9 Reasons to Consider Renting An RV or Camper At a Michigan State Park In 2021

The Covid pandemic has caused folks to curtail travel. However a new interest in camping now giving families safe way to be outdoors and explore safely.

Also the Michigan DNR has worked with local companies that offer RV and camper rental delivery and set up services in Michigan’s State Parks. This allows outdoor camping for those who want the experience of staying in a camper but not the ownership of one.

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One of the things people miss most about their pre-pandemic lives is travel. Many feel there is just no way to resume traveling adventures while still keeping social distancing rules. Fortunately, this really isn’t true. The answer? RV or camper traveling.

A study conducted in the Fall of 2020 by KOA noted that current campers predict to take their planned camping trip this year, and non-campers say they are now interested in camping due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Leisure travelers – including campers and non-campers – rank camping as the safest form of travel to resume once constraints are lifted.

9 Reasons For An Michigan RV Rental in 2021

Renting an RV or camper is a great way to try camping before investing in one. Plus, this year, it may be considered a cheaper and safer option than roundtripping and staying in hotels. The camper rental company RVshare gave us some great reasons to consider renting an RV and hitting the road this year.

#1 – You Can Avoid Sharing Bathrooms

With the Covid pandemic still raging in this country through 2021, it’s best to entirely avoid public restrooms.

#2 – You Can Cook Your Own Meals

Many of us don’t want others handling our food. When you travel in an RV, you can skip eating out and cook your own favorite meals in a little kitchen that you know is clean.

#3 – You Can Sleep in the Same Bed

Camping in your own RV lessens the risk of bedbugs from a hotel or getting sick with someone else’s germs. You can sleep in the same bed for your entire trip, no matter how many places you stay.

#4 – You can Stay Away From Other People

This perhaps should be the #1 reason to rent your own camper or RV. Staying away from people is key to assuring you avoid capturing the coronavirus. By choosing outdoor activities, you can very comfortably socially distance while still having a great time.

#5 Getting outside in the Sun

It has been suggested that the best way to perk up your immune system is to get out in the sun. Getting out in the sunshine is the best way for your body to produce vitamin D, which can strengthen your immune system, helping you stay healthy all year long.

#6 Getting Outdoors When Camping

Fresh air is amazingly beneficial to your well-being. It can help clear your mind and reduce stress, reduce your blood pressure and heart rate.

#7 Camping Perks Up Your Mental Outlook

Being stuck inside and isolated from the rest of the world since last March isn’t good for anyone. Getting outside, exploring the outdoors, and moving around are all wonderful for your mental health.

#8 You Can Finally See this Great Country of Ours

Traveling outside of our country, even up to Canada, is darn near impossible. Many countries are not allowing US citizens entry and traveling by plane isn’t advisable. 2021 is a great time to click off those sites on your bucket list that you wanted to see in the U.S.

#9 You can Take the Road Less Traveled

You can be more adventurous and travel off the beaten path, knowing you’ll be able to sleep and eat in comfort that night, no matter where you end up. The opportunity to be spontaneous and see something on a mere whim is something we could all use after being on lockdown.

Renting an RV or Camper For Your Next Vacation

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Camping, glamping, and road trips may replace other types of planned trips in 2020.

Interest in RV camping among campers and non-campers can be attributed to cleanliness concerns at other accommodations like hotels or resorts and interest in avoiding shared facilities. Renting an RV or Camper may be the best way for those who have never camped before to try out the experience.

COVID-19 concerns will impact camper’s camp in the short term, including smaller group sizes, camping closer to home, and accommodation choices. If you are considering an RV for your next trip, explore and reserve at RVShare.


Renting An RV or Camper at Michigan’s State Parks

For several years the Michigan DNR has worked with local companies that offer RV motorhome and camper rental delivery and set up services in Michigan’s State Parks. This allows outdoor camping for those who want the experience of staying in a camper but not the ownership of one. It’s a great option for those who want to explore and camp throughout Michigan but don’t want to tow a 30-foot camper for 700 miles.

Port Crescent State Park Campground

Over 30 Michigan DNR, approved vendors can deliver RVs and campers to Michigan’s State Parks. Many of the vendors listed indicate they can deliver to all parks, while some serve specific park campgrounds. This is a great option for those who cannot tow a camper themselves. With a little planning, you can reserve a motorhome rental in Michigan and have it set up for you in any of Michigan’s State Park campgrounds.

Port Crescent State Park Campground Site 70

Camping is considered a safe, economical family get-a-way activity that is increasing in popularity this year. With many working at home, camping is considered an option for those who can work anywhere. Both state parks in Michigan’s Thumb; Albert E. Sleeper and Port Crescent, offer WiFi services. This is ideal for those who need to open a laptop and check email or a project’s work status. Telecommuting while RV camping in a beautiful park setting is a wonderful alternative to working at home.

The Pop-Up, Camper and RV Rental Process

The first step is to reserve a campsite at one of the Michigan state parks you want to visit. The Michigan DNR has an on-line reservation system that can now indicate open sites with only a few days’ lead time. Be sure to note the number and the size of your campsite. You will need this information when renting your pop up camper or RV motorhome.

Next, review the list of camper and RV motorhome vendors that can deliver and set up your rental pop up camper, fifth wheel, or RV at a Michigan park. Our review shows that you can get a full-size camper that sleeps 6 to 8 people from $125-150 a night. Pop up campers range from $300 for a 3 day stay to a full week, (7 days), at $500. Pop up campers can sleep up to six. Consider the security deposit, pet and smoking fees and cancellation terms into your budget

What Should You Bring When you Rent an RV or Camper at a Michigan State Park?

