Increase in Winter Tourism Causes Michigan’s Muskegon State Park To Open 20 Rustic Campsites for Public Use

Night camping in the mountains.
The Midwest has experienced some of the coldest temperatures and heaviest snowfalls during the 2014-2015 winter season, but that hasn’t stopped Michigan residents from going outside and staying active. In fact, according to a recent announcement from the Muskegon State Park, about 20 campsites will remain open for public use during the remainder of the winter season.

According to MLive.com, the State Park association decided to open the campsites “after the discovery [that] there was a niche market for tourists interested in camping while hiking park trails, or skiing, skating, or luging at the Winter Sports Complex [in Muskegon].”

Three years ago, a representative from the Muskegon State Park explained, one family from Canada asked if they could stay at the park during the winter; the State Park obligated, and reportedly plowed away snow from an area so the family could vacation there.

Last year, the State Park decided to open its gates during the winter months once again — this time inviting more visitors to stay in the park — and the information traveled quickly by word of mouth.

This season, however, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources made an official announcement at the end of January 2015 that the park would be open again during the winter months, and that 20 campsites would be available for public use.

Considering that about 67% of campers prefer to stay in public parks during the warmer months, opening just 20 individual site seemed like a reasonable decision for Muskegon — and it appears that the majority of the “rustic” campsites, suitable for both tents and trailers, are snatched up quickly on any given weekend.

Winter camping certainly isn’t for everyone, and officials from the park even note that it requires “some pre-planning,” especially for any visitors planning on staying in tents.

But it might come as a surprise that winter camping is actually a fairly common, and even enjoyable outdoor winter activity for many people. As Erika Sherk has explained in the Edmonton Journal recently, that little bit of pre-planning is definitely worth an ultra-affordable weekend of winter sports and beautiful scenery. Plus, Sherk notes, there isn’t just onetype of winter camping; everything from Muskegon’s “rustic campsites” to heated lodges (with indoor plumbing!) can count as winter camping.

Winter camping certainly isn’t for everyone, but at a mere $18 per night at the Muskegon State Park — and at similar prices in public parks across the country — this activity might just be worth a shot.

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