Here’s your chance to try out winter camping

 Here’s your chance to try out winter camping

Announcing, the first annual Winter Wonderland Roadtreking No Rules Rally,  to be held Jan 23-25 at the very snowy Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Last time I camped there that time of year, the snow measured 28 inches on the level ground and the temp dipped to -7 F.

falls3 (1 of 1)Pssshaw.

That's nothing for Roadtrekers.

With my buddy Jan Seiner, Jennifer and I will be there. We're in spot 177 at the Lower Falls Hemlock Campground. Jan will be 178. I wonder which of you will be brave enough to book the next site?

The state DNR keeps this open all year and plows out a few sites. They have 30 amp electricity if you need it. There is NO AGENDA, NO RULES, NO NAMETAGS. We'll have a big bonfire every night. We can drive or hike down to the excellent brewhouse/restaurant near the falls, where we'll east dinner Friday and Saturday night. Bring cross country skis. REI and sporting goods stores rent snowshoes. Take a camera. The woods are incredible in the winter and the falls are stunning. Check out the photo I took from my last winter visit.

Winter camping is not much different than summer camping. Because your RV is winterized, you have no running water. So bring a jug of water for drinking. Use antifreeze to flush the toilet.falls2 (1 of 1)

You keep the heater on, of course. But that's about it. That and warmer clothes, boots and mittens.

Who's in?

Go to the Michigan DNR camping reservation site and get your spot for the lower falls, Hemlock campground.

Then post under comments here your name, site number and what yo';ll be camping in.

We'll have more info as we get closer in.

[spp-tweet “Wanna try out winter camping? Join us in January in Michigan's UP!”]


Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • Been there lot’s of times in the winter it’s awesome

  • It’ll be fun. If you’ve never camped in the snow, it’s a blast. Snowshoes, skis, a good fire, and some nice brandy and you’re all set.

    I’ll be there. My site is reserved. 🙂

  • Why is the water so brown? Is it from pollution or just mud? I was expecting clear water from melting ice

    • Neither. Like many rivers in the northland, the drainage area feeding the river contains many wetlands – shallow, swampy areas. Tannin is dissolved in the water, giving it that dark brown tea color.

  • Sorry if that’s a dumb question but I live in SoCal and rarely around snow/ice

  • That has to be teconomon (excuse spelling) falls in UP Michigan, beautiful any time of year!

    • Tahquamenon Falls. Not the easiest to spell but I agree it is a beautiful place to visit!

  • Reservations made. Site 179, in my RT 190P. With two dogs.

  • Looks nice. Spectacular picture

  • Yummy

  • Wow.

  • The water is brown because of tannins from the trees along the river. It’s very clean and clear. That’s one of the hallmarks of the river. It’s unusual color. It flows all winter long. The spray freezes along the trees and makes for one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit!

  • Shamin, the brown color is from tannin from all of the decomposing leaves and plants. It is completely natural and might not taste very good but is harmless.

  • If I can ever figure out how to winterize my 2013 E-trek it sounds like fun!

  • Awesome! Thank you for that info roadtreking!!

  • It looks hasome but I see that all winter with my snowmobile

  • Tannins give tea its color. The water tastes like bitter tea. Its perfectly healthy.

  • We were there last week and it is a beautiful area. The micro brewery next to the parking lot at the upper falls was a real surprise! Nice building and the beer was great!!! I have to check the sled dog race schedule to see if we can make it. Bigfoot Dave

    • Same weekend as the 2015 Beargrease Sled Dog Race on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

  • Reservations made on October 6, but forgot to post here! We’ll be in site 181, January 22 through to January 26. Can’t wait! Thanks for having this event!

  • We’ve reserved site 180. We’ll be in our ’97 190 Popular as long as our daughter wh’s home from college doesn’t convince us we have to stay home with her.

  • Don’t know if anyone is still watching the thread here, but I’m from Georgia and I’ve never seen that much snow in one place in one time before. Are there any special driving concerns? I’ve heard about snow tires and chains, but have never owned a set of either. I have all season tires on my RS Adventurous 3500. Could I make this trip?