Here is a list of suggested items you will want to bring with you when camping.

  • Bedding + pillows
  • Cooking utensils (including pots & pans)
  • Outdoor grill and utensils
  • Personal items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
  • Bath towels & washcloths
  • Bug Spray
  • Wood and lighter for campfire
  • Smores (marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate bars)
  • Swimsuits and beach towels
  • Hiking shoes
  • Small mat to wipe your feet

Once you’re ready to leave your pop-up or Michigan RV motorhome rental, you just clean up, pack your belongings and leave. There are no worries about towing, pump-outs, or storage when you get home.

What Can Be Rented at Michigan State Parks?

Horse Rentals And Guiding Services – Privately owned riding stables and guiding services operate in five southeastern Michigan state parks.

Cabins, Lodges, Safari Tents, and Yurts – This is a more upscale camping experience. Numerous state parks now have remote rustic cabin, lodges, safari-style tents, pop-up campers, cottages, tepees, and yurts available for rent.

Track Chairs – Seven state parks have or will offer these great replacements for wheelchairs for an off-road experience. The electronic chairs can easily handle trails, snow, sand, and up to 8 inches of water. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost.

Bike Rental – Currently eight state parks offer bike rental

Camping Gear Rentals – Offers tents, sleeping bags, camp chairs for camping and backpacking.

Canoes, Kayaks, and Paddleboards – Forty Michigan state parks located on the water offer various boat rentals.



RV Motorhome Michigan

7 Secrets to Learn About the Tawas Point Lighthouse

Across Saginaw Bay from Michigan’s Thumb sits one of the prettiest lighthouses in Michigan.

The Michigan History Center has produced a video that offers viewers a virtual tour of climbing the lighthouse tower. As each step is made up of the tower, bits of history and fascinating design and functional aspects of the lighthouse are revealed. In the end, there is a little test you can take to on seven of the little aspects of the Tawas Point Lighthouse.

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Across Saginaw Bay from Michigan’s Thumb sits one of the prettiest lighthouses in Michigan. The Tawas Point Lighthouse was in operation during the lumber boom in 1876 and ran continuously until 2016. The lighthouse and tower sit on a sandy point of land that is said to be always changing. It was said that ship traffic on Saginaw Bay during the late 1800s resembled a busy highway.

This Tawas Point Lighthouse is actually the second lighthouse on the point. The first light station was built in 1853. However, the shifting sands on the point continued to grow until it was of no use to navigation. The 67-foot tower for the second light was built in 1873 and finished in time for the shipping season in 1876. The light was powered by kerosene until 1935, when it was converted to electricity. The 200,000 candle power light can be seen for 16 miles out into Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay. The fourth-order Fresnel lens is still in place.

Tawas Point Lighthouse Tower Climb Video

The Michigan History Center has produced a video that offers viewers a virtual tour of climbing the lighthouse tower. As each step is made up of the tower, bits of history and fascinating design and functional aspects of the lighthouse are revealed. In the end, there is a little test you can take to on seven of the little aspects of the Tawas Point Lighthouse.


Fun Activities at the Lighthouse

Today the lighthouse is part of Tawas Point State Park, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources maintains responsibly for the lighthouse structure and grounds. Lighthouse tours are led during most weekends each summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are also special events, such as the Tawas Point Haunted Lighthouse weekend, in October.

Michigan Road Trip on M-25: Riding A Ribbon Around the Thumb

M-25 is part of the Lake Huron Circle Tour from Port Huron to Bay City.

Making a road trip is considered a safe way to travel as long as you stay socially distant from other folks.

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A favorite Michigan road trip for motorcyclists is the Michigan State Highway M-25. It’s a 147-mile scenic two-lane trunk line running from Port Huron to Bay City, Michigan. Bikers like the drive as it offers many places to turn off for a rest, find a biker friendly place to eat, or take a bit of shelter during a storm. With restrictions expected to continue through the summer of 2021, making a road trip is considered a safe way to travel as long as you stay socially distant from other folks.

In this post, we cover two aspects for a great road trip along M-25. The first section covers all the roadside parks and scenic turnouts that surround the Thumb. The second part reviews a list of our favorite places to stop and check out along the way. Happy motoring.

M-25 Michigan’s First Scenic Highway

The Upper Thumb in 1940

With waters of Lake Huron or Saginaw Bay on one side and rolling pasture cottages and farmland on the other, M-25 is a unique and interesting ride around the Thumb. The picturesque drive also offers some of the most unique and seldom visited places (which we will cover later), that you may not find in any Michigan tour book.

A Loop Around Michigan’s Thumb

Officially Michigan M-25 is a state trunkline highway in the US state of Michigan. M-25 is part of the Lake Huron Circle Tour for its entire length. Starting at a junction with Business Loop I-69/Business Loop I-94 in Port Huron running north along the coast the highway passes through Lexington, Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach, and Port Hope. Arriving at Port Austin, the northernmost point of M-25, the road turns west and south running through Caseville, Bay Port, Bay, Unionville, and ending in Bay City.

A section of M-25 in Bay City was named what is now called a Pure Michigan Historic Byway by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Originally called the Bay City Historic Heritage Route you can see historical neighborhoods and large Victorian homes constructed by the lumber barons of the 1800s.

