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Tahquamenon Falls camping in the wintertime

| Updated Nov 6, 2021

The hardest thing about finding a spot to camp in the wintertime in the north is finding an open campground.

As we toured Michigan’s beautiful snow covered Upper Peninsula in mid-February looking for a place to spend the night, all we found were Wal-Mart and Indian casino parking lots. Sorry, but those kind of environments are not our idea of camping. All the regular campgrounds we passed were closed and unplowed.

The unplowed part is a big deal.

snowdepthBecause on the level ground, snow measured 28 inches.

So it was with great delight that we discovered that one of Michigan’s premiere state parks, the 50,000-acre Tahquamenon Falls State Park between the towns of Paradise and Newberry, was not only open but had a dozen campsites plowed and available.

First though, we had to see the falls. The Upper Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, has a drop of nearly 50 feet, more than 200 feet across and a water flow of more than 50,000 gallons per second. It was spectacular in the winter. The slower moving part nearest the bank was frozen. But three-quarters seemed oblivious to the cold – a few degrees above zero the afternoon we visited.

The amber color of the water is caused by tannins leached from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock in the swamps drained by the river.

Mist coats trees and rocks on the shore. The entire scene is breathtakingly beautiful.

After a dinner at the excellent restaurant and microbrew at the Upper Falls – also open all winter and doing a brisk business from snowmobilers – we made our way to the Lower Falls campground, about four miles to the north.

While we slept that night the temperature outside dropped to minus four. We were amazed at how warm we were in our Roadtrek eTrek, warmed by a Webasto Dual Top diesel heater. We also plugged in a small ceramic heater to keep the floor warm when we made our way out of bed to use the bathroom. Speaking of which, instead of water, you flush the toilet with antifreeze. The water you need, you just take in plastic bottles.

The next morning, as a gentle snow fell outside, we felt pretty rugged, spending the night in such cold. Then we looked around. There were other campers in the park. Two of them were in tents. You can meet them in the video above.

The park was beautiful. The State DNR keeps about a dozen spots open and plowed. While water is turned off at the sites, electricity is available. And a couple of clean pit toilets are also available.

Winter camping may not be for everyone. But why not try it? I bet you’ll be surprised by how great it is.

Check out the video:

Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-02-23

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

8 Responses to “Tahquamenon Falls camping in the wintertime”

December 12, 2014at8:28 pm, VTBVanAirstream4x4 said:

Ok, I have reserved a site. Hoping to make it from VT. Gong to be a challenge regarding logistics (time getting there and back), but love that you are encouraging winter camping. 🙂

April 01, 2013at4:10 pm, mike said:

what model unit were you camping in this video?
was it the etrek, if not have you cold weather camped in the etrek?
Also, have you hot weather camped/traveled in the etrek? (temps at 100 degrees F)

February 28, 2013at8:57 am, Jeannie said:

I’d LOVE to go winter camping, but I’ll never be able to convince my guy to do it. We have a 40 ft. Tiffin Phaeton. I bet we could without a problem. sigh…At least I get to dream about it reading your blogs and newsletter!

February 26, 2013at7:35 pm, Trekker said:


GREAT web site, and first class reporting! It’s obvious that you have training in the field of reportage. The videos and audio are excellent quality. This truly shows that it takes more than a laptop with a camera and a microphone to make an interesting story. Talent is the key ingredient that is missing in 99% of the debris posted on the web. Keep up the good work!

Good to see that you have been able to use the RS in sub-freezing temps. I gather that your tanks are empty? Although the great North photos look enticing, I’m saving my trip to the UP for this summer.

February 24, 2013at7:15 am, Jim & Pat Avery said:

A terrific story of adventure Mike! The UP is our next area of exploration for sure. I had a wonderful taste of it last fall while traveling through the UP enroute to Minnesota with our son Adam. Enjoyed this very much! ~ Jim

February 23, 2013at9:22 pm, Steve A said:

Mike, guess we’re not as brave (foolish?) as you. We like Spring and Fall Camping. We bought our RT new in 2004 and have had some great travels. A couple of times a year we meet some PA friends with their 39″ Bounder. They tow a jeep, but we are happy to just take off for thed ay in the RT,complete with whatever dog or cat is riding with us.

February 23, 2013at9:20 pm, Riley Waters said:

Mike and Jennifer: Your reporting here has become a highlight of our week. We so enjoy your reports. The stories you did this week on the UP of Michigan were extremely well done. We find ourselves checking your blog often. My wife will say “Mike has a new story up” and I’ll rush over to her computer. We are long time RVers (Airstream) and even though you travel in an Class B, the stories are always applicable. You are almost convincing us, though, to think about a Roadtrek someday 🙂

February 23, 2013at4:50 pm, Kiki Dunigan said:

Mike, I am so glad you took this trip and shared it with us! I have wanted to winter camp for several years, but never knew anyone who did. I’m pretty sure my vintage Airstream is not an option, because it has no insulation, but after watching your video I did a web search for one of the tents with a woodstove. Pricey, but not impossible, and I think I would really enjoy camping that way! Your experience is very much an incentive to try winter camping.

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