Travels with Charley

The cool camping blog. Trying to find gear, supplies, adventure and activities for the 21st century camper.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Destinations - In Praise of Rustic Campgrounds

I'm not much of a backpacker.  I suspect that I will be forced into backpack camping someday, but until then, the closest I have come is rustic camping at Michigan State Forest Campgrounds .  We just tent camped at a horse camp in the Sleeping Bear area of Michigan, after finding the National Park rustic camp full.  What was amazing was, that in about 50 sites, there were FOUR campers.  The state charges $3 per person.  So for 2 people that amounts to $6 a night, for a natural wooded setting.  Other parks have a flat $10 fee.  If we had explored the whole campground at first we could have parked right next to a lake, all by ourselves, as well.

These camps are similiar to the Corp of Engineer camps.   They are completely undeveloped, no utilities, no offices, no pavement with a hand operated water pump and usually vault toilets.  Campsites will be cleared of brush and woods, but not mowed and often not marked.  There will be roads but in some cases may not be suitable for all campers and RVs.  They are often associated with a river, lake or trail of some form.  Here's one on Lake Huron in Michigan:

Ossineke State Forest Campground:   42 sites for tent and small trailer use spaced out generously along Lake Huron. Facilities include a day use area with tables and grill, sandy beaches , and a barrier-free boardwalk out to Lake Huron.

And for $10 a night!  No reservations and I bet you could drive up there Friday night and get a prime spot.  I have also visited the mouth of the Big Two-hearted River SF Campground and it is a knockout, 30 sites right where the river meets Lake Superior and there were about 8 campsites taken.  The beauty of some of these camps cannot be overstated.

National Forests also offer rustic campsites too.  For instance, there is one on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, that is right on the water.  Click over to the national map and drill down to the location you want to visit.

If you camp with an RV, or have just never gotten off of the beaten path, I suggest you give public rustic campgrounds a try.  They are often times undiscovered gems and you may just find a secret spot all to yourself.

Other links to find public camps include:
US Army Corps of Engineers


  • At 12:42 AM, Blogger Yvette said…

    Thanks so much for the tip on Michigan State Forest camping. I have been trying to figure out what to do with my big family and the state parks in MI which have tent restrictions which would require us to get three sites! I think the state forests will be the answer!


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