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Michigan (upper peninsula) Camping
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bjrogers86auto
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:02 pm    Post subject: Michigan (upper peninsula) Camping Reply with quote

Hey O Great Knowledgable Samba Members!

Looking for ideas on which parks to try to stay at in Michigan on our route West. We are crossing at Sarnia Ont. and heading up towards Gaylord. We plan on heading over towards Ironwood and Duluth etc. etc.

Any input would be appreciated, as always.

Brian.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brian, we were in Michigan 21 years ago on our honeymoon camping in our 68. The night before we went over to Mackinaw, we stayed at a state park just before the bridge to the upper peninusla. I don't recall the name, but the sites were on the lake. Very nice if you can find it. Regards.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could it have been Burt Lake SP.?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I am lucky to remember my anniversary this many years down the road. I remember tall Pines and being on the lake. Look here. http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/images/parknav/emmetarea.htm
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you stay off the main drag 75 there are all pretty nice
http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/

click on the area you think you will be in and it will show you state camp ground and forests....most forests in Mich are outhouses, where the camp grounds are full services. any on the water you will need to call ahead. If you want to cross lake michigan by boat come over to Ludington. Nice places to stay and play. Very Happy (this is where my office is out of) Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest a stayover at Picutred Road National Seashore. Had a great time there with our kayaks. We camped for a couple for a couple of days there.

The people up there are super nice and will chat you up some. It is kind of a lot like Ontario!
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The upper peninsula of Michigan is a wonderful place. Some of the greatest terrain of the midwest is located at the southern shore of Lake Superior. The lake, itself, is the largest freshwater lake in North America, and is the largest, by surface area, in the world. Only Crater Lake, OR is deeper than Lake Superior as North American lakes rate. The water is very clean, but beware - if you are thinking of swimming, the water temperature rarely breaks the sixty degree mark.

The Keweenaw peninsula has a history that includes copper mining and logging, dating back to the 1800's. Many abandoned mines have tours available during the summer months. And the local culture has done well to preserve their heritage. Every traveler should stop to enjoy a "pasty" (that's with a short "a", though the long "a" pronunciation "pasty" are also enjoyable!) A pasty is a pot-pie of sorts that include meat and veggies traditionally baked early in the day, wrapped in many layers of cloth, and eaten as a midday meal by the workers in the copper mines. "Yoopers" (from the UP of Michigan) are of hearty stock. The mining industry collapsed with the excavation of the Bingham copper mine in Utah. My mother's family from two generations prior immigrated to the Keweenaw from Ireland and Wales.

Further south and west are (were) magnificant stands of old growth evergreen and deciduous trees. Camping at Porcupine Mountains State Park would be a great choice for family camping. Be sure to hike the 5 mile "Deer Yard Trail" along the lake. It meanders through a virgin stand of Eastern Hemlock trees. Not as impressive as Redwood or Sequoia, but, this is the midwest.

There are miles and miles of National Forest roads that lend themselves to stealth camping, as well. I haven't traveled the UP in that mode for a couple of decades due to a preference for family comfort. It used to be acceptable by the local constabulary, though. Travel up M-107 for a view of Lake of the Clouds. Even better, hike it if you have the time. Great views.

As you head into Wisconsin (probably on Hwy 2) You will have a chance to see many waterfalls. Do a Google search on that (and Michigan waterfalls, too) as they all offer something different to see. Copper Falls near Mellen, WI is my favorite. And be sure to stop in Mercer, WI so you can get a photo of your Vanagon in front of the enormous loon statue to post in the thread "[email protected] attractions".

Make your way up the Bayfield peninsula, and camp at Little Sand Bay campground. It may be a busy place mid summer, but touring the lakeshore that Bayfield county offers, and seeing the Apostle Islands is well worth it.

On the way to Duluth is the Brule River State Forest. Again, a really beautiful wilderness area, and if you enjoy trout fishing, you may want to stay a day or two.

And as you travel through Duluth, stop in at the old Fitger Brewery to enjoy a couple of pints of local micro-fare. And take the time to peruse the historical displays about Bob Dylan. He's Duluth's most famous native son.

Have a great tour!
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject: we heart the u.p. Reply with quote

We love the western and northern sections of the U.P. I don't know enough about the far east end to make suggestions.

Pictured Rocks! Houghton! The Porcupine Mountains! Lake Gogebic! Waterfalls!
Farther on, hit The Apostle Islands! If you head out farther into Minnesota, let me know. Continuing on to our Iron Range you can tie to some interesting history.

Check out Vanthology's Lake Superior Circle Tour after they reentered the U.S.: A Superior State of Mind I really enjoy Jeffrey Earl's trip reports.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! We may never make it to Vancouver Island with all this info! Thanks folks! I will do some serious Googlin in the next few days.

