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News for January 20, 2022

Unique Michigan Campground Attractions Lure New Campers

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More and more campgrounds are offering unique camp opportunities and programs such as hammocks and goat yoga to draw people to the outdoors, according to a report.

“We are trying to draw that crowd in to stay with us and spend some time in the parks, and we’re trying to diversify what that crowd looks like,” said Christa Sturtevant-Good who is the reservation system specialist for the Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan parks’ visitor rates have increased by 30 percent in the last year.

Hipcamp is an online marketplace that connects private landowners to campers. The company has seen booking numbers increase by 252 percent from 2019 until 2021.

Hipcamp sites are spread across America, Canada, and Australia, creating a network with hundreds of thousands of camping sites and is a popular choice in the Great Lakes region.

“It’s a true reflection of the abundance of natural beauty in the region,” Carolina Mejia Erazo, a public relations agent for the company, said.

“We aim to continue to get more people outside to appreciate the value of the region’s nature and the importance of protecting its natural resources,” she said.

Hipcamps provide additional services at participating spots.

In Michigan, a campground offers goat yoga. It’s an old-fashioned yoga class outdoors, with goats grazing around, making the participants experience a more intimate connection to the environment.

There are many other attractions such as horseriding or indulging in home-cooked, farm-to-table meals.

Grace’s Blueberry Orchard, a campsite located in DeWitt close to Lansing, has been part of Hipcamp for the past two years. It’s the result of what proprietor Israel Ramos called a “COVID project.”

The property is seven acres and offers enough space for peace and privacy. While the property is remote, it’s also perfect for campers, vans, tents, and truck campers.

The shortness of the picking season doesn’t stop “blueberry orchard camping” from being the sole reason for its existence.

Its closeness to Lansing is what has drawn in many people, as per Ramos.

“There’s a lot of professionals that are enjoying nature more than they are the hotel life,” Ramos said. “These elements go beyond COVID.”

COVID impacted outdoor interest, which is evident in the dramatic rise in camping visits.

“COVID kind of slowed life down for us in many ways,” said Sturtevant-Good of the DNR. “I think a lot of folks took advantage of that and got outside and realized what they’ve been missing.”

Both private and public campground owners have expanded the definition of camping to attract more campers and have had success in diversifying the archetypes of the traditional camper.

State parks in Michigan increased camping options thanks to the assistance of surveys from visitors, Sturtevant-Good said. Outdoor recreational opportunities have increased recently, as has the flow of traffic.

For instance, Ionia Recreation Area has what is referred to as reimagined mini-cabins with amenities designed to please people who call themselves glampers or the modern lodge patron.

Wilderness State Park, just five miles to the west of Mackinaw City, has a picturesque stretch near waters that is now offering camping in tents with an “incredible view,” Sturtevant-Good said.

Rustic campers may also have a good time in the hammock-only camping at Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin due to the growing popularity of hammocking.

“It’s something people are starting to gravitate towards, so we wanted to make sure that we had opportunities for those folks,” Sturtevant-Good said.

In August 2021, state parks celebrated their millionth camper night. This was the earliest time they had ever reached the number. Sturtevant-Good expects the numbers to keep rising since people will have time to get back in touch with nature after the outbreak.

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