M-25s Roadside Parks and Scenic Turnouts

The State of Michigan has a total of 80 listed roadside parks. They are part of MDOT’s system of 14 Welcome Centers, 77 rest areas, 42 table sites, and 22 scenic turnouts. Michigan was one of the first states in the country to offer roadside parks. Since they are so prevalent, we thought we would outline each of the roadside parks and turnouts along M-25.

The Upper Thumb has six of these roadside gems.

M-25 Near Port Crescent State Park

One aspect that is truly unique to M-25 is the number of places to stop. There are a number of interesting turn-offs provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation. (MDOT). They offer a chance to safely park, have a picnic, or just enjoy the view. Many of the parks along M25 are located right on the beach.

Lake Huron Roadside Park

Located South of Port Sanilac in Sanilac County. This stop has great views of Lake Huron, with stairs from the park to the beach. Historical Marker for “Great Lake Storm of 1913” when the sudden tragic storm took 235 lives and 10 ships sank.

From the Archives of Michigan

Sudden tragedy struck the Great Lakes on November 9, 1913, when a storm, whose equal veteran sailors could not recall, left in its wake death and destruction. The grim toll was 235 seamen drowned, ten ships sunk, and more than twenty others driven ashore. Here on Lake Huron all 178 crewmen on the eight ships claimed by its waters were lost. For sixteen terrible hours gales of cyclonic fury made man and his machines helpless.

The Great Storm of 1913 – Michigan Historical Marker

The park honors Horatio S. Earle. As a state senator from Detroit in 1901, he chaired a committee that developed the first plan for statewide road improvement. He was known as “Good Roads” Earle”.

Four Mile Scenic Turnout

The location is south of Forestville in Sanilac County. It offers some of the best views of Lake Huron, with stairs from the park on the bluff down to the beach.

White Rock Roadside Park

Located south of Atwater Road, Sherman Twp in Huron County. Great views of Lake Huron and White Rock. Steps to beach, observation deck, walking trails connecting to a non-motorized path on Michigan M25.

Michigan’s Famous Roadside Park Signs

The park preserves the natural character of the site and enhances the travel experience. Components of the motorist park include a picnic area, restroom facilities, interpretive signage, stairway to the shoreline, and a carpool lot that accommodates buses. A unique element of the project is the interpretive sign and viewing opportunities for the “White Rock” that marked an 1807 treaty with local tribes.

White Rock is a large, white, offshore boulder used as a boundary marker to define the territory released by the Native American tribes of Michigan to the United States under the Treaty of Detroit in 1807.

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan was asked to provide input for the interpretive sign. The tribe’s participation helped assure an accurate portrayal of the history and oral tradition related to the significance of White Rock.

The park also is a stop along the historic ShoreRidge Indian Trail that started near Fort Gratiot and ends in Saginaw.

Jenks Roadside Park

Hand Pump Well at Jenk’s

Jenks Roadside Park is located 2 miles west of Port Austin in Huron County. Features a spectacular view of Saginaw Bay, with beach access, restroom, and picnic facilities. It has a large parking area and can easily accommodate fairly large groups during off-hours. While not officially designated as a beach, the shore offers a fine sugar sand ribbon of beach that is perfectly suitable for a quick swim.

Thompson Turnout Park

Thompson County Park Beach

The Thompson Scenic Turnout – Located 10 miles southwest of Port Austin in Huron County. The Park features 2 large grindstones and access to a sandy beach on Saginaw Bay, picnic tables, bathroom, and benches. This is a fairly popular stop along M-25 as it sits on top of a small bluff and has a commanding view of outer Saginaw Bay. To the southwest, visitors can get their first view of the guardian of the bay, Charity Island.

Brown Roadside Park

Brown roadside park is located 3 miles south of Bay Port in Huron County. The park is shady and an ideal picnic or break spot along M-25. It is also a known spot for geocaching. The park honors Henry A. Hamp.

The small park has also been referenced as the Sanford Brown Roadside Park. However this is is unconfirmed.

The park is the location for a Michigan Historical Marker for “The Great Fire of 1881.” Which states:

The Great Fire of 1881 Marker

The fire of 1881: Small fires were burning in the forests of the Thumb, tinder-dry after a long, hot summer, when a gale swept in from the southwest on September 5, 1881. Fanned into an inferno, the fires raged for three days. A million acres were devastated in Sanilac and Huron Counties alone. At least 125 persons died, and thousands more were left destitute. The new American Red Cross won support for its prompt aid to the fire victims. This was the first disaster relief furnished by this great organization.

Interesting Places for a Road Trip Along M-25

Lightship Huron in the Snow

Huron Light Ship

One interesting little site, located in a county park, is the Lightship Huron. Lightships are floating lighthouses that could be anchored on the lakes where it was too deep or impossible to build a lighthouse. Lightships displayed a light at the top of a mast and, and in foggy conditions, it sounded a signal. Locals called the Huron “Old B.O.” because of the pretty unique sound the fog horn made. Today the retired lightship is only steps away from shore in Pine Grove Park in Port Huron and serves as a floating museum about an aspect of Great Lakes shipping that has been replaced with automation.

Fort Gratiot Light Station

Tower and Keepers Duplex (left), Keepers Building (Right)

Noted as a strategic chokepoint, St. Clair River’s mouth was the gateway to the northern lakes and the rich fur and lumber trade. Shipping on the Great Lakes increased in the 1820s, and Congress recognized the need for a navigational aid at the St. Clair River’s mouth.

