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Tag: Michigan State Parks (Page 1 of 2)

Cold Weather Camping in the Runaway Rangerunner

Runaway camper with attached ARB Room

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After our Disney trip, we decided to take Runaway out for one last trip before the snow came. Of course, when asked where in Michigan I want to camp, I chose Ludington State Park. Ludington is one of a few campgrounds in the state that stay open through the winter with limited amenities. The bathhouses are closed and there is no running water so winter camping is not for the faint of heart.

When we were planning this trip, Chris told me he has no problem with winter camping, but he has no interest in pulling the camper in the snow. So, of course, we drove through white-out conditions on our way through Muskegon. Luckily we were able to drive slow and conditions improved as we started heading north. I think we will watch the weather forecast more closely before we book our next winter camping trip.

Being that it was supposed to get below freezing, we chose a campground that had electricity. Keeping warm at night would drain our battery in no time and no one wants to sleep with a generator running if it can be avoided. Something else we did is we added the ARB tent room to our Maxi Trac awning. This gave us extra enclosed living space which we heated with an indoor safe Mr. Buddy portable propane heater. That room really stayed very comfortable. The hardest part was getting out to walk to the freezing cold outhouse!

If I were to do this again, I wouldn’t bring the Mr. Buddy if we have electricity at the site. It went through more propane than we expected. Next time, we would probably just bring a bigger space heater that we could plug in and save the propane.

One thing we struggled with this setup is how to cook. We didn’t want to bring the stove into the ARB room because it says right on it not to use it in a tent because of the carbon monoxide risk. But it was rain/snowing at one point and we didn’t want to cook outside. We are seriously considering getting another inexpensive awning for the other side of the camper so we would have a covered cooking area if we are using the ARB room.

Big Sable Lighthouse

Since drove through a blizzard to get to Ludington, of course, we had to hike to the lighthouse. We decided to take the Lighthouse Trail from the campground out to the lighthouse. This is the trail we tried to do in 2020 but realized we didn’t have enough time before we had to check out of the campground. Let me tell you, it is much easier to hike through sand dunes when the ground is frozen. Between the sand and the humidity, this was a rough hike in the summer, but it was a great one to do in the late fall!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Cold Weather Camping Pin

Camping Indian Lake State Park

Campfire at Indian Lake State Park

Indian Lake State Park is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the town of Manistique. The state park is home to two sections separated by the lake. We stayed at the modern campground on the south side of the lake which was originally developed in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Works Progress Administration.

There is another campground at Indian Lake and it is one that I can’t find a lot of information about. The south campground is unique in that it is considered semi-modern with vault toilets but the sites have electric service. Unlike the south campground, the west campground is not located on the water. The sites are available first come first serve and are not available to be reserved in advance.

Just like at Interlochen, this was part of my goal for 2021, to camp at less-popular Michigan campgrounds that would allow me to score a waterfront site without booking exactly six months out. We had site 84 which was right on the water and would’ve been perfect for launching the kayak, but it got cold and windy and most of the time we were there, it was not kayaking weather!

Runaway Camper at Indian Lake State Park

The waterfront sites at Indian Lake were beautiful and for the most part, we enjoyed our time at the campground. My only complaint is that the bathhouses could really use an update. Each bathhouse only had one shower for men and one for women. Granted, it was so cold when we visited it seemed like a lot of people were either showering in their rigs or not showering at all because it didn’t seem to get too backed up. I can just imagine this would be really annoying in the heat of the summer!

Kitch-iti-Kipi RaftIndian Lake is the closest state park campground to Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan’s largest freshwater spring located in Palms Book State Park. The spring has gotten very popular in recent years since it has been featured on the Pure Michigan billboards all around the state. We tried to visit on a weekend in 2020 and the line to ride the raft across the spring went all the way to the parking lot. Staying closeby allowed up to visit in the evening before the sunset. We only had to share the raft with a few other people. It was a much better experience!

