Great Lakes Camping In Michigian State Parks

Great Lakes Camping In Michigan State Park

When I was asked if we could camp on all 5 Great Lakes this summer, I looked at my 11-year-old granddaughter, and without hesitation, said; “Sure.”

It wasn’t until I started to actually plan what we are calling our H.O.M.E.S. (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and, Superior) summer, that I started to realize how involved it would be. We would have to squeeze 5 camping trips into a Michigan summer, and I still work full time!

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In Michigan, our summer camping season is roughly from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. I say “roughly”, because it is after all, Michigan, and although we have the pleasure of enjoying 4 distinct seasons, our seasons begin and end when Mother Nature says they begin and end. She has a mind of her own, and a wicked sense of humor. She can reduce our camping season by causing snow days, (when the roads are too snowy or icy for the school buses to travel safely,) and cold days, ( when the actual temperature, or the wind chill temperature is too low for the kiddos to safely stand outside at their bus stops.)

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With a relatively short camping season, it is no wonder that Michigan State Parks fill up quickly. Camping enthusiasts, like myself, look for the “perfect” campsite online during the winter, and book them 6 months in advance. I personally try to get the waterfront sites, if there are any. If not, I look for the biggest sites. It is always nice to have a little space between camping neighbors, especially when the park is at capacity. I can honestly say, I have never encountered any problems in a Michigan State Park.

The Michigan State Parks are overseen by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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In the 1800s, the people of Michigan became concerned about the depletion of the natural resources, and the Legislature created agencies to protect and manage them. The agencies were combined in 1921 to form the Michigan Department of Conservation. The department was renamed the Department of Natural Resources in 1969, and given a broader range of responsibility. Their mission statement describes their wide range of goals.

“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for the current and future generations. The DNR strives to:

  • Protect natural and cultural resources.
  • Ensure sustainable recreation use and enjoyment.
  • Enable strong natural resource-based economies.
  • Improve and build strong relationships and partnerships.
  • Foster effective business practices and good governance.”

www.michigan.gov/dnr

Protecting the natural resources, and ensuring recreational safety, are the conservation officers. C.O.s are law enforcement officers who enforce the regulations for outdoor recreational activities, as well as the protection of the environment, and the public.

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Park rangers work within our park system to oversee the operation of the parks, assist visitors, enforce park rules, and  educate the public, among other duties. It has been my experience that the Michigan State Parks are well run by the rangers. When I see where people have posted reviews that the facilities are dated and dirty, I cringe. Sure, some of the bath/shower rooms in some of the parks are somewhat dated but, they have been closed twice per day for cleaning in every state park that I have camped in.attendant cleaning

 

These are campgrounds. Folks with wet and dirty feet are in and out of the bath/shower rooms all day. They are not going to be as clean as our bathrooms at home. When camping, you have to expect a little dirt. I consider it all part of the camping experience.

There are some Michigan State Parks that I have liked better than others. There are some that I didn’t care for much at all but, never was it because I found the park to be poorly run or unkempt. Thank you Rangers!

ranger_13_jeep_col-250x181I hope that I am not the only one willing to admit  that I am  old enough to remember this Ranger!

As I was planning our H.O.M.E.S. camping trips, it occurred to me that in order to camp on Lake Ontario, I would have to step out of my Michigan State Parks comfort zone and look for a campsite out of state. My overall satisfaction with Michigan State Parks was the reason that I searched New York State Parks for a campsite. I was thrilled to find  a campground that is only 15 minutes from Niagara Falls.P1050969 Since I was a child, “The Falls” has been one of my favorite places. We used to take day trips to Niagara Falls when we visited our family in Toronto. I am so excited to take my grandkids to see the Niagara Falls and Fort Niagara.

I now have all 5 of our summer camping reservations made. We have a very aggressive camping schedule ahead of us.

I intend to take the opportunity to educate the kids about the Great Lakes as we travel.  I am planning some “hands on” activities for each campground to keep the lessons light and the learning fun. I am predicting  an awesome summer.

You can’t go wrong enjoying the out of doors as a family. Will you and your family be camping on any of the Great Lakes this summer?

Visit our State Parks. They are ours to enjoy!

I will let you know how my H.O.M.E.S. summer is going.

Happy Camping,

Denise

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“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”

                                                                                                    Albert Einstein     

Photos:

  1. Featured Photo: A sailboat on Whitefish Bay at sunset
  2. Snow day sledding
  3. Snow day sledding
  4. Snow day sledding
  5. Snow day sledding
  6. A deer with a snowy face
  7. Niagara Falls
  8. Me at the Mackinaw Bridge

The Joy Of Camping

The Joy of Camping

I recently saw a tee shirt that said, “I might look like I’m listening to you but, I’m actually thinking about camping.” Hello! That’s me!