Lexington General Store

Lexington General Store from their Facebook Page

This store was built in the late 1800s and is a great example of what was in just about every country village and town in Michigan. Known for their large candy selection including the old-fashioned penny candy. Walk along old squeaky wood floors, and browse gifts, lake signs, candles, kitchenware, jellies, and souvenirs. Listen for the “cha-ching” from their pull handle register from every sale. This is a neat step back in time.

Croswell Swinging Bridge

Croswell Swinging Bridge

Located west of Lexington. The Croswell Swinging Bridge is a pedestrian suspension bridge claimed to be the longest (maybe only) spanning suspension footbridge in Michigan. It was built in 1905 over the Black River, with only the planks between the Michigan Sugar Company’s cables.

Sacred History of White Rock

Indigenous Peoples of Michigan, the Anishinabeg, views the White Rock on the edge of the Lake Huron shore as a sacred site. The rock was much, much larger than it appears today. (Which in 2019 is mostly underwater). Today White Rock is almost awash by the high levels of Lake Huron. The size has shrunk too. With erosion and lighting strikes the rock is about 12 feet.

6 Fascinating Things to See at Harbor Beach

Harbor Beach Harbor – Courtesy US. Coast Guard

As the world’s largest freshwater human-made harbor, Harbor Beach, Michigan’s port, is an ideal stopping point for sailors making their way along Lake Huron’s shore and for those making a Michigan road trip. Harbor Beach offers sailors and boaters a welcome break and an ideal provisioning point with its protected port and town that’s steps away from the Marina. If you have a few extra hours, some great little sightseeing trips are close and interesting. Some are within walking distance, while some will require an Uber ride from dockside.

Port Hope Railway Depot

Port Hope Railway Depot

The Port Hope Depot has been exquisitely restored. You can see exhibits in the passenger waiting room, the station masters office, luggage, and freight room. Each area of the depot has been painted to match the original color. The depot looks brand new. One of the most interesting items on display was a pair of glasses found trapped for over one hundred years behind window trim in the station master office. The wireframe glasses are extremely fragile yet look brand new.

The Legend of Whiskey Harbor

Shoreline of Whiskey Harbor

On the eastern shore of Michigan’s Thumb lies a lonely and rocky cove on the shore of Lake Huron. The remote area sits on a layer of limestone so its tough o build upon so it remains undeveloped. This idyllic and beautiful remote setting was the site for criminal activity during the time of Michigan Prohibition.

The Spooky Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse

Pointe Aux Barques Light

Michigan’s Upper Thumb is full of colorful history—from the boomtowns of the 1800s lumber era to today’s resorts and vacation cottages. The area has long been acknowledged as an active paranormal region and has been the subject of books, film, and television. The Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse is one of those spooky spots with a great lake view that you should consider stopping on your Michigan road trip.

Get a Great Cheeseburger at Shelly’s in Grindstone City

Shelly’s

This morning, after hitting the Farmers Market in Port Austin and White Church Gallery in Grindstone City, we stopped by Shelley’s Bar. What a cool stop. Okay… I admit that the outside needs a bit more curb appeal. But stepping into this roadside tavern, you can tell that the locals love this place. It’s biker friendly as Shelly’s has sponsored many Michigan motorcycle road trips, poker runs, and charity events.

15 Things to Do and See in Port Austin

Port Austin Michigan has established itself with becoming the Art and Cultural Center of the region with its galleries, Studio Tour Weekend, Labor Day’s Art in the Park, and yearly Porch Concerts. But there is much more to see and do at the end of the road and tip of the Thumb.

The Emergency Arc Oak Beach

This is a great Michigan road trip find. The “Arc” has several titles The Barnboat, The Celestial Ship of the North, and the Emergency Ark. The Emergency Ark was completed by sculpturing artist Scott Hocking in 2015. He has transformed a 1800s barn into a large object denoting sanctuary and safety. The Ark can be found about a mile south of Oak Beach on Oak Beach road and Fehner.

Things to Do Around Caseville Beach

Caseville County Park sits on 40 acres. It hosts a large full-service campground with large portions of it covered with a tree canopy. Many campers bring their boat along as launch ramps are available at the nearby marina, fishing off the Caseville Pier. It’s great for a swim on your Michigan road trip of the Thumb. The park also features pavilion rentals and offers a few prime beachfront sites. The park also has an open-air theater that provides live entertainment during the Ribstock BBQ competition in June and the Caseville Cheeseburger festival in August.

Bay Port Fish Company

Bay Port Fish Company

Bay Port Fish Company has been a commercial fishery in Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay since 1895. In 1949 Engelhard starting selling fish sandwiches in front of his house to pay his daughter’s college tuition, his sales grew and grew until in 1978 it became The Fish Sandwich Festival. The festival still offers the original freshwater mullet sandwich made from fish caught locally by the Bay Port Fish Company.

Sebewaing Shops

This is one of the oldest settlements in the Thumb. First established as a mission among the Native Americans who lived in the area for generations. Headquarters of Michigan Sugar, you will be able to see large mounds of locally grown sugar beets that are being prepared for processing right along the edge of Michigan M-25.

Quanicassee and the Story of the Beer Drinking Bear

It was during this time of early Michigan road trips that roadside attractions became popular. Small museums, oddity displays, and amusement parks popped up next to gas stations and restaurants. Vanderbilt started collecting wild animals for a roadside zoo on Michigan M-25. One of his early acquisitions was a female black bear. A statue of this bear is located near Quanicassee.



