Gr8LakesCamper: Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in the Great Lakes

August 10, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 42 Comments 

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to our E-mail Digest or RSS Feed. We will then send you the stories that are posted each day in an e-mail digest. We use a service called Feedburner for delivery of these emails. You will receive an e-mail from Feedburner after you subscribe and you must click on that email to activate your subscription. Thanks for visiting and enjoy all the information! RV.Net Blog AdminRecently ABC-TV’s Good Morning America came out with a list of “The Most Beautiful Places in America.” In alphabetical order, the list included:Sleeping Bear Dunes image courtesy of 1. Asheville, North Carolina 2. Aspen, Colorado 3. Cape Cod, Massachusetts 4. Destin, Florida 5. Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Wyoming 6. Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii 7. Newport, Rhode Island 8. Point Reyes, California 9. Sedona, Arizona 10. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan Obviously, all of these places are spectacular. Majestic mountains, sweeping vistas, gorgeous sunsets over water – they all very much deserve to be on such a list. But it got me to thinking: Only one spot from the Great Lakes region? Surely there’s others, right? Where’s Hocking Hills, Ohio … or Door County, Wisconsin … or New River, West Virginia … just to name a few? Obviously, the Great Lakes/Midwest needs its own list. I now invite you to submit your nomination for the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in the Great Lakes.” No rules, no... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Michigan Campgrounds with Available Sites this Holiday Weekend

June 30, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 11 Comments 

Wanna hear a good one? FYI: This is not me nor my wife; pretty sure not my kids either. I’m trying to get a campsite for this coming Fourth of July weekend. I know, I know … why wait till the last minute? To make a long story short, we thought we’d be ferrying my sons to some baseball tournaments this weekend. But too late we were told they only have one game on Friday night, so now it’s a scramble to find a campground with an available campsite. And I’m hoping beyond all hope that these campsites are mostly level, somewhat shaded and not at all close to anyone with a case of firecrackers. That, and clean facilities. I know, I know … you get what you deserve. Fortunately, the Michigan Chapter of the Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds just issued a list of their member campgrounds who have available campsites this weekend. I’m saved, although now all my lectures to my kids about not waiting till the last minute to do their homework/chores/ etc. have been shot to you know where! Campgrounds reporting availability for the holiday weekend include: Beaver Trail Campground, West Branch (989-345-7745) Cedarville RV Park, Cedarville (906-484-3351) Clementz’s Northcountry Campground, Newberry (906-293-8562) Coolwater on the Pine, Wellston (231-862-3481) We have stayed at this campground and it is okay. It is heavily used by... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Michigan campgrounds with available sites for Memorial Day Weekend

May 25, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 7 Comments 

Attention procrastinators: There are plenty of campsites – for tenters, RVers and cabin-dwellers – available at private campgrounds throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas for the upcoming Memorial holiday weekend. Courtesy of ARVC-Michigan, here is a list of campgrounds with available campsites for the Memorial Day weekend: Betsie River Campsite Frankfort 231-352-9535 Cedarville RV Park Cedarville 906-484-3351 Clementz’s Northcountry Campground Newberry 906-293-8562 Coolwater on the Pine Wellston 231-862-3481 Covert/South Haven KOA Covert 269-764-0818 Emmett KOA Emmett 888-562-5612 Flint/Holly KOA Holly 248-634-0803 Gaylord KOA Gaylord 800-562-4146 Greenwood Family Campground Alger 989-345-2778 Higgins Lake KOA Roscommon 989-275-8151 Indian River RV Resort & Campground Indian River 888-792-2267 Insta Launch Campground & Marina Manistee 866-452-8642 Irons RV Park & Campground Irons 231-266-2070 Jellystone Park Grayling 989 348-2157 Kalkaska RV Park & Campground Kalkaska 231-258-9863 Kampvilla RV Park Bear Lake 800-968-0027 Lake Huron... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Michigan DNR delays closing state forest campgrounds

