We enjoyed our stay at Mackinac Island. I am guessing we will be back even just for a day trip since it is quite a relaxing place. So relaxing that we are making a slow exit (that seems like the theme of this tour!)
But for now we picked up the Jeepney and fortunately did not find our clothes scattered all over the parking lot. I think the fact that the Jeepney is covered by mud is an effective deterrent. The plan for the day is to make our way to Sleeping Bear National Park and then drive further south to find a dispersed camp site close to Nordhouse Dunes by the Manistee National Forest.
Sleeping Bear National Park
It is hard to go wrong if you go to a place named the “Most Beautiful Place in America”. I don’t know how they voted for it or if there were any Russian meddling but it is what is. We plotted our way to Sleeping Bear hoping for the fastest route. We grabbed lunch at tasty lunch at McDonald’s to eat while on the road.
We went thru Traverse City which looks like the happening town. Beaches, restaurants, boats, and hotels everywhere. I didn’t expect all that, but anyways, we’ve had enough share of our crowd so we pushed thru. Plus there isn’t any parking available.
We made it to Sleeping Bear and the first order of business is to stop by D.H. Day Campground to see if I can grab a spot (first-come-first-serve) for the night. Well it was filling up quick but thankfully I was able to grab a spot. This works out nice since we really want to spend more time in Sleeping Bear. We marked our site and proceeded to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Something about sand dunes attract me. I was probably a nomad in my previous life. I’ve gone to Colorado twice and both times we made sure to go to the Great Sand Dunes National Park where my wife and I did our first 4-wheeling and remote camping. Here we are at the base of the dune, and from a distance the people walking the dune looked like ants. Shortly, we are now part of that colony.
After a hike in the dunes, we headed over to the beach to relax. We made our way back to camp to have our dinner and get some rest. The campground was full but it was pretty quiet so it was a very pleasant night for us.
The next day, we started making our way south with the hopes of stopping by Ludington State Park before finally heading south to Warren Dunes State Park. On the way we decided to check out the dispersed campsite that we were originally planning for the previous night. It turned out that the trail is a an “established” dispersed sites, there were a lot of turn outs and most of them are actually pretty nice. We decided to stop for lunch.
We ended up enjoying the spot too much so it’s time to leave this spot. We decided to skip Ludington State Park and just go straight for Warren Dunes. We should get there with enough time to enjoy the beach.
So we arrived at Warren Dunes and proceeded to campsite check-in. One thing for sure is that these guys are very serious about letting you know that there is No Alcohol allowed — to the point that is hilarious.
We followed the ranger’s directions to site #22. We found ourselves in the “Modern Campground” which I can only describe as a campground from hell. It was like a shanty town, it was crowded, and you have zero privacy, it was like a scene from _name your zombie movie here_. This was the worst camp site EVER!!!
I pulled my phone and looked back online to make sure that I have the right campground since I recall I did not reserve a spot in the “Modern Campground”. Big sigh of relief, I actually reserved a semi-modern spot. We got out of the area quick and made our way to semi-modern. It was good enough to spend the night over and not worry about zombies.
The afternoon was really hot and it was a great time to get in the water so we headed for the beach.
We got hit by storm overnight, in fact there was a bit of campground flooding so RTT FTW! We packed up immediately the next morning as the clouds are really starting to get really ominous. We met the rest of the heavy rain on the freeway, and we sure took advantage of the free car wash.
We arrived at Chicago around noon and we asked the boys to decide what we are going to do in Chicago. They chose the Shedd Aquarium — great choice and we ended up pretty much spending the rest of the afternoon in there. Well that was tiring.
We decided that we are driving straight home. It is going to be a 6-hr drive so this should be pretty easy. And to be honest, the Warren Dunes camp experience pretty much killed our enthusiasm to camp for another night!
All in all, it was a great way to close out our tour with something fun and interesting for my two boys. A few days later after we got home, I asked them what are their best memories of our tour and this is what they have to say.
- Dispersed Campsites on the Beach
- Shedd Aquarium
- Mackinac Island
It felt great that we were able to have a good variety for the whole family to enjoy. We will be planning to be back for sure, although this time we will likely spend more time in the UP and the Pictured Rocks.