Most rural counties in Michigan

Written by:
May 2, 2022
RomanKahler // 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 2019 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.

You may also like: States sending the most people to Michigan

1 / 50
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, #1,147 nationwide

- Population density: 33.4 people / square mile (25,439 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #1,303 nationwide

2 / 50
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, #2,022 nationwide

- Population density: 47.6 people / square mile (24,490 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #1,644 nationwide

3 / 50
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, #1,631 nationwide

- Population density: 76.5 people / square mile (45,757 residents)
--- #48 lowest density county in state, #2,055 nationwide

4 / 50
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, #2,426 nationwide

- Population density: 62.9 people / square mile (26,188 residents)
--- #44 lowest density county in state, #1,883 nationwide

5 / 50
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, #2,006 nationwide

- Population density: 45.9 people / square mile (23,851 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #1,602 nationwide

You may also like: Do you know Michigan's official state symbols?

6 / 50
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, #2,103 nationwide

- Population density: 58.5 people / square mile (28,954 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #1,827 nationwide

7 / 50
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, #1,872 nationwide

- Population density: 77.9 people / square mile (43,251 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #2,079 nationwide

8 / 50
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, #1,884 nationwide

- Population density: 109.5 people / square mile (60,540 residents)
--- #53 lowest density county in state, #2,321 nationwide

9 / 50
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, #1,757 nationwide

- Population density: 49.9 people / square mile (28,520 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #1,688 nationwide

10 / 50
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, #1,822 nationwide

- Population density: 54.3 people / square mile (30,651 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #1,764 nationwide

You may also like: Highest-rated specialty museums in Michigan, according to Tripadvisor

11 / 50
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, #1,818 nationwide

- Population density: 58.9 people / square mile (33,256 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #1,831 nationwide

12 / 50
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, #525 nationwide

- Population density: 30.8 people / square mile (36,026 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #1,230 nationwide

13 / 50
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, #1,925 nationwide

- Population density: 45.1 people / square mile (24,457 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #1,582 nationwide

14 / 50
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, #1,795 nationwide

- Population density: 72.0 people / square mile (40,916 residents)
--- #47 lowest density county in state, #2,001 nationwide

15 / 50
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, #2,202 nationwide

- Population density: 70.8 people / square mile (33,104 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #1,990 nationwide

You may also like: Fastest-growing counties in Michigan

16 / 50
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, #325 nationwide

- Population density: 36.9 people / square mile (66,686 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #1,393 nationwide

17 / 50
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, #668 nationwide

- Population density: 35.7 people / square mile (36,070 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #1,360 nationwide

18 / 50
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, #1,311 nationwide

- Population density: 89.9 people / square mile (63,413 residents)
--- #51 lowest density county in state, #2,178 nationwide

19 / 50
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, #1,054 nationwide

- Population density: 65.9 people / square mile (52,939 residents)
--- #45 lowest density county in state, #1,922 nationwide

20 / 50
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, #1,038 nationwide

- Population density: 59.5 people / square mile (48,366 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #1,839 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the most super commuters in Michigan

21 / 50
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, #1,866 nationwide

- Population density: 25.0 people / square mile (13,892 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #1,061 nationwide

22 / 50
Alexey Stiop // Shutterstock

#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, #2,686 nationwide

- Population density: 62.4 people / square mile (21,652 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #1,874 nationwide

23 / 50
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, #386 nationwide

- Population density: 24.1 people / square mile (37,629 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #1,042 nationwide

24 / 50
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, #2,071 nationwide

- Population density: 50.4 people / square mile (25,279 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #1,699 nationwide

25 / 50
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, #1,273 nationwide

- Population density: 35.5 people / square mile (25,418 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #1,349 nationwide

You may also like: Highest-earning counties in Michigan

26 / 50
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, #1,855 nationwide

- Population density: 31.4 people / square mile (17,585 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #1,253 nationwide

27 / 50
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, #2,033 nationwide

- Population density: 51.6 people / square mile (26,416 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #1,719 nationwide

28 / 50
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, #626 nationwide

- Population density: 22.1 people / square mile (23,074 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #965 nationwide

29 / 50
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, #804 nationwide

- Population density: 10.0 people / square mile (9,151 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #578 nationwide

30 / 50
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, #727 nationwide

- Population density: 42.9 people / square mile (41,295 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #1,533 nationwide

You may also like: Recipes from Michigan

31 / 50
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, #574 nationwide

- Population density: 13.7 people / square mile (15,061 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #694 nationwide

32 / 50
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, #1,001 nationwide

- Population density: 37.5 people / square mile (31,349 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #1,407 nationwide

33 / 50
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, #524 nationwide

- Population density: 6.9 people / square mile (8,048 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #446 nationwide

34 / 50
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, #1,425 nationwide

- Population density: 19.3 people / square mile (12,714 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #863 nationwide

35 / 50
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, #647 nationwide

- Population density: 10.6 people / square mile (10,780 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #593 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the most college graduates in Michigan

36 / 50
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, #527 nationwide

- Population density: 9.6 people / square mile (11,152 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #560 nationwide

37 / 50
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, #859 nationwide

- Population density: 7.0 people / square mile (6,338 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #456 nationwide

38 / 50
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, #1,393 nationwide

- Population density: 15.3 people / square mile (10,353 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #747 nationwide

39 / 50
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, #2,763 nationwide

- Population density: 55.1 people / square mile (17,615 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #1,777 nationwide

40 / 50
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, #2,167 nationwide

- Population density: 48.8 people / square mile (23,206 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #1,667 nationwide

You may also like: Best counties to raise a family in Michigan

41 / 50
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, #2,644 nationwide

- Population density: 41.5 people / square mile (15,070 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #1,506 nationwide

42 / 50
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, #1,808 nationwide

- Population density: 41.1 people / square mile (23,290 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #1,499 nationwide

43 / 50
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, #1,831 nationwide

- Population density: 37.1 people / square mile (20,898 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #1,400 nationwide

44 / 50
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, #1,820 nationwide

- Population density: 26.6 people / square mile (15,028 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #1,113 nationwide

45 / 50
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, #1,802 nationwide

- Population density: 20.9 people / square mile (11,852 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #924 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the worst commutes in Michigan

46 / 50
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, #1,908 nationwide

- Population density: 16.9 people / square mile (9,265 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #798 nationwide

47 / 50
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, #1,814 nationwide

- Population density: 14.6 people / square mile (8,248 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #726 nationwide

48 / 50
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, #864 nationwide

- Population density: 9.4 people / square mile (8,421 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #553 nationwide

49 / 50
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, #454 nationwide

- Population density: 4.5 people / square mile (5,877 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #344 nationwide

50 / 50
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, #1,934 nationwide

- Population density: 3.9 people / square mile (2,111 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #301 nationwide

You may also like: Where people in Michigan are moving to most

Trending Now