We plan on cruising thru (westy speeds) but may stop for an extra rest day. West of Duluth I'm thinking of heading up RT. 2 slowly inching our way back to Canada. It's great hearing the passion people have for the area they live in. We did pass through the area in '97 but we were on a mission to get out west and we were driving a Jetta. hehe. This time the kids are along for the ride.

Thanks again! Brian.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:22 pm    Post subject: 12 Mile Campground Reply with quote

Possibly my favorite car camping site of all is 12 mile Campground west of Grand Marais, Michigan. Its about 10 miles or so down a great sandy road. The campground sits atop a 100 ft cliff off the lakeshore, complete with sunsets over the water. The sites themselves are fine. primitive with a little privacy. There are stairs to get down to the beach, or you can take the sandy cliff side.

There are some good hiking trails along the lakeshore.

Stop for a meal at the Dog House in Munising. I've always had kayaks to paddle Pictured Rocks, but I think there may be boat tours. Definitely take it. i've paddled in many oceans around the world; Pictured Rocks is special.

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=28057&page=5
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I third on the Porkies. My family used to have a cottage in Vilas County, WI and we'd get to the Porkies often. When an adult, I traversed all the trails in the place (even winter camping on a few occasions). Saw my first Fischer there (a beautiful, rare animal that needs old growth forest). A great place to hang. Easy trails of every length and ability.

An interesting tid bit is that the Porkies were originally proposed along with Isle Royale as a National Park. Due to local opposition, the Porkies were dropped from the proposal, while Isle Royale did become a National Park. Still, the place became Michigan's (and the country's) largest STATE wilderness.

Another place off the beaten path is the McCormick Wilderness area (west of Marquette). Of course you can't car camp in the wilderness but there is car camping on the dirt roads surrounding the wilderness area. The Yellow Dog River area has some of the best native trout left in the upper midwest. If you are in to wilderness travel, there are no trails in this 64,000 acre wilderness area BUT it is chock full of lakes and streams that you can use as baselines for orienteering around to make a 4+ day loop. Like the Porkies, this place is one of the few remaining old growth forests left in the upper midwest (I saw a 3' diameter birch tree in there - a feat as they tend to rot before they get that big; HUGE white pines rivaling anything in the Boundary Waters; and muskeg/peat ecosystems with rare plants).

Interesting tid bit #2. Ever hear of the McCormick reaper? It was a harvesting machine that helped revolutionize agriculture in the late 1800s. This is that industrialist's land, and his kids turned it over to the Ottawa National Forest to be managed as wilderness. A dirt road (the one you should car camp on) separates it from the Huron Mountain Club (in the Huron Mountains), a weird group of industrialists (along with Henry Ford) developed this tract and asked Aldo Leopold to develop a plan to manage it in a natural (wilderness) state.

Here's a map of the area. "35" is what you want. The McCormick on the south; Hurons on the north. While the map says "Impassible," it is, indeed, passable. http://www.michiganhighways.org/indepth/M-35_huronmtns.html

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


These two areas of land are relatively unknown - but extraordinary in a part of the country that has been decimated by logging for a century and a half. If you go to the Porkies - and definitely the MiCormick - consider yourself lucky and given an honor to view these rare and incredible remnant landscapes.

P.S. Pick up some books by Jim Harrison to keep you company Smile
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bjrogers86auto
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks and thanks!

We would love to have the kayaks along but we are trying to keep it simple this trip.

As far as swimming in cold water...we live on the Atlantic Ocean and are less than an hour from The Bay of Fundy. My oldest daughter will play in that water for hours! In the "old days" I surfed locally but never graduated past a 3mm wet suit.

I was researching Black River Harbor today and it looks like a cool scenic diversion. Anyone camped there?

Sounds like an extra day will be needed around this area to rest the Westy and see the sights.

Thanks for the info, Brian.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your onto a excellent trip. our main area of camping for the past years has been the U.P. All suggestions here are wonderful. Actually we have stayed at Black River Harbor many times. We recommend it to all and it has a day-use park with a field and a swingset for the kids. Great out-of-the way place. Turn at the Black Jack ski resort and follow the USFS signs.
If you are heading through Duluth, my hometown, on your way home it is definately worth it to travel up the N. shore a bit stay in one of the many state parks. You cant go wrong with any. PM me if you want more specifics.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thread revival!

In six weeks we're leaving on a two week Northern Michigan family vacation. We're going to start out in the Straits area, which I'm already really familiar with. After a few days there, we head into the Upper Peninsula to Munising to bike around Grand Island and stay for a few nights. After that we go to Marquette for a few days for some mountain biking and soaking in the vibe of what we've been told is a groovy little city. We'll finish the trip with a few days in Copper Harbor to check out their fantastic mountain biking trail system (http://www.copperharbortrails.org/). We then drive back through Wisconsin.

