Continuing our trek north I must tell the tale of 2 very different park experiences. As I’ve mentioned, traveling during the summer months presents challenges finding spots. Thus far we like sticking to state parks over private campgrounds mostly due to costs. I have yet to check availability at other types of campgrounds but my guess is they are mostly full.
When I selected our next spot it was based on availability and location along our travels north. Wilson State Park is where we landed. This state park is located in Harrison MI. The park itself sits on the northwestern portion of Budd Lake, a 175 acre lake. I was excited to have the opportunity to go kayaking with our campsite onsite. However, that did not happen for a variety of reasons. Here is the story of Wilson State Park.
I must start off by saying, I’m not sure why it is classified as a state park. It’s a 36 acre wooded area with 160 campsites. And it’s located right off of business highway 127, so plenty of traffic noise. There is a small beach area with two tiers, a lower and upper beach. Unfortunately we were unable to use the beach area as they do not allow dogs. The park itself sets up high above the lake, leaving only the beach and 2 stairways as access to the water. The day we arrived the beach was closed due to an algae bloom. With no trails we got our exercise by walking around the campground each evening with Josie.
We selected a site that backed up to the water but our view of the lake was on the opposite side of the awning set-up. Nice view out the slide-out window and back bedroom window. This site was the most difficult to level our rig so far. Many of the sites here are unlevel and take some maneuvering. We leveled out the best we could.
Basically our four days were spent getting some work done and taking Josie for walks around the campground each evening. I found a local produce market in town with great prices and plenty of fresh produce. Plus we had lunch at Jack Pine’s restaurant that had delicious food (the sign below was in their bathroom). And we had our first fire in quite some time, possibly since May sometime (can’t remember the last time to be honest)
Our overall stay was fine, campground was what it was, a place to park and plug in. Thus far my least favorite stop.
For the weekend I selected a state forest campground about an hour and half north. This would be our last stop before crossing the Mighty Mac into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I knew little of the campground except it was remote and on a small lake in norther Michigan. This campground is located outside of Vanderbilt, MI. With little expectations we continued north for our weekend stay. Here is the story of Pickerel State Forest Campground.
I must say, this is what I was looking for in terms of camping. A completely different experience from Wilson State Park. And it was. All the sites here (and most of Michigan’s state forest campgrounds) are first come, first served. No reservations are accepted. Perfect for us. They are also primitive sites, no electric hook-ups but with a generator onboard we were covered. The campground is located off of a 3 mile long dirt road, it’s remote. Little to no road noise here. Upon arrival we drove around the campground to select our site, of which there were many to choose from.
The sites here are spacious with plenty of separation between neighbors. My kind of camping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a social butterfly but I also love my solitude. This was my happy place. But it gets even better. With lake access in close proximity to our campsite we were able to inflate our kayaks and transport them via car and back. Leaving them inflated to dry and for use the next day.
The lake did not disappoint. It is a small but beautiful lake with a large sandbar going out a ways into the lake. This was ideal for Josie to run, splash and play, not to mention her humans. The water was clear with a nice sandy bottom. We were able to kayak and enjoy the peace and serenity of this secluded treasure. We spent one afternoon kayaking to the other side where there was another sandbar area. Josie got out to play. The three of us enjoyed the afternoon spent on the lake on what seemed like our own private area of the lake, as most everyone else was swimming near the launch area. Just us and nature, truly my happy place.
It was an unexpected wonderful gem of a place. After our experience at this state forest campground, they are now on my radar of places to look for. With no reservations accepted they fit us wonderfully. This is what we envisioned when we set out on this full time RV living adventure. While we were here we discussed ways to get into a beginning solar setup that won’t break the bank to allow us to be more off grid.
Between these two experiences I must say the Pickerel SFC won by a landslide. Here is a quick comparison of the two.
|WILSON STATE PARK||PICKEREL STATE FOREST CAMPGROUND|
|WATER AVAILABLE||Yes||Yes (via a hand well pump)|
|LAKE ACCESS||Via beach only – no pets||Open access – pets welcome|
|REMOTE||No – next to a busy road||Yes, via dirt road access|
|SECLUDED SITES||No – open and close to neighbors||Yes, large sites with separation|
|INTERNET AVAILABILITY||Yes – no problem getting a signal||Yes, surprisingly we could get some service here|
|TOILETS/SHOWERS||Yes, both||No, vault toilets only|
|RESERVATIONS||Accepted – booked up on weekends||No, plenty of sites open on weekends|