June Book Review of the Month: Michigan State & National Parks

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Michigan is a beautiful state, and the state and national parks just serve to highlight that beauty. From camping along the Great Lakes, to wandering along rivers or in deep green forests, the land here is just incredible.

Our book of the month for June is Michigan State & National Parks: A Complete Guide, 4th Edition, by Tom Powers. Tom profiles 106 parks in Michigan, as well as accommodations and activities, and detailed maps. From Sleeping Bear Dunes to Sleepy Hollow, from Proud Lake to Bald Mountain, from Mackinac Island to Pictured Rocks and Isle Royale, this book covers all the extraordinary natural resources in parks that Michigan has to offer. I recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Tom, and was very impressed by what he had to say.


WE: Tell us a little bit about your book...

TP: From the first, I wanted the book to be the first place anyone would look for information about a specific state or national park in Michigan. I especially wrote the book for those readers who were trying to pick a vacation destination and wanted to know what a park had to offer them in terms of camping and outdoor activities.


WE: How did you do all this research? It is an exhaustive book on the subject!

TP: I visited every state park except Craig Lake State Park and asked each park manager to fill out a questionaire about their park. With each new edtion of the book, I mail the park managers a tear sheet that includes my write up of their park and ask them to update the copy and make corrections. I also try to keep up to date by reading everything I can about the Michigan DNR.


WE: What is the funniest thing you found, while doing this research?

TP: I can't say I ran across anything funny while doing research but I had several humorous encounters. At a down state campground, I was so focused on looking at how the campsites were laid out that I wandered in amongst some work release prisoners at work on various clean up details. When I finally looked up and saw the prisoners in their prison garb and a couple of shotgun wielding guards staring at me I was momentarily frozen in place like a rabbit caught in a car's headlights. I also was wandering through a campground in northern Michigan taking notes on a clipboard when I happened to step into a clearing in which a dozen state employees were laying around smoking. The moment I stepped into the clearing and the guys saw the clipboard they scattered flushed quail in all ditections. Ah, the power of clipboard.


WE: What are your favorite places?

TP: I have a lot of favorite parks in Michigan but ranked at or near the top would be Wilderness State Park at the tip of the Lower Peninsul and almost any park in the U.P.


WE: It is so interesting, the changes in state and national parks recently.
Have you stayed in a yurt or in a lodge? Tell us about it!

TP: I have not stayed in either a yurt or one of the new lodges. I have a travel trailer that is now as comfortable as home.


WE: What is the percentage, that you've seen, in tent camping vs. structural

TP: A lot of campers in state parks still use tents but I couldn't guess at the percentage. What continues to impress me about the campgrounds at the state parks is both the wide variety of camping choices or methods and the democracy of our state parks. It's common to find hundred thousand dollar motorhomes and $100 tents set up in neighboring campsites.


WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TP: I only hope in these tough economic times the state continues to fully fund our state parks. They bring money into neighboring communities and make for inexpensive vacations.


WE: Thank you, Tom, for this excellent interview!


Michigan State & National ParksMichigan State & National Parks