Gear Up for Camping Season in Michigan With These Helpful Tips

Summer camping season is just around the corner! Today, guest blogger Rick Kessler of Gr8LakesCamper give us some tips for preparing for your next Pure Michigan camping trip

CampingThis is my favorite time of the year.  With warmer temperatures teasing us that spring is right around the corner, it can only mean one thing: winter is on its way out (knock on wood).  When this happens, my dreams of a summer full of camping can really start to take shape.

For me, camping is as much a part of summer as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie – more specifically, Detroit Tigers, hot dogs cooked over the campfire followed by hobo pies cooked to delicious gooey goodness over the same campfire.

Admittedly, I’m biased, but there’s no better state for camping than Michigan. With more than a thousand public and private campgrounds statewide, Michigan offers something for every type of camper – along rivers, lakes, sand dunes and beaches, overlooking the Great Lakes and in state parks and national forests.

So how do you gear up for camping in Michigan? Here are my suggestions:

Wake Up from Winter!

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.43.50 PMYour tent, RV and gear have been in storage all winter; now’s the time to inspect it, clean it and get it ready for another season of camping.

For tent campers, if you put everything away last fall properly – i.e. not damp – then all you’ll need to do is inspect everything to make sure it’s good to go. For tents, look for tears, rips or holes. Same thing with backpacks and sleeping bags.

For RVers, which I am, de-winterizing the camper is chore I do with a smile on my face. A weekend spent flushing the antifreeze, inspecting for damage and cleaning the RV inside and out only means camping is next on the To-Do list.

Regardless whether you’re a tent camper or an RVer, if there’s any sign or smell of mildew, you must address it. Find the source, determine the extent and clean or replace as necessary.

Plan your Summer!

With the tent, RV and equipment all set, all that’s left is to plan your trip!

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.45.55 PMFor us, where we go depends on what we want to do. If we’re just looking to get away from it all, Michigan has no shortage of private and State Park campgrounds more than capable of letting us disconnect from society and reconnect with each other. But if our trip is more about the destination than the campground, again we’re always able to find a campground close to where want to be.

For private campgrounds, visit the websites for Michigan Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (www.michcampgrounds.com) and the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicle and Campgrounds. Both have an extensive listing of campgrounds, including amenities, pricing and other information.

One change for 2014 is the Michigan DNR’s new online State Park campground reservation system. It’s much easier to use, and there’s a photo of each campsite. You’re going to love it!

Have you been camping in Michigan? Tell us about your trip. 

Rick KesslerRick Kessler is the author of the Gr8LakesCamper blog, which celebrates the world of RV camping in the Great Lakes region. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the Gr8LakesCamper blog.

Great Views and Great Brews: Waterfall Week in the Upper Peninsula

“Views and Brews” is happening April 21st – 27th in Marquette, MI.  If you love Michigan waterfalls, craft beer, and scavenger hunts, then this a celebration you won’t want to miss!

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. tell us what to expect from Waterfall Week 2014. 

Photo by Habibi Photography

Morgan Falls – Photo by Habibi Photography

Waterfall Week, otherwise known as “Views and Brews” is a newer Marquette area event that’s rapidly growing in popularity. Last year’s inaugural event successfully brought hundreds of locals and visitors out of their homes, into the woods, and subsequently into the Marquette area breweries to score a free pint glass.

This year’s event runs from April 21st to April 27th.

How Waterfall Week Works

Just about anyone 21 and over can participate in this fun event. All you need to do is visit a Marquette County waterfall, take a photo of yourself in front of the waterfall and then visit one of the four Marquette area breweries. You then show the bartender the photo, order a beer and you get to keep the special edition “Views and Brews” pint glass.

This year’s event will run much the same as last year’s, but with a couple notable differences – New beers, new prizes and a geocaching scavenger hunt.

Limited Edition Craft Beers

Each of the four Marquette County breweries has whipped up a special craft beer for waterfall week. If you’re a craft beer lover, take heed, this could very well be your only chance to sample one of these custom brews. It breaks down like this:

Ore Dock Brewing Co. – Dead River Drops Saison

Jasper Ridge Brewery and Restaurant – Warner Creek Wheat

Blackrocks Brewery - Yellow Dog Ginger Cream Ale

Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery – Black River Falls Cascadian Dark IIPA

All Ages Scavenger Hunt

This year a family friendly component has been added to waterfall week in the form of a geocaching scavenger hunt. Entry forms for the scavenger hunt can be picked up at the Marquette County Convention & Visitors Bureau located downtown at 337 West Washington St. Marquette, MI as well as participating breweries. The grand prize for the scavenger hunt is an overnight stay at any Marquette County hotel!

The Waterfalls

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Alder Falls – Photo by Habibi Photography

The Marquette area is well known for its waterfalls. In fact, Marquette county has more waterfalls than any other county in Michigan! They local visitor’s bureau even has a very useful waterfall map that I’d highly recommend you get. And the best part is it’s totally free.

Just call the Marquette Visitor’s Bureau at (906) 228-7749 and ask them to mail you their “waterfall map.” They call it the waterfall map but it’s also got a great list of beaches and scenic vistas, all of which have directions listed.

