Port Crescent State Park, a 640-acre park along the coast of Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay, is one of Michigan's most scenic parks and the perfect destination for your next RV family vacation. The park rests on the tip of the thumb of Michigan, offering three miles of sandy beaches to explore. After getting your recreation passport and setting up camp, you can take part in one of the many nature programs offered, take a dip in the lake, go fishing, or just enjoy the lake from your boat. If you visit in the off-season, there are still plenty of things to do. Try stargazing, hiking, wildlife watching, cross-country skiing, or even snowshoeing in the winter months.
The geological and cultural history of the park stretches back hundreds of years, as the park was once in a busy, lumber-centric area in the 1800s. However, after multiple fires devastated the region, the citizens fled and took their homes and businesses elsewhere, leaving little behind in the town that was once Port Crescent. Visitors to the park can still see remnants of the brick mill chimney and an old steel bridge that testify of the town's former presence. The naturally formed sand dunes in the park provide an excellent opportunity to learn about geology and ecology, as well as creating a great wildlife observation area. No matter what you choose to do during your RV getaway to Port Crescent State Park, you definitely won't be bored for a second.
About two and a half hours north of Detroit, just outside of Port Austin, and bordering Lake Huron in the Saginaw Bay, Port Crescent State Park is easy to find. The roads inside the park have some tight turns and some of them are a little worn down, but as long as you use extra caution, it should be fine. Many of the trails in the park are on different ends of the park, and there is no major trail connecting them, so if you don't want to hike along M-25 just to get from one trail to another, you should probably bring an extra car with you on your RV stay. You can tow a car with your RV for no extra charge, and this makes getting from one end of the park to the other a breeze. Bringing an extra car also makes navigating the smaller paved roads within the park easier, and many visitors recommend it. If you're going in the winter, be sure to bring a pair of cross-country skis as well since it's easily the most fun way to get around some of the trails.
There are a number of areas for parking, even for RVs, around the park including near the park office and boardwalk. Of course, your best bet is to park at the campground if you are staying overnight.
Port Crescent Campground is open for overnight stays from April to October and features over 140 individual modern sites. All sites have electric hookups, and some are full hookup sites. Electric service is 20-, 30-, or 50-amp, depending on the site. RVs and trailers up to 50 feet in length can be accommodated.
The campground is practically on the beach and many sites are waterfront, whether it's adjacent to Saginaw Bay or the Old Pinnebog River channel. Even if your site is not directly waterfront, they are all a very short walk from the beach and there are several beach access points you can use. Nearby foot trails can also be easily accessed from the campground as well.
Reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Most sites are level and some are fully in the sun, while others are protected by the shade of majestic trees. You can enjoy a relaxing picnic at your campsite at the picnic table provided.
Campers can stay up to 15 consecutive nights and up to two vehicles are allowed at each site if there is enough room. Some of the sites are a bit tight. Any additional vehicles will have to be parked in the nearby parking lot.
Although reservations are recommended at Port Crescent Campground, you may find it possible to get a spot without one. Campsites that are not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you've been wanting to try cross-country skiing, Port Crescent is the place to be. During the winter months, when snow falls heavily on the park, cross-country skiing is allowed on certain trails. Seven miles of groomed, relatively flat trails are awaiting your winter RV expedition. Not only are these trails well-tended and without major obstructions, but they also offer one of the best ways to see winter wildlife in the park. You will need a park pass to ski, and no rentals are available on-site, so you'll have to bring your own skis and gear, but you'll be glad you did. After a few hours on the trails, head back to your trailer to warm up before setting out again.
The park is open even through the winter months, but the campgrounds will be closed until April. Don't worry; there are plenty of places to park the RV for a day pass, and the surrounding area has a plethora of cabins and camping options to choose from.
Junior astronomers of all ages will be glad to discover that Port Crescent State Park is designated as a Dark Sky Park, which means it is far enough from any outside light source that might interfere with seeing the stars at night. Dark Sky Parks are known for having very low light pollution, making the stars seem especially bright and close up. As long as the night is clear, winter is an especially good time for stargazing in Michigan, as you may just get to see a glimpse of the northern lights. In addition to the northern lights, Port Crescent State Park is the ideal place to witness astrological events such as meteor showers, eclipses, and your favorite constellations, making your off-season RV vacation one to remember.
Although hunters can tag a white-tailed deer during the fall season, Port Crescent State Park is known for its bird hunting opportunities. In early September, hunters will see Canadian geese as they migrate through the park, as well as a wide variety of legal waterfowl to hunt. Turkey hunting is another popular activity during the off-season. Make sure to check with Michigan Wildlife Management for in-season dates and licensing requirements. Hunting is only allowed on specific dates, so plan your trip to Port Crescent State Park accordingly.
The Great Lakes attract all kinds of birds, and Lake Huron is no exception. The Saginaw Bay area is home to mallards, egrets, terns, black-crowned night herons, goldeneyes, and even tundra swans. Visitors can go online and print out a list of birds in the region and see how many they can spot. Identifying species of birds is an art as well as a science, so you may want to bring a camera in case you're not sure what you're looking at in order to look them up at a later time. A nice set of binoculars is a good choice to pack when visiting the bay in the autumn months, as the migration of several species is in full swing.
Summertime in Michigan is not complete without a beach picnic in the park. Several picnic tables and shelters are available throughout the park, some conveniently located near the Pinnebog River, where you can enjoy the peaceful sound of babbling water while you relax. Or for a more active lunch, head to the boardwalk adjacent to the bay. There's always plenty of activity on the boardwalk with five decks for picnicking that overlook the water from several feet above.
After lunch, walk off the calories along the boardwalk and watch the kids splash in the bay. The picnic areas have vault toilets nearby, so all you have to worry about is bringing the food. Picnicking outside the RV is a great way to enjoy a meal while basking in the serenity of nature all around you.
RV visitors to Port Crescent State Park can't leave without soaking up some sun beach-side. The park boasts three miles of shoreline, so you can pick a spot and have a lazy family beach day if you choose. Vacations are for relaxing, and this beach is the perfect place for the whole family, whether you're looking to splash in the waves, build sandcastles, or work on your summer tan while enjoying a good book. The beach has several access points near the campground, so your beach paradise is never far away. Don't forget the sunscreen!
The various hiking trails throughout the park can be a great way to get up close and personal with all of the nature that surrounds you. A few scenic overlooks can even be found along the trails, providing breathtaking views of the bay and park. The Port Crescent Loop Trail circles the park without nearing the water and its terrain isn't too rigorous, making it suitable for every member of the family. There are several small trails jutting off of it that will lead you to the shore.
You can hike all seven miles of trails in one day, or take your time and enjoy them over the course of your entire RV stay. Bring your camera along because you may see some wildlife while you are out. It's possible to see white-tailed deer, foxes, beavers, and river otters in the park, in addition to a wide variety of birds and fish.
An extra long fishing dock along the Pinnebog River provides the perfect setting to spend a sunny afternoon with your rod. Although the bay area is reserved for beach use, there are plenty of spots along the river where you can cast out your line and see what you reel in. Visitors often have luck in the shallow river using worms or minnows to catch fish such as carp, catfish, small and largemouth bass, crappie, and sunfish.
Fly fishing is also popular on the river, so if you tie your own flies, make sure to bring them along. Other species of fish frequently found in the Pinnebog River are perch and walleye. Make sure to buy a Michigan license for everyone in your party over 17 years of age. Take your catch back to camp to cook up on the fire after a satisfying day on the river.