Before I met Dave, I had never camped. Sure, I went “camping” with the Brownies but we stayed in bunkhouses so that doesn’t really count. Now we camp somewhat regularly, both highly planned, long backpacking trips and short, throw everything in the car and go car camping trips.
Car camping is pretty much what most people call camping. You pile all your stuff in your car, drive right into your campsite and set-up your gear, parking your car in or near your campsite. We make the distinction because we also go cabin camping or backpacking. Backpacking is where you have to carry everything you need on your back. They both have their pros and cons, it just depends on what you want to do and see and what you’re willing to sacrifice.
When we go car camping, we sleep on a queen-sized air mattress with sheets and blankets, but when we go backpacking we sleep in lightweight (but quite warm) down sleeping bags on thin (around 1/2 inches or so), self-inflating sleeping pads. Gear-wise almost everything is different between car camping and backpacking, while we have to worry about how much can fit in our car with car camping, we have to worry how much everything weighs when we go backpacking. But on the other hand, you often get to travel places and see things while backpacking that you most likely would not experience car camping. Backpacking is often more quiet, more secluded, and more rewarding.
I enjoy camping (both car camping and backpacking) because it’s a very relaxing way to vacation. Even when you have to walk 6-10 miles to your next campsite (in the case of backpacking) it’s relaxing! You have plenty of time to read, play games, talk, take photos, see the sites, and just breathe!
We’ve camped at the following Michigan campgrounds:
We prefer rustic campgrounds. Rustic means there are no electrical or water hook-ups, modern bathrooms or showers. There will be a water pump and a couple of outhouses (which are usually very clean) and that’s about it; and that’s the way we like it! Without electrical or water hook-ups there are a lot less campers and RVs at rustic campgrounds, which makes them a lot quieter. Each campground has it’s own personality, so you need to find the one that fits your needs.
We’ve also rented cabins at: the Brighton Recreation Area and the Rifle River Recreation Area. There are DNR campgrounds all over the state as well as cabins, lodges, tepees, yurts and mini cabins available for rent, go reserve a site and explore our great state!
We’ve backpacked at the following Michigan locations:
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
- Isle Royale National Park
I haven’t seen enough of Isle Royale to judge it, but I enjoyed the Porcupine Mountains more than Pictured Rocks. The Porkies has a lot nicer campsites compared to Pictured Rocks and I thought the hiking was more interesting as well. It doesn’t hurt that the Porkies is near some of the best french toast in the state!
So whether you consider yourself a traditional camper or backpacker, just get up and get out there!