22 Astonishing Michigan’s Scenic Byways for your Next Adventure

We were amazed to discover that Michigan has 22 scenic byways. These routes can be found from urban Detroit to the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.P. These adventures can be part of any vacation itinerary.

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Travel and tourism is a major industry in Michigan. According to Travel Michigan, in 2017, Michigan played host to over 122 million who spent $24.7 billion. As a result, there has been a focus on creating scenic designation travel routes that tourists can experience while getting to their final destination. We were amazed to discover that Michigan has 22 scenic byways. These routes can be found from urban Detroit to the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.P. These adventures can be part of any vacation itinerary.

National Scenic Byways – All American Roads

The United States Department of Transportation selects a National Scenic Byway, a road recognized with six “intrinsic qualities”: cultural, historical, natural, recreational, scenic, and archeological. The list was authorized by Congress in 1991 to preserve and protect the nation’s scenic but often less-traveled roads and promote tourism and economic development.

The most scenic byways are chosen to be All-American Roads, which must satisfy two of the six intrinsic qualities. The classification means they have peculiarities that do not exist elsewhere in the United States and are different and valuable enough to be tourist destinations unto themselves.

Of the 120 National Scenic Byways and 31 All-American Roads Michigan has 3 routes with this national designation.

#1 Woodward Avenue

Woodward

This is considered “Detroit’s Main Street,” Woodward Avenue follows, in part, the route of a Native American Saginaw Trail from Detroit to Pontiac. The route is packed with historical remnants of Detroit’s automotive heritage and interesting and historical ethnic neighborhoods, historic homes, and landmarks. It’s also home to the yearly Woodward Dream Cruise. The Dream Cruise extends from Pontiac to Detroit and is held each August.

#2 Copper Country Trail

Copper Country

This picturesque route highlights Michigan’s history and early boom years associated with copper mining, the Copper Country Trail National Byway follows US-41 which sits on top of the copper vein that lies deep underground. It ends at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper Harbor is the jumping-off point for visitors traveling by ferry to Michigan’s only National Park; Isle Royale. This is also one of our favorite Michigan road trips.

#3 River Road

River Road

Located just north of Tawas, this 22-mile scenic byway extends westward from the shore of Lake Huron inland to the Huron-Manistee National Forests, paralleling the historic Riviere aux Sable, which is French for “River of Sand.”


National Forest Scenic Byways

The National Forest Scenic Byways are roads that have been selected by the U.S. Forest Service as scenic byways. The program was started in 1987.

#5 Whitefish Bay National Forest Byway

Stretching west of Sault St Marie, this 27 mile, one hour drive travels through historic sites and picturesque views that stretch along the Lake Superior shore through the hardwoods, conifers, and wetlands of the Hiawatha National Forest.

#6 Black River National Forest

Located in the Western Upper Peninsula, the Black River area was officially dedicated as a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1992 to recognize its exceptional natural beauty and recreational possibilities.


Michigan State Scenic Byways

Fortunately for those looking for a scenic Michigan road trip, there are many, many options. Here are some designated Michigan Byways from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

#7 M-22 Byway

M-22

This was the first state highway in Leelanau, Benzie, and Manistee counties and was built in 1913. The route was nicknamed “Going Round the Horn” has it looped from Manistee County to Traverse City via the famously over window stickered M-22. This drive offers year-round scenery, a rural atmosphere, and numerous events and activities each season.

#8 Old Mission Peninsula

Old Mission

This wine country drive meanders out into Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay; M-37 is the peninsula’s main route, running a northern course between the bay and beautiful scenery from vineyards, orchards farms. The following hills give travelers magnificent views. Numerous wine tours can be found and arranged from Traverse City year around.

#9 Tunnel of Trees

Tunnel of Trees

This ancient route and trail follow the Lake Michigan shoreline from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. In the Fall, the highway bursts into color with its canopy of trees, and natural beauty can be enjoyed during the leisurely drive.

#10 Tahquamenon

Tahquamenon

This 90 minute, 60-mile journey through Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula, the Tahquamenon region is one of the more remote of the byways in Michigan. However, travelers are rewarded with access to two of the most sought out destinations in the state; Tahquamenon Falls and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

#11 US-2 Top of the Lake Scenic Byway

Top of the Lake US-2

Just across the Mackinac Bridge, St. Ignace greets traveling visitors as they head into the Upper Peninsula. Heading west, US-2 follows close along the picturesque shoreline of Lake Michigan’s northern edge. This area is also known as the “banana belt” of Michigan’s UP as Lake Michigan tends to moderate temperature along US-2.


Michigan’s State Recreation Byways

Michigan Byways offer a flavor of all the beauty and variety of the Great Lakes State. The exceptional natural beauty and historic, scenic, recreational, and cultural significance have earned these drives to be considered among the top travel destinations.

#12 Sunrise Coast

Sunrise Coast

This byway consists of over 200 miles of clear inland lakes, majestic Lake Huron, numerous shipwrecks, historical, and sometimes spooky, lighthouses, and pristine beaches on what is considered Michigan’s Sunrise side. This is the longest of the states byway routes. It is recommended for taking several days to enjoy.

#13 I-69 Recreational

I-69

Running from the Indiana border north past Battle Creek, this heavily traveled route requires travelers to venture off the highway to appreciate this beautiful historic region; you’ll find opportunities for unlimited year-round outdoor activities. For Movie Drive-In buffs, the Capri Drive-In Theater is on nearby Chicago Road.