Some people will tell you I am a camping enthusiast but, the people who know me well will tell you that camping is a passion of mine.

From my earliest memories of fishing with my dad near our home in South Porcupine, Ontario, to growing up exploring the lakes and trails of Michigan, my childhood always seemed to revolve around the love that my parents had for the out of doors. They fished, they hunted and, they camped.

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Over the years, I have camped with my Girl Scout Troup and with my own kids, whenever our schedules would allow. I worked a lot of overtime in those days and, my kids played sports. There was high school baseball in the spring, community baseball and softball in the summer, football in the fall and, travel hockey in the winter. We  had one free week between summer ball and football two-a-days, to  squeeze in a vacation. It didn’t leave much time to camp  but, we managed. We would make a quick trip to Roscommon or head to the U.P. to spend the week in Crystal Falls.

Before I knew it, my kids were grown. Patrick and Angela started their own families. Dane left for college and then moved to Florida to begin his career. As the years went by, I found myself longing to get back into nature. I wanted to experience the fun of camping again. This time, I wanted to camp with my grandkids. It is important to me that they grow up the way I did, doing things like wandering in the woods, climbing the dunes and splashing in the many lakes of Michigan.Brevort Lake

I feel very fortunate to live here. Michigan has so much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast. Coolpix 253We have the five Great Lakes. Yes, I know that the other states have really good lakes but, only in Michigan do we have The Great Lakes!! We have approximately 11,000 lakes altogether. According to the Michigan Historical Society; “one is never more than 6 miles from and inland lake or more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.” http://www.hsmichigan.org

We have the upper and the lower peninsulas. Both peninsulas are unique and beautiful.  As though that weren’t enough, the two peninsulas are connected by the Mighty Mac! http://www.mackinacbridge.org

We have abundant forests, rivers, streams and thousands of miles of trails. There are 5 National parks, 101 State parks, 133 State forest campgrounds and 17 State harbors. There is so much to see and do.evo 105

I love planning camping trips to include the historic sites and the fun tourist stops too. Camping trips can be educational as well as fun. Last summer we went out on Lake Huron in a glass bottom boat to view the shipwrecks and, learn the history of the Great Lakes shipping industry. http://www.alpenashipwrecktours.com

We took the tour boat through the Soo locks. What a great experience it was to “lock through” into Canada and back. http://www.soolocks.com

We fed apples to the rescued bears at Oswald’s bear ranch and got to pet a cub. http://www.oswaldsbearranch.com    bearuse

There were also the “just for fun” trips to places like Michigan’s Adventure. http://www.miadventure.com MS 1. We visited the Mystery Spot, http://www.mysteryspotstignace.com ,  and Dinosaur Gardens. http://www.dinosaurgardensllc.com. There is so much family fun to be had.

No wonder I still get excited when the time comes to start packing. I literally load the car to capacity with our camping gear and hope, that when it is time to break camp, I can fit it all back in again. No matter how I try, I somehow always manage to have a couple of things left over that the kids have to put on the floor under their feet for the ride home. Oh well.loaded car impala

So far, I have only camped in Michigan State Parks with my grandkids. I made a “fun” goal of trying to camp in all of the parks that have camping facilities. To keep track of where we camp, I actually put a map of Michigan on my wall.  I  mark the parks that we have camped in with a green sticker and , the parks that we have visited with a yellow sticker. Summer by summer, my  map is filling up with green and yellow dots. This summer and fall we have reservations in 5 more Michigan State Parks and, for the first time, we are also camping out of state.

The memories that we are making are for life. My hope is that someday my grandkids will want to take their kids and grandkids to the places that I am showing them. I would like to think that they will sit by their campfire, eating smores and telling stories about the camping trips that we are enjoying now.

I can hardly wait for this year’s adventures to being. I hope that you too, will get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Happy Camping,

Denise

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“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

Helen Keller

Photos

  1. Featured photo: our campsite at Harrisville State Park
  2. A boy fishing in Whitefish Bay at sunset
  3. Brevort Lake in the fall
  4. The Mackinaw Bridge from Bridgeview Park
  5. Canoeing on the Muskegon River
  6. A rescued bear at Oswald’s Bear Ranch
  7. The Mystery Spot
  8. The Impala loaded for camping.
  9. Me at our campsite at Harrisville State Park