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Monday, August 22, 2016

Manistee, Michigan / Orchard Beach State Park

August 2016, Weekend, 2-nights, Site #10

View from the path behind site 10
This was our first visit to Orchard Beach State Park, and there were not many campsites available when we decided to camp in this campground. In June 2015, we had reservations on three of the better sites with friends (#s 42, 40, and 38); however, the state of Michigan called us to cancel our reservations a few weeks before that trip. Apparently, the campground was undergoing renovations, and our sites were not going to be open.

Check-in and arrival

Our site was available when we arrived in the afternoon, and it did not take us long to check-in. I asked if any other sites had become available, because the weather forecast called for rain, and the description for site 10 says: Unlevel Site, Poor Drainage, will hold water when rains. There was not anything available for both nights, and site 10 did not turn out to be any worse than any of the other sites in this area. Many sites in this park had the same description as site 10.

View from in front of our camper on site 10
before campers arrived on site 12

Site 10

There was not much room to maneuver and back into site 10, nor was there for most of the sites in this campground. The roads were not very wide, and the sites were definitely not any larger than the sizes stated. Many people had their RVs parked lengthwise along the road, right next to the road, which contributed to the close quarters. Fortunately for us, the two sites across the road from us were empty when we arrived, as we needed the room to back into site 10. It was not a problem making the sharp turn onto the road to leave when we exited.

Fire pit located on the hill slope

The pictures on the Michigan DNR reservation site for sites 8 and 10 must be old, as there was not a water spigot between the two sites, like shown in the photos. The information listed the dimensions for site 10 as 42 (length) x 45. The site was rated for a trailer or RV up to 30', which it barely accommodated. The back of the lot went uphill, so, it was not possible to back up all the way without bottoming out. The fire pit was also on the incline, which made it difficult to find comfortable chair placement. Although there was not complete privacy on site 10, we had more privacy than there was at most of the sites in this campground.

Site 10 from road
Sites 10, 8, 6









It rained the weekend of our stay, and the water did not present too much of a problem. Most of the puddling happened near the road. Our site also had a dip in the center near our door, so we did not put our picnic table under the awning next to the door, like we usually do. I have included a couple of photos to show the rain water. These were taken several hours after it had rained, and some of the water had already evaporated. You can click on any photo to enlarge it and see more detail.

Grass cut behind site 6 allows access to the bluff trail
There was a walking path along the back of the sites, on the bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. You can get to the walkway behind site 6.

Recreation: beach/swimming, sunset, hiking, downtown

The Orchard Beach State Park information page lists "beach" as an amenity at this park; however, I did not think there was much of a beach at this park. The only beach access was via the stairs that went down to the water next to site 42. There was not much beach area at the bottom, and the water was very stony. We could see many large stones in the water from the top of the stairs. We observed a couple of people swimming. If you do plan to swim at the campground, you may want to consider bringing some water shoes because of the stones.

View of beach from top of steps in campground

There are two nice beaches with facilities in town, less than four miles away: Douglas Park and 5th Avenue Beach. We visited Douglas Park, and we stopped downtown to walk around. Sidewalk sales were going on downtown at the time of our visit, and we observed a few great buys. I was surprised to see so many bookstores downtown. Public restroom facilities were plentiful downtown, and at the beach.











The sunset was beautiful over Lake Michigan from the bluff in the campground. We watched it from the trail and bluff area behind our site. There were a couple of picnic tables and benches on the bluff near the parking lot by the entrance. I observed another bench on the bluff behind the picnic shelter and overflow parking area. The sunset was not visible from most of the campsites, as there were many trees between the campsites and the water. It would be visible from a few of the sites at the south end (42 - 47).

Hiking trail sign
There was a short hiking trail across M-110 from the campground. We walked the perimeter of the trail. This trip was just over two miles from our starting point in the campground. It was an easy hike, which took less than 45 minutes. We did not have any difficulty crossing M-110.

Facilities: sanitation station, restrooms, picnic shelter 

There were three dump station lanes, and we did not need to wait when we departed Sunday morning. The water had good pressure, and we were able to thoroughly rinse our tanks after we emptied them. The trash and recycle receptacles were located near the office before the dump station. We are used to disposing of our trash when we stop at the sanitation station. If you have any heavy trash, I suggest stopping at the dumpster first, as it was a bit of a walk back from the dump station.

Picnic shelter
Women's restroom by entrance










We went inside two of the restrooms in this park: the one in the picnic shelter in the center of the park, and the one near the entrance. The restroom in the picnic shelter was old like the building; however, it was clean and functional. We were interested in seeing the shelter building; however, it was all closed up during our stay (other than the bathrooms).

The restrooms at  the entrance were the most disgusting bathrooms I have ever seen in a state park. I went in the Women's bathroom two different times on two different days, and the condition was the same. There was so much hair, debris, and grime, that I could not use the facilities. I went to a water spigot to rinse the bottoms of my shoes after leaving the building. I did not check the showers in this building after seeing the restroom, so I cannot comment on the showers.

Misc. and overall

I am not sure we would visit this park again, as there was not much to do inside the park. We prefer campgrounds with more hiking, a bicycle trail, and/or nice beach. I thought the best thing going for this campground, were the sunsets from the sites at the south end. We met a visitor camping from Indiana during our stay. Orchard Beach State Park was the second Michigan state park he had stayed in, and he was not impressed. Based the two parks he had visited, he had no desire to camp at one again.

Most of the people camping in this park seemed to be small groups of regulars who had their campers all parked together.  There were a few campers, who we assume left the park to kayak the Manistee River, as we observed a few vehicles with kayaks on top. We have not had our kayaks on this portion of the Manistee River, as we prefer to camp on the river when going kayaking.

Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to share this post for others!