Go See Do Photography

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

Tag: camping (Page 1 of 2)

100 Years of Michigan State Parks

Sauguatuck Dunes State Park

Last month, the Michigan State Park System celebrated its 100th anniversary. With 103 parks, there are a lot of places in the state to enjoy natural Michigan. From Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Western Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in the Detroit River, Michigan State Parks encompass miles of freshwater shoreline, hills, waterfalls, and forests. There is a state park for whatever type of recreation you are looking for.

Tawas State Park

Mackinac Island was actually the first Michigan State Park as a gift from the Federal Government after a brief stint as the second National Park in the country and became the nation’s first state park (wiki). In 1917, the state of Michigan purchased land to make Interlochen State Park the second state park. By 1919, the Michigan State Park commission was created to “oversee, acquire, and maintain” state parks for the enjoyment of the people. Up until that point, many of the beauties of the state were privately owned and there weren’t places for the average person to go visit in their new automobile (govdelivery.com).

Seven Lakes State Park

I love how forward thinking the state of Michigan was back in the early 20th century. What else was happening around the country at that time? In 1919, the Grand Canyon became a National Park. Isle Royal, the only National Park in the state, didn’t become a National Park until 1940. Other state park systems didn’t exist until the 1930s.

McLain State Park

Back in 2012, I set a goal to visit every Michigan State Park. By my estimation, I have visited 49 so far and I have many more parks to explore! Through my explorations, I have seen some pretty amazing places! Of course, I have shared on here my absolute love of Ludington State Park. I probably visit Ludington more often then some parks which are closer to home. I’ve seen the unique beauty of the big spring at Palms Book State Park. I have witnessed the history of Fort Wilkins and Fort Michilimackinac. Just this past weekend, I camped along the shores of Lake Michigan at Fisherman’s Island State Park. I greatly appreciate the experiences I have had at these wonderful parks and I look forward to many more!

Silver Lake State Park

Thanks for stopping by! 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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Off Season Camping

Autumn at Tahquamenon Falls

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!

Thank you for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! 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.

Hiking Hocking Hills: Ash Cave

Ash Cave

The Ash Cave Gorge Trail is probably the easiest hike at Hocking Hills State Park. The quarter mile, ADA accessible trail takes you almost all the way to the falls. The accessibility of this trail makes it a popular site as can be seen from the above photo. Of course, this spot wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t stunning. At 700 feet from end to end and the rim rising 90 feet from the ground, Ash Cave is the largest recessed cave in the state of Ohio. Of course, there are more challenging ways to explore Ash Cave as well. Climb 64 steps on the Rim Trail for get a view of the cave from above. (HockingHills.com)

It was forecast to rain the whole time we were in Hocking Hills. When we woke up on our first full day in the park and the rain hadn’t started, we quickly got ready and headed to the trails. Our plan was to see as much as we could before the rain

Ash Cavestarted and then head back to camp. I had learned since our time at Port Crescent last summer and I brought things to do in the tent to occupy us during the rain. Miraculously, it didn’t rain at all that day and we were able to explore everything we had hoped. What is my point? Don’t look at the weather forecast and cancel your plans! According to the meteorologists there was a 100% chance of rain that day and it didn’t actually start until after the sun went down. We could have cancelled the trip and stayed home but we would have missed these cool sites and some beautiful weather. Of course, that’s not always the case so you need to have a plan for rain. That can be tough tent camping, but some books, a pack of cards, and a rain coat should keep you occupied for a bit.

To plan your trip to Hocking Hills, visit HockingHills.com.  Read more in my Hiking Hocking Hills Series: Camping & Hiking Hocking HillsCedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House and Old Man’s Cave (coming soon). If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! 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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Camping and Hiking Hocking Hills

Cave Waterfall

Hocking Hills State Park is a geological gem in southeast Ohio. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in Ohio over the years, this area does not feel like Ohio. It felt like a cross between the Pictured Rocks area in the Upper Peninsula and Natural Bridge in Kentucky. Paths and hiking trails weave through sandstone rock formations and around waterfalls to stunning, sometimes otherworldly, vistas. The park is full of towering sandstone cliffs, caves, and amazing waterfalls.

