As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my most favorite magazines is Midwest Living. Every month, the editors do a fantastic job of covering all the great things about the Midwest — with a heavy dose of all things travel-related (lodging, dining, attractions, etc.). The articles are both informative and enjoyable and the design is attractive, but by far the highlight of each issue is the spectacular photography. The recipes section is extremely good.
The May/June issue recently hit our mailbox, and one of its feature stories is their pick for the top state parks each Midwest state has to offer.
Quick aside: As reference to our ongoing debate on what states constitute the Midwest, it’s interesting to note that, at least for this top state parks list, Midwest Living includes as its Midwest states Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
Beginning with this post, I’ll periodically feature each of their selections (although still debating whether to include those from the Dakotas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska; what do you think?).
Ludington State Park, Michigan
Midwest Living said Ludington State Park, located 100 miles northwest of Grand Rapids, is “busy enough to warrant a rich lineup of amenities and programming – including boat rentals, lighthouse tours and guided dune walks – but large enough, at 5,300 acres, to escape summer crowding. Lake Michigan beckons, cobalt waves washing onto unruly dunes. Eighteen miles of trails hopscotch over bridges and boardwalks along inland Hamlin Lake. A bike path traces the tranquil Sable River, and a 2-mile hike north through wild sands leads to the lighthouse tower at Big Sable Point.”
Ludington State Park is practically an island, as it sits nestled between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, which was created by loggers at the turn of the last century.
The park boasts over 6 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Here you will find lofty sand dunes, virgin stands of evergreen and hardwood trees, soft, sandy beaches, and an extensive network of hiking, skiing, biking, and canoe trails.
The park’s education and interpretive programming is very popular and offers slide and video presentations, and live programs that can give you a better appreciation of the wildlife, geology, and history of this unique area.
Ludington State Park offers wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities from its 18 miles of trails system. Walk the Skyline Trail for some spectacular views of high dune ridges and Lake Michigan, and hike the Lighthouse Trail to Big Sable Point Lighthouse to sample a bit of Michigan’s maritime history.
Perhaps the most unique trail here is the canoe trail. Brochures at the visitor center show you how to make a unique passage along the bayous and inlets of Hamlin Lake’s shoreline. Slip silently down this trail early in the morning for a high probability of viewing herons, egrets, waterfowl, deer, and other animals along the water’s edge. The Sable River, which flows from Hamlin Lake to Lake Michigan, is just as popular for wildlife and canoeists.
There are three modern campgrounds at Ludington State Park — Pines, Cedar and Beechwood — with a combined total of 355 campsites including three mini-cabins. These sites have electricity and modern shower and bathroom facilities in each campground.
Cedar Campground also has a small loop of eight tent-only sites separated from the modern site loop. These tent sites do not have electricity but are within walking distance of the restrooms and showers. For backpack campers, Ludington offers 10 remote tent sites in the new Jack Pine Hike-In only campground. This campground has no electricity and the toilet facilities are rustic. Showers are available at the Pines modern campground.
My relatives — RV campers, of course — have stayed here many times and it’s easily their top choice when it’s time for camping. Trouble is, Ludington State Park is so good it’s nearly impossible to reserve a site, especially on weekends. And the holidays? Fuggedaboutit. But, in Michigan you can reserve a state park campsite six months in advance, so pick a summer date, and sometime in late winter go online here and stake your claim.
Folks at RV Park Reviews had a few minor complaints, but overall most seemed to really enjoy their stay.
“Large, diverse, and pretty park with lots to do,” said one camper. “There’s a long beach along Lake Michigan for sunbathing, a good-sized inland lake for motor boating and canoing, and a short stretch of river connecting the two lakes for lazily tubing/rafting.”
“Very impressive State Park, well run and well maintained,” said another camper. “Very quiet with a wonderful boardwalk for fishing, walking and bird viewing. Many terrific hiking trails and a very picturesque lighthouse. Great campground if you like the outdoors and wildlife.”
From the Personal Blog: Strawberry pie-eating contests, duct tape parade floats, live jazz & blues, outdoor arts, stilt walkers, cross-country bicycling, washboard music, military encampments and musters and the Memorial Golf Tournament are all sure signs of June in Ohio! Click here to read the whole thing.
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