We also took a day trip out to Fayette Historic State Park. It was only about a 45-minute drive from Indian Lake and it was great to see more of the historic buildings open. After visiting in the summer of 2020, Fayette is becoming one of my favorite Michigan State Parks to visit! It’s just a great place to walk around and explore both the history and beauty of Lake Michigan.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Indian Lake Pinterest Graphic

Camping at Interlochen State Park

Sunset Over Duck Lake

In the Summer of 2021, my camping goal was to try less-popular campgrounds in Michigan State Parks that would allow me to get a waterfront site without having to fight for it six months out. This would allow us to launch our kayak right from our campsite! What I didn’t realize when booking this site is that the campground is located on a cliff and it was impossible to launch our kayak from our site. But, it was a great place to watch the sunset over the lake!

Interlochen State Park borders the nearby music camp so peaceful music floats into the campground in the summer. Leaving the park, you are sometimes stopped by a crossing guard helping the students cross the street. The state park is home to two campgrounds: a modern campground on Duck Lake and a rustic campground sits on the shore of Green Lake on the other side of the road. For this trip, we chose the modern option.

We had site 385 and when we arrived I was shocked this was such an easy site to get! It was HUGE! Probably the size of the four sites across the street combined. I think at one point this was a communal area to look out at the water, maybe there were even stairs going down because there was not another site in the campground that was remotely this big. Our little tent and cooking setup maybe took up 10% of the site. If you are thinking about camping at Interlochen, this is the site to get!

One of the best things about Interlochen, and the reason we will probably return next summer, is the proximity to my favorite Michigan town, Traverse City. It’s only a 26 minute drive into Traverse City from here. Yes, there is a campground in Traverse City with a gorgeous beach on Traverse Bay, but it is much more of an urban park. The beach is on the other side of a busy road and the sites are much closer together. I have heard reports that jet engines warming up at the nearby airport wake campers up early. If you want to day trip to Traverse City but still have the quiet, natural campground experience, I recommend Interlochen State Park.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Interlochen Pinterest Graphic

Flashback Friday: Mighty Mac

Flashback Friday: Scott Fountain

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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Fort Michilimackinac

Fort Michilimackinac

The fort on the south side of the Straits of Mackinac was constructed by French soldiers in 1716 as a post for the great lakes fur trade. After visiting other early American settlements this summer (Roanoke Island and Jamestowne), Michilimackinac has a different feel. Maybe its that it is a newer settlement (Roanoke was first settled in 1585 and Jamestowne was 1607) but I think the biggest difference was Michilimackinac was originally settled by the French where the other two were British. The French at Michilimackinac had a better relationship with the Natives than the British on the East Coast. The Odawa tribe traded with the settlers and the native-settler narrative was much more positive than what was heard from the British.

In 1761, the fort was transferred to the British and the narrative changed. The local Ojibwe viewed the British policies as harsh. In 1763, as a part of Pontiac’s Rebellion, they formed a game outside the walls of the fort as a ruse to gain entrance. Once inside the fort, they killed most of the British inhabitants and they held the fort for a year before the British regained control and promised to change their relationship with the native people.

Eventually, the British worried that the fort on the mainland was not secure enough. So, in 1781, they built a limestone fort on nearby Mackinac Island. They dismantled and moved the buildings across the straits and whatever was not moved, they burned. In 1960, the grounds of the original fort was named a National Historic Landmark. Today, you can visit a recreation of the fort in Colonial Michilimackinac State Park. You can tour the buildings, learn about the history, and watched costumed reenactments.

To learn more about Fort Michilimackinac, visit MackinacParks.com. 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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Sanilac Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

On our way back from Port Crescent, we made a stop at the Sanilac Petroglyphs. The petroglyphs are rock carvings attributed to Native Americans and are estimated to be between 300 and 1000 years old. They were discovered in 1881 when a fire swept through the area, burning all the ground coverings. In the top left corner, you can see a chunk is missing from the rock. It is believed that the glyph was actually stolen sometime between the fire and when the first survey was done in 1920. The pictured glyph is known as the “bow man” and is believed to represent a hunter. (Michigan.gov)

While this is an interesting historic location, I would not visit with photography in mind. Its hard to get a good angle to photograph the glyphs and with the pavilion overhead, the lighting is tricky. While I encourage you to check it out and learn about the ancient history of the mitten state, its not the best photo spot in the area.

To plan your visit to the Petroglyphs, visit Michigan.gov. 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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Wordless Wednesday: Storm Rolling In

Storm Rolling In

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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