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.

15 Things to Pack on Your Pure Michigan Camping Trip: An Infographic

Michigan Camping and RV Month might be coming to a close, but there’s still plenty of time to plan a Pure Michigan camping trip this summer! And with more than a thousand campgrounds statewide, there’s something for everyone – whether it’s camping along rivers, lakes, sand dunes and beaches or in state parks or national forests.

To help you prepare for your next camping trip in Michigan, we’ve put together this checklist of things to bring. See the image below and click here to download a full-sized version. For more on camping in Michigan, visit michigan.org.

Serene Walk-in Campgrounds in Pure Michigan

Jim DuFresne, author of more than 20 guidebooks and main contributor to www.MichiganTrailMaps.com is a go-to resource for all things hiking and trail-related in Michigan. Today, he fills us in on some of the incredible walk-in campsites around the state.

Sometimes it seems like you have to drive to the end of the road to escape the summer crowds and find a quiet place to camp.

And sometimes all you have to do is walk 100 feet.

When the National Park Service renovated its Platte River Campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1991 it installed electrical hook-ups in 96 of the 179 sites, a change in previous NPS policy of rustic-only campgrounds. But the designers also added 25 walk-in sites for tent campers where a short stroll leads to a quick escape from this otherwise popular and busy campground.

A couple of the walk-in sites are less than 30 yards from where you leave the car and but the majority are a longer walk through the low wooded dunes. Each is unique; site B-8 occupies the top of knoll, B-5 overlooks a pond filled with cattails and wild irises.

The Platte River sites can be reserved in advance through recreation.gov, but the beauty of walk-in sites is that they are often available the day you arrive.

Platte River Campground isn’t the only place offering sites to campers willing to walk. Here are some others:

Shelley Lake
This dispersed recreation area in the Huron-Manistee National Forests is north of White Cloud and has eight designated sites spread around the shoreline of this scenic, 15-acre lake of which seven are reached after a short walk of a 50 yards or less. Site Number 3 is located on a point in the southwest corner of the lake where you can pitch your tent with a 180-degree view of the water.           

Wakeley Lake
Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area is east of Grayling in the Huron-Manistee National Forests and is best known for its catch-and-release fishery that produces six-pound bass and foot-long bluegills. But the 2,000-acre tract also has a walk-in campground and 30 miles of two-tracks that has become a playground for hikers and mountain bikers. The hike from M-72 to the campground is a third of a mile and the four sites are located in a stand of red pine on a low hill overlooking the lake. Two of them have picnic tables and fire rings.

Tubbs Lake Island
Located in Tubbs Lake State Forest Campground, this small island, created when Winchester Dam was built in the late 1950′s to create a waterfowl habitat, is a Mecosta County Park reached by driving across a narrow dike. The campground features 12 sites including two walk-in sites. These sites are located at the top of the island in a semi-open area that commands a great view of the surrounding lakes as well as your neighbors below.

Pete’s Lake
Located south of Munising in the Hiawatha National Forest, Pete’s Lake Recreation Area has 41 rustic sites, including two for walk-in campers. Site Number 7A is a 50-yard stroll from a trailhead at the east end of the campground and features a clear view of the lake. Less than a quarter mile further is Site Number 8A, another shoreline site with even a bit of sandy beach in front of it.   

Find more campsites around the state at michigan.org and let us know if you have a camping trip planned for this summer!

Jim DuFresne is the author of more than 20 guidebooks and the main contributor to www.MichiganTrailMaps.com, a resource web site for hikers, backpackers, cross-country skiers and other trail users. Among his titles are Michigan’s Best Campgrounds and Isle Royale National Park: Foot Trails & Water Routes.