Guests craving an adventure in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula will enjoy Wells State Park, located in the Western Upper Peninsula region of the state. Although the drive to get to the park can be lengthy, RVers will not be disappointed with the views along the scenic, often lakeside, drive. Wells State Park offers camping guests breathtaking campsites and access to plenty of recreational activities.
Wells State Park, named after John Walter Wells, was donated to the state of Michigan in 1925. Wells, a pioneer lumberman, served as the mayor of Menominee for three terms beginning in 1893, and his presence as mayor as well as the owner of many lumber and sawmill companies in the area, made him a well-known and respected man in the community. Naming the park after Wells is a way for the city to recognize the impact he made in the area during his life.
The park, like many state parks in the United States, has ties to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was an organization formed during the Great Depression that helped unmarried and unemployed men find work. The CCC built the water and sewage systems in Wells State Park as well as many of the park’s buildings and landscaping. Today, these facilities still stand, and they serve as a reminder of the strength and perseverance of the men struggling to survive during the Great Depression.
Wells State Park is located in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula. The park is 35 miles south of Escanaba, Michigan. From one of Michigan’s larger cities, Grand Rapids, RVers can traverse either side of Lake Michigan to access the park. The shorter route is over the Mackinac Bridge and through the Upper Peninsula, a drive that is approximately 412 miles. RVers taking this route must pay a toll to cross the bridge.
From Green Bay, Wisconsin, the park is located 80 miles northeast, a route that takes drivers along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.
Michigan State Parks require that park guests pay a daily entrance fee upon entering the park. Pay the fee at the entrance station. If a park ranger isn’t on duty, use one of the self-pay kiosks.
Campers who have visitors who are not staying overnight will need to ask their guests to leave before 10:00 pm. The park is closed overnight to anyone who isn’t in a registered campsite.
The Wells State Park Campground is a seasonally operating, pet-friendly facility. The two-looped campground provides guests with hydrants, vault toilets, modern restrooms, showers, and a dump station. Each RV space has a fire pit and electricity. Depending on the site electricity varies from 20/30 to 50 amps. Many of the spaces in the campground are fully shaded or partially shaded. RV pads vary in length and are either paved or grass. The park’s max RV or trailer capacity is 45 feet, but some spaces may be able to accommodate larger equipment. Guests should contact the park office with questions relating to site size. Guests who need to use a generator should do so only in a manner that won’t disrupt other campers.
Campers who stay in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula come to the region to experience the beauty of the outdoors and water-front scenic views. One of the park’s main attractions is the day use area because visitors enjoy spending time surrounded by thick trees and glistening water. RV guests and campers can walk to the large picnic area, located within a short distance of the campground. The area has two picnic shelters with tables and charcoal grills. Guests who want to picnic and play will love the proximity to the playground, volleyball courts, and the beach.
Park guests who love the water don’t have far to travel to find the closest boat ramp. Cedar River State Harbor is a modern marina facility that provides boating access to Lake Michigan. The marina is open during the summer months and has a boat launch, gas and diesel, restrooms, bike rentals, and many other fun recreational activities for people of all ages and interests. People who don’t have boats can rent boats or take a chartered boat onto Lake Michigan. Nearby towns of Cedar River, Escanaba, and Gladstone have rental outfitters that rent different types of watercraft. Interested guests should contact one of the outfitters for more information.
Anglers who crave time on the water will enjoy fishing on the Cedar River or Lake Michigan. Cedar River State Harbor, located close to the park, has a fishing pier for guests to try their hands at catching walleye, panfish, trout, salmon, or smallmouth bass. If fishing from a boat is more your style, rent a boat from one of the local outfitters and access the water from the harbor boat ramp. Those who wish to take a fishing charter can contact one of the outfitters and inquire about fishing on the river or the lake. The harbor doesn’t have fishing tackle for sale, so stop by Cedar River before heading to the marina to get what you need for a day of fishing. The state of Michigan requires that all anglers 17 or older possess a valid fishing license.
The Wells-Cedar River Trail is a multi-use trail that is open year-round for hiking and cross country skiing. The path is a seven-mile trail that contains three different gravel trail loops that pass through different sections of the park. Because the trailheads are located in various places throughout the park, finding trail access from anywhere inside of the park’s boundaries is simple. Hikers and cross country skiers can choose from the Timber Trail, the Ridgewood Trail, or the Evergreen Loop Trail or decide to traverse the entire trail for the full seven miles. Individual trails are less than two miles long, so people of all abilities can spend time outside walking along the shores of Green Bay enjoying nature.
Depending on the time of year, park guests can stay and use the campgrounds as a base camp for hunting, or just come and hunt in the public lands located around the state park. Menominee County is known for its large deer population, so deer hunters will find plenty of opportunities to sight a deer during hunting season. The area is also known for small and large game, so hunters who want a challenge will find the Upper Peninsula the ideal location for hunting and trapping. Contact the park or the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for more information.
Just because the water is frozen, does not mean that enthusiastic anglers have to stop fishing for the season. Ice fishing is a favorite pastime in the Upper Peninsula, and those who crave an icy adventure can take to the frozen lake for a day of cold fishing fun. During the winter, anglers can catch the same fish that are plentiful in the waters during the summer. Because ice fishing requires specialized equipment and knowledge of ice safety, those wishing to fish should accompany an experienced ice fisher or inquire about chartered ice fishing tours located close to the park.