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.

Discovering ‘Pure Michigan’ on North Manitou Island

Sometimes spending a few days with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, is the perfect way to de-stress and unwind. Today, guest blogger 16-yr old Catherine Lilek tell us how she did just that on a memorable summer trip to North Manitou Island. 

I believe that this summer I found Michigan at it’s finest at North Manitou Island – an uninhabited island, still classified as “wilderness.” North Manitou Island is on Lake Michigan, off the shore of Leland, with an hour long ferry ride out to the Island.

Once you get to the island, there is a small village where you get off of the ferry. It has a water spigot, picnic tables, a few designated camp sites, and the ranger station. The rest of the island is just pure forests and beaches.

The hiking is not terribly difficult, although some areas on the island are harder than others. Hiking on the trails simply has a way of making all your stress and worries melt away. As you observe unique trees, wildlife, and wonderful glimpses of the lake, you may even get to come up quite close to some white tailed deer, as I was lucky enough to experience.

The beaches on the island are perfect. Normally, a trip to the beach may be crowded and loud and full of other people. Here on the North Manitou Island, you will find yourself alone. There is something peaceful and calming in that. Sitting on the big open beach, grilling burgers for dinner or watching the sunset are truly some of life’s most simple and wonderful things.

I won’t embellish and say that it’s a luxury trip. There bathrooms and showers are not plentiful and you may need to filter your own drinking water, but it is simply Pure Michigan at it’s finest. It’s relaxing; a chance to escape from technology and busy everyday life. You learn to be self reliant and as I found, you learn you are stronger and tougher than you thought. You learn willpower. You see nature in a simple, undisturbed setting. You learn to view the world in a completely different way. You find joy in laying in your tent at night and instead of falling asleep to the sound of cars going by, you fall asleep to the chorus of crickets. You wake up to the sounds of birds singing.

I would strongly recommend taking a trip to North Manitou Island. Make sure to bring plenty of bug spray, sunscreen, and of course trail mix!  You can hike and camp all around the island, or stay in the main village. No matter how you experience North Manitou, you will still find yourself amidst the solitude and beauty of this island and truly experience Pure Michigan for yourself. If you do go, be sure to get up early enough to watch the sunrise one morning. Take your sleeping bag down to the beach and enjoy it. It’s an experience you will not soon forget.

Catherine Lilek is a 16-year old student, runner and an avid writer with a true love for the outdoors.  

10 Fun Facts About Michigan International Speedway

The Pure Michigan 400 is just around the corner! Next weekend thousands will be heading to Michigan International Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers as they race around NASCAR’s fastest track on August 18.

To ramp up the excitement we rounded some lesser known facts about Michigan International Speedway. Test your knowledge about MIS below.

  • The 40 trams used at MIS that bring fans from the parking lots to the track were the same trams used at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has never won at MIS, but he’s the honorary president of the MIS Kids Club. He even holds special events at the track.
  • There are 9,000 campsites at MIS – making it the largest registered campground in the State of Michigan.
  • Marcos Ambrose broke the 200 MPH barrier in qualifying in 2012. Marcus was recorded at 203.241 mph.
  • Bill Elliot is the active driver who has led the most laps at MIS. In his 37 year racing career Elliot has been in the lead at MIS for 1004 laps.
  • Parking is always free at MIS! Guests can also bring in their own food and beverages, and parking lots open two hours before the grandstand so there is plenty of time for tailgating.
  • MIS is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack! MIS is superfast due to the repave in 2012 and long straightaways on the track that let drivers reach their highest speeds.
  • People have gotten married at the track before, but did you know that Roger Curtis presided over the wedding? It’s true! Roger Curtis, the president of MIS is an ordained minister and married a happy couple in Gatorade Victory Lane on June 17, 2012.
  • David Pearson has won the most Cup poles at MIS with 10. Who will take the pole this year?
  • MIS is the only racetrack where a fan awards a special trophy to the winning driver and team. It’s part of MIS’s Fan Appreciation Program.

To learn more or to purchase tickets for the Pure Michigan 400 on August 18, visit MIS’s website here.

Let us know if we’ll see you at the Pure Michigan 400!