Camping at Rollways campground in Huron-Manistee National Forests of Michigan.
It's September, it's late in the season, and the fall colors are about to start making major cosmetic changes in the forests of Michigan. Itching for one last night in the woods before winter with far too few opportunities to go do so, Caitlyn French and I chose to spend the weekend out in the woods. Here's how it went.
First off, the campground itself. Neither myself nor Caitlyn like being surrounded by RV's. We use a tent, we don't like the sound of slamming camper doors, or TV, or generators and various other electronics. We also really don't like feeling out of place being the only people with a tent. The lower peninsula has a whole lot of forest and a whole lot of campgrounds. We were wondering how much less crowded things would be now that kids are back in school.
Rollways campground was a very promising choice. It wasn't advertising itself as being RV friendly with electrical hookups or Cable TV, but at the same time it wasn't a pack-in/pack-out campground either. It looked very promising compared to other campgrounds we had been to. So Caitlyn booked it online for $15 a night.
The campground looked great when we got there, very remote and very quiet despite having a highway(M-65) right by it. The first order of business though was to set up the tent as there was an impending rainstorm. As soon as I tied her to a tree Mishka promptly dug herself a hole and sat in it. Look how dirty her face was just a few minutes after getting there.
Setting up the tent was a breeze, especially for how big it was. This was a new tent for us. I had bought it at Wal-Mart on clearance. I've slept in a tipi before but I have been really dissatisfied by the conventional pole tents Wal-Mart has. They claim to sleep ridiculous numbers of people for the size and they are very flimsy. The other problem with the small tents is that I have big feet and am very tall. I hate kicking the wall and getting rained on by condensation. The tent I bought was a Yurt style. It was a new design for me to set up.
As I usually do, I laid out a cheap tarp first to protect the bottom of the tent. The ground was so well groomed that there was no need to check for sticks or sharp rocks. Surprisingly for such a large tent it went up in only about 30 minutes. The process should go faster next time now that I know what I'm doing and have everything unpacked. The result was a very nice looking tent.
The giant windows gave us excellent ventilation while still allowing for rain to run off. I applied rain guard to the fabric as soon as the tent was up, fresh from the box. I hoped that it would do best job before the tent material could get dirty.
settling in during the afternoon gave us a peaceful early evening once we had moved things into the tent. Look at how nice this campsite is. You know who's behind us in the trees? Nobody! That's right, the campground was almost entirely empty. All we had to listen to was nature. All we had to look at was...nature. It was wonderful how peaceful things were there.
As the afternoon progressed Mishka made her hole deeper and proceeded to get much dirtier. There was no hope for the dog now, she was going full feral.
Once it got dark the sounds of the forest began to change. First there were coyotes yipping, and then the much deeper wolves in the distance. I had a handgun with me "just in case," but even with wolves about I never felt threatened by them. Mishka did however. I'd suggest keeping any pets you bring close to you. Dogs definitely shouldn't be left outside alone. Mishka loved the tent and as you can see she got her own sleeping bag. With so much space for everything and an air mattress, it didn't feel like camping so much as it did sleeping outdoors in style.
On Sunday it was time to leave. We probably could have gotten away with staying another day if there wasn't work Monday morning but we'd rather get home Sunday evening. Mishka was dismayed at how our tent had to come down. She definitely wanted to stay in the woods.
So if you are reading this and wondering if you should camp in Huron-Manistee National Forest or wondering what the Rollways campground is like, the answer is that they are both awesome. We certainly enjoyed it. I can't think of any real downsides of camping here over elsewhere. You are also very close to some beautiful views. There's even fishing nearby on Baker Creek and you are next to Loud Dam Pond, where there are trout. If you visit you definitely will pass Go and collect $200.