Great times to be had in Michigan’s great outdoors

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Summer is in full swing, and with July designated as Park and Recreation Month, there is no better place than Michigan’s Up North to celebrate the season with family and friends.

While northern Michigan communities play host to various events, festivals and parades throughout the summer, what makes our part of the state so great are the abundant opportunities to get out and enjoy nature. Michigan is home to 102 state parks and recreation areas that welcome 22 million visitors each year.

Whether it be camping in the wilderness, kayaking a river, biking a trail or just hanging out at the beach, there is no shortage of opportunities.

Our state forest campgrounds offer more than 3,000 campsites in the nearly four million acres of state forest throughout the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula. Each site is located near a river or lake, providing easy access to multiple watersports, like fishing and boating.

When it comes to water, Michigan again comes out on top. Not only is our state defined by it, but ours has the most shoreline of the contiguous 48 states and the most fresh water shoreline in the entire country. In addition to the Great Lakes, we’re also home to 11,000 inland lakes and have 36,000 miles of rivers and streams. No matter where you are in the state, you’re no more than six miles from a body of water.

If water isn’t your thing and camping is a little too out there, another great way to connect with nature is via Michigan’s network of trails. We’ve got 12,000 miles of recreational trails, which includes bike trails, rail trails, off road vehicle trails, snow machine trails and even trails dedicated for horses.

The state Department of Natural Resources provides all the information you need to find the right destination spot for your family. I encourage you to visit and to start planning your next trip.

In our modern times of 24-7 connectivity, it seems more and more difficult to unplug and get out and connect with nature. The good news is, Michigan provides ample opportunities, and there is no better reason than summertime.