#14 Pathway to Family Fun M-15 Ortonville Road

M-15

This old-school drive is considered a less hectic alternative to I-75, taking travelers through a relaxed winding corridor known for its quaint towns, local parks, recreation, and camping areas. Starting in Clarkson and heading up the byway on M-15 runs north and northwest to Bay City. This is a great alternative route during busy holidays.

#15 Hidden Coast

Hidden Coast

Meandering through the wilderness between the Wisconsin border at Menominee and Gladstone along Lake Michigan’s northwestern shore, large parts of the old Native American Sault and Green Bay Trail, this “Hidden Coast” is drenched in history and heritage. The highlight being at the end at the Sand Point Lighthouse

#16 Chief Noonday

Noonday

M-179, also known as Chief Noonday Road, winds east through a land of recreational opportunities and historical significance. Located South of Grand Rapids, this area is heavily wooded and inhabited by an abundant variety of wildlife. Nearby to the Yankee Springs Recreational Area and the Barry State Game Area.

#17 North Huron Recreational Trail

North Huron

Starting just east of St. Ignace. This 50-mile excursion along the northern shore of Lake Huron, M-134, is rich with wildlife habitat, scenic views, boating, and recreational opportunities. This is also considered a prime cruising area for sailors on the Great Lakes.

#18 West Michigan Pike

West Michigan

Explore the sugar sand beaches, majestic dunes, quaint communities, beach towns, and resorts along the 184-mile West Michigan Pike, one of the nation’s oldest “tourist” roads. Festivals and events, historic places, and Michigan-made foods, beverages, and art keep travelers from the Lake Michigan shore on the “Pike” each year.


State Historic Byways

Michigan Historical Byways are specifically designated and state routes with particular significance. The original name of this project was the Michigan Heritage Route Program that was created in 1993. These byways are used to recognize, protect, and enhance the area. In many cases, adjacent land is denoted with unique scenic, cultural, or historic qualities.

#18 US-12 Heritage Trail

US-12 Heritage Trail

This Michigan road trip is cut along the same route as the ancient Sauk Indian Trail. This route is rich in colorful character, remarkable history, and an ever-changing landscape. The US-12 Heritage Trail invites the traveler to journey its winding road, cruise through historic small towns, such as Marshal, with 19th-century architecture.

#19 Iron County Heritage Trail

Iron Country

Located in Iron County of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Iron County Heritage Trail is composed of a 36-mile loop connecting 14 premier sites that provide visitors the opportunity to discover the history behind the beauty of Iron County

#20 Marshall’s Territorial Road

Marshall

Marshall’s Territorial Road features 28 historical markers, with 14 being official Michigan Historical Markers – the most of any Michigan community outside of Detroit. Marshall is the home of the famous Win Schulers Restaurant.

#21 Center Avenue/Bay City

Bay City

Bay City offers picturesque tree-lined streets with majestic lumber baron era mansions to a magnificently restored county building and business district. The entire city is a preservationist’s dream. The M-25 (Center Avenue) neighborhood has almost 900 historic structures in its Center Avenue Neighborhood Residential District. A great mini Michigan road trip.

#22 Monroe Street

Monroe

Driving, walking, or cycling along M-125 (Monroe Street) provides visitors an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy a mix of residential, religious, and commercial landmarks and structures, as well as natural resources such as the historic River Raisin, known by Native Americans as “Numaseppee” or River of Sturgeon.

Excerpts and map thumbnail have been taken from Pure Michigan Byways and Tour Routes Driving Guide published by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Information for your own Michigan road trip can be found with its detailed information, maps and key things to see can be found on this downloadable pamphlet

33 Items to Include in Your Emergency Car Kit

Planning on taking a drive to visit some of the must-see sites in Michigan this winter? When it comes to safety on the road, we should all have an emergency kit in our cars. In order to decide what to put in your kit, you need to take into account the weather in your area (here in Michigan, we know it will often be cold and snowy!) and what items will suit your family’s needs.

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Keep essential emergency items stowed

Planning on taking a drive to visit some of the must-see sites in Michigan’s Upper Thumb? When it comes to safety on the road, we should all have an emergency kit in our cars. To decide what to put in your kit, you need to consider the weather in your area (here in Michigan, we know it will often be cold and snowy!) and what items will suit your family’s needs.

Being Prepared for An Emergency

Your car emergency kit list should be divided into three separate areas. These include (1) items you keep accessible in your car, (2) emergency items for an auto breakdown—I keep these in the compartment with my spare tire, and (3) emergency items to take with you if you have to abandon your vehicle on the road. I suggest packing the third group of items in a backpack with multiple compartments to make it easy to carry.

Aside from your emergency kit, you should always travel with a fully-charged cell phone and keep a car charger in your vehicle at all times. If you don’t have a smartphone with GPS (or a GPS system integrated into your vehicle), consider buying a stand-alone unit. And, when you live in Michigan (or any other cold, snowy climate), make sure that you have snow tires (or chains) to put on your car in the autumn. 

