Teardrop Camping - Michigan

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Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby Belmo » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:20 pm

We are scheduled to go to a kid's sporting event in July, in Kalamazoo, and the hope is that my half-finished teardrop will be done by then (maybe :D ).

In what may be a bit of serendipity, our beach rental -- we've rented the same house at the Jersey shore for 10 years -- is not available next summer (why is a long story). So rather than doing our annual week at the Jersey shore, I'm contemplating driving to Michigan, bringing the teardrop, and going camping there instead, preferably somewhere north (i.e. cool: I hate the heat).

Do any of you midwesterners/Michigan peeps have any suggestions on where is a good place to go in a teardrop? We're looking for an off-the-grid place (i.e. no hookups), that's quiet, peaceful, dog-friendly, with natural beauty, and that offers the usual camping stuff, hiking and swimming and biking and all that. Our favorite place on the East Coast is Assateague in the spring and fall, when it's not as crowded and much, much cooler than it is in the summer (fewer bugs, too; the bugs at Assateague are legendary). It would be my wife, me, our 13-year-old kid, and a couple of dogs. We're not averse to driving a bit to get away from crowds -- in fact, I think I'd prefer it. I'm open to the Upper Peninsula, as I've heard it's spectacular, but I have also heard that getting to it is a hassle -- I'm not sure how much.

I don't know anything about Michigan -- I've only ever driven through -- and am hoping some of you sharpies can help. I'll do some research on my own, but no book can give you intel as good as actual users, especially for a camping niche as small as off-the-grid teardrop camping.

Thanks for reading, and for posting. Cheers! :beer:
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby zzzizxz » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:24 pm

Michigan is beautiful. I had't realized how nice it was until we started going up there for family vacations a few years ago. The whole western border along Lake Michigan is gorgeous. SouthWest is rolling hills of vinyards and wineries. Indiana Dunes is definitely worth a stop.

Last summer we circumnavigated Lake Michigan. Sleeping Bear dunes was fun, We camped near Pictured Rocks, and that whole area was spectacular.

If you want to go to the National Parks/Lakeshores, be aware that you cannot reserve campsites, they're all first-come first-serve. The hint I found is to find a nearby Michigan State Park, and reserve a spot there. You'll have less stress, fewer people, and it will probably be nicer than the National campgrounds.

Of course, if you haven't done Mackinac Island, it is well worth doing. We found that the farther north we went, the fewer people we came across, and the nicer those people were.

If you want, I can give you more of the places we went.
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby Aguyfromohio » Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:21 am

Belmo wrote:We are scheduled to go to a kid's sporting event in July, in Kalamazoo, and the hope is that my half-finished teardrop will be done by then (maybe :D ).
...


We did that a year ago, making a hard commitment to a camp out before we had finished the trailer. It worked great.
Nothing motivates me better than an important deadline. :lol:
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby skyl4rk » Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:26 am

Camping along Lake Michigan is very popular so expect campgrounds to be full. Its hard to make a recommendation because there are so many nice places.

Van Buren State Park is close to Kalamazoo with great beaches and dune walking trails.

Other state parks on the Lake that are very nice are Muskegon State Park and Ludington State Park.

Pretty much every state park campground will be full in July, so get reservations.

I also enjoy boondock camping to avoid the crowds. My two favorite boondock spots are Green Road between Ludington and Manistee, and French Farm Lake near Mackinaw City. Go to freecampsites.net to find them.

There is also a national forest campground near the Green Rd boondock, that would also be worth checking out, there is a long stretch of natural beach there.

I don't agree that further north is better, I prefer the small towns in the middle, such as Ludington, Manistee and Pentwater.
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby KTM_Guy » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:52 pm

You got some great replies already and all are spot on. We always spent time on the west coast on Lake Michigan so much to see. It will be crowed in July especially on the weekends. If you are there around the 4th and are motocross fans the pro race at Red Bud is probably the best outdoor race.

The one thing I wish we would have done when we lived in the midwest was the SS Badger car ferry from Ludington MI to Manitowoc WI. You could take the ferry into WI hit Door County, head north to Upper MI to Marquette, Munising, Pictured Rocks, White Fish Point, then down to take the Mac bridge back into lower MI. Work your way to Petoskey, Charlevoix, 31 south to Traverse City, then take MI 22 north and back south hitting Sleeping Bear Dunes. Of course you could do it the other way too. It's a great trip.

Saugatuck is also a cool town with great food.

Where are you starting your trip from?

Todd
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby Belmo » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:37 am

KTM_Guy wrote:Where are you starting your trip from?

Todd


Philadelphia. The plan, at least as far as it exists so far, is to drive from Philly to Kalamazoo for the sports tournament, which is a Friday to a Sunday, and then go exploring after. We'd probably drive up on Thursday: it's a long drive, but doable. The timing may help us, actually: we'll be in a hotel for the weekend, and would be looking at going camping starting either Sunday night or Monday morning. That will hopefully mean fewer crowds wherever we go.

