|Winter campers enjoy their coffee outside the Green Lake Yurt |
at Waterloo Recreation Area. (DNR photos)
Most people consider camping at Michigan state parks and recreation areas a three-season activity. Who really wants to pitch a tent when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and the thermometer reads well below freezing?
But folks who want to get away from it all in the winter have a plethora of options at numerous state parks and recreation areas that don’t involve sleeping out in the elements.
State parks and recreation areas across Michigan (managed by the Department of Natural Resources) offer lodges, cabins, mini-cabins or yurts that’ll give you a warm place to spend the night when there aren’t a lot of other campers around. There also is a wide variety of recreational opportunities available all winter long.
A total of 13 state parks feature lodges, though only 12 are available for rent in the winter. State park lodges all are unique; they vary in size, age, amenities and design, though all feature kitchens and bathrooms. Costs vary, too, depending on each lodge’s location and accommodations.
The lodge at Grand Haven State Park, for instance, is 1,600 square feet, sleeps eight and boasts two bathrooms. It rents for $210 a night, $225 a night on weekends. The Furnace Hill Lodge at Fayette Historic Park was built in 1970, sleeps 10, and rent starts at $100 a night. Bass Lake Lodge at Highland Recreation Area features a foosball table and TV/DVD player, sleeps six, and rents for as little as $80. The lodge at Hoeft State Park, which features three bedrooms and sleeps eight, is a 1920s-style Sears and Roebuck catalog home, and rents for $130 a night.
|The living room at Furnace Hill Lodge at Fayette State Park |
offers all the comforts of home.
“If you’re looking for a getaway for a couple of families, lodges are perfect,” said Maia Turek, a recreation programmer with the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “In the winter, you can go to parks like Grand Haven that are booked up the rest of the year.”
|Furnace Hill Lodge at Fayette State Park boasts a modern kitchen.|
Some are quite unique. The cabin at Harrisville State Park, which overlooks Lake Huron, was built in 1952 and boasts a dining table and benches made of cherry wood from a tree in the park that was felled by a storm.
Rental rates vary for rustic cabins depending on the park, but expect to pay from $49 to $86 a night.
Modern cabins, with kitchens and bathrooms, are available at Holly Recreation Area (they’re currently being refurbished) and Ionia Recreation Area.
Smaller, mini-cabins, which are less expensive, are available at many parks. They offer fewer amenities, but Turek said they do have “a heater, a microwave, a coffee maker and beds so you’re not sleeping on the floor.”
Mini-cabins are cozy, designed to sleep four on bunk beds with mattresses. Campers should bring their own bedding (or sleeping bags) and their own cooking utensils and dinnerware. Nightly rents begin at $39. Some 60 mini-cabins are available at 36 state parks and recreation areas.
|Yurts, like this one at Waterloo Recreation Area, offer a |
unique alternative to other winter camping facilities.
“If you’re looking for a winter adventure – if you want to do something unique and different – staying in a yurt is the way to go,” Turek said.
“It’s rustic, but there’s a restroom nearby, though not all of them have running water,” she said. “It’s really just a warm place to rest. And you’re not sleeping on the ground – they’re equipped with bunk beds.”
|Yurts offer a cozy interior with |
bunk beds or futons for campers.
“At Craig Lake State Park, you probably have to ski in or snowshoe in,” Turek said. “It’s a 16-foot-diameter yurt with bunk beds, mattresses, and an axe and a bow saw. If you want to get away from the world, that’s where you would go.”
Yurts rent for $60 or $65 a night.
The DNR Parks and Recreation Division is constantly reviewing user trends to make sure the facilities that campers want are available, Turek said. State parks and recreation areas are likely to build more yurts in the future, she said, as they become increasingly popular.
For more information on winter camping at state parks and recreation areas, visit www.michigan.gov/stateparks. To make reservations, visit www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS, though reservations for lodges are made at individual parks.