Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Category: Project: State Parks (Page 2 of 10)

Wordless Wednesday: Waterfall Cairn

Laughing Whitefish Falls

During our Epic Michigan Road Trip a few years ago, we spent the day driving from Houghton to Munising exploring Northern Michigan’s waterfalls. I had heard about Laughing Whitefish Falls and wanted to check it out. We looked it up on Google Maps and headed out to see it. Google suggested a shortcut so we took it. After driving a little while the road we were driving on turned into a two-track. We figured if it’s on Google its got to be a legitimate road so we continued driving. After bouncing around for a while we came to a creek running across the road. At the time we were driving our Kia Soul which is not much of an off-road vehicle and we didn’t think would be a good idea to drive our car through water, so we turned around and headed back where we came from.

Ever since that day, I have seen pictures of these falls and I put them at the top of my list for things to see on a return trip to the UP. When planning this trip, I saw the drive from Fayette to the Porcupine Mountains as a perfect time to take a detour to Laughing Whitefish Falls. This time, we stuck to the main route and we made it!

Laughing Whitefish Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Michigan and is really impressive to see in person. The trail from the parking area to the falls is about a mile long and ends at a viewing platform at the top of the falls. From there you can take the very large staircase to get you to the bottom of the approximately 100-foot tall waterfall. Make sure you bring water because it is a lot easier to go down all those stairs than it is to go up them!

Laughing Whitefish Falls is located off of M-94 between Munising and Marquette near the town of Chatham. Be sure to follow the signs to the park and not follow GPS guidance unless you are prepared to go off-roading!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our UP adventure, check out the 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.

Wordless Wednesday: Snail Shell Harbor

Fayette Historic State Park

Old Fayette Hotel

Fayette Historic State Park has been on my radar for a while. Located on the Garden Peninsula, between Manistique and Escanaba on the northern shores of Lake Michigan, Fayette is an out of the way, under the radar, Michigan state park.

From 1867-1891, the town of Fayette was home to a bustling iron smelting operation. Big Bay de Noc has a naturally deep harbor making Fayette the perfect place for iron smelting. During its heyday, nearly 500 people called Fayette home. When all the lumber in the area was used up, the Jackson Iron Company shut its doors and the workers were forced to look for employment elsewhere.

Nowadays, visitors can tour the historic buildings and compare the living conditions of the laborers versus the superintendent. Check out the hotel with a door on the second floor that went to a two-story outhouse. Have lunch at one of the picnic tables in the old furnace complex.

Townsite from the Overlook Trail

Fayette also has a modern campground. We were in a site in the outside loop which was good sized and we discovered had a path out to the lake. The water level is high this year so there wasn’t much of a beach, but it was a beautiful place to take sunset photos. As I mentioned above, this park is off the beaten path, and in normal years, its pretty easy to get a site most weekends. Of course, it was full when we were there. The park is also home to 5 miles of hiking trails with beautiful views from the limestone cliffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

If you like history and beautiful Great Lakes waterfront, definitely add Fayette Historic State Park to your list. Be aware, the Garden Peninsula is mostly a farming community so there is not much else around except a couple of restaurants and a gas station. If you were looking for a hotel to stay at near Fayette, I would recommend staying in Manistique and driving down for the day.

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.

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Wordless Wednesday: Fayette Window

Flashback Friday: Mighty Mac

Exploring the Southern U.P.

Wawtam Lighthouse

On the first night of our road trip, we stayed at one of our favorite Michigan campgrounds, Straits State Park. As mentioned in my Best Places to Tent Camp in Michigan, we absolutely love the waterfront, bridge view sites at Straits. On this trip I realized that those sites are no longer reserved just for tents. Those sites are hard to get so I wasn’t so much upset that we weren’t on the water, but now with bigger rigs camping there, sites a row or two back can no longer see the bridge. It also felt incredibly crowded. I’m going to have to go back and edit my Michigan Tent Camping article. I’m not so sure that I would recommend this campground if you can’t get one of those coveted bridge view sites.

Anyway, after packing up camp, we had a few hours to kill before we could check into our next campsite at Fayette Historic State Park. Luckily, there is a lot to do between St. Ignace and the Garden Peninsula. Just north of the Mackinac Bridge, downtown St. Ignace has a very similar feel to Mackinaw City, but with yooper charm and a whole lot fewer people. There is a boardwalk to explore that leads to the St. Ignace’s Wawatam Lighthouse (top). Fun fact, this lighthouse was originally built for the Michigan Welcome Center in Port Huron and was moved to St. Ignace and illuminated in 2006. Its probably the least historic of all of Michigan’s lighthouses.