There is an experience at Hocking Hills for all abilities and interests from a leisurely stroll to a more rigorous hike. The trails to Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, and Conkle’s Hollow are easy, paved, and have rewarding views at the end. Old Man’s Cave (featured above) is a little more difficult with some beautiful bridges to cross and carved sandstone steps. We hiked Old Man’s Cave during a drizzle and it felt all encompassing and surreal. Rock House was the most challenging hike we did. It involved climbing narrow, boulder-like steps to an amazing cave-like rock formation that once was a hideaway for bandits. If you are even more adventurous, Cantwell Cliffs and The Hemlock Bridge Trail are more longer, more challenging trails with many steps leading to unique locations in the park. If you are looking to make a full day out of hiking, the Grandma Gatewood Trail connects a lot of the sites so you don’t even need a car to see them all.

During our time in Hocking Hills, we stayed in the Old Man’s Cave Family Campground Hike-in Sites. The hike-in sites are outside of the main campground at the mountain bike trailhead. The sites are fairly well spread out and most of them have a good deal of privacy. The four sites closest to the parking lot are first come first serve and the farthest site back is a good .8 mile walk from the parking lot with many sites in between. The path to the hike-in sites is gravel and a wagon is an easy way to transport your gear to your site. Even though the hike-in sites are separate from the main campground, hke-in campers are given main campground privileges such as use of the shower house and pool. I would definitely recommend the hike-in sites to tent campers that don’t require an electrical hookup because the sites at the main campground are very close together and lack privacy.

Read more in my Hiking Hocking Hills Series: Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House and Old Man’s Cave (coming soon). For more information about the Hocking Hills Area visit HockingHills,com. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! 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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Early Season Camping

Spring is in the Air

Trees at Crosswinds Marsh

This past weekend, we made our inaugural camping trip of the season. The weather was beautiful and I just had the itch to get out and sleep under the stars. We drove to Holly Recreation Area just in time to set up camp in daylight and have a campfire. One of the nice things about camping near home is the reduced travel time gives you more time in camp. Since we don’t typically camp just to camp but to explore, we don’t usually stay overnight at our local parks. This was my first time at Holly Recreation Area and it was very quiet this early in the season. I look forward to returning in the future, maybe for another low key camping trip. Who knows?

If you are ever doing a spur of the moment camping trip like this, I have a few little tips for you. I would recommend checking availability online before you leave. We were planning on going to Highland Recreation Area but after looking on the website, we discovered that to camp there in April and May you have to bring a horse. I was very glad I checked this before we left and we didn’t drive all the way out there before learning that. And of course, you could get all the way out to a campground only to find out that they are full and that wouldn’t be good either. So, I suggest that you check the website before you leave, but do not book a last minute trip online. Most campground reservation systems charge you a processing fee, but if you book at the campground they do not. By booking at the park, we saved some money and it didn’t take any additional time to check in.

Just for clarification, the above photo is from Crosswinds Marsh not Holly Recreation Area. We weren’t really at the park long enough to explore and take pictures. Maybe we will come back another time to capture it and share it here.

If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! 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.

Spring is in the Air!

Big Pink Flower

I think it may finally be spring here in Michigan, although there is snow in the 10 day forecast, but I’m just going to pretend I don’t see that and hope it goes away. The longer days and warmer weather mean its time to start planning our summer trips! So far, I have a cruise on the calendar towards the end of summer. In July, I’ve booked a weekend camping trip at Straits State Park in St. Ignace. I am so excited to sit around the campfire under the lights of the Mackinac Bridge again!

We are also talking about heading down to the Hocking Hills in June. I have seen beautiful photos of the scenery there and I would really like to capture it! The park in southern Ohio is full of stunning waterfalls, unique rock formations, and miles of hiking trails.

The final trip of the summer that I am planning is a camping trip in the Porcupine Mountains in the western Upper Peninsula. I have heard so much about the area but the seven hour plus drive is a real deterrent. I am hoping this summer to finally overcome that obstacle and experience Lake of the Clouds and Bond Falls myself.

Where are you planning to visit this summer? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Mackinaw City

Old Mackinac Point

For Labor Day this year we camped at Wilderness State Park near Mackinaw City. There is a lot to see and do in that area and I was excited to spend a long weekend exploring it! We stayed for three nights and I realized that with two summer road trips, three nights was the longest we had stayed in one place on a trip since our cruise in 2015. That is, if you count a cruise as staying in one place. If not, you would have to go back to our Disney World trip in 2014. Obviously, we prefer to move when we travel.

