Winter camping offers lots of options

The solitude of the woods in winter offers campers plenty of cross-country skiing options.

The solitude of the woods in winter offers campers plenty of cross-country skiing options.

GENESEE COUNTY — Area state parks and recreation areas are brimming with campers throughout the summer months. What many may not realize, is that winter season can give an entirely different camping and recreation experience.

While tent camping is always open to diehards, in the winter months rustic cabins, yurts and camper cabins can help outdoor lovers stave off the elements while enjoying recreation only available during the winter months such as snoeshoeing, crosscountry skiing and hiking.

Michigan’s campgrounds open in the winter that have full electricity include Tahquamenon Falls, Fort Custer, Waterloo Recreation Area-Portage, Bay City, Algonac, Rifle River, Ludington, Traverse City, Mitchell and North Higgins. All also have modern heated restrooms.

Rustic cabins that are located on quiet, isolated sites can accommodate a single camper looking for solitude or can also fit up to 24 people. The cabins offer single beds or bunks with mattresses, a table, chairs, brooms, and a propane heater or wood stove for heat. Campers will have to provide some necessary items such as bedding, cookware, lanterns, a First-Aid kit, ax or handsaw, and flashlights. One major difference in the rustic cabins is the lack of electricity.

Rustic campers can find sites available at: Bald Mountain, Brighton, Cheboygan, Fort Custer, Fort Wilkins, Harrisville, Hartwick Pines, Holly, Island Lake, McLain, Ortonville, Porcupine Mountains, Rifle River, Sleeper, Van Riper, Waterloo, Wells and Wilderness.

Smaller than rustic cabins, the mini campers available at some parks are oneroom, but most have electricity. Mini-cabins can accommodate four people with bunk beds and mattresses provided. Again, campers must provide all bedding, cookware and tableware. A First-Aid kit, lanterns, flashlight, ax or handsaw and a portable cook stove are recommended. Campers can find mini cabins at: Bay City, Fort Custer, Fort Wilkins, Harrisville, Ludington, McLain, Mitchell, Muskegon, N. Higgins Lake, P.J. Hoeft, Port Crescent, Sleeper, Tawas Point and Traverse City.

For those looking for a more common summer-like cabin, the state also offers camper cabins that can accommodate up to six people with two sets of bunk beds in their own rooms and a futon in the main living area. These larger cabins also offer a front deck to enjoy the sunrise or sunset over the lakes. These cabins also are fully electric with fridge and microwaves provided. Visitors supply their own bedding, dishes and cookware. Camper cabins can be booked at: Fort Wilkins, Holland, Mitchell, Pinckney, Port Crescent, Proud Lake, Tawas Point, Van Riper and Waterloo-Portage.

Cabin not large enough for your needs? Lodges are open throughout the winter at different parks including Fayette, Grand Haven, Highland, P.J. Hoeft, Porcupine Mountains, Proud Lake, Tahquamenon Falls, Traverse City, Twin Lakes and Wells. The lodge varies at each location but generally can fit anywhere from six-24 people and are fully furnished with full bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms and some even have a washer and dryer and linen service.

Three parks offer yurt sites. Yurts are sturdy, tent-like structures that originated in central Asia say state parks officials. They offer a new adventure in camping providing visitors with a snug, weather tight shelter that is close to all available winter activities. Yurts can be reserved at Craig Lake, Pinckney and Porcupine Mountains. To reserve any of the above, call 1-800-447-2757 or go to To reserve a lodge you have to call the individual park. Regardless of which venue you choose, campers are reminded that smoking and pets are prohibited in all state-owned buildings, unless they are a service animal.

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