But in case you’re the handheld GPS type, here’s a list of some of the area’s more popular waterfalls. These are also the waterfalls included in the scavenger hunt.

1. Carp River – Morgan Creek Falls (46.505N 87.438W)

2. Carp River – Upper Falls (6.50293N 87.44811W)

3. The Dead River Falls – Forestville (46.56841N 87.44811W)

4. Black River Falls (46.23N 87.46W)

5. Little Garlic River Falls (46.4018N 87.34448W)

6. Warner Creek Falls (46.433N 87.599W)

7. Yellow Dog River 510 Falls (46.7311N 87.70W)

Photo by Habibi Photography

Photo by Habibi Photography

One final note: Bring snowshoes, or at least be prepared to hike through some snow to get to your target waterfall(s). You never know what the weather will be like in the Upper Peninsula and the way this winter has been there’s definitely a chance that a good amount of snow will remain at the end of April.

I know I’m looking forward to seeing the water flowing again. And sampling those new craft beers, too!

Have you visited a Marquette area waterfall? Tell us about your visit. 

JesseLand2111Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.

Eight Awesome Spring Activities to Enjoy this Season

Today, guest blogger Jennifer Hamilton of The Awesome Mitten gives us the run down on some great spring activities to enjoy in Pure Michigan this season.

When thinking about what activities I will be participating in this spring, ideas such as flood-proofing my home and shopping for heavy-duty rain boots came to mind. However, I dug a little deeper into my brain and with the help of others, came up with some great spring activities that we can all delight in.

Spring Building

Spring BuildingI once visited the Upper Peninsula  and was shocked to find my friend building a bonfire in the driveway. If you want to have a bonfire and do not have a fire pit, no fear, there is an excellent Plan B. It is as simple as using a steel wheelbarrow, placing kindling and logs inside, and making fire! It is great fun and a unique way to hold a bonfire almost anywhere.

Other fantastic springtime building projects are birdhouses and bird baths. Birdhouses and baths are always useful, and they are a great project for families to create together.

Spring Eats

During the winter, there are certain comfort foods we consume on a regular basis; soup, slow cooker delights, and various heavy pasta dishes. Spring food is so much more exciting! Most importantly, we can all get our grills out again. There is nothing more delightful than recognizing that grill smell for the first time after a long winter. Additionally, seasonal foods are about to make a great change. Locally grown watermelon, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers will soon be at our disposal. As we all know, nothing tastes as good as local produce.

Motorcycle/Bicycle Rides

A great way to delight in the smells, sights, and sounds of spring is to get out there on your favorite two-wheeled contraption. Whether you prefer pedaling a bicycle or gliding along on a motorcycle, just go enjoy the fresh air. A fellow Awesome Mitten writer mentioned that he loves going for motorcycle rides to Michigan’s best ice cream spots. And of course, our beloved potholes become a fun obstacle to weave around.

Garden Planning

Though the ground may be taking ages to thaw, it is never too early to decide what you want to grow this year. Some of these items may even be started indoors in pots and transferred outside when the time is right. Michigan’s garden centers are filling up with people buying soil, indoor planters, and seed packets. Items such as tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage are great produce goods to start growing indoors, then transfer to an outdoor garden.

Disc Golf

Once the snow is melted enough, spring is a great time to explore some of Michigan’s disc golf courses. The sport has exploded over the last ten years, and many parks have taken notice and constructed courses as a result. Many courses wind through the woods, near water, and over beautiful areas of land. Disc golf does not require much physical effort, either, so people of almost any fitness level can participate and enjoy.

Spring Races

Disc GolfSpring is when fairweather runners make a comeback. Jump into a 5K to kickstart this running season! The best part about spring races is that many of them are themed; Easter Races, 5Ks with pets, and costume races start their season in March and continue on through the rest of the year. The best kind of race is the kind that allows you to get a little creative while running, then celebrating with some great food and beverages from race sponsors afterward! RunMichigan.com is jam-packed with races that take place literally every weekend; take a peak and pick one out.

 

 

Fishing

To go along with the great activity of grilling, one needs to catch some fish. Opening day of trout season is the last Saturday of April, so get those fishing licenses ready. Creeks, streams, rivers, bays, and lakes are all full of great tasting fish that want to come home with you. On one occasion, I even had the pleasure of purchasing live worms that had been injected with a fluorescent green dye, making the worms glow in the dark. So get those green worms ready, folks, it’s fishing season!

Morel Mushroom Picking

RelaxingThis is an activity for those with patience. It can be very tedious, but it is a spectacular way to get deep into the woods and spend quality time with your face near the ground of mother nature. Many people cook and eat these mushrooms, and quite a few also sell these morels at a fairly decent price. I do advise going in areas you are familiar with, or at least taking your phone with a GPS because it is alarmingly easy to lose track of oneself out there.

In short, spring is messy, but it is the loveliest kind of messy. Spring is for mud puddles, open windows, and new life. We Michiganders survived one crazy winter; now it is time to rejoice with a fine patio cocktail.

What are your favorite spring activities? 

1236752_10104693579790294_533864666_nJennifer Hamilton is a graduate student and outdoor enthusiast living in Traverse City. Jennifer splits her time between working in the substance abuse field, writing for the Awesome Mitten, and chasing after her three dogs.