I like the suggestions of the sites along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. I will have to do some more research. Thanks to all who posted here: cheers! :wine:
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:16 pm

We live 4/10 of a mile south of the border so spend quite a bit of our time up in Michigan. One of our trips last summer was two weeks in the UP and not all that difficult.
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby alaska teardrop » Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:34 pm

This Lake Michigan campground in the Manistee National Forrest & Nordhouse Dunes has been my favorite for 53 years.
Hiking & bike trails in the forest & dunes. About seven miles of beach.

https://www.forestcamping.com/dow/easte ... e%20michig
(scroll down to Lake Michigan)

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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby Belmo » Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:39 am

alaska teardrop wrote:This Lake Michigan campground in the Manistee National Forrest & Nordhouse Dunes has been my favorite for 53 years.
Hiking & bike trails in the forest & dunes. About seven miles of beach.


This is superb, and exactly the kind of suggestion I was hoping for! Thank you!
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby alaska teardrop » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:17 pm

You're welcome, Belmo,

Notes....
When you turn off M-31 onto West Forest Trial Rd. there is a gas station/store with ice, firewood ect.
Two of the camping loops are reserve-able. Check. Might be full in July.
Two loops are first come. Which means driving thru & looking for campsites available & when.
You can also camp along the forest roads before you get to the campgrounds for free. I would not leave the rig unattended though.
There are two stairways to the beach. The north stair leads to the family swim beach. The south stair will take you to the long stretch of less populated beach where dogs are allowed.
There is also a walking/biking trail along the very top of the dunes to the south.
The Lake Michigan water level is at an all time high, so that the beach is much narrower than the picture posted.
I've always found the campground quiet & respectful. In fact the last time there in September only about 10 campsites where taken & I had the beach to the south to myself - clothing optional. :shhh:

Have a good time, Fred
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby rjgimp » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:01 am

alaska teardrop wrote: I had the beach to the south to myself - clothing optional. :shhh:


Having grown up 1000 feet from the shores of Lake Superior I can attest that the waters of the Great Lakes, particularly the upper three, are not for the faint of heart nor thin in <ahem> insulation. It's COLD! :snow :snow :snow Michigan and Huron are slightly more tolerable but the ol' Gitchee Gumee rarely reaches 60 degrees even in high summer! The sand beaches, where they can be found, are lovely. There is a fantastic beach of nearly 8 miles in Duluth. Being endowed with plenty of natural insulation, I regularly swam there in my youth. 8)
-Rob


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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby rjgimp » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:12 am

zzzizxz wrote:Of course, if you haven't done Mackinac Island, it is well worth doing.


The locals pronounce it 'Makinaw' so don't go around sounding like a dufus. :lol:
-Rob


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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby Frank R » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:10 pm

Rifle River Recreation Are near Rose City, Michigan fits your description. Very nice. There are 3 primitive campgrounds and 1 modern one.

I backpacked the Nordhouse Dunes back in 1987 when that was the only way to access it. Very nice too. My wife and I visited there in September and found that it has been opened up to more activity; as was mentioned. I think I know the store mentioned; we stopped there. Only place around for miles.
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Re: Teardrop Camping - Michigan

Postby rjgimp » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:03 pm

Belmo wrote: I'm contemplating driving to Michigan, bringing the teardrop, and going camping there instead, preferably somewhere north (i.e. cool: I hate the heat)...

Do any of you midwesterners/Michigan peeps have any suggestions on where is a good place to go in a teardrop? We're looking for an off-the-grid place (i.e. no hookups), that's quiet, peaceful, dog-friendly, with natural beauty, and that offers the usual camping stuff, hiking and swimming and biking and all that...

I'm open to the Upper Peninsula, as I've heard it's spectacular, but I have also heard that getting to it is a hassle -- I'm not sure how much...

I don't know anything about Michigan -- I've only ever driven through -- and am hoping some of you sharpies can help. I'll do some research on my own, but no book can give you intel as good as actual users, especially for a camping niche as small as off-the-grid teardrop camping.


I took a motorcycle trip to the UP in 1987. Fantastic place. Grew up in Duluth. There are loads and loads of camping opportunities just like you describe all around the Great Lakes. Lots of national and state forest campgrounds with actual improved sites as well as pockets of dispersed camping here and there. Any of the five Circle Tours would be a great trip. Getting to the U.P. from the Kalamazoo area is easy. Just head north for four hours then hang a left after you cross the Mackinac Bridge! :lol:

I recently found a really useful tool to locate low-key camping opportunities. Here's a page that shows several of them around Marquette. https://freecampsites.net/#!(46.26666,+-86.84021) You'll probably need to zoom way in to see some detail. The green icons are generally free. Red icons have a fee and may have hookups available. Blue require reservations and may or may not have a fee. Yellow I believe are undetermined or under review by the site administrator. If you click on an icon a box will pop up showing the name and location and if you click on that you get a full description of the site, sometimes with pictures and multiple reviews from actual users. Some of them aren't really campsites but a quick free pit stop that allow overnighting, like a Cabela's or Cracker Barrel parking lot. Your Mileage May Vary. I found and used a fantastic free campsite on the Missouri River across from Chamberlain SD in 2017 using this site.
-Rob


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just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
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