Michigan’s Van Riper Park: A Camper’s Paradise

Located just 17 miles west of Ishpeming, on US-41, Van Riper State Park is one of Michigan’s best kept camping secrets. This 1,200 acre park boasts one-half a mile of lake-front access and a beautiful sandy beach. Lake Michigamme’s temperature is generally moderate, providing a nice contrast to the colder waters of Lake Superior. Furthermore, Van Riper State Park also has one and one-half miles of frontage along the banks of the Peshekee River.

Providing campers with entertainment, such as playgrounds, picnic areas and boat launches, Van Riper State Park is also the ideal place for those who would like to catch a glimpse of unusual wildlife. In 1985 and 1987, 59 moose were transplanted from the Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada, to a release site, six miles north of Van Riper State Park. With new births each year, the herd of moose has grown significantly and a slow drive through the north part of the park may grant you the chance to observe one of these majestic animals. Additionally, an information center within the park, has pictures and information about the transplant of moose from Canada to the park, providing a wonderful learning experience for young and old alike.

Lake Michigamme is one of the top walleye lakes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well as producing fine catches of bass, pike, perch, and the evasive muskellunge (or muskie). Roads provide access to many streams and lakes throughout the park, as well as boat launches being available for use. Just make sure to have a valid fishing license (available at most bait shops) and to familiarize yourself with any size/species restrictions that may be in effect.

Rich in scenic and historic territory, Van Ripper is located only a few miles east of where iron ore was first discovered, in the Lake Superior region, back in 1845. Evidence of early mining ventures provides a step back in time and an adventurous visit for children, while a fine scenic overlook of Lake Michigamme can be found off the trails, giving lovers a romantic lookout.

Camping is available for the modest price of $10-$55 for those who wish to try a cabin and both showers and toilets are easily accessible. Whether you’re in the mind for long hikes in the wood, a relaxing fishing trip or simply breaking free for a weekend, Van Riper offers something for everyone, at an affordable price.

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