Despite our mixed experience at Grand Haven State Park, we were enjoying Michigan far more than we expected, particularly since we had not even reached the Upper Peninsula yet. Since our first intended UP stop was a significantly longer drive from Grand Haven than I preferred, we snuck in one final stop near the shore of Lake Michigan: Platte River Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Forest. (Warning, sunset heavy post ahead.)
Our research on both RV Park Reviews and Trip Advisor strongly supported a stop there, and we lucked into a single reservable electric hook up site available for our planned weekend stay. Thursday late morning we made the 2 1/2 hour drive north, checked in at the ranger station and disconnected Loki before cruising through the large campground to our site.
It was huge. Most sites were quite spacious, and nearly all under a tree canopy, but our spot was enormous. You could have fit two additional RVs in our “yard” without crowding. Granted, it was electric only, but we new that coming in, had topped off our water at the Grand Haven fill station upon departure, and were only here for three days. Our winter in Key West had taught us our tank limits under various conditions: Living large with short showers in our rig every day we could easily go four days or more, while self imposed water austerity with the use of a campground shower house we could push it to perhaps eleven. Three is a piece of cake.
We had been spoiled by our first two Lake Michigan stops, both of which were so close to the shoreline as to allow viewing of the fantastic sunsets with but a short walk. Platter River would require a two mile drive down to the day park where the river meets the lake. And in that is the supreme advantage of this campground over the previous two: A clear running river meandering out to Lake Michigan, with excellent, protected swimming spots at the mouth.
I can’t speak to the conditions year round, but during out stay the river was noticeably warmer than the lake, and certainly calmer for easy swimming. One could take a quick and bracing dip in Lake Michigan, then hop across the 30 foot sandbar to the river, and the contrast made the Platte feel like a heated swimming pool in a natural setting. One would think this would make it a forever crowded place, but each evening we came there were at most a dozen other swimmers and perhaps twice that number on shore for the sunset. It was so sparsely used that we had no difficulty taking photos without any other bodies cluttering up the picture.
We didn’t explore the nearby towns at all, but did take our advantage of the numerous seasonal dirt roads meandering through the forest. Access, snowmobile, and hunting roads I suspect. Regardless, our rugged off road four wheel drive vehicle allowed us the option, so we took it, at one point finding an alternative overlook to the river and lake junction.
Alas, it was but three days, and though we could have enjoyed several more, we really needed to get moving in order to enjoy the Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior before summer’s end. So Sunday morning we departed for what would surprisingly turn out to be our longest stop since leaving Key West.