I really enjoyed our stay at Wilderness State Park. We stayed in one of the new tent sites that are right on Lake Huron. It was like having our very own beach! We had a great long weekend and Wilderness was quickly added to our list of favorite campgrounds!

The above photo was taken at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. Its a picturesque lighthouse that sits right near the base of the Mackinac Bridge in Michilimackinac State Park. If you are in the area, I recommend that you visit the park and the fort there, but I wouldn’t recommend spending your money visiting the lighthouse, and this is coming from someone who LOVES Michigan lighthouses. The thing that threw me about visiting the lighthouse is that climbing the lighthouse is not guaranteed with admission. Luckily, we got to climb but the way they do tours, it was so crowded at the top, it was hard to take pictures and by the time the whole group got up there, I just wanted to go back down. If you are a lighthouse fan like me, go to Michilimackinac State Park and photograph the lighthouse from outside the fence, and if you want to climb a lighthouse, head two miles out of the city to McGulpin Point Lighthouse, which I will review in a later post! Be sure to check back later so you don’t miss it!

Thanks for stopping by! For more information about Wildnerness State Park visit the DNR. To plan your trip to Michilimackinac State Park, visit MackinacParks.com. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! 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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B&B Trip Report: Frisco Campground

Frisco at Night

After visiting the Wright Brothers Memorial, we made our way to Frisco Campground, our home for the next two nights. This was our favorite campground of the trip, full of dunes and secluded spots. Since it was the middle of the week, there weren’t a lot of other campers, so we chose a spot at the top of a dune with a view.

Deer in the dunes at Frisco Campground

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has applied to be a international dark sky park which means that it has a  lack of ambient light nearby and is great for stargazing, and in our case, astro-photography. With our D3100s, we’ve never attempted astro photography, but we rented a D7200 for this trip and we had to take advantage of this combination! It was a fun learning experience! The above Milky Way shot was taken at our campsite at Frisco.

To learn more about Cape Hatteras National Seashore, visit the National Park Service. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! 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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First Camping Trip of the Season

Big Sable Sunset

This past weekend, we ventured out to our first camping trip of the season. We’ve been wanting to check out the Jack Pine campground at Ludington State Park since we discovered it on our first visit to the park several years ago. What really intrigued us about this campground is that it is a hike-in campground a mile from the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. We were really looking forward to this because it would allow us to stay at the lighthouse later and photograph it during blue hour without worrying about our car getting locked in the day use area parking lot. The light didn’t end up being as phenomenal as we were hoping, but it was nice to spend sunset on Lake Michigan. We absolutely loved our campsite (site F). It was secluded and quiet but also close to the road to the lighthouse. One night wasn’t enough. We will have to make plans to stay at this campground again sometime soon!

If any of you are heading to the Jack Pine campground, one tip to know is that the path to the campground is actually a gravel road used to service the lighthouse. They say everything must be backpacked or biked in, but we brought a foldable wagon and it worked great and held more than a backpack would. While Chris’ arm got tired pulling it, I have to think it was easier than carrying everything on his back.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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Epic Michigan Road Trip: Rifle River

Rifle River Pano

Wow! We are at the end of my road trip! I am so sad to be done retelling it, but don’t worry, I have plenty more photos coming! Back to the trip!

After making our way down the Lake Huron coast, we headed inland to the Rifle River Recreation Area. We chose this as our last stop on the trip because it was literally the last campsite available in the northeastern part of the state for the Saturday before the Fourth of July. It was a rustic site, meaning no electricity and outhouses instead of bathrooms. The park was definitely the largest we visited on the trip. We drove for a while before we got to our campsite. And for the outdoor adventurer, there is a lot to do between hiking and canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. If you’re looking to camp and spend time on the water, this would be a great place for you!

About the Photo:
This shot was taken in the morning of the day we were heading home. Before we left the park I wanted to stop at the observation platform and get a photo for the blog. This shot was an 8 RAW exposure panorama stitched together with basic edits in lightroom.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 mm kit lens, handheld

Date Taken:
July 3, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To learn more about Rifle River Recreation Area, visit the Michigan DNR.

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