Hipcamp is officially live in the Great Lakes region (OH, IN, IL, MN, and MI)! To coincide with the launch, we’re highlighting Voyagers in the corresponding states to see what’s up in their neck of the woods. If this post inspires you to get outside, check out our Wander The Water giveaway, running from 6/16/15-6/30/15 to win a boat camping trip, inflatable SUP, and $2k in outdoor gear!
This post was written by Hipcamp Voyager, Shalee Blackmer about… her love of Michigan! Read on:
We’re shaped like a mitten, have thousands of miles of beaches and coastline, hidden camping gems, daring adventures, and there is more to us than Detroit—shocking!
Non-Michiganders often don’t realize that we are one giant outdoorsman’s dream. Although we are known for our biggest city, Detroit, many don’t realize that this accounts for a very small portion of the state. We have two peninsulas, the Lower Peninsula which consists of the most populated areas and sandy beaches. Then there’s the Upper Peninsula, known for its mountains, rocky shorelines and lack of cities.
To drive from the southern Lower Peninsula to northern Upper Peninsula it takes over 10 hours. If that doesn’t prove how much there is to explore, I don’t know what will!
From cliff jumping along Lake Superior, mountain biking on Mackinac Island or surfing at Sleeping Bears Dunes National Lakeshore, any adventurer can find bliss here.
Backwoods camping is huge in this state. The hiking trails run for miles in every direction and many places are located along the stunning shores of the Great Lakes, where campers can enjoy a sunrise or sunset without another soul for miles.
If I had to say one thing about Michigan—it’s that sunsets here are magical. I’ve traveled from Australia to Hawaii to California, and no one compares.
The best way to introduce you to the Midwest is by welcoming you to Sleeping Bear Dunes, also known by Good Morning America as the most beautiful place in the United States. Located along the northern coastline of the Lower Peninsula, it hold miles sand dunes lining the Lake Michigan shoreline which tower above the water over 600 feet.
Ancient Michigan legends say that a mother bear and two cubs attempted to swim across Lake Michigan. The two cubs could not make it to shore and instead created North and South Manitou Islands. When the mother bear reached the beach, she waited for her cubs until the day she died. Her body then formed the dunes, explaining where the name Sleeping Bears Dunes originated.
A surprising fact to non-Midwestern’s is that the Great Lakes are so big you cannot see across them. From the shorelines, it looks more like an ocean instead of a giant lake. Boat ports and harbors line the coastlines with one exception—we have no worries of sharks! At night, you can see the flickers of lighthouses down the shore and freighters carrying cargo to their destination.
Sometimes waves come through that are large enough to be a playground for surfers. That’s right folks, you can surf on the Great Lakes. If you surf in general, I can tell you surfing Lake Michigan is going to be a challenge. If waves are good you will continually be pounded by the force, because here this is no such thing as an ocean swell or breaks between sets.
We call everywhere above the mid-Lower Peninsula “Up North”, and to us Up North is the equivalent to heaven. This is wearing reality fades, the tents pop up and the adventures start.
Small log cabins and thousands of fire pits are waiting to listen to stories and hear the sounds of an old guitar. Because the area is so unpopulated, it has some of the best star viewing in the world. Located on the tip of the Lower Peninsula is an International Dark Sky Park, one of only six in the world. Nothing beats dreaming over the Milky Way.
Have I forgot to mention the hundreds of islands? Most of them unpopulated and some with nothing but a campground. It’s perfect if you’re seeking the “I’m marooned on an island” experience. This includes the previously-mentioned North and South Manitou Islands.
I could continue discussing Michigan’s adventure highlights for days. Instead of doing that, I’ll just let you ponder at the Michigan Map which highlights just some (there could be a million more) of the best campgrounds, adventure spots and outdoor areas around the state.
Welcome to the Midwest! Prepare to be amazed.
Words by Shalee Blackmer
Shalee is an adventurer, travel blogger and adrenaline enthusiast who is often found sleeping on beaches, hanging off cliffs and camping under the stars. She invites you to connect with her on her site www.shaleewanders.com!