    • The key to winter driving is to think like you are driving with an egg stuck to your foot. Gently apply the brakes, gently apply the gas, and leave lots of room. You have anti-lock brakes on your RS, so even if you stomp on the brakes you’re not likely to lose control, but still, stopping distances are far, far longer. I usually leave at least 300′ minimum between me and the car in front of me.

      Go slow. Anticipate. Have enough stuff with you in the van to where you can spend the night along the road if conditions really turn bad.

      But all in all, if you’re careful, it’s a fun experience. We’d love to have you.

      I’ll let Mike chime in on the specifics of driving in Michigan; I don’t know if chains are required.

    • The key to winter driving is to think like you are driving with an egg stuck to your foot. Gently apply the brakes, gently apply the gas, and leave lots of room. You have anti-lock brakes on your RS, so even if you stomp on the brakes you’re not likely to lose control, but still, stopping distances are far, far longer. I usually leave at least 300′ minimum between me and the car in front of me.

      Go slow. Anticipate. Have enough stuff with you in the van to where you can spend the night along the road if conditions really turn bad.

      But all in all, if you’re careful, it’s a fun experience. We’d love to have you.

      I’ll let Mike chime in on the specifics of driving in Michigan; I don’t know if chains are required.

      (Not really sure how I buggered up my login…. Apologies for the multiple posting.)

      • Thanks, Yan.

        I was waxing a little hyperbolic — I used to have a customer in Denver so I have actually seen — and driven in — some snowy conditions. Right after I got the Roadtrek we got caught leaving the Grand Canyon in a late spring snow storm, but I had somehow been given off-road tires on the RV, even though I bought it new. Now we have nice smooth, quiet all-season tires, and I was just a little worried about driving that heavy a vehicle in the snow. Plus I have no idea what the laws might be up that way.

        The next worry will be our dogs. We have a five pound Poodle and and 140 pound Bullmastiff. I’m concerned the little guy will just freeze solid at -4! He thinks 50 or so is cold. The big guy has enough thermal mass to keep him together long enough to do his business. We hate leaving him anywhere — he’s about one step short of being a service animal.

        Thanks again for your encouragement,


        • I winter camp with my dog, a 65# German Shorthair. We camp out in the woods, where it gets cold. I have a dog coat for him, but then we’re sleeping in 0*F weather, not in a warm Roadtrek.

          The 5# poodle – yeah, I’m not sure I’d leave him outside very long. If nothing else you might lose him in a snow drift. 🙂

          The Michigan DOT clears the sites, and I hope to have a tent shelter there, so we’ll take care of the little guy.

    • Yes you sure can make this trip… and no, you do not need snowtires. Your RS has enough weight to handle anything mother nature dishes out up there. We’ve driven all over the UP in winter n blizzards and heavy snow and, I swear, if I had a snow plow, we could pick up some extra cash plowing roads.

      • Here in Georgia, winter driving is always ice. I hear you can drive on snow, but it’s pretty counter-intuitive!

  • We are having a Class B being built (sorry, not a Roadtrek) but don’t know at this time if it will be ready by this date. But if so, we are up to the challenge. We’ve been to Tahquamenon Falls many times.

  • Ok — you guys said I can do it, so we’re coming. All of Atlanta shut down for a week last winter over a couple of inches of snow, so if you see me coming you might want to watch out!

    We’ll be in site 173. Is everybody coming in on Friday and leaving Sunday?


  • Have a site reserved, hoping to make it from VT, trying to find the travel time…thanks for initiating the event!

    • Great! Looking forward to seeing you

  • Hello to all who are attending this event. My husband Mike and I are actively looking to buy a Class B RV. We live in northern Michigan which has made it difficult to just look at a Class B. We have made several long trips downstate to see several different models all of which were beautiful! We were hoping to just stop by and visit during this event and see if we could get some advice or suggestions from the people who know Class B’s. We wanted to make sure it was ok before we just showed up.

    • Absolutely! Just come on by.

  • Hi Mike! I have decided to take the plunge and go winter camping for your No Rules Rally at Tahquamenon Falls! Since I don’t have a Roadtrek, I will be car camping. But I do have a very warm sleeping bag, good to -30º F! I have winter camped in a Yurt, and have all the supplies I need. You will find me on Site 187. I am so looking forward to it!