May 16, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 37 Comments 

Good news from the state of Michigan regarding its proposal to close 23 state forest campgrounds: it’s not gonna happen … well, not yet, anyways. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Rodney Stokes recently tabled a director’s order to close 23 state forest campgrounds until the June 9 Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting. The order was eligible for Stokes’ signature at Thursday’s NRC meeting in Flint. My story publicizing the original proposal to close the campgrounds can be found by clicking here. Stokes said he was tabling the order to give DNR staff more time to work on two plans to keep more of the campgrounds open. First, he wants to give DNR staff more time to discuss leasing agreements with local units of government that have expressed an interest in some of the campgrounds targeted for closure. Stokes also wants to give the DNR’s Forest Management Division staff time to work with the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division staff on a joint management agreement for some of the campgrounds. He also announced that the Lime Island State Forest Campground in the St. Marys River near Sault Ste. Marie, on the list for closure, would be transferred to the DNR Parks and Recreation Division to manage. “It is always unfortunate when we have to close campgrounds due to budget cuts and low revenues,” Stokes said. “However, by tabling this order until the June NRC meeting, we buy some time to keep discussing options with local units of... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Q&A with ARVC Michigan’s New Director

May 4, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 7 Comments 

A recent Associated Press story that made the rounds in Michigan suggested that the high cost of gasoline will have a positive impact for campground owners this summer. People can’t afford to take an expensive vacation that includes air travel, hotels, rental cars and restaurants. Instead, they’ll choose to go camping and, furthermore, they won’t travel very far from home to do it. Makes sense to me. A year ago people might not have even taken a vacation. But the economy is slowly coming around, at least enough for people to enjoy more affordable vacations. And camping fits neatly into this category. Reservations at private and state campgrounds in Michigan are up by as much as 18.5 percent over last year, according to the AP article. I would suspect that this trend is not unique to Michigan and would be evident nationwide. I wonder if this means we might just see another RV boom. These people will discover — or, in some cases, rediscover — what we all love about camping with an RV. And if they aren’t camping in an RV, more than a few will look jealously at those of us who are. One of the people quoted in the article was Tracie Fisher, executive director of the Michigan Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds. She said many campers are looking for seasonal options rather than weekend reservations. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with “Tate” via email, and she answered a few questions for me. First of all, congratulations on being named... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Campsite Ticket Scalpers

April 18, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 506 Comments 

Bridal veil falls, Yosemite National ParkFellow RVers, I’d like to start a discussion about scalpers – not ticket scalpers, mind you, but campsite scalpers. I recently came across this news item from The Sacramento Bee, by way of the Associated Press: Yosemite battling pest problem: Ticket-scalpers YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Yosemite National Park has a pest problem: Ticket scalpers who are selling the limited camping reservations at exorbitant prices. Spokesman Scott Gediman tells the Sacramento Bee that park officials are becoming more aggressive as they try to curb scalpers. The nation’s third-most visited park has only 900 reserved campsites available at any given time. They go for $20 a night but scalpers advertising on Craigslist are offering them for $100 or more — sometimes for hundreds of dollars. They’re also selling permits to climb Half Dome, which the park essentially issues for free. Gediman says it appears that some scalpers may have devised ways of jumping the reservation queue, possibly through automated computer programs that can instantly snag cancellations. My only experience with ticket scalpers is at sporting events, where it always seems to be the same guys selling tickets at the same venues, regardless of the game or event taking place. Occasionally I’ll sell or buy an extra ticket, but never more than for face value. I have no experience with this campsite ticket scalping, and was wondering if anyone else does. In addition,... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Michigan DNR looks to close 23 state forest campgrounds

April 7, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 11 Comments 

In a press release issued the same day as a meeting to determine their fate, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that the department wants to close 23 under-performing state forest campgrounds in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. There are 145 state forest campgrounds in Michigan. The proposed closures are due to — what else — budget cuts. The state’s Forest Recreation Program has seen a 63-percent decrease in funding in the last three years. According to the release, the order to close the 23 campgrounds will be submitted as a proposal at today’s Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting in Lansing, and will be eligible for action by DNR Director Rodney Stokes at the NRC’s May 12 meeting in Flint. If approved at the May meeting, the closures would be effective on May 19, 2011. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. today; the State Forest Campground closures is scheduled to be presented at 3 p.m. today. Mary Dettloff, a spokswoman for the Michigan DNR, told me that state officials were very judicious when selecting which state forest campgrounds should close. Only the ones which were least used were targeted, and she said another criteria was whether other state forest campgrounds were nearby, thus offering campers a viable option. These parks were so under-used, Dettloff said there’s no chance the state forest campgrounds which are to remain open, as well as the state park campgrounds, would be over-used. The 23 state... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Are you ready for a good paddling?

