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Northern Michigan and UP parks


RonC

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Petoskey motor coach resort--I stayed at their sister resort in Naples FL and it is 5 star! Petoskey is a neat town (I was stationed at Empire AFS just west of Traverse City) the entire coast from Indiana all the way around is really cool. My first camping trip in 1978 in a pop-up tent camper from base rec services with my first born when she was just 1 year old. Keep moving and see all there is. I have snowmobiled the Traverse City and UP for the last 25 years!

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I have spent most of my life in Michigan and most state parks are considered good. Get a Michigan map and follow the roads with dots known as scenic or linear park roads. Some not to miss spots are Sleeping Bear dunes, the shore line drive, 22, 31, and 119, Mackinaw Bridge lit at night, Mackinaw Island, expensive but unique, Soo Locks, June 24 Fri is Engineers Day and they allow walking tours onto the lock island and control building along with a scheduled walk across the International bridge. Also, go to Whitefish Point to see the Shipweck Museum, Tahquamenon Falls, and Pictured Rocks if you have time. M25 along the East coast is a nice drive with lots of summer cabins and in Rogers City you can see the Calcite open pit mine. If you like to party, there is the Ausable River Canoe race, July 26 that is 14 to 24 hours long for 120 miles to Lake Huron. Spectators follow the river and cheer support at each bridge, and these rowers are really moving. Just some suggestions.

Greg

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As a Michigander we've stayed in pretty much all of them. It's hard to find a bad park. We love our state parks. But, all Michigan parks fill up fast during peak times. Have fun.

Since we too expect to be there for a time this summer, do the MI state parks accept reservations and is it necessary to make reservations in most cases?

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Yes, Michigan state parks accept reservations and it is best to reserve asap. The more popular parks are already filling up. We waited too long to reserve a spot with electric for memorial weekend but found a really nice spot w/o any amenities. If you've never been to Michigan I am sure that you will love our beautiful state.

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Kirk and Ron, as Kathy said the state parks fill up fast although somewhat less so in the UP. Greg makes some very good suggestions. As far as state parks in the western lower peninusla go to Ludington State Park. 5 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan frontage on one side, with beautiful lighthouse, and miles of frontage on other side on Hamlin lake-great fishing, hiking, swimming and and sightseeing. If you have a big rig, and/or want full hook ups stay at Ponchos Pond in Ludington. One of our favorite rv parks in the whole country. Then I would head up around Sleeping Bear dunes as Greg suggested. Once you get to the bridge there are two state parks Wilderness on the lower side of the bridge and Straits on the northern. Both good parks. You can access Mackinaw Island by ferry for a day trip from the south from Macknaw City or the north from St. Ignace. The difference between the two cities is rather dramatic. Macknaw City is much more developed, full of the touristy shops and restaurants. St Ignace is a small town with some tourist trade but much eaisier to navigate. We don't like crowds or touristy stuff so we MUCH prefer St Ignace. (lower prices also). If you want full hookups please stay at Tiki RV Park in St Ignace as we work camp there and would love too see you. I strongly endorse Greg's comment : " Also, go to Whitefish Point to see the Shipweck Museum, Tahquamenon Falls, and Pictured Rocks if you have time." Do NOT miss pictured rocks and there is a nice state park at Tahquamenon falls. I do not know a park for Pictured rocks but check parks for Munising Michigan on RvParkreviews.com

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Reservations at this time are a problem for us, as we will be heading there after Escapade in VT and then traveling via Toronto and planning a visit to some friends in the Traverse City area. I am making a list of some of the suggested parks, but am a bit concerned about the reservation issue. If the parks are filling now, then it may not be workable for us to stay in any/many of them. We were thinking of spending two or three weeks in the MI, lower peninsula area, all of it in August.

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Kirk, If you are comfortable not having electric, you have a better chance of finding a spot. Also not all state park sites with electric can be reserved, but I believe you need to get to the park early. Your friends live in a very desirable area, thus lots of tourists.

