While camping at Tahquamenon Falls, we decided to take a day trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The lakeshore has blown up in popularity the last few years after being featured on Good Morning America. We used to refer to Munising as a food desert because if you didn’t bring it with you, you weren’t eating it there. With increased visitation, new restaurants and shops have popped up outside of the park. This was the first time we had been back to this area since our UP Road trip in 2015 and it was really good to see some life in this area!
The downside of the increased visitation is that the trails and parking lots were jam-packed with people. We decided to hike to Chapel Falls and there were so many cars on the side of the road to the Chapel Falls parking lot, it took us an hour to drive 3 1/2 miles to the lot. Being a holiday weekend, we were expecting crowds, but we weren’t expecting this level of crowds.
The hike to Chapel Falls (left) is about three miles round trip. The trail is on an old rail bed so it is relatively flat and a pretty easy hike. Somehow, when we got to the falls, Chris convinced me to double the length of our hike and continue on to Chapel Rock and Lake Superior (top). The rest of the trail was just as easy as before and the added mileage meant the crowds dropped off significantly. Overall, I’m glad we did the whole hike, but my legs were jelly by the time we got back to the car.
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If you plan to visit Pictured Rocks, definitely take some time to check out the revitalized downtown Munising. There are now many highly rated places to eat on TripAdvisor. If you plan to do this hike, arrive early, or pack your patience. We arrived after lunch and were able to get a spot in the lot, but as I mentioned above, it took a long time to get all the way there.
Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
Over Labor Day weekend, we headed back across the bridge to camp at one of our favorite spots in Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls. A few years ago, we camped in the Rivermouth Pines campground in the fall and absolutely fell in love with the place. Rivermouth Pines made my list of Best Michigan Campgrounds for Tent Camping.
A waterfront site at Rivermouth Pines was only available for the final night of our trip, so we started off in the Portage Campground. Portage is located near the parking for the lower falls and is a modern campground with electric hookup and modern restrooms. It is a great place to stay if you are looking to paddle the river. After our experiences with many Michigan State Park campgrounds on our summer road trip, we expected the campground to be a big open field with sites cramped together but it really wasn’t. We had a site on the outside loop that backed up to a little creek. We had plenty of space between us and our neighbors and it was nice falling asleep to the sounds of the falls. Being a holiday weekend in 2020, I was expecting it to be jam packed, but there were a few open sites and everyone was relatively calm.
After our two nights at Portage, we packed up and moved down river to the Rivermouth Pines campground. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a rustic campground with outhouses and no electricity. We had hoped to put our kayak in the water here and paddle around but Mother Nature had other ideas for us. The rain began early that night and the wind picked up early in the morning. There were 30 mile an hour gusts coming off of Lake Superior. Honestly, I was surprised our little Coleman tent withstood it. Our EZ Up went flying across the campground. It goes without saying that we didn’t attempt to kayak when there were whitecaps on the river that was smooth the night before. We just figured that means we have to plan another trip to one of our favorite campgrounds.
We highly recommend both the Portage and Rivermouth Pines campgrounds if you are looking to spend time at Tahquamenon Falls. Since Rivermouth Pines is close to Lake Superior, it is about a half an hour drive to the falls. If you are looking to spend more time at the waterfalls, check out Portage or Hemlock, the other campground near the lower falls. If you need electric hookup and modern bath facilities, there is also a modern campground in the Rivermouth section of the park.
Thanks for stopping by! To book a site at Tahquamenon Falls, go to midnrreservations.com. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
It is the end of December and I finally reached the end of this trip report from a trip I took almost six months ago. It works out, though because normally at the end of the year, I recap the year and look forward to my travel plans in the future year. First off, I haven’t gotten to all the little camping trips we took after this one so that post would ruin the surprise of what’s to come. And at this point, who knows what 2021 will look like? This is not really a time for a lot of advanced travel planning. I have some ideas and some dreams. Stay tuned to find out where we actually end up!
