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Camping Leelanau State Park

Flying over Leelanau State Park

Flying over Leelanau State Park

Leelanau State Park is located at the tip of Leelanau Peninsula (Michigan’s pinky finger) and is home to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, 8.5 miles of hiking trails, and a rustic campground. We decided to give it a try this fall and it was a great base for exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes and all there is to see on the peninsula.

The campground has 51 sites with no electrical hookup or modern bath facilities. Outhouses are scattered throughout the campground. About half of the sites are located on Lake Michigan and the other half are tucked up in the woods. The view from the waterfront sites is beautiful but windy. When camping in the cooler months (like during our visit in October) having some trees between you and the water can help keep you warmer. None of the sites are too far from the water and this would be a great campground to enjoy in warm weather!

 

While this campground is on Leelanau Peninsula, it is far away from a lot of the things to do. It is a 10-minute drive from Northport, 30 minutes from Suttons Bay or Leland, and an hour from Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes. We pretty much left in the morning to explore our favorite places on the peninsula and came back to camp at night. If you are looking for a campground to explore Sleeping Bear Dunes, D.H. Day is probably a better option. But, if you want a beautiful, quiet, rustic campground on Lake Michigan, Leelanau State Park is a great place to stay!

Leelanau Peninsula from the Air

We used our time on the peninsula well. Of course, we flew the drone (see photos above) and then headed down to Sleeping Bear Dunes. Since we have the America the Beautiful National Park Pass, we had to make use of it, so we drove Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive for the first time in a few years. Of course, we did some wine tasting and found a few new favorite vineyards on Leelanau. I haven’t been anywhere in Northern Michigan that I didn’t like and Leelanau State Park did not disappoint! To book your stay at Leelanau State Park, visit MiDNRReservations.com!

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! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Camping Straits State Park

Mackinac Bridge

For the Labor Day long weekend, we headed to one of our favorite campgrounds in Michigan, Straits State Park near St. Ignace. I got lucky and managed to score two waterfront sites for the holiday weekend since we had some family that was camping with us. Straits was the perfect home base since we were planning on walking the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day. The campground is right next to the base of the bridge and even has a trail to the bridge walk for campers. From Straits, we also took day trips to Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinaw City, and Mackinac Island (more on those trips in upcoming weeks).

Mackinac Bridge at night from our campsite

The view of the bridge from our campsite

The first time we camped at Straits one of our neighbors walked up to us and told us that he thought we had one of the best views in all of Michigan State Parks and he is not wrong. Being able to see the Mackinac Bridge from the campfire at night is pretty special. The waterfront sites don’t have electricity, so in the past, it has limited them to just tents and popups, but with solar and battery technology, bigger rigs are utilizing them now, which makes them harder to get. It also makes the view from sites farther back in the campground not as good. I booked exactly 6 months in advance (on Fat Tuesday, to be exact) and I wasn’t able to get two sites next to each other, but the sites weren’t too far apart.

Even though it was a holiday weekend and the campground was full, it was a quiet, calm camping experience. We had the last site on the end which is actually very close to where the Bridge Walk starts in St. Ignace. We could hear the announcer and even the Lt. Governor giving his speech before the walk began as we were getting ready at our campsite. We had such a good time, we plan to do it again this year. I have my countdown going for when to book this year’s campsites. Maybe this year we will figure out a shortcut to get from the campground to the base of the bridge for the bridge walk!

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.

Camping at Traverse City State Park

Campsite at Traverse City State Park

With our love of Traverse City, it is surprising it took us this long to camp at Traverse City State Park. The previous summer we had camped nearby at Interlochen State Park, about 15 miles from Traverse City, but this year we decided to try out the park in the heart of the city.

Traverse City State Park is located just east of Traverse City in East Bay Township, across the street from all the bayside hotels. There is a pedestrian bridge that connects that campground to the beach on Grand Traverse Bay. This is a modern campground with several bathhouses and electric service at each site, some of which have 50 amps. For being a city park, the campsites are good sized but are lacking in privacy.

The campground is very close to Cherry Capital Airport so there is a lot of air traffic and early morning you can hear the jets warming their engines. It is also on a busy street with road noise pretty much 24 hours a day and it was near impossible to turn left out of the campground to head into Traverse City. I wouldn’t recommend this campground for tent campers unless you are a very heavy sleeper.