  • Just reserved #136 for me and my 1994 RoadTrek 190 Independent. Woohoo!! — hope the roads cooperate as best they can. 🙂 Coming in from way down state. Only three sites are still shown as ‘reservable’.
    I’m a wimp and am glad for the electric hookup! I’ve never tried my propane system for heating the RT yet, and always relied on a (struggling) electric heater. We shall see. This is exciting!

  • Hey Winter Rally Roadtrekers!

    The staff at Tahquamenon Falls will be plowing out extra sites to accommodate your group. As of today (1/07/15) we are pretty full. If anyone else is interested in attending this event, please call the park directly to speak with staff (906-492-3415). Leave a message if you get the machine. It helps if we know the size vehicle you will be camping in, so we can plow sites accordingly.

    There is 24″ of snow on the ground right now, with more coming down every day. We have snowshoes you can borrow, if you don’t have your own. Flag down a park ranger for more details when you arrive.

    Thank you, travel safely!
    Theresa Neal
    Park Naturalist, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

  • Hi Theresa… thank you for the note! Save me a pair of snowshoes! Hope we can find lots of firewood! I can’t wait to show all our Roadtreking fans this awesome park.

    • I’ll give the local store near the Lower Falls a heads up that you’re coming, so she can make sure to have plenty of firewood! Bring some kindling, just in case 🙂

      • That will be great! We will need a big space for a big fire! Also we’ll all probably be eating both Friday and Saturday night at the microbrewry.

        • Please contact our firewood vendor directly to discuss what you need (906-492-3246).

          You can call the brew pub to make reservations and/or give them a heads up on your group. They will appreciate it! 906-492-3300

          Each site will have a fire ring, so you can pick your favorite and build away!

  • We are veteran winter campers…and a lot of time at Tahquamenon Falls. We generally spend a month or more there in winter. We will be in 188.

  • I wanted to let everyone know that we(Tahquamenon Falls Staff) have plowed open 8 more campsites for the Roadtreker weekend coming up on Jan. 23-25. These sites are available through the DNR online reservation system. Firewood will be available at Knox’s general store-906-492-3246(1/4 mile from the Lower Falls entrance). The staff here at the Falls is excited to host you folks for the weekend. The winter season offers many sights & activities including frozen waterfalls, ice formations, x-country skiing, snowshoeing, & lots of SNOW!

  • Hi everyone! Well I’ve decided to take the plunge and hope I don’t freeze to death!!!! I have booked site 184. I have never winter camped before, nor worn snowshoes! Is it difficult to do as a pure newbie? Really looking forward to this adventure!! 🙂

    • Oh, and I am booked from the 22nd to the 25th in case the roads are bad. I live in southwestern Ontario, so it’s likely an 8 hour drive. 🙂 How many will be there on Thursday night? I’ll be in a 1997 Roadtrek Popular.

  • With great regret, one hopeful from VT will not be able to make it, just
    cannot get away long enough. Wishing you great times and thank you Mike
    and Jennifer for organizing this and thank you to Kevin Dennis for being so responsive.

  • snow shoeing is very easy. If you can walk you can do it. We generally have the trails packed down close in, so it will be easier for new people to find/follow the trails to the falls. We use the trails as feeder trails as we prefer the back country and brush busting.
    Do know that the dump stations are not open nor are they plowed. There is a place to get water, but you will need a couple of gallon jugs to get it back to your camper.
    We have camped for as long as 2 months at Tahquamenon falls for many years in winter. The rangers let us know your group was coming and we will be there a bit before the group gets there and for quite a while after.
    We have a lot of local knowledge and are experienced winter RVers as well as winter back packing, which we no longer do, having reached a certain age…..shoulder surgeries and breast cancer prohibit carrying a pack. Knee replacements did not stop snow shoeing, though.
    Looking forward to seeing the group. There are supplies and fire wood available very near the campground at the store.
    We leave Saturday for the UP. It is a 4 day drive for us.
    See you there.
    Carolyn and Dan site 188

    • Looking forward to meeting you guys. Let’s go brush busting! We’re going to need a bunch of wood and a place to gather..