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We will be volunteering at the Soo locks visitor center during Aug and Sept, stop in and say Hi.

If you don't like reservations like myself, then there are a lot of private RV parks through out Mich and lesser popular State Parks that always have openings if you are somewhat flexible. If you want a camp spot at Ludington SP for July 4th weekend, you may be in for a challenge. Another great park South of Traverse City is Interlochen SP which is next to a music camp. Different High School bands go there for summer camp and will put on free concerts in the evening to show off their talent which can be outstanding.

Kirk, you may enjoy the Old Buckley Engine show just South of Traverse City, Aug 18-20, largest show in Mich, I haven't missed a show in 20 years. Also, consider Pinery Provincial Park near Grand Bend, Ont. on your way West from Toronto. It is a little pricey for americans, but a great camping spot among the Lake Huron sand dunes with miles of unspoiled white sand beach and great sunset views over Lake Huron.

Greg

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Makes it tough Kirk as said above. You should be okay in the UP---- St Ignace. For lower penninsula two very nice options that may have less crowding are Fisherman's Island State Park in Charlevoix Michigan---beautiful but no electric and vault toilets. The park is otherwise verynice and area is incredibly beautiful. Also as an option to Ludington State Park which I mentioned above is this federal campground http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hmnf/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=18902&actid=29. This is connected to the Ludington State Park but more remote. Again, no hookups and vault toilets but this is an very nice campground. As far as campsites and privacy it is much nicer than Ludington State Park setting aside the hookup issue. Also the federal campground reserves in advance but also holds for first come first serve

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Reservations are easier to get if you move inland from the lakes. Hartwick Pines State Park is very nice along with the logging museum. Mid-August things start to loosen up a bit. Folks are getting ready for school. July is Cherry Festival time in Traverse City and the crowds are huge. For Sleeping Bear Dunes Nat'l Lakeshore Platte River campground is perpetually filled until mid-October but it's other campground, D.H.Day might have an opening (no hookups). The eastern Lake Huron side is a little less popular than Lake Michigan's western side. The Upper Peninsula gets less campers than the Lower Peninsula and there are some nice national forest campgrounds in the Upper Peninsula. Above all, you just might get lucky and score a site in the exact place you want. It's worth a try!

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Just a little advice for those coming to MI. If your planning on State Parks besides what has already been said, most of them are not big rig friendly. Most of the parks have narrow roads and makes it tuff to back into spots. Just a word of caution when you make your reservations.

 

Dave

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Make that July 4 weekend in the UP for mosquitoes. :o We were banished to the RV for the whole weekend. The screens were covered with them...not fun. Of course, we were in the forest with no breeze. If you could get by the big lakes (Michigan or Superior), they might not be as bad.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Kirk, your friends might want to recommend a place to stay near them in Traverse City. However, there is Holiday Park about 10 mi south of town. There are a couple state parks and for those you'd want to reserve now - Traverse City SP and Interlochen SP, the home of the well-known summer music camp. They give concerts and you can walk by the music camp's buildings and listen to the highly-talented teens practicing. It known world-wide. Of course, there's our favorite where we volunteered - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Platte River campground but good luck with reservations. We were campground hosts there and also gave the lighthouse tour on South Manitou Island, part of Sleeping Bear. You could also do that as a day trip via the day ferry. It would be well worth your while to at least drive the park and surrounding area up to Glen Arbor, Northport and back south to Traverse City. You will not believe the beauty! Actually this could be a two-day trip for day trips. One day head to Sleeping Bear and do a little north from there and another day head north out of Traverse City and do what you couldn't fit in the first day.

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.... One day head to Sleeping Bear and do a little north from there and another day head north out of Traverse City and do what you couldn't fit in the first day.

Thanks for the thoughts. Sleeping Bear Dunes is a place that we have considered as a volunteer site also, but have not yet managed to get there. While heading north from Traverse City, we plan to go and spend some time in Petoskey, which is where my grandmother Wood spent her teen years.

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