Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Michigan. Top Hidden Gems We Found in Michigan!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include a link to our favorite free camping areas, along with other RV camping we’ve done in the state

Crisp Point Lighthouse

This is a beautiful lighthouse to visit, but consider yourself forewarned, the road to get there is like no other we’ve traveled. When they sell a t-shirt in the gift shop that says “I survived the road to Crisp Point Lighthouse”, they aren’t kidding! We did it in a dually, so I know everyone can do it, but it is long and tedious, but worth the sights (and you might actually want to buy a t-shirt when you get there). A lot of people travel there on a side by side or off-road toys. We actually visited several lighthouses on the “lighthouse tour”. You can pick up a guide at the visitors center. Makes for a fun “truck hike” day. YES … this funny (funny because it turned out good) sign is actually on the road in! Let’s hear it for Girl Scout Cookies saving lives!!! 

The Tridge – Midland MI

Located in Chippewassee Park, this isn’t the only triple bridge in Michigan, but if you’re near the area, it’s a beautiful walk, and something pretty unique. There is also a farmers market, a skate park and a dog park if you’re interested. 

Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide

Assignment

Located in Thompsonville. It’s basically a huge water slide without the water. You take a chair lift to the top of the mountain and jump on a specialized sled to ride one of the two slides that are each 1,700 feet long. Make sure to check dates because the slide is only open seasonally.

Electric Forest

I’m adding this because it’s on my bucket list. We have not gone here (yet). But highly recommend at least checking it out. It looks really amazing and fun! Click here for information. 

Most everyone knows about the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It’s not an “off the beaten path” choice, but if you go to Michigan, DON’T MISS IT!!! It’s a breathtaking but very popular tourist place. We went! We loved it, and if you have any questions, let me know. The hiking and kayaking are amazing there!!  I did want to mention that once or twice a year, if you’re lucky, the wind is blowing just right and the garnet in the rocks washes up on shore and causes the sand to turn a vibrant pink. It only lasts a couple of hours to a couple of days. We were lucky enough to catch it! Go into the visitors center and ask about it. 

IMG_4406

Ann Arbor’s Fairy Doors

We find this a little creepy, (we like this kind of stuff Ha!) and quite entertaining and interesting. Have you heard the story behind these?  You can actually pick up a tour brochure to show you where all the fairy doors are. Pretty creative! 

fairy2

Here’s a little history I found: “In 1993, While Jonathan B. Wright was renovating his century-old home, his young daughters made a delightful discovery: itty, bitty, six-inch doors scattered throughout the space. When opened, there were tiny railings inside that led to other miniature doors. There were even windows springing up, where lights inside would magically turn on and off. By 2005, Jonathan had become a full-fledged Fairyologist, documenting the little doors that were now springing up all around town – obviously, they were fairies, what else could they be? His website has documentation of over two dozen doors from these “urban fairies.” 

Blooming Mystical Lavender Labyrinth

MDRUM_Lavender_Labyrinth-2-e1499685768435-1500x1000

Who knew? This is on a farm in Shelby Michigan, called Cherry Point Farm and Market. The fruit and farm market has been in operation since 1961. In 2001, owner Barbara Bull started work on a lavender labyrinth, which can be seen on Google Earth. Don’t forget the amazing cherry pie and other fantastic fruits and homemade yummy things from this farm and market. 

Manistique Boardwalk and River Walk

manistique-2519631_1920

The Boardwalk runs down the Lake Michigan shore in the town of Manistique. Go for an early morning walk or take an afternoon and picnic in the park. You can view the Manistique Lighthouse or ships passing by. It is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can spend as much or as little time there. It’s really beautiful to walk out on the jetty to the lighthouse. As you can see from the picture, the sunsets are incredible. Highly recommend early Fall if you’re wanting a more peaceful, quiet time. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

IMG_5115

This doesn’t fall into a typical off-the-beaten-path place, but I just had to mention it. We visited this area in September on a weekday. It was almost empty! We actually went twice in one day. (We wanted to get some pictures later in the day.) TIP: Paradise is actually a very small, very expensive little town. We made the mistake of running out of propane and having to fill up there. It was the highest propane cost we’ve ever paid. So gas up, fill your propane tanks, and arrive with everything you need or you’ll be paying extremely high prices there. 

