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Camping At Indian Lake State Park In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

indian lake

camping indian lake

Sometimes, being forced into the overflow rustic campground turns out to be a great gift. We pulled into the main campground for Indian Lake State Park to find only 1 tent site left. The ranger told us we could easily find a spot over to the west campground on the other side of the lake. He said there were only outhouses, but there was be a few water spigots, each site had a 20 amp hookup and the campground was usually empty. I wasn’t sure what we were going to get ourselves into if this one was full and the other was empty, but we filled our water tank at the main campground and then headed around to the other campground on the west side of the lake.

Secluded Camping at Indian Lake and Pie Iron Pizza

camping indian lake

We pulled in to find only 4 to 5 campers set up in the 72 available campsites and set ourselves up in one of the loops all by ourself. It was quiet, wooded and the kids had plenty of room to play and ride bikes without having to worry about them disturbing anyone. We kicked back the first evening, built a campfire and watch the kids play, cooked marshmallows and even made some pie iron pizza sandwiches. It had been awhile since getting the pie irons out. In fact, we hadn’t really done a lot of campfires around camp in quite some time. I think we were either camping when it was hot or at a campground that didn’t allow ground fires during some of our recent trips.

Chicken Tortillas On The Grill

camping indian lake

We started the next morning off with our typical coffee and eggs while I was jotting some notes for a blog post I was putting together for Endurance Path. We let the kids play for the morning while I worked on a few things and just enjoyed listening and watching the kids play. It had been a little while since we camped in a state park and I was just enjoying sitting in the woods under the awning.

We decided to make some lunch before heading over to Palms-Book State Park that was just down the road. I mention lunch, because this was the first time I had ever heated up tortillas shells on a grill and they were awesome. We cooked some chicken on the grill, turned the grill off and then cooked the tortillas on the remaining hot grill grates. At any rate, the chicken tortillas were awesome, so I thought I would mention them. By the way, we use the uncooked refrigerated tortillas shells from Costco and they are cheaper and way better than regular packaged tortillas.

The Spring At Palms-Book State Park

camping indian lake

I had remembered going to Palms-Book State Park nearly 20 years ago. We were the only ones in the park at the time and went out on a raft in the middle of a fresh spring where the water was completely clear. At any rate, the park was packed on this trip and we had to wait a while to go out on the big raft in the middle of the spring pond. I think it can fit 40 to 50 people and there is a wheel on the raft that is connected to a cable strung across the spring pond. Anybody on the raft can man the wheel, so you never really know how long you might get stuck out there unless you take the lead. People seem to kind of take turns anyways and let a few kids run it.

camping indian lake

Anyways, it was pretty cool once we got out there. Although, I think Lynn was feeling a bit claustrophobic as we were packed on the raft with a bunch of other people that were not afraid to crowd over you. I don’t blame her… we went from secluded camping to being packed on a raft with 50 other people only 20 minutes later. The kids thought it was super cool though and  were really interested in the huge trout swimming in the fresh spring and the sand bubbling below where the spring water was coming out of the earth. The water was extremely clear and I believe I read that it was 44 feet deep. You could clearly see to the bottom as if you could reach out and touch it.

Sometimes you hear the funniest things… I overhead another Dad explaining to his family that it was probably methane gas boiling out of the sand at the bottom of the spring… I had a hard time holding back my laugh. I was hoping this guy wasn’t serious as there were so many things wrong with what he said… First, there was no air bubbles coming up out of the ground, nore through the water. Secondly, I doubt that the State Park Service would construct a raft to carry 50 people out over the top of a methane gas spring. At any rate, I had to share the story.

Back At Indian Lake State Park

camping indian lake

The town of Manistique is only a few miles away, so afterwards we ran into town quick to pick up a few groceries, buy a couple bundles of firewood and fill the truck up with gas before heading back to the campground. We did drive down to the lake access near our campground to check out the lake. We found 2 kayak paddles laying in the road like they fell out of somebodies truck. We picked them up and left them leaned up against the building at the park entrance. I didn’t want them to get run over and broken and thought if the owners came back looking for them, they might see them leaned up against the check in station.

We arrived back at camp to enjoy the afternoon. Lynn and I grabbed our chairs under the awning to chat while we watched the kids play. I did get my laptop out to make a few notes for some things I was working on while we enjoyed the quiet campground and surrounding woods. There were a couple others folks that set up camp, but overall the campground remained quiet and peaceful aside from our own kids making hot laps on their bikes.

I couldn’t help but join them for a few laps. There is a little part of them that actually thinks they can go faster than me and they always want to race. Hopefully I can maintain my Dad strength over the years and continue out pacing them… I had a mountain bike race coming up the following weekend and was wanting to do a few lead out sprints anyways.

As we were settling down for the night, a guy from another campsite stopped by to ask if we had an extra coffee cup that he could borrow for the morning. We gave him a coffee cup and then got to chatting about his trip. Him and a buddy were on a motorcycle trip up to Copper Harbor, so we pointed out a few places to make sure that they stopped at. It sounded like it might have been the first time taking a motorcycle trip and it was his first Harley. He was on an Electra Glide and his buddy was on a Softail. He mentioned that they had picked up this tent, but wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. It was a 2 man tent, but turned out to be way smaller than he thought and it didn’t sound like they were too thrilled about sharing it…

We eventually got back to our campfire and then settled in for the night. I heard the motorcycles pull out of the campground early in the morning and then I found their tent, a sleeping bag and our coffee cup sitting outside our camper… Apparently the tent did not work out and they didn’t want to haul it around the rest of the trip. I could see why after taking a look. It was a 2 person tent, but it was one of those cot tents and I don’t know how they were hauling it on the motorcycles in the first place. This thing did not package down small at all. The tent package itself was probably a foot in diameter and 4 feet long.

I assume the sleeping bag was way to hot for summer camping also as it was a 10 to 30 degree rated sleeping bag. It was super nice of them to leave the tent and bag for us and thanks to them. Ironically, I was actually looking at these same tents a few months back. I thought they were interesting since they were off the ground but never pulled the trigger on one. I thought a tent like that would be handy for me on a solo trip to a mountain bike race or something. I guess I will find out.

The kids played the rest of the morning on their bikes, while I stayed in the camper and worked on a report I was putting together for Endurance Path. Checkout was not until 1:00, so I wanted to lock myself in the camper for the morning to finish that up before we left. The kids didn’t complain as they had a near empty campground to rip thru on their bikes for the morning.

I finished up what I was working on just in time to pack up camp before the rain came in for the afternoon. There is no dump station at the west campground, so we had to drive over to the east campground or main entrance for Indian Lake State Park to flush the tanks out on the camper before making our way toward Marquette.

Indian Lake State Park Trip Summary

I have marked Indian Lake State Park down as a place I would stop at again for a couple nights on our way through. It is not far off Highway 2 along Lake Michigan and I would head right toward the west campground again as it was so quiet, but still had electricity. We had our camper, so showers and bathrooms were not an issue for us at all. That being said, the outhouses at the west campground were probably the cleanest outhouses you will find. Palms-Book State Park down the road was a nice little attraction also. It was definitely more busy than I would have preferred to really enjoy it as the raft was really packed, but the springs were still worth checking out.

Links

Endurance Path

Indian Lake State Park

Palms-Book State Park

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