Harvests and haunts
“One of the biggest changes we have seen in the past 20 years is an increase in use during key fall weekends,” said Jason Fleming, chief of the Resource Protection and Promotion Section in the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division. “A number of locations put on harvest festivals, often in conjunction with our local friends groups. People decorate their campsites and families enjoy the self-contained area for kids to trick or treat.”
The harvest festivals that many state parks host are so popular that campgrounds at these parks often fill up on festival weekends.
“Many of our state parks offer a variety of fall festivals that can range from traditional fall activities like hayrides with donuts and cider to a spookier approach with haunted trails and trick–or–treating,” said Elissa Buck, event coordinator in the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Due to their popularity, some events are limited to campers only and will require camping reservations that may be made six months in advance.”
Falling for falls
Beyond scheduled events like harvest festivals, Mother Nature offers abundant
opportunities to enjoy the outdoors at state parks.
For example, it’s a great time of year to see one of Michigan’s many waterfalls, such as Bond Falls and Ocqueoc Falls.
Bond Falls, located in a day-use park in the western Upper Peninsula, is a scenic waterfall created as the middle branch of the Ontonagon River tumbles over a thick belt of fractured rock, dividing it into numerous small cascades. Roadside parking and picnic tables are available near the top of the falls, and there’s an accessible boardwalk with six viewing locations.
“It may take some time to get there for those who are coming from downstate, but it’s worth the trip,” said Stephanie Yancer, social media coordinator for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “If you can’t get there, visit to see the 360–degree view of the falls.”
Ocqueoc Falls, near Rogers City in Presque Isle County, is the only publicly accessible waterfall in the Lower Peninsula. It’s located across the road from a rustic campground, which is open May through November, along the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway. The pathway, with four loops from 3 miles to 6 miles in length, also offers opportunities for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Learn more at .
Fall also is the best time of year to see elk, one of Michigan’s most sought-after species for wildlife viewing.
“The most popular time to view elk is during the breeding season in September and October, when they are feeding in open grassy areas and bulls are bugling,” Yancer said. “Atlanta, Michigan, home to Clear Lake State Park, is a great destination to see elk in the fall.”
For those who prefer stargazing, six Michigan state parks are home to dark sky preserves – Lake Hudson Recreation Area, Negwegon State Park, Port Crescent State Park, Rockport Recreation Area, Thompson’s Harbor State Park and Wilderness State Park.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
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