Kayaking

Want to do some Kayaking (one of our favorite things to do) Here are two of our top picks (other than the Pictured Rocks National Seashore area which is not an Off the Beaten Path area)

Bete Grise Sea Arch

Bete Grise

Bete Grise is a nature preserve on Keweenaw Peninsula, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A quiet and scenic kayaking destination on the Keweenaw Peninsula’s southern shores. The Bete Grise Bay is an amazing destination on its own.  There are miles of shoreline and waterfalls. Make a point to check out Keweenaw Historical Ruins too!

TIP: Launch your kayak or canoe from the Bete Gris Beach and paddle east, keeping the shoreline on your left side. After a couple of miles, natural rock sea stacks and sea arches rise from the shockingly clear water of Lake Superior. You can float through the arch and hang out in the shade. Please watch the weather. Lake Superior can be brutal in a kayak!

Turnip Rock

So, I was thinking this was a pretty popular thing to do. But when I started talking to people last year, no one had heard of it.

So we’re including it on our list. This unique rock formation is a favorite destination of those kayaking in Lake Huron, as it’s only accessible by water. The land on Turnip Rock is privately owned but you can still access this by water (kayak, boat, etc) Another option is to wait for Lake Huron to freeze and walk your way out to Turnip Rock.

Hope you enjoyed the ideas! Thank you so much for visiting our little corner of the internet. We would love to hear what you find “off the beaten path” in Michigan. 

Looking for the best boondocking or paid campgrounds to stay in while you’re traveling in Michigan? Check out our ever-changing, always updating list! Click the button below to see our best RV Camping in Michigan!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It means a lot to us!

Here are some of our top blogs we think you’ll love!

Thank you for checking out our little corner of the internet! We appreciate each and every one of you! We’d love to hear from you!

Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Missouri ~ Our Unique Finds!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, with GPS coordinates.

Missouri is home to the world’s largest fork, the world’s largest goose, and apparently, there is a fish on a bike in Missouri. Can only get better from here, right? 

St. Louis Arch is definitely a unique, amazing, beautiful, and interesting visit! We’ve been there, and we rode the quirky elevator to the top. I’m not going to give much information about the Arch, as it’s a very popular, not really off the beaten path place, but if you’re going to Missouri, definitely hit that spot. If you like the out-of-the-way, less touristy places, my advice is to go on a weekday, not in the summer, and not around any holiday.

Waterfalls! Waterfalls! and more Waterfalls! They are my happy place. Some people love the beach or the lake. I am most at peace with myself and the world sitting by a waterfall. There have been many occasions I’ve pretty much had to be dragged away.

Hodgson Mill Waterfall

Hodgson Mill

This is easy access off of Missouri Hwy 181, the Hodgson Mill Waterfall makes for a great photo opportunity. The historic water-mill neighboring the falls dates back to the mid 19th century. It is really breathtaking and a great stop.  

Rocky Falls

This wonder is located just east of Emminence, in the southern Missouri Ozarks. You can find it near the Current River and Jack’s Fork National Scenic Riverways. 

The town of Hannibal has several things to see! We really enjoyed this little place. Great scenery, history, and just plain fun to walk around!

The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse

Did you know? So … I climbed all 244 steps and then learned there is a back way in? Oh well, it was beautiful to get there, but it’s a lot of steps! Beautiful views! If you can manage the steps, definitely don’t miss this. Don’t miss the Tom Sawyer House complete with the whitewashed fence. This visit seriously made me want to read the books again! Really fun history! Pretty sure I didn’t walk the next day after that climb! And yes, the two pictures at the bottom are two separate climbs.

