Michigan DNR winter lodging 01.13.10

Written by David Green.

By MICHIGAN DNR

Modern cabins, rustic cabins—even yurts. The Michigan State Park system offers a variety of lodging for winter outdoor sports enthusiasts.

With more than 30 parks offering winter lodging facilities, it has never been easier for winter recreation enthusiasts to enjoy their outdoor pursuits while staying on or close to the trails they are using.

“The winter lodging opportunities we have available in state parks are a unique way for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy their sports while staying on the trails and in the parks, rather than trying to find the nearest town with lodging and then returning to the trailhead each day,” said Richard Hill Jr., Department of Natural Resources district parks supervisor in the western Upper Peninsula. “Considering some of our most popular state parks are located far from larger cities, having lodging available right in the park can make planning a trip much simpler for our visitors.”

Depending on which type of trails are being used and how many people are in a group, Michigan State Parks offer five different types of winter lodging to meet the needs of diverse types of users. For large groups looking for all the conveniences of home, there are modern lodges located in several state parks. The modern lodges accommodate between six and 24 guests. Most are fully furnished and the kitchens equipped with appliances, dishes and cookware. Some of the lodges are equipped with linen service and beds are made before the visitors arrive. Potential renters should check with the individual park for the included amenities and prices.

“For snowmobilers who want to establish a base camp for a week, or just need a place to stay overnight on a long ride, the fully furnished lodges can’t be beat,” Hill said. “The lodges that are located along snowmobile trails allow snowmobilers to ride directly from the trail to the front door of the lodge. The next morning, they can be back on the trail, without having to load or unload any machines.”

The lodges also make a convenient and easily accessible base camp for cross-country skiers who prefer to have electricity and heat available while still staying in the state park, close to miles of groomed trails. State park modern lodges located along snowmobile trails can be found in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Twin Lakes State Park and P.J. Hoeft State Park. These three parks, along with Fayette State Historic Park and Proud Lake State Park, also offer groomed networks of cross-country ski trails adjacent to or near the modern lodges.

Additionally, a modern lodge adjacent to a snowmobile trail and groomed cross-country skiing will open Feb. 1, 2010 at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula.

A second alternative for accommodations in winter are the camper cabins. Equipped with electricity and heat, these log cabins cost $80 a night and can sleep up to six people in two bedrooms and a living room with a futon. Visitors should plan to provide their own bedding, cookware and camp stove.

“Staying at a camper cabin is like having your own private log cabin in the woods,” said Hill. “The cabins usually are found in scenic locations, where you can watch the sunrise from the covered front deck before heading out on the trail for the day. You get all the solitude of winter camping, with the luxury of heat and electricity.”

Snowmobiles can be ridden directly to the brand-new camper cabin at Van Riper State Park, which is perched on the shoreline of Lake Michigamme, while the camper cabin at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is located near a snowmobile trail and cross-country ski trails.

Camper cabins also are available in winter at the following state parks with groomed cross-country ski trails: Mitchell, Tahquamenon Falls, Port Crescent and Proud Lake. Additionally, Holland, Waterloo, Pinckney and Tawas offer camper cabins in winter with access to ungroomed trails.

A third choice for state park winter lodging is known as the mini-cabin. These small, one-room cabins are located within established campgrounds and have electricity and heat. Mini-cabins can sleep four people on bunk beds and generally cost $35 a night during the winter months. Renters should bring their own bedding, cookware, flashlights and cookstove.

Both snowmobilers and cross-country skiers can easily access the mini-cabin at North Higgins Lake State Park and Fort Wilkins State Historic Park. Mini-cabins also are located at the following state parks with networks of groomed cross-country ski trails: P.J. Hoeft, Ludington, McLain, Muskegon, Port Crescent and Sleeper.

For winter outdoor enthusiasts who would like to get away from it all and unplug, the rustic cabins and yurts available for winter lodging might fit the bill. Rustic cabins range in cost from $50 to $80 a night and offer lodging for groups ranging in size from two to 24 people. These cabins typically are furnished with a table, chairs, heater or woodstove (firewood is provided) and beds with mattresses.

Except for Sleeper Lake State Park and Holly Recreation Area, rustic cabins do not have electricity, and renters are encouraged to bring their own cookware, bedding and lanterns.

Rustic cabins are available in winter at the following state parks with groomed cross-country ski trails: Cheboygan, Hartwick Pines, Porcupine Mountains, Rifle River, Sleeper and Wilderness. The rustic cabins at Sleeper State Park do have electricity. Other rustic cabins available in winter are at Bald Mountain, Brighton, Fort Custer, Harrisville, Holly, Island Lake, McLain, Ortonville, Van Riper, Waterloo and Wells. Many of these parks allow snowmobiling and all allow cross-country skiing.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and Pinckney Recreation Area offer yurts—sturdy, weather-tight, circular tent structures—during winter. Yurts sleep four to five on bunk beds or futons and rent for $60 a night. Heat is provided from a propane furnace or woodstove, but yurts do not have electricity. Cookware is available at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

“Yurts and rustic cabins are extremely popular with cross-country skiers because they often are located right on the ski trails,” Hill said. “In some of the parks where the cabins are not accessible by road, skiers will pack in their supplies and then set up a base camp to return to each evening after spending a day on the trails.”

Cross-country skiers using the yurt at Pinckney Recreation Area will find easy access to the ungroomed Potawatomi Trail.

For a complete list of all state park winter lodging and to learn more about the available facilities, go online to www.michigan.gov/dnr. Lodging reservations can be made online at www.midnrreservations.com.

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