Old Mission Lighthouse

The Old Mission Lighthouse is a 30-minute drive from the campground

The best part of camping at Traverse City State Park is the location. It is about a ten-minute drive to all of the shops and dining in downtown Traverse City or ten minutes to the wineries on Old Mission. As mentioned above, the campground is just on the other side of Munson from the beachfront hotels, which can run over $300 per night in the summer. A campsite in the state park is only $45 for a summer weekend night, granted you have to bring your bed with you, but it is quite a savings to be in the middle of the action.

If you are looking for a campground close to Traverse City with beach access, look no further than Traverse City State Park. If you are looking for a quiet, private, nature-centered camping experience not too far from the city, I would recommend Interlochen State Park instead.

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.

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

Wordless Wednesday: Trail from Above

Lighthouse Trail from Above

Camping Clear Lake State Park

Runaway Camper at Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake State Park is located on Clear Lake in Atlanta, Michigan. A few years ago, I had seen a picture of someone stand-up paddleboarding on Clear Lake and I just had to get to paddle on that water! As you would expect from the name, Clear Lake has crystal clear water and in some areas, you can see straight to the bottom.

Unlike some of the other lakes we camped on this summer, Clear Lake state park doesn’t have any waterfront sites, but we booked site 124, the site closest to the path to the water. In the heat of the summer, this would probably be a very busy area with people going to and from the beach, but in the middle of September, it was perfect! It was a pretty big site and we were able to sit in our site and look out at the water.

Clear Lake State Park connects to the Atlanta ORV route so it is popular with ORVers. This was one of the reasons we chose to camp here after Labor Day. We figured it would be quieter than in the middle of the summer and while we could hear them a little, it wasn’t a nuisance at all. A park rule does state that ORVs are allowed to be ridden to and from the trail and the campground, but they are not permitted to ride freely around the campground.

Clear Lake State Park is located in Elk Country. Over 1,000 elk live in the northeast section of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The elk herd celebrated its 100th anniversary since being reintroduced to the state in 2018. September and October at dawn and dusk are the prime times to view the elk herd. For more information about viewing the elk, visit the Michigan DNR.

One of the big downsides about this campground is that it is in the middle of nowhere. When you’re camping, this is usually what you are going for, but when you forget something, it can be a real pain. We forgot towels and I was really worried we were going to have to go an hour each way to Grayling to go to Wal-Mart. Luckily, the Dollar General in Atlanta had some cheap towels and we didn’t have to make that trek.

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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Clear Lake Pinterest Graphic Clear Lake Pinterest Graphic

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

Wordless Wednesday: Duncan Bay

Blue sky over the bay

Camping at Cheboygan State Park

The bay from our campsite

Before our tour of Michigan State Parks last summer, I was watching a lot of Trekker’s Michigan State Parks videos on Youtube. When they did their drive through Cheboygan State Park, I knew I needed to check it out for myself! The park is located in Northern Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron. Its location, only half an hour from Mackinaw City, making it a good home base for exploring the straits area. The campground is small, only 75 sites, and with only 20 amp service, some might call it outdated, but it is perfect for the kind of camping we do.

Camper under canopyI decided to head to Cheboygan for Memorial Day weekend and I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get a waterfront site without much fuss about six months out. For some reason, this campground isn’t as popular as others in the area. Our site (site 27) was wooded on three sides with a path to the lake. Most of the other sites in the park are just as private. This is very unusual for a Michigan State Park campground. Most of them are big open fields. The bathhouse at the campground was small, but with most people relying on the bathrooms in their rigs, there was never a wait for the showers.

Path through the woods

The path to the bay from site 27

It was really nice to be able to put our kayak right in the water at our site and be able to paddle around the bay when the water was calm. We went a little way out and floated over two shipwrecks, the Leviathan and the Genesee Chief (unfortunately, forgot my action camera when we went out the first day and when we went back it was too cloudy to see them so I don’t have any photos). When we got back to camp, I looked these wrecks up and was interested to learn that they were both intentionally sunk in the bay. I did feel better when we returned to the site knowing there were no casualties, but it’s always sad to realize that in the 19th century, the Great Lakes were thought of as garbage dumps.

Besides the Mackinac area, Cheboygan is not a far drive away from the only named waterfall in the lower peninsula, Ocqueoc Falls, The waterfall will be the topic for next week on the blog, so be sure to come back! 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 Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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