Sunday, March 29, 2009
10 Reasons to Love Spring Camping in Michigan
Although camping is a year-round activity in Michigan, spring signals the onset of the warm-weather season. By mid-April, a large number of the privately owned campgrounds in Michigan are welcoming guests looking to shake off the winter blues and enjoy the great outdoors.
Here are 10 great reasons to head out to your favorite Michigan campground this spring:
1) Wildflowers. April showers bring May flowers, like the trillium that blanket the forest floor. Spring also brings the blossoms on the apple and cherry trees, making this one of the most fragrant times of the year to get out and travel the Great Lakes State. The Blossomtime Festival (April 26-May 2) in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor and Blossom Days on Old Mission Peninsula (May 16-17) are two events not to be missed. Of course when it comes to spring flowers, one can’t forget the annual Tulip Time Festival in Holland (May 2-9), it’s a sure sign of spring!
2) Woodland Edibles. Morel mushrooms, wild ramps, leeks and fiddleheads are all delicacies that can be found by foraging through the woodlands of Michigan. After a successful “hunt” you can savor these mouth-watering finds, paired with a fine Michigan beer or wine.
Several cities throughout the state – including Mesick (May 8-10) and Boyne City (May 14-17) – have been hosting festivals celebrate the “mighty morel” for more than 40 years. For recipes and other ideas on how to savor these scrumptious selections, check out Earthy Delights online at www.earthy.com
3) Fishing. Whether you enjoy fly fishing on the rivers and streams, heading out on a charter on the big lake or casting a line for pan fish in an inland lake, you’re sure to catch something while spring fishing in Michigan. From walleye, trout, steelhead and salmon to perch, bass and bluegills, this is a fisherman’s paradise.
Spring is also a great to visit one of the state’s six fish hatcheries or the famed Fish Ladder in Grand Rapids. The National Trout Festival (April 22-26) in Kalkaska, the Freeland Walleye Festival (April 25-26) and the Mancelona Bass Festival (June 3-7) are among the many opportunities to enjoy spring fishing celebrations in Michigan. The year 2009 is also the 50th Anniversary of Trout Unlimited, which was founded in the Crawford County community of Grayling www.mctu.org
4) Wine Tasting. While the 60+ wineries throughout the state of Michigan are open year round, spring is the ideal time to visit as this is when the new releases are available for tasting. Be sure to purchase a bottle or two, to pair with those woodland edibles and fresh catches! For a list of the state’s award-winning wineries, visit the Michigan Wine Council’s website at www.michiganwines.com
5) Bird Watching. Nature centers, sanctuaries and wildlife viewing areas are thriving with opportunities for spring bird watching. The Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Annual Spring Fling (April 24-26) in Paradise, the Tawas Point Birding Festival (May 15-17) in Tawas and the Kirtland Warbler Festival (May 16) in Roscommon County are among the many spring birding events that you may want to check out this season. For more about birding, visit the Michigan Audubon Society website: www.michiganaudubon.org
6) Paddling. With thousands of miles of rivers and streams, not to mention the inland and Great Lakes, spring is the perfect time to get out in your canoe or kayak and head out on the water for some peace and quite. For more information, check out the website for the Michigan Association of Paddlesport Providers: www.michigancanoe.com
7) Peddling. Michigan is home to some of the most scenic biking trails, ranging in distance and level of difficulty. Whether you’re taking a short family trip along a paved trail or are heading out for an off-road mountain bike adventure, you’ll find plenty of opportunities around the state – including special events geared toward cyclists. For more information, check out the website for the League of Michigan Bicyclists at www.lmb.org
8) Hiking. From nature centers to city, county and state parks, you’ll find countless trails waiting to be explored. In Michigan, you can hike more than 200 miles on the Shore-to-Shore Trail that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Or, take a day hike on any breathtaking section of the North Country National Scenic Trail which operates is national offices from Lowell, Michigan. www.northcountrytrail.org
Local author Jim Dufresne has published several exceptional books including “50 Hikes in Michigan: The Best Walks, Hikes and Backpacks in the Lower Peninsula” and “Best Hikes with Children – Michigan” which all offer great insight into the trails and scenic sites throughout the state. These, and other titles, are available at bookstores and libraries throughout Michigan.
9) Golfing. Michigan is home to more than 800 golf courses and during the spring season, the rates are often lower, there are fewer people (and bugs) and the temperatures are pleasant. For a detailed list of courses throughout the state, visit the Golf Association of Michigan online at www.gam.org
10) Driving. There are a handful of designated scenic routes throughout the state, including the M-119 “Tunnel of Trees” which hugs the coastline of Lake Michigan from Harbor Springs north through Good Hart to Cross Village. The US-23 “Sunrise Side Coastal Highway” skirts the Lake Huron shoreline from Mackinaw City south to Standish for 193 miles. US-12, known as the Sauk Trail, travels from New Buffalo to Detroit and was once a route for early travelers, Native Americans and slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. The Allegan County Heritage Trail travels 122 miles throughout the county, stopping at 28 historic sites including a former POW camp. These sites are even included in a high-tech geocaching “scavenger hunt” online at www.geocaching.com.
While on the road, be on the lookout for the handful of covered bridges which allow automobile traffic including Pierce Stocking Bridge (on the famed Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive) in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the 282-foot Langley Covered Bridge in Centerville (the longest in the state of Michigan), Zehnder’s Holz Brucke (wooden bridge) leading to Bavarian Village in Frankenmuth, and Fallasburg Covered Bridge spanning the Flat River in Lowell and the historic community of Fallasburg. Details on all the state’s covered bridges are community of Fallasburg. Details on all the state’s covered bridges are online at www.Michigan.org
Michigan Highways offer a state-wide listing of Heritage Routes – in three specific categories: Scenic, Recreational and Historic routes online at www.MichiganHighways.org
No matter which spring activity accompanies your camping trip, be sure to travel with camera in hand to capture the awakening of all around you. To learn more about how to enjoy Michigan’s “Springtime Splendor” and cure your cabin fever, visit www.SpringtimeSplendor.com.
The Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds – Michigan represents 225 member campgrounds with nearly 32,000 sites available throughout the state. Whether pitching a tent, parking an RV or reserving a rustic or modern cabin, Michigan campgrounds offer a great way to disconnect from busy lives and reconnect with families. Campers in Michigan enjoy the great outdoors while fishing or canoeing on the countless lakes, rivers and streams or hiking, biking and riding on the miles of trails that wind throughout the state. There’s definitely no shortage of activities, no matter where the campground is located.
The new Michigan Campground Directory, published by ARVC-Michigan, is now available at various locations statewide, including all state Welcome Centers. The directory not only lists campgrounds by region, but also includes helpful information on the type of sites available, various amenities such as restroom, laundry and dumping station facilities; recreational offerings such as pools and golf courses; and seasons of operation. A PDF version is also available for viewing online at www.michcampgrounds.com.