Kitch-iti-Kipi, The Big Spring

We stopped for pasties at our favorite pasty shop, Lehto’s and headed for Manistique. One of the places that really stood out to us on our last UP adventure was Kitch-it-Kipi, or the Big Spring. We headed there first and were shocked to see how busy it was. The parking lot was packed and the line for the raft went all the way to the parking lot. I don’t know if this is just because people are opting for outdoor vacations this summer or because we visited on a Saturday, but needless to say we did not wait in that line. Masks are required to ride the raft and there is a ranger monitoring social distancing (although it still looked pretty tight on there) and turning the wheel to maneuver the raft. If you have had dreams to pilot the raft at Kitch-iti-Kipi, I would check back in 2021.

Be sure to check back next week as I share about our experience in Michigan’s Garden Peninsula at Fayette Historic State Park. 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.

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Wordless Wednesday: Lake Michigan on Fire

Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip

Lake Michigan on Fire at Sunset

I am back from another epic road trip around the great lakes. Due to COVID-19, we had a difficult time planning our summer vacation. I believe this was our 5th or 6th different vacation plan. From canceled flights to mandatory quarantines, it is not easy to plan a trip in 2020. Because of this, we ended up staying close to home.

Here’s a look at our itinerary and the trip report to come:

Day 1: Straits State Park – exploring St. Ignace, Manistique, Kitch-iti-Kipi

Day 2: Fayette State Park – exploring the historic townsite

Day 3: Heading west – Laughing Whitefish Falls, Canyon Falls, Lake of the Clouds

Day 4: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Adventure Mine, Presque Isle Waterfalls

Day 5: Porcupine Mountains – paddling Lake Superior, Union Bay Campground

Day 6: Heading south – Agate Falls, Bond Falls

Day 7: Door County – Peninsula State Park, Cana Island Lighthouse, Wine Tasting

Day 8: Back to Michigan – Bailey’s Harbor Lighthouse, SS Badger

Day 9: Ludington State Park & White River Light Station

As with our other big road trips, this was a very busy trip, but it was good to get out into nature after so long being stuck at home. We were not the only people to have this idea, though. Everyone near the Porcupine Mountains area told us that it was much busier than the typical summer. The campgrounds we stayed at were packed pretty much every night we were out. If you are heading into nature this summer, just be aware that you are not the only people doing this. Prepare to be around people and be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep you and your family safe.

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.

Best Campgrounds in Michigan for Tent Camping

Sunset at McLain State Park

Camping seems to be the thing to do this summer, to get away from the crowds and get into nature. With so many new campers, I thought now would be a good time to share my favorite places to get into nature in Michigan. It is important to note that many of these campgrounds fill up on summer weekends, so definitely try to make reservations early!

When looking for campgrounds for tent camping, I’m looking for:

  • Privacy: without a big RV to retreat to, I prefer to have some trees separating me from my neighbors
  • View: my favorite campsites in Michigan are usually near a body of water and being able to see it from your site is unbeatable
  • Location: we are not the kind of campers that hang around the campground all day. We like campgrounds with activities nearby, whether it be hiking, boating or a town to explore
  • Cleanliness: while I haven’t had an issue with any campground in Michigan being unhygienic, the ones that made this list are clean.
  • Rustic vs. modern: I don’t need electric service while camping. I have learned that everything I need to power (mainly charging phones and camera batteries) can be powered through the AC adapter in my car. Modern bathhouses and showers are a plus but I am not opposed to an outhouse. I haven’t been brave enough to try dispersed camping without an outhouse yet.

With those parameters in place, here are my favorite campgrounds in Michigan, in no particular order:

D.H. Day Campground

D.H. Day is located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This campground only recently started taking reservations, before that people literally lined up early in the morning to get a site here and after camping here, I understand why. It is a rustic campground but campers do have access to the showers at Platte River (the modern campground in the park). The sites are big and very private and there is a nice beach located within the campground. When I booked, the only sites available were in the generator loop. With the rules about when generators can be run, it was pretty peaceful. Reservations are accepted from May to October. The rest of the year it is still first come, first served. With online reservations, D.H. Day books up early. You can book 6 months out at Recreation.gov.

Fisherman’s Island

Fisherman’s Island State Park is located near Charlevoix. The waterfront sites here are AMAZING and can fit a tent or small trailer. You basically have a small beach on Lake Michigan to yourself. This is a completely rustic campground but the setting is totally worth it! It is very quiet and it’s not too hard to get a site in peak season although the waterfront sites book up early. To book, visit midnrreservations.com.

