05-13-2012, 06:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
East Coast Lake Michigan State Parks Notes
We just spent a week and a bit working our way up the east coast of Lake Michigan from Chicago to Sault Ste Marie checking out a number of state parks as we went so I thought I throw out some feedback.
First off I’d say the area would be an great summer hangout. The beaches are amazing, the water was very clear with a low sloping drop off for good swimming and there was lots to see and do.
We dropped into Warren Dunes state park but did not camp. There was a big beach, a long stretch for hiking along the water but the highlight was walking to the top of the large dune behind the beach. Huge parking lots so very big rig friendly. Definitely worth a few hours stop in.
We spent the night in Van Burren state park. The walk along the beach was great if you like collecting stones. The beach was a fairly thin strip of sand then a strip of rocks/pebbles along the waters edge then sand when in the water. Nice long stretch to walk in both directions. The campground was nothing special and was literally a few hundred yards from a nuclear power plant. It was tight in our 37.5 footer, I don’t think I’d try it in anything bigger than 40’ as the interior park turns had a pretty tight radius. There were only a few 35’ long back ins and many of the sites were very unlevel. I’d stop in to walk the beach again as my wife loves rock collecting but I would probably not stay in the campground again.
Stop at Sherman’s Dairy Bar in south haven for ANY type of ice cream treat you can dream of. A gazzilion flavors and really reasonable prices. I ate a four scoop, hot fudge, banana monstrosity and had to skip dinner that night.....
We spent two nights in Holland state park. If you are into beaches this is the state park for you. Huge very deep beach with lots of pristine sand and long area to walk to the north. There are two campgrounds, if you stay in the beach one you literally walk out of your unit, through the dunes onto the beach. That campground is a paved parking lot with diagonal back ins so its nothing special but you are RIGHT on the beach. Very big rig friendly as long as you are okay backing in, no pull thoughs, and very satellite friendly. Lot's of paved biking trails. We’d go back here for a week plus stay just to hang on the beach except I bet the whole area is a zoo with people during the summer months.
The Sliver Sides submarine tour at Muskegon was a bit of a disappointment as we thought it was a by donation self guided tour but it turned out to $30 guided tour so we played cheap and just looked at the outside (I decided I could buy a lot of ice cream sundae’s for $30)
We spent a night at Ludington state park and really wish we had had another day or two in the schedule for that park. The dunes heading into the park were spectacular and there were lots of fishing and hiking opportunities in the park. We only had time to do a few of the hikes and we could easily have spent two or three more days on hikes. We watched folks pulling in large mouth bass, rock bass and suckers in the creak below the damn right by the campsite. Great fishing for kids. The campsites were again a bit tight in our rig, I’d pass on anything over 40’. Nice enough sites but cell and satellite were no goes due to trees. We stayed in Cedar, there were two other campgrounds in the park, but Pines was not open and the far one looked like it had tighter corners. I’d definitely recommend the park for at least 3 days if you were into hiking/dunes/moe private beach.
We spent two nights at Sleeping Bear National Park. The highlight was the view from the top of the dune accessed from a stop on the scenic drive in the park. Stunning view of the dunes, the island and the lake. Worth the trip just for that alone. Saw porcupines and wild turkeys. The hike up the big dune at the dune climbing area was very similar to the one at Warren Dunes park. Lot’s of folks were renting canoes for a one way paddle down the platte river to lake Michigan. As they wanted $42 for a 2 hour canoe rental, I cheaped out and donned my wetsuit and did the trip without a canoe(now I had $42 and had burned enough calories to justify more ice cream sundaes). A good find was Empire Village Municpal Park. There was no markings for it on the highway but we saw it from one of the lookouts on the scenic drive. Go to empire and turn towards the big lake on any road and you will end up at a beautiful beach park. Play stuff for kids, bbq pits, washrooms and a great beach walk to below the tall dunes to the north. The Platte River campsite was again pretty tight with a bigger rig. They had about 20 pull throughs but most had tight bends in the pull throughs so some of the back ins were better. Might be hard to get a big rig site in the summer as there were not a lot of them. Great cell coverage, no chance of satellite due to heavy trees. Many mosquitos....boooo.
If you plan visiting more than 3 state parks, or staying for more than 3 nights in a park, be sure to buy the annual pass for $29 as all teh park access fees are daily fees on top of the campground fees. If you are towing a toad either buy a second pass or quietly move the sticker from RV to toad based on which you are driving. Must be attached to the window so you might want to wrap it in plastic wrap and use sticky tape.
All in all the state parks up that coast get two thumbs up from us, but their website gets a 2 out of 10 for explaining park access fees over and above the camping fees. Holland for the beach and Ludington for the dunes and hiking were our favorites. The view from the top of Sleeping Bear was memorable.
Slight break at the in-laws then Maine here we come