Now is the time of year where people start clamoring to get the perfect summer campsite. Michigan State Parks 6 month reservation window is open now for summer and all over the internet, campers are posting about the difficulties of getting their favorite spot. All this hype makes it really hard to get into the popular campgrounds especially over the busy weekends. There is one way sure fire way to avoid all this hassle: camp in the off season. Camping in Michigan outside of the summer, you practically have the campgrounds to yourself.
The slowest season for camping is definitely winter. Winter brings less options as some campgrounds close completely while others limit availability. Many campgrounds that remain open close the bath houses in winter as well. Of course, winter camping brings lower temperatures and snow (although not much of that yet this year) so you need to be prepared with a quality tent and sleeping bag rated for the cold. Bring your snowshoes or cross country skis and take to the trails during the daylight. If you are prepared for it, camping in the winter is a unique experience.
For those who are not that hearty, spring and fall are less busy than the summer, but more comfortable than winter. And if you are able to go during the week, you might not have many neighbors. Last May we took an impromptu one night camping trip at Holly Rec just to get out of the house. There were a few other campers around, but it was much calmer than the summer and we were able to walk right in and get a spot without booking months in advance.
Of course, camping in Michigan in the fall adds a whole other layer to the experience. The trees put on a show that dress up the campgrounds. I love going up to the Upper Peninsula in the fall. The colors really add another layer to an already beautiful wilderness. We camped at Tahquamenon Falls a few years ago in the fall and there were only a handful of other campers around after the weekend. Of course, it gets chilly up there in the fall so you need to be prepared for it, but the views make it worth it!
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