Set on the rolling hills looking on to the pristine AuSable River, the Hartwick Pines State Park is frozen in time as it is home to one of the last virgin forests in the United States. Located close to Waters Gaylord and Kalkaska, it is the perfect place to camp in an RV near Grayling if you’re in a quest to go back in time to the old Michigan before rampant logging completely changed the landscape of Northern Michigan. Tucked just over an hour away from Traverse City, the almost 10000-acre park holds approximately 50 acres of untouched white pines, some of the state’s last majestic old-growth forests. To explore more about the park, search for an RV in Crawford County and have a blast doing some state park RV camping.
While Northern Michigan is best associated with winter getaways, Hartwick Pines State Park is just as good, if not better, in the summer. Some of the activities to look out for while RV camping at Hartwick Pines State Park include birding, hiking, or kayaking. If you have time, check out the cool Black Iron Days Festival that takes place in the park annually. Since the park sits a long distance away from big towns, light pollution isn’t a thing here so you can expect to capture some really cool shots of the night sky. What is it you’re waiting for, get the keys to one of the best Grayling campers and tick the Hartwick Pines State Park off your bucket list.
With big names such as the Traverse City State Forest and the Atlanta State Forest Area situated just a few miles away, it comes as no surprise that the Hartwick Pines State Forest is bursting full of fun things to do. The logging museum is a major attraction here, so make sure you pop up between May and late October when it is open. The museum has exhibits of how loggers used to live and work in camps across the state in the olden days.
Don’t forget to pack your best-hiking boots into your rental RV as the park is perfect for long slow walks. The first trail to hit would definitely be the Old Growth Trail, a 1.25-mile long trail that loops around the forest of old pine and hemlock, some of which date back to 400 years ago. Another thing to look out for would be the Chapel in the Pines. As its name suggests, it’s a cool and dark sanctuary that is excellent for some few minutes of meditation. Built back in 1952, marriages are still held in the scenic chapel to date.
Thanks to the park’s unique landscape, it is a rich habitat for all kinds of animals but more specifically, the birds. When camping in a rental motorhome at Hartwick Pines State Park, you’ll get a chance of seeing the evening grosbeak and if immensely lucky, the Kirtland’s warbler.
Camping at Hartwick Pines State Park
If the activities here seemed exciting, wait until you get a feel of camping at Hartwick Pines State Park. With full hookups, you’ll forget you’re in the middle of nowhere as you treat yourself to a comfy time in your RV rental. The combination of back-in and pull-thru sites are set on the tarmac and are large enough to accommodate even the biggest of travel trailers.
Some of the additional features include restrooms, showers, and access to recreational trails. Even though there is no WiFi and limited mobile coverage, you’ll never get bored. The campground is pet-friendly so bring along your furry friends. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance through a simple to use online system. To help preserve Michigan’s campgrounds, please don’t transport firewood.
Exploring the Area
Even though Hartwick Pines State Park is one of the largest in the state’s Lower Peninsula, you’ll soon be seeking some extra thrill beyond the park’s boundaries. Surrounded by pristine woods, Ridge Golf Course is a staple when it comes to up-north golfing outings. The well-maintained course may be a bit tight, but that will just sharpen your golfing skills. After a great time in the memorable holes, you ought to try some dishes in their diner, spectacular.
Speaking of food, poorly cooked food can turn even the most exciting getaways into just another boring outing. That’s why your campervan should be pointed towards Grayling. Apart from having just about every major fast-food outlet in the state sitting in downtown, the town has its fair share of fine dining establishments, complete with a rustic gastropub which serves a great variety of drinks including must-try homemade craft beers.
Why not carry a piece of good old Michigan back home by visiting the Call of the Wild Museum in Gaylord. Apart from having an impressive gift shop, the local gem has a wide range of North American Wildlife and a theater. While at it, don't forget to try their mind-blowing fudge.
Hartwick Pines State Park, MI is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
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