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Thursday, June 4, 2015

St. Ignace, Michigan / Straits State Park Campground

May 2015, Weekend, 2-nights, Lot #3


We initially thought we wanted to reserve a campsite directly on the water at Straits State Park; however, the waterfront sites do not have electricity, and generators are not allowed. We figured the weather would be cool at the time of our stay in the beginning of May, so we chose a lot with electricity, which does not have a camping lot across the street from it.

More photos for this campground and area can be found in the Straits State Park Facebook album.

photo taken from the beach access area across from lot 3

Arrival and check-in

There was not anyone working in the entrance booth when we arrived Friday afternoon. We found our name on the posted list of arriving campers before proceeding to our lot. The road splits after passing the booth, and the posted signs did not contain lot numbers or the campground section names. We should have looked at the campground map more closely before we arrived, because we turned the wrong way! The road that veers left goes to the lower campground, and the road that goes straight ahead/to the right goes to the upper campground.


Lot information - lots 2, 3, 18, 18-A and more

Lot 3 was the only lot with electricity that we observed with a good view of the bridge. The other electricity lots had either another campsite or trees blocking the view between the lot and the bridge.
view from lot 3

We thought lot 18-A was the best bridge-view non-electric lot. Most of the non-electric sites on the water were larger lots. With the exception of lot 18, the electricity lots across the street from the waterfront lots are quite small.

lot 18-A


The measurements for lot 18-A are not posted on the Michigan State Park reservation site, and it says that it accommodates a camper up to 30'. Lot 3 also says that it accommodates a camper up to 30', and lot 18-A is WAY bigger than lot 3!

Lot 18 is a large pull-through lot with electricity; however, the view is somewhat obstructed by trees. Lot 2 says that it accommodates a camper up to 25', and I thought a 30' camper would fit on this lot quite nicely, if parked lengthwise instead of backed in. Lot 2 is very wide; it looks wider than the 35' width posted on the state park website. The view from this lot is also partially obstructed by trees.
click on the photo to enlarge it

Lot 3 is barely 30' deep and I was surprised we fit on the lot. I was glad the lot behind us was empty! The only place to park our truck was across the front of the lot, which blocked the view of the bridge and lake. Unfortunately, there is not a parking area for extra vehicles in the lower campground area of this state park.

Mackinac Bridge is not visible from the upper campground; however, the campsites are larger. A couple of nice ones we noted were 225, 254, and 270. Visit the Facebook album, if you want to see more campsite photos.

We had a problem with the electricity on lot 3, which is a 50 amp site. Our lights inside flickered and acted oddly as soon as we had plugged in. Then, we smelled something burning, and our power did not work correctly after this. We called the contact station, and they sent someone down to check the voltage at their electric box. He said the reading was correct, although we tend to think something was wrong with their power. We had just stayed in Fayette Historic Park on a 50 amp lot for three nights running the same appliances, and we did not have any trouble in that park. Not to mention the many other parks we had stayed in before arriving at Straits State Park.
click to enlarge
or click RV post link for info

I did some research after our stay and found this RV post about electrical issues in campgrounds. The last two paragraphs under Electrical Appliances sound like our situation. I am not sure if our insurance or the campground will cover the repairs for something like that. We are taking our RV in for repair next week, and I will update this post when we find out what the problem was after the experts look at it.

**Electrical update: The RV place told us that the damage to our 5th wheel was caused by an external power surge, although they have no way of proving how/why it happened. The surge took out our converter, microwave/convection oven, and our TV (the TV and oven were not on when we plugged in). We had taken our second TV out of the RV, so I do not know if it would have affected that one, too. Our insurance covered the replacements and repair, minus our deductible.

We talked with the RV place about installing a surge protector, and even though they sell them, the person we spoke with advised against it. He said that a built in one, which is around $300, would also prevent power from entering the RV if there are minor electrical inconsistencies in the line. (I do not recall the details of this conversation, although he and my husband seemed to understand!) They also sell a portable one; however, he said that situations like we encountered are rare.

As I said earlier in this post, we tend to think something was wrong with the power at this campground since we did not have any trouble with 30 or 50 amp sites prior to this stay, and this situation happened immediately after plugging in. We were probably the first big rig to pull into this area of the campground this season. I do not know or understand whether that would make any difference; I am just throwing that information out there for anyone who has more knowledge than me.

Facilities

This campground has two dump stations, one in the upper campground and one in the lower campground. The blue water hose at the upper campground dump station, which looks like the potable water hose, was not marked. Online information states that potable water is green and non-potable rinse water is marked blue. It would be nice if they also posted a sign on the blue hose for people who do not know this! Neither dump station is on a flat surface, and the upper campground station has a slightly larger incline. This made it difficult to empty the holding tank completely.

bathhouse in the east section of the lower campground
There are flush toilets and showers in each campground. Both of the bathhouses in the lower campground were old and dingy looking. Fortunately, we have a shower in our RV because the hot water was not working in the showers by us. We heard a young child screaming when his parents made him shower in the cold water, and we overheard them asking workers about the hot water situation.


Hiking trails

click to enlarge

This park has more hiking trails than we had realized. We started out heading west on a trail located near the lower campground dump station. We initially thought this was the trail leading to the upper campground; however, we had taken the first wide open trail, which goes to the highway rest stop.

Mackinac Bridge centerline
Our mistake turned out to be a good thing, because the worker in the rest area provided us with maps and some information. He drew in a couple of trails that are not on the campground map, and he told us that the photo stop at the upper campground is on the bridge centerline and was one of the survey points during construction.
trail entrance from rest stop

The North Country Trail that we started on from the rest stop is part of the same trail we had hiked in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This trail actually starts in New York state and ends in North Dakota passing through seven states in all. More information is available on the National Parks Service website.

The trails in the Straits State Park were all easily navigable and well marked. We walked up and down a few hills; however, there was no rough terrain. Again, you can find more photos in the Facebook album!

Misc. and overall

Two workers were mowing the grass in our section of the campground Saturday evening around 6:00 p.m. This seems like a terrible time to mow the campground grass--dinner time on the weekend! There were at least five other campsites with campers on them so we were not the only ones disrupted by the mowing.

There is a grocery store on the corner of Church Street and US 2 near the campground entrance. The bicycle ride to downtown St. Ignace was not too difficult even though it was hilly. The mayflies by the water downtown St. Ignace were so thick we did not ride as long as we had intended.

This is a decent campground for the most part, although there were a few things that bothered us. Given the situations we encountered--weekend mowing, power problem, dump station issues, and old bathhouses--we thought the nightly rate was high. We paid $30 per night to camp here compared to $23 per night in Tahquamenon Falls State Park and $19 per night in Fayette Historic State Park.