April 3, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 5 Comments 

After years of being a canoeing expert – and by expert I mean I’ve canoed about four or five times – the last two summers during our annual Camping & Canoeing Extravaganza I switched to kayaking. A quick aside: Like many, we have an annual trip each summer with a group of family and friends in which we camp, canoe and do our part to stimulate the economy of the local party stores. Ours we call the Camping & Canoeing Extravaganza, and besides my family it also includes my brother-in-law and his family. Our oldest kids also now bring a friend; it’s not too big compared to some groups, but it’s big enough for us. (Click here to read Parts I and II of last year’s monsoon of an Extravaganza.) As I said, I am a canoeing expert. But the last two years of our Extravaganza, I switched to a kayak. So now I am a kayaking expert – and by expert I mean I can zig zag from bank to bank with the best of them. (In all honesty, I found the kayak less likely to tip and much easier to steer.) So it was with collegial eagerness that I was able to rub shoulders with a fellow paddling expert (paddling – that’s what we canoeing/kayaking experts call what we do). And by rub shoulders, I meant I was part of the audience who listened to Doc Fletcher, author of a handful of paddling books on Michigan and Wisconsin rivers. Fletcher was the guest of my local library, and he also happened to be a 1972 graduate of our local high school. So for him... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Gas prices are putting a serious dent in summer plans

March 13, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 559 Comments 

UPDATE: I recently came across this excellent article by Marianne Lavelle for National Geographic News. Lavelle does a good job of explaining the history of gas gouging, and the reasons for it. In a nutshell, the lack of U.S. refineries means a handful of people/businesses can control the prices. I encourage you to read this article. The cost of gas at stations near my home are typically about 15-25 cents cheaper per gallon than those around my in-laws. So, of course, every time I fill up I call my father-in-law to gloat. But the price of gasoline is getting crazy, even around me. This morning it topped $3.50 per gallon. I realize it’s more expensive in other areas, but – as they say – it’s all relative. What’s worse, “experts” say the cost will only climb higher as the summer driving season approaches, turmoil in oil-producing countries escalates and any number of other reasons these people usually roll out at times like these. Regardless of the reasons why they’re on the way up, the price of gas is serious business for RVers. For most of us, this can’t help but affect our travel plans this summer. As for my family, we’ll either be heading out to campgrounds closer to home, or not camping as much as we’d like, or a combination of the both. Other circumstances will factor in for us – two kids are going to camp for a week or two, and the third will likely be playing baseball well into July – but the fact remains gas prices will be putting a serious... Read more

Gr8LakesCamper: Detroit Camper & RV Show reports huge attendance

March 7, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 17 Comments 

Thought I might pass along this bit of good news. The 45th Annual Detroit Camper & RV Show experienced its best show in 10 years. The show, which ran from Feb. 16-20 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, recorded 18,400 attendees — a 12 percent increase from the 2010 show. The show was sponsored by the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC). Saturday alone saw over 9,000 attendees, making it the busiest day in MARVAC RV show history. According to Bill Sheffer, director of MARVAC, show visitors lined up on Saturday before the show opened, with strong ticket sales continuing all day. I was able to attend the show on its opening day – more later on why I wasn’t able to go other days – and personally saw a ton of people going in and out of the 280 RVs on display. I was also able to talk to several of the RV dealers both that day and more recently, after the show was over and they had time to recuperate. Many reported customers looking for smaller, lightweight and more fuel-efficient RVs. “Buyers are back,” said Victoria Rokas of Vicars Trailer Sales in Taylor. “Customers were upbeat, positive and confident about purchasing an RV as they look for more value for their dollar.” “Overwhelming” was the word used by another dealer, Tim O’Brien of Circle ‘K’ RV in Lapeer. “All our salespeople were so busy.” O’Brien said the record number of people attending the show – and... Read more

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