summer Student Insurance (OPTIONAL)

There is insurance coverage available for U-M students participating in classes away from Ann Arbor. It is through the Blue Care Blue Shield Network and is the only U-M domestic student health insurance plan (DSHIP), unless you are on an F1 or J1 visa or U-M Gradcare.

Enroll in the plan here.

UHS webpage with more information on DSHIP.

Recreation and Activities

Outdoor recreation opportunities are abundant at the Biological Station and in the region. Douglas Lake has a clean, sandy beach and is excellent for swimming, sailing, and fishing. Recreational motorboats are out of place at the Station because of their potential to disturb research sites and the quiet study environment.

A network of hiking trails lead to Burt Lake, the Gorge, Pine Point, Grapevine Point, Carp Creek, and other attractive sites nearby. Northern Michigan abounds in attractions. The Straits of Mackinac area, settled over 300 years ago, has historic Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, and Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City. Wilderness State Park on Lake Michigan is about 20 miles from the Station.

Social Events

During the spring and summer sessions, UMBS sponsors various social events such as dances and picnics for all camp residents. Other scheduled activities include a talent show (bring your musical instruments, etc.), and a Fourth of July picnic.

Volleyball, softball, basketball, and swimming are popular activities. Residents often organize events such as movie nights, ultimate frisbee games, etc. Information for these activities are posted on the stairway outside the Dining Room. For more information contact student resident staff or visit the office.


Douglas Lake is ideal for swimming, but please use safety precautions. Be aware that there is a steep drop-off a short distance from the camp shore. Swimming should be confined to areas near camp. Any swimmer attempting a long-distance swim must be accompanied by a boat with two occupants. Children must always be under observation of a responsible adult.


Open fires, grills, cookouts and camping are not permitted on Biological Station property. Public campgrounds are located nearby.


Station-owned canoes are for general use when available. Paddles and life jackets may be checked out from the office. Each person MUST wear a life-jacket (in the past, boaters without life-jackets have been ticketed by the DNR). Return all boats and life jackets to their proper areas immediately after use. You may also bring your own kayak or canoe.

Only boats with approved lights may be used on the lake from dusk to dawn. Motorboats are for class and research use by reservation only. No speedboats or personal watercraft may be launched from or docked at UMBS. All exceptions must be pre-approved by either the Associate Director or Director.

Equipment, Resources and Maintenance

Motor Pool

UMBS maintains vehicles for class, REU, and administrative use only. UM mini-vans are not available for research or personal use.


In July and August, 2019, the station has a Zipcar in camp. It is a vehicle that Zipcar members can reserve and use on an hourly-fee basis. UMBS is not responsible for the Zipcar, but is simply a host site. Any questions about Zipcar should be directed to the Zipcar company. Note: many universities, including the University of Michigan offer discounted memberships.


There are two computing centers at the Station. They are equipped with both Apple and PC computers. They are open to all UMBS residents. The center in 1052 Lakeside Lab is primarily for researchers; the one in LaRue Lab is for students. 

If you choose to bring your personal computer, you should keep it in your own cabin unless you have research space assigned to you. We recommend using a power surge protector. Although we have no history of theft, the Station cannot assume responsibility for the security of your belongings. 

Wireless connections are available in the Lecture Hall, Dorm Lounge & Library, and some additional locations.


Requests for cabin/dorm repairs, firewood, pest control, etc. should be made on a Maintenance Request Form available in the administration office. 

Equipment & Supplies

Equipment and supplies for students and researchers may be checked out from the Stockroom in Lakeside Lab.

Policy on Collecting Specimens

The organisms of the region constitute the prime reason for maintaining a biological station, and they must be conserved. Collecting must be limited to minimum needs. Collecting for commercial use, for class or museum use elsewhere, or for transfer to others is strictly forbidden, except when special arrangements have been made with the Director. Individuals must also obtain appropriate Federal and State collecting permits.

In collecting for scientific use, both on and off Station property, take care to avoid depleting the region and altering habitats. Never take more than enough specimens to satisfy your immediate scientific needs, as approved by the professor in whose area of interest the organisms lie. Do not collect any plant or vertebrate specimens in areas close to the center of camp, or in the shoal in front of the camp. No lymnaeid snails should be taken from there. 

Some plants and animals are protected by Michigan or federal law and must not be picked for any purpose. Others are so rare that the no-picking rule applies on Station property. Lists of these protected and rare plants are available in the administrative office.