Most rural counties in Michigan

Written by:
July 25, 2022
Phoenix-Five // Wikimedia Commons

Most rural counties in Michigan

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Michigan using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2020 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn't an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Dickinson County

- Rural area: 98.0% (746 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.1% (16 square miles)
- Total land area: 761 square miles
--- #22 largest county in state, #1,148 nationwide

- Population density: 33.3 people / square mile (25,373 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #1,302 nationwide

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Otsego County

- Rural area: 98.0% (505 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.0% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 515 square miles
--- #67 largest county in state, #2,023 nationwide

- Population density: 47.8 people / square mile (24,613 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #1,646 nationwide

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Hillsdale County

- Rural area: 98.2% (587 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.8% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 598 square miles
--- #36 largest county in state, #1,632 nationwide

- Population density: 76.4 people / square mile (45,707 residents)
--- #48 lowest density county in state, #2,057 nationwide

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User:My name // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Charlevoix County

- Rural area: 98.3% (409 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.8% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 416 square miles
--- #80 largest county in state, #2,427 nationwide

- Population density: 62.9 people / square mile (26,197 residents)
--- #44 lowest density county in state, #1,883 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Roscommon County

- Rural area: 98.3% (511 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 520 square miles
--- #65 largest county in state, #2,007 nationwide

- Population density: 45.9 people / square mile (23,863 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #1,603 nationwide

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Doug Coldwell // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Mason County

- Rural area: 98.3% (487 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 495 square miles
--- #73 largest county in state, #2,104 nationwide

- Population density: 58.7 people / square mile (29,062 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #1,830 nationwide

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Doug Coldwell // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Mecosta County

- Rural area: 98.3% (546 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 555 square miles
--- #57 largest county in state, #1,873 nationwide

- Population density: 78.3 people / square mile (43,481 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #2,078 nationwide

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Ryano913~commonswiki // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Barry County

- Rural area: 98.3% (544 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 553 square miles
--- #58 largest county in state, #1,885 nationwide

- Population density: 110.4 people / square mile (61,045 residents)
--- #53 lowest density county in state, #2,324 nationwide

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Dylan L. Tanner // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Alpena County

- Rural area: 98.4% (562 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 572 square miles
--- #39 largest county in state, #1,758 nationwide

- Population density: 49.7 people / square mile (28,431 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #1,686 nationwide

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Iulus Ascanius // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Clare County

- Rural area: 98.4% (555 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.6% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 564 square miles
--- #50 largest county in state, #1,823 nationwide

- Population density: 54.3 people / square mile (30,655 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #1,763 nationwide

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Charles W. Chapman // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Wexford County

- Rural area: 98.5% (556 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.6% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 565 square miles
--- #48 largest county in state, #1,819 nationwide

- Population density: 59.2 people / square mile (33,433 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #1,835 nationwide

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Recomposemedia // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Delta County

- Rural area: 98.5% (1,153 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.5% (18 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,171 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #526 nationwide

- Population density: 30.6 people / square mile (35,874 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #1,227 nationwide

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Manistee County

- Rural area: 98.6% (535 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.4% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 542 square miles
--- #62 largest county in state, #1,926 nationwide

- Population density: 45.3 people / square mile (24,539 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #1,583 nationwide

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Unknown author // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Gratiot County

- Rural area: 98.7% (561 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 568 square miles
--- #41 largest county in state, #1,796 nationwide

- Population density: 71.6 people / square mile (40,692 residents)
--- #47 lowest density county in state, #1,998 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Emmet County

- Rural area: 98.7% (462 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 467 square miles
--- #77 largest county in state, #2,203 nationwide

- Population density: 71.0 people / square mile (33,175 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #1,990 nationwide

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Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Marquette County

- Rural area: 98.8% (1,786 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (22 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,808 square miles
--- #1 largest county in state, #326 nationwide

- Population density: 36.7 people / square mile (66,403 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #1,391 nationwide

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Jcvertin // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Houghton County

- Rural area: 98.8% (997 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (12 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,009 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #669 nationwide

- Population density: 35.6 people / square mile (35,890 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #1,351 nationwide

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Montcalm County

- Rural area: 99.1% (699 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 705 square miles
--- #28 largest county in state, #1,312 nationwide

- Population density: 90.0 people / square mile (63,516 residents)
--- #51 lowest density county in state, #2,177 nationwide

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kennethaw88 // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Tuscola County

- Rural area: 99.2% (797 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 803 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #1,055 nationwide

- Population density: 65.6 people / square mile (52,683 residents)
--- #45 lowest density county in state, #1,920 nationwide

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Charles W. Chapman // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Newaygo County

- Rural area: 99.2% (807 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 813 square miles
--- #19 largest county in state, #1,039 nationwide

- Population density: 59.9 people / square mile (48,687 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #1,849 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Crawford County

- Rural area: 99.3% (552 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 556 square miles
--- #55 largest county in state, #1,867 nationwide

- Population density: 25.0 people / square mile (13,904 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #1,065 nationwide

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#29. Leelanau County

- Rural area: 99.3% (345 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 347 square miles
--- #82 largest county in state, #2,687 nationwide

- Population density: 62.4 people / square mile (21,649 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #1,874 nationwide

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P199 // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Chippewa County

- Rural area: 99.4% (1,549 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,558 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #387 nationwide

- Population density: 24.0 people / square mile (37,418 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #1,040 nationwide

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User:Malepheasant // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Gladwin County

