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Summer in Michigan - 2011

Planning & Dreaming

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Map of my Route


2011 is finally the year of Pure Michigan for me!

Here's a link to a map overview with the route I'm planning. After exploring Mackinac Island from my homebase at Straits State Park, I'll start the exploration of the Western Upper Peninsula area.

The State Parks of Michigan look beautiful beyond belief, and I'm looking forward to exploring as many of them as humanly possible. So I'd really, really like to hear from everyone who's been there to tell me about their favorite state parks, where they are and why favorite.

I am also on assignment for MotorHome magazine to write about my summer in Michigan (link to other articles written for them).

I plan to be in Michigan the entire summer, starting to head south only when the threat of snow will send this southern girl fleeing for her life!

Malia's Miles Home Page
Info for RVers...from a fulltime RVer
General Tourism Info: Pure Michigan (official site)
Michigan Waterfalls
State Parks:

MI Dept. of Natural Resources & Environment (DNRE)
Campsite Amenities & Fees

Bloomfield Hills area (meet clients):

State Parks

Proud Lake Recreation Area - on Huron River

Brighton Recreation Area - high, irregular ranges of hills interspersed with attractive lakes; horseback riding -- 95 miles to Bay City

Heading North to Mackinaw City:

State Parks - Historic Parks

7 nights - Harrisville State Park - A "hidden gem" of a state park; explore Tawas Point State Park -- 75 miles to Hoeft SP:
7 nights - Hoeft State Park - A heavily wooded park with a mile of sandy, Lake Huron shoreline; a great bike path -- 59 miles to:
7 nights - Straits State Park - Fantastic views of Mackanic Bridge -- 49 miles to Brimley State Park
Mackinac and Mackinac Island:
General Info
Mackinac Bridge "Big Mac"
Mackinac State Historic Sites
Lilacs bloom in mid June  
RV Parks
St. Ignace Welcome Center: Per, RVer can spend night there
Lakeshore Park CG : Recommended by Daphne for convenient exploring to Mackinac Island
State Parks Mackinac State Parks Forum re State Parks UP
Mill Creek Discovery Park (4 miles east of Mackinaw City) - Maia recommends "riding the zipline" - we'll see if I have the nerve...
Reader tips

West of Mackinaw is Wilderness State Park. If you follow the lakeshore south, you will end up in Cross Village, the home of Legs Inn. It's a Polish restaurant with amazing views and even more amazing decor inside. Nothing like it anywhere.

Then take 119 south, called the Tunnel of Trees, to Harbor Beach. The Tunnel of Trees road is possibly the best road in MI. It's pretty narrow though so you might want to do it without the trailer in tow.

Attractions The Original Butterfly House
Wings of Mackinac
Lilac Festival (June 5-14)
West Bluff Drive Victorian Homes (on the way to Grand Hotel)
West Bluff Walk to Hubbard's Annex
Grand Hotel Grand Hotel
Somewhere in Time Weekend (October 7-9)
Weekend FAQs
Resources: Blogs, etc. RV Now Blog: Magic at Mackanic Island
Ferry Shepler's - Mighty Mac leaves from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace to the island (also offers cruises).
Biking Mackinac Island by Bicycle
Upper Peninsula:
U.P. Resources

Hunt's Guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Exploring the North
Upper Peninsula Now

MotorHome Magazine article about UP
Upper Michigan Waterfalls

State Parks

7 Nights - Brimley State Park
Burt Lake State Park (together)

57 miles to Tahquamenon SP


Sault St. Marie - Rushing waterfalls give way to majestic forests, rocky coastlines lead to picturesque lighthouses, and engineering feats of man stand side-by-side with small fishing skiffs and buckets of bait. Meet Jeannie when in this area.
Soo Locks - One of the great wonders of the world and still the largest waterway traffic system on earth. Your boat will travel along the international shoreline of the lower harbor letting you experience all the sights, sounds, and excitement of Michigan's oldest city, Sault Ste Marie.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

7 nights Great trails, large sites - falls, hikes & things to do. -- 140 miles to City of Marquette Tourist Park or 174 miles to Van Riper State Park


Exploring The
A great little town on the shores of Lake Superior at the north-eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Paradise is along the western shoreline of Whitefish Bay, with it's sandy beaches and great view of the Lake and Canada. Cranberry Capital of Michigan

Whitefish Point

Bird Observatory

Go to Whitefish Point or anywhere else along Lake Superior, and tour the shoreline from there.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum & White Fish Point (Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts)

UP Resources:

James and Monique Thompson: The posting works its way backwards from Gladstone to Sault Ste Marie. Oh and try the Jilberts Ice Cream while in the UP. It is the best I have ever had. Forum posts: Michigan & UP

Western Upper Peninsula:
Van Riper SP
7 Nights - Half mile frontage on Lake Michigamme with fine sandy beach; rich in scenic, historic & recreational sites.
81 miles to F.J. McClain State Park
Keweenaw Peninsula

James & Monique's RV Travels "a peninsula on a peninsula"

State Parks

7 nights - F.J. McLain SP - 2 miles of sand beach on Lake Superior -- 86 miles to Porcupine Mts. SP

Don't miss the Keeweenaw Penisula - Brockway Mountain Drive, Fort Wilkins SP, Copper Harbor, then hug the Superior lakeshore down through Eagle Harbor and all the way down past Calumet and back into Houghton. Amazing views!

