By Dan Hardenbrook
After the long winter, the COVID-19 Crisis, and a state shutdown, the team at Tahquamenon is ready for the opening of the 2020 summer camping season.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been getting ready. Finishing up some last minute water sampling, getting some last minute health department requirements taken care of, and we are going to be ready to open…” said Park Supervisor Kevin Dennis.
The official opening day for the DNR State Forest Campground is Monday, June 22. Dennis said that Tahquamenon has seen a large number of reservations come in for the first few weeks of the season, and he advises making a reservation as soon as possible. If the main State Park Campgrounds are full, there are still plenty of options for those who don’t mind going the more rustic route. In Northern Luce County, Chippewa, and Western Mackinac, there are about 25 state forest campgrounds that are all first come, first served.
Dennis and the team have been busy getting up and going after their spring pre-season work period was basically eliminated. This includes work like cutting hazard trees, removing leaves from campgrounds, cutting grass, fertilizing, and filling in plow divots. They also work on the buildings. The plumbing systems have to be put back together, including water and sewer systems, and the completion of requirements and sampling that go with that.
This season does come with some new rules due to the ongoing concerns over COVID-19. Masks are going to be required in the bathroom buildings within the park. People are going to have to social distance, though this will be largely self policed. “We’ll do what we can while we’re there,” Dennis says, “but that’s going to be a big thing. I think with camping social distancing comes with the territory, so that should be good there.”
Dennis gave an update on some of the park’s attractions and services. The viewing platforms are still closed, but he anticipates them to open any day. The concessionaires (such as the Lower Falls gift shop) are not open yet. The main park office is closed. The boat rental at the Lower Falls, however, is open. People can come rent a rowboat. They are open from 10-6 for now and they are going to expand that to be open until 8 pm before too long. The hiking trails are all open again.
Dennis recommends visitors come prepared for the conditions. Bring bug spray and carry enough water. With the weather getting warmer, it’s important to stay hydrated, even for the shorter hikes to the falls. Wear good hiking footwear to navigate the trails.
To make a reservation at Tahquamenon, or any state park campground, go to midnrreservations.com or call the reservation hotline at 1-800-44-PARKS