Mark Twain Cave

Also in Hannibal, MO. I hadn’t heard of this cave before I went. So I wasn’t sure if this would qualify as off the beaten path, but it was really fun! The cave is near a campground, and we did stay at the campground a night or two. We don’t normally stay in campgrounds, but we really needed to get our tanks dumped, and it was before peak season, so we stayed. There is a fabulous winery right there, with live bands sometimes. We really enjoyed this! Yes, these are real pictures we took. Pretty amazing right? By the way, there is a really neat Geocache near the cave! If you don’t know what Geocaching is, click HERE for our blog about it. You will love it (and if you have kids, they will too.) I’m a big kid so I still love Geocaching. 

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

The old Chain of Rocks Bridge spans the Mississippi River on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri. The eastern end of the bridge is on Chouteau Island, while the western end is on the Missouri shoreline. 

Lake of the Ozarks – This is a pretty popular place, but if you’re looking for some amazing kayaking, check it out. Not going to get too much into this lake because it is a very popular place. But the views from a Kayak are incredible!

Welch Spring Hospital Ruins

heelingcreek

Sitting along Missouri’s Current River, the gorgeously abandoned Welch Spring Hospital Ruins once offered healing waters but now simply provides scenic ruin. Due to the ecosystem, you aren’t supposed to go in the water at all. The story behind this is creepy, unique, and a little different. Definitely something off the beaten path and unique! 

Extra Info:

There is not an exact address. It is located between Cedargrove and Akers on the Upper Current. To drive, go north from Akers on Route K. Turn left on the first gravel road past the Akers Group Camp. At the end of the road, park next to the river and walk a trail north along the river for about a half-mile. At the end of the trail, you will be able to see the hospital, although you will be across the spring from it.

Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins

Ha, Ha Tonka State Park  (GPS: 37.97607, -92.76979) is first and foremost a super funny name! It’s a 3,700-acre public recreation area on the Lake of the Ozarks, about 5 miles from Camdenton, Missouri. One of the highlights of the park is the castle ruins which are European castle ruins in an American state park that are actually the story of death and grief. I’ll leave the history for you to check out! But don’t discount fascinating geological features. The natural bridge is over 70 feet wide, and 100 feet high. There are 2 caves. The Robber’s Cave and the Counterfeiter’s Cave – both known to have been hide-outs for 19th-century criminals.

Bonne Terre Mines

We did not visit this but read about this unique place. It’s on my bucket list for sure! If you like to dive or swim, or just want to explore this place, it’s super fascinating! The mine has been known as one of the most unusual diving areas in the world. Due to the toxic lead particles in the water, nothing can grow to render the liquid astonishingly clear. Would you feel comfortable swimming in that? I don’t know if I would but I really must see this place! Piercing lights have been installed throughout the caverns illuminating over 100 feet into the waters. Across 24 different diving paths covering 17 miles of subterranean rooms, visitors can swim through the grand arches and towering drowned chambers and you’ve got to see the rusting equipment still at the bottom of the “Billion Gallon Lake.” 

The Pinnacles

A geological formation formed by two rivers carving out a mass of limestone on both sides. The craggy peaks are now a unique and often overlooked landmark, This is north of Columbia.  You gotta see this place. It’s a real treat! There is a rocky archway, limestone boulders, and carved-out shelves that make the site excellent for hiking and climbing. 

Boondocking

If you want boondocking central, Missouri is your place!! There are so many places that you can camp for free, it’s unreal! And we aren’t talking about parking lots, Wal-Mart, or rest stops. We are talking about lakeside views!  Here are our two favorite places with GPS coordinates on the picture! 

Hope you found something fun or at least interesting to put on your own bucket list. Our county is amazing so get out there and explore, and we’d love to hear what you found in Missouri that was Off the Beaten Path! 

We think you’d love some of our other blogs!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!