11 Items to Keep Accessible for Any Emergency

  • Small tool kit. This can include a multi-bit screwdriver, scissors, pliers, box cutter, tape, and Allen wrench.
  • $50 or $100 in small bills, hidden in your center console. If you’re stuck and need food or a hotel room, this stash could be a lifesaver!
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Several bottles of water
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Adhesive bandages and antibiotic cream
  • Flashlight with extra batteries or a hand-crank model
  • Umbrella and rain poncho
  • Extra medication if you have a medical condition and rely on prescriptions.
  • Extra hats, gloves, scarves, and earmuffs (or 180s)
  • Car safety hammer and seatbelt cutter. This item is one you’ll want to have within arm’s reach. Some models feature velcro straps for easy attachment.
Keep an ice scraper handy

11 Car Breakdown Items

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Three reflective warning triangles. Most kits come with one, but you should have three of them to place at 50-foot intervals to warn oncoming traffic.
  • Emergency flares
  • Foam tire sealant
  • Spare tire, tire iron, and jack
  • Jumper cables (the longer the better)
  • Tow strap rated to tow 6,000 pounds
  • 550 Paracord. It can be used for just about anything.
  • Assorted bungee cords. These are great for a loose bumper, muffler, or for tying your trunk down.
  • Shovel
  • Cat litter. If you’re stuck, cat litter works as well as sand to give you traction in icy conditions, but it’s much lighter.
  • Ice fishing supplies. If you get stuck near a lake in the winter, what better way to take your mind off the fact that you’re lost! (That’s a joke, although you certainly could bring them along if you’re so inclined.)
Be able to fix a flat tire

11 Items for A Mobile Emergency Kit

  • Hand crank flashlight with NOAA radio and USB port. This is a great multi-use tool that will allow you to hear emergency broadcasts, weather forecasts, and to charge your cell phone in the event that your car charger won’t work.
  • First aid kit and first aid manual
  • Duct tape. Astronauts take it into space as a multi-use tool, so you should take a roll on the road!
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Space blankets. These are compact and lightweight, so you might as well pack a few.
  • Non-perishable snacks. I keep protein bars in my pack and check them every 6 months or so to see if they need to be replaced. The chocolate-coated ones are fine in cold weather months, but avoid having these in your car in the summer!
  • Waterproof matches/lighter/long burning emergency candles. These are staples in any emergency kit and can be used to start a fire, provide light, and even boil water.
  • Maps and a compass. Of course, you’ll need to know how to use them. There are a number of online tutorials available if you need to brush up on your map and compass skills. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to read a map, and one on how to use a compass.
  • Loud whistle or air-horn. These can act as a beacon to help emergency workers find you if you’re lost or injured. Keep several whistles on lanyards in your pack, one for every family member.
  • Glowsticks. Not only will these amuse the kids, but they can also help you to keep track of your family in low-light situations.
  • A pack of cards, travel-size games, or a paperback book. If you’re in a situation that you have to wait out, this can alleviate the boredom.

Specialty Items

These are things that you may need, depending on your family composition. If you have a baby, you might want to keep some extra diapers, diaper rash ointment, baby wipes, and canned or powdered formula stashed in your car. If you regularly travel with a family pet, have an extra leash, some sealed dog (or cat) food, and a collapsible pet bowl in your car. 

Be Prepared for Any Contingency

A well-stocked car will save you a lot of hassle down the road! You can learn more about preparing an emergency car kit tailored to your specific needs from the Department of Homeland Security and the DMV websites. We also have tips on getting your car ready for the winter.

9 Marvelous Great Lakes Beaches You Should Visit in 2021

If you have lived and traveled in the Great Lakes region I think you will agree that there are some pretty amazing sites to explore. This may be the reason that so many folks in the upper lakes don’t venture far during family vacations. There is simply too much awesomeness that one must not miss. Here are 8 of the most unique beaches in the Great Lakes region.

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If you have lived and traveled in the Great Lakes region I think you will agree that there are some pretty amazing sites to explore. This may be the reason that so many folks in the upper lakes don’t venture far during family vacations. There is simply too much awesomeness that one must not miss. Here is a small set of some obscure and best beaches in the Great Lakes region that you won’t want to miss on your travels.


#9 Minnesota – Singing Iona Beach on the North Shore of Lake Superior

One of the famous Great Lake Beaches can be found on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Pink Rhyolite rock creates a beach about 300 yards long and seen from the Highway. The unique aspect that everyone finds amazing is the sound created by the waves on the stones. When the waves break and crash over the smooth rocks, they make a tinkling or clinking sound as they re-settle before the next wave. The beach is a bit hard to find but many consider it a must stop when on Lake Superior’s North Shore.

The Singing Beach on Lake Superior’s North Shore

The 10-acre park is one of the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas on Lake Superior. The beach is about 200 yards from a public access parking lot off US Hwy 61, north of Duluth. Look for a small sign saying ‘Twin Points Water’ access at mile marker 42. Just north of Gooseberry Falls, State Park.


#8 Illinois – The North Avenue Beach of Chicago on Lake Michigan

North Avenue Beach

It has been called a blue and green oasis in a concrete jungle. The North Avenue Beach marquee attraction is its massive 22,000-foot beach house that looks like an ocean liner. Located within Lincoln Park, this city beach offers a million-dollar view of the Chicago skyline. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the shoreline. Grab an ice cream or sandwich at one of several food stands. Even get a swimsuit and sandals from apparel shops.

If you are tired of all the sand between your toes, you can explore the main park or check out the chimps in the Lincoln Park Zoo. If the weather turns, you can get out of the sun or rain at the nearby Chicago History Museum on North Clark Street.


