Michigan State Park Camping Fees To Increase In 2015

Michigan State Park Camping Fees To Increase In 2015

Petoskey State Park Camping

A campsite at Petoskey State Park

This week the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced plans to raise the camping fees at its state parks for the upcoming season. Popular campgrounds like Petoskey and Grand Haven will see a $4 per night increase, while other parks will see increases of $2 or $1 depending on popularity in use. While most of the early reaction to this story was negative, these fee increases were long overdue and will help meet growing infrastructure needs in the coming years.

Little Sable Point Light at Silver Lake State Park

Little Sable Point Light at Silver Lake State Park

Fees had not been raised since 2006 and 2008 prior to this increase, so it can easily be said that this move was long overdue. Michigan State Park camping continues to be an amazing deal, especially when compared to private campgrounds that are significantly more expensive and may offer more modern convenience but less natural beauty. Projects like restroom and trail upgrades are needed at many parks, and the money has to come from somewhere. With the recent addition of state parks at Belle Isle (Detroit), Piers Gorge (Upper Peninsula) and Lime Island (St. Mary’s River) our state continues to have some of the most beautiful parks in the nation. Maintaining those parks isn’t easy or cheap, and I’ll go on record as saying I have no problem paying a couple dollars more per night to stay at one of them.

JW Wells State Park Upgrades

The restrooms and showers at J.W. Wells State Park in the Upper Peninsula were recently upgraded.

The Michigan Recreation Passport continues to be one of the best values in the country, yet not even 30 percent of Michiganders opt in when renewing their license plates. Currently, $11 gets you in to any and all state parks for an entire year. For comparison’s sake, when we’ve vacationed in Wisconsin we’ve paid as much as $10 for a single day at one park! A KOA campsite in Canada cost us almost $45 for one night, and was half the size of any we’ve had in Michigan. On our Lake Superior Circle Tour trips the last few years, we’ve watched as some of their Provincial Parks have continued to decline – Pigeon River PP, for example, now looks like a small ghost town despite being in a beautiful setting with large waterfalls, rich history and miles of hiking trails. That’s something I’d never want to see happen here in Michigan.

Pigeon River PP

Pigeon River Provincial Park, Canada, 2012

With camping season only a few months away, it’s time to take a look at what Michigan state parks have to offer. They may not have cable hookups or mini-golf courses like their privately-owned counterparts, but they offer better scenery while still maintaining some modern convenience. What do you think, readers? Are you supportive of this increase? Will it change any of your travel plans for the coming year?

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