- Rural area: 99.5% (499 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 502 square miles
--- #70 largest county in state, #2,072 nationwide

- Population density: 50.4 people / square mile (25,312 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #1,703 nationwide

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Cwbash (Charles W. Bash) // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Cheboygan County

- Rural area: 99.5% (712 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 715 square miles
--- #25 largest county in state, #1,274 nationwide

- Population density: 35.6 people / square mile (25,435 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #1,350 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Kalkaska County

- Rural area: 99.6% (558 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 560 square miles
--- #54 largest county in state, #1,856 nationwide

- Population density: 31.7 people / square mile (17,725 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #1,261 nationwide

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Oceana County

- Rural area: 99.6% (510 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 512 square miles
--- #68 largest county in state, #2,034 nationwide

- Population density: 51.8 people / square mile (26,545 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #1,722 nationwide

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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Menominee County

- Rural area: 99.6% (1,040 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,044 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #627 nationwide

- Population density: 21.9 people / square mile (22,902 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #961 nationwide

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National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Alger County

- Rural area: 99.6% (912 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 915 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #805 nationwide

- Population density: 9.9 people / square mile (9,098 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #574 nationwide

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Michigan Department of Natural Resources // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Sanilac County

- Rural area: 99.7% (959 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 963 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #728 nationwide

- Population density: 42.8 people / square mile (41,179 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #1,533 nationwide

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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Gogebic County

- Rural area: 99.7% (1,098 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,102 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #575 nationwide

- Population density: 13.4 people / square mile (14,715 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #684 nationwide

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Charles Bash // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Huron County

- Rural area: 99.7% (833 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 836 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #1,002 nationwide

- Population density: 37.2 people / square mile (31,105 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #1,404 nationwide

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Charles W. Chapman // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Schoolcraft County

- Rural area: 99.7% (1,168 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,171 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #525 nationwide

- Population density: 6.9 people / square mile (8,031 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #446 nationwide

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David Coats // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Presque Isle County

- Rural area: 99.8% (657 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 659 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #1,426 nationwide

- Population density: 19.3 people / square mile (12,687 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #860 nationwide

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Jeffness // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Mackinac County

- Rural area: 99.8% (1,019 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,022 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #648 nationwide

- Population density: 10.6 people / square mile (10,781 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #594 nationwide

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Rklawton // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Iron County

- Rural area: 99.8% (1,164 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,166 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #528 nationwide

- Population density: 9.5 people / square mile (11,099 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #559 nationwide

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Charles W. Chapman // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Luce County

- Rural area: 99.8% (898 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 899 square miles
--- #13 largest county in state, #860 nationwide

- Population density: 7.0 people / square mile (6,286 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #455 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Alcona County

- Rural area: 100.0% (674 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 675 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #1,394 nationwide

- Population density: 15.4 people / square mile (10,396 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #750 nationwide

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US Army Corps of Engineer // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Benzie County

- Rural area: 100.0% (320 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 320 square miles
--- #83 largest county in state, #2,764 nationwide

- Population density: 55.4 people / square mile (17,703 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #1,783 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Antrim County

- Rural area: 100.0% (476 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 476 square miles
--- #76 largest county in state, #2,168 nationwide

- Population density: 49.0 people / square mile (23,301 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #1,671 nationwide

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Ian Poellet (User:Werewombat) // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Arenac County

- Rural area: 100.0% (363 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 363 square miles
--- #81 largest county in state, #2,645 nationwide

- Population density: 41.3 people / square mile (15,013 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #1,505 nationwide

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Charles W. Chapman // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Osceola County

- Rural area: 100.0% (566 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 566 square miles
--- #45 largest county in state, #1,809 nationwide

- Population density: 41.2 people / square mile (23,323 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #1,501 nationwide

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Elevatorrailfan // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Ogemaw County

- Rural area: 100.0% (563 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 563 square miles
--- #51 largest county in state, #1,832 nationwide

- Population density: 37.1 people / square mile (20,895 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #1,401 nationwide

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Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Missaukee County

- Rural area: 100.0% (565 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 565 square miles
--- #49 largest county in state, #1,821 nationwide

- Population density: 26.7 people / square mile (15,075 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #1,115 nationwide

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Lake County

- Rural area: 100.0% (567 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 567 square miles
--- #43 largest county in state, #1,803 nationwide

- Population density: 20.8 people / square mile (11,805 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #920 nationwide

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Henry Schenck Tanner // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Montmorency County

- Rural area: 100.0% (547 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 547 square miles
--- #61 largest county in state, #1,909 nationwide

- Population density: 17.0 people / square mile (9,270 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #800 nationwide

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USFWSmidwest // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Oscoda County

- Rural area: 100.0% (566 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 566 square miles
--- #46 largest county in state, #1,815 nationwide

- Population density: 14.6 people / square mile (8,282 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #726 nationwide

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Modlind // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Baraga County

- Rural area: 100.0% (898 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 898 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #865 nationwide

- Population density: 9.3 people / square mile (8,337 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #548 nationwide

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RomanKahler // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Ontonagon County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,311 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,311 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #455 nationwide

- Population density: 4.4 people / square mile (5,802 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #344 nationwide

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Phoenix-Five // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Keweenaw County

- Rural area: 100.0% (540 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 540 square miles
--- #63 largest county in state, #1,935 nationwide

- Population density: 3.9 people / square mile (2,102 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #303 nationwide

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