7 nights - Porcupine Mts. SP (Union Bay CG) -- 258 miles to Bewabic State Park
Porcupine Mountains Located on the shores of Lake Superior, the Porcupine Mountains are home to the largest tract of old-growth hardwood forests west of the Adirondacks. Hundreds of spectacular waterfalls. A must-see.
Heading back East: (184 miles between Porcupine Mts. and Escanaba)

State Parks

7 nights - Fayette Historic State Park - Maia's personal favorite - one of the most scenic and unknown parks in the system. -- 173 miles to Petoskey SP
Maia: Dining in Escanaba at Hereford and Hops (brew pub); afterwards walk off calories at Escanaba's gorgeous waterfront (another hidden gem).
Palms Book State Park - Kitch-iti-kipi, "The Big Spring" (largest natural spring in MI) - has a self-propelled raft that takes you over the top of Michigan's "freshwater lava lamp." (32 miles from Fayette Historic State Park)
Heading South (along Lake Michigan):
State Parks

7 Nights - Petoskey State Park - sandy beach on the bay -- 69 miles to Traverse City State Park; 166 miles to Ludington SP

Maia: Wheelway bike path runs from Petoskey to Charlevoix, offering chance to see mushroom homes up close. Path runs along Lake Michigan and offers stunning views nearly the whole trip. You won't want to miss the gaslight district of Petoskey in the evening. Also, I suggest a little spot called Sturgeon River Pottery just south of Petoskey on US 31.

Also see Young State Park and Boyne City, "a super cute town with lots to do."

Nearby: Take ferry to Beaver Island
State Parks
Traverse City State Park
Traverse City Kit's favorite. Cherry festival in July (very popular - RV parks full).
Reader tips:
Gaylord - per Nan, a "little Swiss flavored town."

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Magnificent views over sweeping vistas of Lake Michigan from atop high dunes, miles of perfect freshwater beaches, forested wilderness islands, hiking trails and a series of preserved historic farmsteads. Abundant wildlife and a diverse ecosystem thrill the nature lover.

The drive around the Leelanau Peninsula on M-22 is not to be missed. Check out Leelanau State Park at the northern tip, and also Fish Town in Leland.

National Park - Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Leelanau State Park: On the tip of the peninsula where sunrise and sunset can be seen from same point.

Old Mission Peninsula: "Old World" - General Store since the mid 1800's.

State Parks

7 Nights - Ludington State Park - Scenic sand dunes, ponds, marshlands & forests. Maia: Michigan's #1 beach -- 138 miles to Van Buren SP

Grand Haven State Park (per Rick from Holly, camp right on the beach w/ elec)

Charles Mears State Park - Lake MI shoreline; paved campsites surrunded by fine sand, swimming beach adjacent to harbor pier. Maia: good if you like privacy (25 miles from Ludington)

Reader tips: South of Ludington is what is called the Ludington Pumped Storage. The view from the bridge above looks down on a huge hydroelectric powerplant. Really erie after dark with the lights, the lake, and the hum of those turbines. Water is pumped up into storage at night using excess power from the nuke plants, then let out during peak use to generate power. The best part though is that this puts you on a drive along the lakeshore through wooded dunes and into Pentwater, a great little town of the arts. Then south of there is Silver Lake and Silver Lake SP. The lighthouse there is not to be missed - maybe the best one in the state. South of there is Whitehall (home of the last Dog 'n Suds in the world) and you can continue to follow right along the lakeshore to Muskegon SP. Actually, the wife and I just took a ride along here last Friday on our way up to our camp near Ludington. Do it about every year and never gets old.
State Parks
7 nights - Van Buren State Park - 1 mile of sandy beach & high dune formations on Lake Michigan
Reader tips: One thing along Lake Michigan is if it says Lakeshore Drive take it. Another favorite of ours is from Saugatuck to South Haven. That's about 45 miles from our house near Plainwell, and in the area of the Van Buren SP. Don't miss Saugatuck and if you don't mind feeling your legs burn from climbing stairs, a walk to the top of Mount Baldy there will suprise you with an amazing view.
Great Lakes Circle Tour
Great Lakes Circle Tour
Forum re Great Lakes Circle Tour