I carefully read this thread, and researched lots of the suggestions. They were all really helpful. I even wasted a few hours reading about the Huron Mountain Club. Interesting stuff. I'm willing to entertain new/different/updated suggestions as well. We already have our lodging set for Mackinaw and Munising, but Marquette and Copper Harbor are still up in the air. Also, restaurant, beer, landmark, driving routes, scenery and roadside attraction suggestions are always helpful.

I've done lots of homework on the mountain biking in the area, and I have local connections, so I think I'm pretty set there. We like flowy, wooded, singletrack trail, so if you have any knowledge up your sleeve let me know.

Finally, we want to break up the drive back through Wisconsin and Illinois so I'd like to stop somewhere near Madison, WI for an overnight and maybe a short bit of distraction. Suggestions in this area would definitely be entertained.

Thanks in advance.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:12 pm    Post subject: mi Reply with quote

Hey...cool..I have something to add to a thread that's useful and not smartass!!!

We had way too many places to stay in Michigan and not enough time. Pictured Rocks was really hard to drive by and not get to see. It looks amazing!

We ended up at Bay City State Park our first night after leaving Ontario. It has, by far, one of the best playgrounds ever! I think you can see it on google! The camping was ok...but my daughters loved the park.

Night #2 was at Van Riper State Park. Once again the campsite was ok but we had an amazing sunset over the lake and a playground as well.

We swam in Lake Michigan, crossed the Mackinaw bridge and had nice weather.

None of this helps in finding single track. I just liked the follow up and let Michiganer's know we enjoyed your State!

Enjoy!
Brian.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

indytriple wrote:
Thread revival!......

Finally, we want to break up the drive back through Wisconsin and Illinois so I'd like to stop somewhere near Madison, WI for an overnight and maybe a short bit of distraction. Suggestions in this area would definitely be entertained.

Thanks in advance.


I think you should look into Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo. I have spent many a weekend there; the rock bluffs are spectacular if you have never seen them. About an hour or so north of Madison. It gets very busy there, though, but even a stopover is quite impressive. There is also the distraction of the Wisconsin Dells 10 minutes from Baraboo. A single day is not enough.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rsxsr wrote:
Brian, we were in Michigan 21 years ago on our honeymoon camping in our 68. The night before we went over to Mackinaw, we stayed at a state park just before the bridge to the upper peninusla. I don't recall the name, but the sites were on the lake. Very nice if you can find it. Regards.



You prob stayed at Mill Creek campground... Great views of the bridge. Big place
http://www.campmackinaw.com/northern_michigan_state_parks.htm

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

greenbus pilot wrote:
indytriple wrote:

Finally, we want to break up the drive back through Wisconsin and Illinois so I'd like to stop somewhere near Madison, WI for an overnight and maybe a short bit of distraction. Suggestions in this area would definitely be entertained.

Thanks in advance.


I think you should look into Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo. I have spent many a weekend there; the rock bluffs are spectacular if you have never seen them. About an hour or so north of Madison. It gets very busy there, though, but even a stopover is quite impressive. There is also the distraction of the Wisconsin Dells 10 minutes from Baraboo. A single day is not enough.


Thanks for the info! I'll look into it. Every time I go on a trip I realize that I don't have enough time. Maybe we'll like it enough to find an excuse to go back and spend some more time there.

Quote:
You prob stayed at Mill Creek campground... Great views of the bridge. Big place
http://www.campmackinaw.com/northern_michigan_state_parks.htm


Yep, that's where we're staying this go-round. It's always been owned by the Rogala family, and it's been there since 1963. My family stayed there each year when I was a kid in the 70's and 80's. It is a very big campground, but it's well run and clean. There is now a nice, new greenway trail that runs parallel to the state highway so that you can ride your bike in to Mackinaw or Cheboygan.

http://www.campmackinaw.com/
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We are heading up to MI and WI this Summer and I like to get an early start on planning what we'd like to do.

Since this thread hasn't been revived in a couple of years, thought I'd see if anyone has any other recommendations.

We are going to drive up through the UP then down through WI, spending a couple of days north of Sturgeon Bay in WI. Seems like there are some great state parks and we'll only be able to choose one in Door Cty.

Is the water less cold in other spots?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard to add much to the excellent suggestions from others.

A few years ago, we circled all of Lake Superior in our Westy. Our travelogue of the southern shore section from Mackinaw to Houghton starts here:
http://vanthology.com/Layout/Journeys/Superior/Superior10.html

And the section from Ironwood to Duluth starts here:
http://vanthology.com/Layout/Journeys/Superior/Superior1.html

Door County state parks fill up quickly, so I suggest booking in advance. Generally, the water is warmer on the bay (west) side of the Door Peninsula than the eastern lake side, but much of it depends on which way the wind blows that day. Nice thing is, you can easily drive to the better side in a few minutes. Shallow, sheltered bays tend to be warmer too.

All of Wisconsin offers some great state parks, and nearly all have good camping!
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