Tahquamenon Falls – Rivermouth Pines

Like many Michigan State Parks, Tahquamenon Falls in the U.P. is a large park with many campgrounds throughout. My favorite has to be Rivermouth Pines. Located away from the falls where the Tahquamenon River meets Lake Superior, this area is off the beaten path and quiet. They are well spaced out and some of them are right on the water. The sites in this area are rustic but it is within walking distance to the Rivermouth campground where there is a modern bathhouse. To book visit, midnrreservations.com.

Hoeft State Park

Hoeft State Park, located near Rogers City, is really a hidden gem of the Michigan State Park system. It has a gorgeous Lake Huron beach and is near the Huron-Sunrise trail which is a popular biking destination. The sites are large and spread out with electric service and a modern bathhouse. One of the best things about this park is that is typically pretty easy to get a site and only really fills up on holiday weekends. Its still a good idea to reserve a site ahead of time at midrnreservations.com.

Straits State Park

Straits State Park in St. Ignace is the only campground that we routinely return to. It is very close to downtown St. Ignace so it’s very convenient if you are planning on visiting Mackinac Island. But what keeps me coming back to this park are the waterfront, bridge view sites. Even if you can’t get right on the water, both lower campgrounds have great views of the bridge and there is a little bench on the water where you can sit if you didn’t score a bridge-view site. The sites right on the water do not have electric service but Straits has the best showers in all of the state park system. The waterfront sites tend to fill up quickly but are easier to get during the week. To book, visit Midnrreservations.com.

Update after visiting 7/24/2020: Over the last few years the bridge view sites have opened up for the bigger rigs. What this means is that unless you can score one of those sites, you can’t really see the bridge from your site. Also, this makes the campground feel much more crowded than in the past. Some of that might just be that people are fleeing to nature this summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get up there next summer and see if its calmed down at all. As of right now, I no longer recommend this campground for tents unless you can get one of those bridge view sites!

Hartwick Pines State Park

Hartwick Pines State Park is located near Grayling. The park has one modern campground and even has a few full hookup sites for the big rigs. But even with all of that, the sites are private and the park was very quiet when I visited. It also has a recently renovated shower house with some of the nicest showers in the state park system. The park has many hiking trails, a logging museum, and a lake for paddling or fishing. This campground worked out well for us as the first stop on our UP road trip, allowing us to do some of the drive on Friday night. Sites can be reserved at midnrreservations.com.


McLain State Park

In the Keewenaw peninsula near Hancock, McLain wins the award for best campground view ever. Perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, offers a stunning view of both the sunrise and sunset over Lake Superior! The sites are kind of close and don’t offer a lot of privacy, but they do have electric service. Since I’ve been there, they did a major refurbishment of the campground since some of the cliffs had eroded and they lost some of the sites. With the renovation a new bathhouse which was sorely needed. While this isn’t the most popular campground, its not a bad idea to book a site in advance at midnrreservations.com

Wilderness State Park

Wilderness State Park, located near Mackinaw City, is one of the biggest state parks in the lower peninsula and has several typical state park campgrounds. A few years ago they added these amazing waterfront tent sites (double letter sites AA, BB, etc). These sites are very private and quiet, except for the road noise you get because they are right at the entrance to the park. What is amazing about these sites is that they sit right on the water so each site essentially has its own private beach. These sites are rustic but there is a modern bathroom at the nearby entrance station. These sites are set slightly off from where the parking is so they are not accessible for any kind of trailer. There are only a handful of these sites so it is best to reserve them early on midnrreservations.com.

Bay Furnace Campground

Located in Christmas, Michigan not far from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Bay Furnace is a National Forest Service campground. It is completely rustic with outhouses but the sites are very private and the campground is very quiet. Of course, the park also has a beautiful, rocky beach on Lake Superior which is a great place to watch the sunset at the end of the day. Bay Furnace is one of the only campgrounds in the area that takes advanced reservations. The campgrounds at Pictured Rocks do now take reservations, but they are pretty small and fill up quickly so Bay Furnace is a great alternative. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov.

Due to high water levels in the great lakes, some of the best sites have been (hopefully only temporarily) lost to the lakes. Jack Pine campground at Ludington State Park is a hike in campground and one of my absolute favorite campgrounds in the state but it has been flooding lately. This has been a problem at Leelanau State Park as well as Tawas. Hopefully, water levels will go back down and these campgrounds will become accessible again.

Thanks for stopping by! What is your favorite campground in Michigan? Let me know in the comments! 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.

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