Anyway, this trip was definitely one of the most last-minute road trips we have ever taken and where we went was largely based on where we could get in. We made it to some bucket list destinations and some of them lived up to what I had imagined them to be and some of them fell a little flat. Let’s recap:
Fayette State Park: underrated Michigan state park with a cool historic (ghost) town to explore. Most years it’s pretty easy to get a site at the campground.
Porcupine Mountains: giant state park that has both mountains and water. If you are not an avid hiker, it’s best to do some serious training to be able to fully appreciate this park.
Door County, Wisconsin: Beautiful Lake Michigan peninsula with a lot of nature and lighthouses to explore. For a Michigander, Old Mission and Leelanau are more impressive and more accessible.
S.S. Badger: Bucket list experience. Pack your patience, especially if you bring a car.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week as I begin recapping our Labor Day Weekend at Tahquamenon Falls. To read more about this trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
After our journey across Lake Michigan, we made our home for the final night of our trip at Ludington State Park. Ludington is easily one of the most popular parks in Michigan, with the campground filling up six months out. With a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, a lighthouse, several inland lakes, a river for paddling or tubing, and miles of hiking trails, it’s no question why this park is so beloved.
As I mentioned in my last post, it was late by the time we finally got our car off the ferry. We stopped for dinner and ice cream at House of Flavors and by the time we made it to the park, the sun was setting. There is something special about watching the sun go down on those dunes along Lake Michigan. The sky really put on a show for us that night.
It began to rain early the next morning causing us to get a late start. We were going to hike to the lighthouse, but by the time we finally got going, it was about time for us to check out. Oh well, just an excuse to get back to one of our favorite Michigan state parks!
As I mentioned above, this park is really hard to get into. We got lucky and were able to book this site about a month in advance. The Beechwood campground was scheduled to be closed in 2020 for a bathhouse renovation. Because of COVID, the DNR got a late start and decided to open the campground up for the season, allowing us to get a site only a month or so in advance. The downside of that, of course, is that the bathhouse at this campground was very outdated, but for only one night, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Beechwood is open for reservations for 2021 as well, so they must have decided to put that plan on hold for now.
One thing to note about camping at Ludington (and many Michigan state park campgrounds, honestly) is that all of the campgrounds are pretty much located in a big open field. The sites on the inside of the loop are pretty small and lack privacy. The sites on the outside of the loop back-up to woods and dunes giving them much more privacy. The inside loop is great if you are camping with a group and reserving multiple sites, if it’s just you, try to get an outside site. You will feel much less cramped.
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our summer road trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
Ever since our first trip to Ludington, I have wanted to take the S.S. Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. But, at $131 per person round trip (not including a vehicle), it was always too expensive for us to justify for a short trip. Not to mention, without a vehicle, there is not much to do in Manitowac, Wisconsin on the other side of the lake. Well, this summer’s road trip allowed us to finally be able to justify the expense of this experience.
The S.S. Badger is a historic steamship car ferry offering service from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowac, Wisconsin. Built in 1952, the Badger is the last coal-fired passenger ship operating in the United States and is a National Historic Landmark. Originally built to move railroad cars across the lake, in the 1990’s the Badger transformed into a passenger ferry for cars, RVs, and commercial trucks. Running from May to October, the Badger takes about 450 trips across the lake each year. The trip takes about four hours and is a good way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the great lakes while immersing yourself in history.
In a year without cruising, this was a good way to get a little bit of that cruise experience, laying in a deck chair watching the water. They were even playing trivia and bingo inside. It was easy to forget that we were on Lake Michigan and not in the Caribbean.
Taking a trip on the S.S. Badger fit in perfectly with this trip and I am very glad that we did it, but I’m not itching to do it again. The four-hour crossing is long and waiting to get our car probably took an additional hour. It was late by the time we got into camp that night. Nowadays, there is a faster (albeit more expensive) option that runs from Milwaukee to Muskegon in only two and a half hours. If you’ve never taken the Badger, it is an experience I highly recommend. Just pack your patience and make sure you have nowhere to be that evening.
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out our Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.