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Taking an RV rental vacation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the dream of many Midwesterners. Far from the crowds in the southern part of the state, the U.P., as it’s called, offers solitude and a chance to connect with nature, and all it takes to get there is a short drive over the Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan’s two sections.
At the northern end of the bridge is the St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA, one of the area's best places for camping with an RV. It’s conveniently located near the intersection of Interstate 75 and Highway 2, which makes getting around the U.P. a whole lot easier and provides easier access to the state’s Lower Peninsula should you have the need to return to civilization. When you’re camping at St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA you’ll have some great amenities too, like a swimming pool, mini-golf course, a dog park, bicycle rentals, and laundry facilities. Brought along a larger rental RV? St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA has 120-foot-long sites, more than enough to accommodate just about any rig.
The campground also offers a free shuttle to the Mackinac Island ferry, which is quite useful since no vehicles are permitted on the island and you’d need to leave your campervan rental in the ferry terminal parking lot. There’s also a shuttle to the casino north of St. Ignace.
Few places west of the Mississippi capture the spirit of the outdoors quite like the Upper Peninsula. In the summer, there’s an endless array of hiking options in the Sault Ste. Marie State Forest Area. If you want to get out on the water, you have both Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to choose from (or Lake Superior if you take your rental motorhome camping trip farther north of St. Ignace). In the winter, ice fishing’s the name of the game, and you’ll notice a smattering of warming huts scattered over the frozen lakes.
To really experience the vastness of the Upper Peninsula though, you’ll want to head towards Marquette and the Hiawatha National Forest. The trails will be much less crowded and the variety of terrain there is astounding: swamps, sand dunes, alpine forest, and plenty of beautiful lakes.
The section of the U.P. near St. Ignace also has a few parks worth exploring, and each of them has fantastic views of the Mackinac Strait. Straits State Park has some postcard-ready shots of the Mackinac suspension bridge, but it’s far enough removed that you won’t hear the whirring of traffic as they pass over it. Bridge View Park has some even closer vistas of the Mighty Mac and is a popular spot for picnicking tourists in St. Ignace.
If you’re on the hunt for good beaches though, just cross the bridge over to Mackinaw City. The sandy shores are a popular road trip destination for those living in the Lower Peninsula, but UPers like to come down and experience the beauty too with more amenities than you’d usually find farther north.
There’s plenty to do in town when you’re motorhome camping here. If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy the exhibits at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture. There’s a small sculpture garden to explore outside, an Ojibwa longhouse, a gift shop full of authentic Native American handicrafts, and, of course, the museum itself. One of the most fascinating exhibits at the museum focuses on Ojibwa technology and how the tribe used what could be found in nature to furnish their homes and make tools.
Those wanting to take a stroll through St. Ignace will love the Huron Boardwalk. The walkway extends past some of the town’s most beautiful waterfront and connects it with the best restaurants and shops in the area. There are even a few nautical artifacts to be found along the trail with small plaques explaining their significance.
To extend your maritime adventure when you book an RV in Mackinac County, check out the Wawatam Lighthouse near the Mackinac Ferry Terminal. The hexagonal tower was actually built as a welcoming attraction in Monroe, Michigan, five hours' drive to the southeast on Lake Erie’s shore. But it was moved St. Ignace in 2006 and is a functional navigation beacon.
If gaming is on your itinerary, then you’ll also want to visit the casino just north of town on Interstate 75. It offers full Vegas-style play, and there are some excellent dining options too if you just enjoy whiling away the evening on the nickel slots when you choose an RV rental near St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA.
If you’re looking for fresh produce to do some camp cooking, stop by the St. Ignace Farmer’s Market, which is held throughout the summer months on Thursday evenings. In addition to their fruits and vegetables, you’ll find a great selection of prepared foods, baked goods, and handicrafts for purchase.