  • We find it best to purchase wood. I’m not sure what the Park’s policy is about taking dead and down. I do know that it is not worth the grief to get it in deep snow particularly when it is frozen in. Carrying wood from the back country is not fun and unless there are experienced snow shoers who are in good shape, it isn’t going to happen if it is legal! The layout of this heavily used in summer park is such that there wouldn’t be much available wood near any of the campsites…again, if it is legal so to do.

  • I will be at #182 in a CS Adventurous. Being a Yooper, this is our kind of get-a-way. Look forward to meeting fellow Trekkers.
    Dick Peura

    • Yeah! See you next weekend, Dick!

    • Ha ha, I had to look up what a Yooper is. Nice! Looking forward to meeting everyone! And glad to hear that snowshoeing doesn’t involve a learning curve!

  • Just wondering…..any toilet or shower facilities?

    • No shower. Pit toilets (unheated). You have to be tough 🙂

  • As I write this it’s the Wednesday before our trip and on behalf of Yan Seiner, the co-host of this little adventure, Jennifer and I want to welcome those who will be attending. We think we have around 14 units who have reserved spots. We don’t know how many people that equates to but we’re guessing around 20 or so… a perfect number. There is no agenda for this trip. Arrive, set up (there are plowed spots with electric hookups available) and plan on having fun!

    Last I checked there is about 30 inches of snow on the ground! Tai can’t wait!

    Here are some things that might help your planning:

    Firewood – We will want to have big fires Friday and Saturday night. One of our campers will hopefully volunteer to be the gathering spot. Firewood is available at a little general store outside the campground. It would help if we all buy a couple of bundles. Because of ash borer disease, we are not allowed to bring wood into the UP from elsewhere,

    Meals – We’re all on our own. Jennifer and I will probably fix our own lunch Saturday. But we’re planning on eating dinner around 6 or 6:30 PM Friday and Saturday nights at the excellent restaurant/brewpub located at the Upper Falls… a couple of miles from the campground. It would be great if we could all do this as a group and then come back to the campground for the fire.

    Bathrooms – I’m assuming your rigs are winterized (it’s going to get down to around zero both nights so it better be!) You can still use the toilets in your RV. Just flush with the pink stuff (RV antifreeze). There are pit toilets at the camground but no running water.

    Activities – Whatever you want! For sure you will want to visit the Upper Falls. Gorgeous in the winter! It’s a couple mile hike from the campground. I hope to snowshoe there and back Saturday morning. The park folks have snoeshoes you can borrow. If you aren’t up for such a walk, you can drive to the Upper Falls. It’s then about a quarter mile walk to see them. Be sure and bring a camera! There are miles of groomed trails and you’ll hear and see snowmobiles. We can talk about other things to do or see while we’re there around the fire.

    Directions – Lower Falls Campground—6999 N. Lower Campground Ln, Paradise, MI 49768, Take I-75 North to M-123. Follow M-123 to the Lower Falls Entrance. 78 miles from the Mackinac Bridge.

    Things to bring:

    Extra socks

    Warm clothes! Parka, hat, facemask if you have one, warm gloves, hand/foot warmers

    Winter insulated boots


    Chairs (for sitting around the fire)

    If you plan on hiking, dress in layers.

    Yan and I will do our best to answer any questions here. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you. Jennifer, Tai and I will be arriving about 4PM Friday. We are in site 177.

    • I will have some toys to show off; one is a side tent that attaches to a Roadtrek; the other is my winter survival tent. My dog and I have both slept in that one – and survived. It’s an experience! I’ll pitch it when I get there. Sleeping on snow is surprisingly warm once you get used to the idea.

      I’m driving a borrowed Roadtrek, so my camping gear will be very light. I would appreciate it greatly if someone could toss an extra chair in for me.

      • I can do that for you cptdondo!! extra chair done. 🙂 Looking forward to meeting everyone.

        • Thanks! And this is Yan. Disqus keeps dredging up an old nick…..

          Went and bought some toys for the trip.

          • Hi Yan… this sounds intriguing.I borrowed my daughter’s snowshoes and bought some poles. excited to try them.-

    • Really excited (and a bit nervous) to see if we can really do this! Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!

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