#7 Ontario Canada’s Grand Bend & Ipperwash Beaches on Lake Huron

Canada Beaches – From Pixabay CC0

This stretch of sand on the South shore of Lake Huron in the Grand Bend area is an experience to behold. The crowds tend to be young around Grand Bend and family-oriented along Ipperwash beach. Regardless of where you end up, you can enjoy the beach, the dunes, the ice cream, and the vibe. Since this stretch of beach is on the southeast shore visitors can enjoy some of the best sunsets in the region. Grand Bend is the quintessential vacationer town. Beach shops, pubs, restaurants, cottages and art galleries are a short walk away.

The Grand Bend Beach has been designated a Blue Flag Beach. This means it has been certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that the beach meets stringent environment and sustainability standards.


#6 Ohio’s Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie

Headlands Beach State Park offers a mile-long natural sand beach on Lake Erie, the largest in Ohio. Visitors can swim, picnic and fish along a nearby break wall. There are trails run through the park along the shore, which date back to the Iroquois.

The park began in the early 1950s when the state of Ohio began acquiring land to create a state park. The park opened in 1953 as Painesville Beach State Park and changed to Headlands Beach in 1955. In the 1960s the beach area modernized with the addition of parking lots, concession buildings, restrooms, and changing booths. CNN’s Travel program named Headlands as one of the top 20 beaches in the United States.


#5 Michigan – Saugatuck Oval Beach on Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Dunes – From Pixabay CC0

The Saugatuck community is known as a favorite getaway for those from Chicago, but the folks from Michigan love it too. Oval Beach is a large sandy, breezy beach with nearby dunes common along the Lake Michigan shore. Walk to the pier and around along the channel for a change of scenery. There is a concession stand for soft-serve ice cream cones and drinks.

The best advice we got was to park at Mount Baldhead Park and walk up the narrow road to Oval Beach. Parking is $10/day.

#4 Wisconsin’s North Beach at Racine on Lake Michigan

Considered one of the best Great Lakes Beaches this famous shore is almost a half-mile long on Lake Michigan’s western coast and rated #4 of the “51 Great American Beaches,”  by USA Today.  This 50-acre park also has the distinction of being rated as a Blue Wave Beach (The US version of the Blue Flag rating for environmental certification for beaches) This city beach has also been rated favorably by Parents Magazine and Midwest Living. 

Located in Racine, the beach experience rival’s Chicago’s with live music, volleyball, Kid’s Cove playground, kayak rentals, and food concessions.  The park is also friendly to those with disabilities with handicap ramps.

#3 Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan

Indiana Dunes State Park

With views of the Chicago skyline on crisp clear days and large dunes, hiding remote enclaves and sections of beach this National Lakeshore is a taste of wilderness surrounded by urban and industrial growth. The lakeshore is also known as being a bird watcher paradise as flocks cross the area in migratory patterns extending into the northern Great Lakes. There are ten separate beaches within the large lakeshore park with West Beach, Mount Baldy and Portage Lakefront being the most popular.

Congress designated the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966. The park covers 15,000 acres and incorporates the Indiana Dunes State Park within its boundaries. Indiana continues to manage and charge a separate admission fee to the state park. The park is split in two by the Port of Indiana and several steel mills.

#2 New York – Sandy Island Beach State Park on Lake Ontario

Long considered underrated in upstate New York, this park is situated on Lake Ontario’s eastern edge, thus offering the prettiest sunsets. The park offers a sandy beach on Lake Ontario, a bathhouse, a picnic area, fishing, and bird watching. If you bring a small sailboat or kayak, there is a car-top boat launch. Lake Ontario’s current high water levels are causing erosion and loss of sand from the main beach. The net effect is a narrow strip of beach. This phenomenon is happening in the entire Great Lakes region.

The Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland System is a 17-mile shoreline, which extends along Lake Ontario. The dunes are similar to those found on Lake Michigan in Indiana and western Michigan and are the only large freshwater dunes site in the northeastern United States.

#1 Warren Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan

With over 1 million annual visitors, the Warren Dunes State Park is one of Michigan’s most popular state parks. Located on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, this 1,952-acre Michigan state park hosts large dunes and lakeshore beaches. The park is only an hour and a half drive from Chicago.

The beaches are beautiful and they have even set aside a portion to be dog friendly. Lifeguards can be found overseeing some of the largest beach areas and food service is available.


Caseville County Park Beach Volleyball

Caseville County Beach – Party and Gathering Spot – While you can’t drive on the beach, you can park close enough to get a great view of sunsets or the fireworks shot off the Caseville breakwater pier on July 4th. During the annual Cheeseburger festival, key events such as the cardboard canoe race and the sand sculpture draw large crowds.


Under the Radar, Michigan Visits the Thumb – The PBS Network show “Under the Radar Michigan” visited the Michigan Upper Thumb area during the summer of 2019. To those who love the Thumb, this has been a much-anticipated episode. We offer a glimpse of the highlights.


2020 Could Set New Record Water Levels Across Great Lakes – This monthly update from the Detroit District of the Army Corps of Engineers offers current and forecasted lake water levels of Lakes Michigan-Huron. 2020 looks to be at the cusp of setting historical records of lake levels for all the Great Lakes. This is affecting beaches, marinas, and homeowners along the lakeshore.


Leland Fishtown – Picture Perfect Dockside Village – North of Traverse City to the small scenic slice of the historic Fishtown on the edge of Lake Michigan on the Leland peninsula. Walking the docks is to experience a scene that is over one hundred years in the making.