Unusual attractions lure new Michigan campers

Hammock-only site in Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin is part of an effort to reach new types of campers.

Michigan campgrounds on private and state lands alike are implementing unusual programs and camping opportunities — think goat yoga and hammocks — to attract people into nature.

“We are trying to draw that crowd in to stay with us and spend some time in the parks, and we’re trying to diversify what that crowd looks like,” said Christa Sturtevant-Good, a reservation system specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.

With the help of COVID-19 lockdowns, the agency did just that.

Michigan state parks’ visitation rates increased 30% in the past year.

Hipcamp, a San Francisco-based online marketplace that connects private landowners to campers, saw booking numbers rise 252% from 2019 to 2021.

Hipcamp sites span America, Canada and Australia, making up a network of hundreds of thousands of camping spots, and is particularly sought after in the Great Lakes region.