If you could spend your summer exploring rustic state forest campgrounds all across Michigan — traveling to these scenic spots in both the lower and upper peninsulas by RV, your best four-legged companion joining to keep you company — would you jump at the opportunity? Would you maybe even propose such a trip to your boss? 

Project Rustic

Paige Lackey, a Huron Pines AmeriCorps service member serving with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, did just that — she came up with this travel idea and proposed it to her team at the DNR. Why? Paige is an outdoor advocate and absolutely passionate about her community and the environment, but this adventure is rooted in something pretty significant and long-lasting for the DNR, too: it’s a way to gather important information about rustic state forest campgrounds that ultimately will help make these experiences more accessible for future travelers. 

To listen to this episode, click on the player at the top of this post. Or, download the episode (and subscribe to the show!) using your favorite podcast app.

Paige talks about her upcoming trek around Michigan — she’ll be traveling with her dog Willow in a 31-foot RV donated by General RV — and how this is a “woman-powered” adventure. Ami Van Antwerp, communications specialist with the Michigan DNR, also joins the conversation — she’s been heavily involved in planning this epic adventure and will be assisting Paige virtually throughout the journey. 

Paige and Willow

Starting next month and throughout summer, Paige is scheduled to visit 77 rustic state forest campgrounds, collecting data along the way that will be managed and analyzed for use in the DNR’s Recreation Search database. The Recreation Search allows visitors to learn more about Michigan state parks and recreation areas (and campgrounds), state forest campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities, nonmotorized trails, park events and much more. This search features filters to search for amenities and activities you are most interested in, such as beaches, equestrian trails, cabins, hiking, mountain biking and others. (More information can also be found at Michigan.gov/StateParks.)

Paige’s UP stops
Lower peninsula stops

MRG will be checking in with Paige throughout her journey. Stay tuned for a future podcast episode midway through Paige’s journey. Learn more about Huron Pines AmeriCorps program here.

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15 Responses to “Project Rustic: 77 Michigan state forest campgrounds, 1 RV, 1 epic summer”

  1. Vicki Clinton

    I am really looking forward to following Paige on her journey this summer and looking over her final report / findings. I grew up camping with family in the Michigan state forests & have continued to do so throughout my life. But I know there are so many parks out there that I haven’t visited and 1 a few years back that I can not find again! So keep us posted. : )

  2. Joyce Lee

    How is camping in an RV considered “rustic”? Rustic is camping in a tent. Sleeping on a cot , not a bed. Using water from a pump , not from a storage tank on the rev. Cooking on an open fire not on a gas stove. An RV also has a generator which will be heating or cooling the rig. And while others will be visiting the outhouse while an RV has a full bathroom that doesn’t smell. I do like the idea of having our state forest campgrounds being highlighted but then I’m afraid people will neglect them because they aren’t policed like the state parks. My husband and I discovered many state forest campgrounds last year when we checked them out whenever we passed a sign. I have to admit there looks to have been some work on them improving their looks. So many had been rundown for years . While Clear lake state park was packed and noisy, the ESS campground was empty and quiet.

  3. Heather

    Taking a 30ft motorhome to some of these rustic sites is just a bad idea. If you want to promote rustic camping, stay in a tent. Some of the sites won’t even accommodate a rig that big not to mention the seasonal roads they are located on are usually not the best.

  4. Leonard Sackett

    Not clear how you can evaluate state forest campgrounds in a 31 foot $120,000 motor home. I take it the DNR in their wisdom is trying to turn these quite beautiful places into state parks. How about using a tent, popup trailer or small class B. How can you hear and see what goes on in this type of campground when you are staying in a 31 foot RV. Good though for promoting General RV big rigs.

  5. Chris Hamilton

    Sorry, this is totally misguided ! We go to rustic campgrounds to get away from the big RV’s. One big RV can ruin the entire campground experience. Maybe you should tour the rustic campground on a bicycle instead.

  6. Why??
    Rustic campgrounds are just rhat…RUSTIC.
    Some kind of message you’re putting out there blogging about rustic campgrounds in a hugeass MOTOR home???!!! Us tent campers do NOT appreciate camping next to a frigging motor home hearing a TV and generator all night!!!!
    When we go RUSTIC CAMPING, we want to hear the crickets. The owls, etc ….
    Use a tent

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