Interlochen, Michigan (Traverse City + Sleeping Bear Dunes)

Interlochen State Park

July 11, 2021

The last stop on our tour of Northern Michigan was the little town of Interlochen and the similarly named Interlochen State Park, located about 30 minutes south of Traverse City. The trip to Interlochen from Petoskey took us through several quaint little towns as we drove south along the shores of Lake Michigan. However, before we could get to the state park, we opted to stop by the Walmart in Traverse City to fill up on supplies since we knew that there wouldn’t be many grocery options in/near Interlochen. While we were there, we happened to see a familiar class B motorhome pull into the adjacent parking lot. After working up the courage, we decided to go check it out, and see if it actually was who we suspected it to be – one of our favorite YouTube RV couples, Eat See RV. And you know what, it was! Liz and Dennis were super nice and since they were heading towards the U.P., we were able to give them a few pointers about places they needed to hit, while they were able to give us some tips about our upcoming trip down to Kentucky as that was the direction they were coming from. Although they only have 50,000 subscribers, which is tiny compared to other large YouTube creators, it really did feel like we got to meet some celebrities that day!

Now that we were thoroughly supplied and starstruck, we made our way back to the truck to finish up our trip down to Interlochen State Park. We found this to be a fairly average campground, and pretty standard when it comes to state parks – cheap to stay with lots of outdoor activities (beach access, hiking trails, kayaking, etc.), but few luxuries when it comes to the sites themselves (dirt pads with only electrical hookups, no water/sewer). By this point, we were pretty good at limiting our water usage in situations like this, however, you’d be surprised how fast you can go through a 65-gallon fresh tank. So, in addition to showering over at the bathhouse, we were regularly filling up our gallon jugs and pouring these into the fresh tank to keep us from running dry.

Although the state park was perfectly adequate, the real treat of this stop was getting to see our old friends Scott and Molly, who made the trip up from Cleveland to hang out with us for a few days. This was really turning out to be the “social summer” as we were seemingly hanging out with friends/family every weekend (more to come in the next few posts as well). Sam and I have decided that we are “Mountain Time Zone people” when it comes to pure geography, however, it was definitely nice to have a constant stream of visitors throughout our tour of the Midwest.

After just chilling at the camper and hanging around the “colorful” campfire that first night, we decided to venture up to Traverse City that next evening for a lovely dinner before making our way to the lakeshore for a drink right on the water!

For Scott and Molly’s last evening in the area, we all hopped into one car for a tour of Old Mission Peninsula to do a little winery hopping and lighthouse spotting. We were quite impressed with this area, not only were the wines delicious and the charcuterie scrumptious, but the beautiful blues/teals of Lake Michigan made for a great backdrop above the fields of bright green vines.

After our lovely stop at the Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery, we continued our trip up the peninsula which culminated at the Mission Point Lighthouse where we soaked up some of that sweet summer sunshine as we chilled out on the beach.

We were sad to see Scott and Molly go, but we knew that we would be seeing them again in a few weeks, so we dried our tears, picked ourselves up by our bootstraps, and hopped back into the truck to do some exploring along the famous M22 highway before it was time for us to head out the next day. Man, are we glad we went on this little day trip, it was arguably one of our best days in our year on the road (oh yeah, another fun fact about this stop is that it marked our one year anniversary in the trailer)!

Our first fun stop actually came just before we hooked up with M22 in the little town of Beulah on the shores of Crystal Lake. Sam had always talked about how much she enjoyed coming to this area as a kid to run in their annual marathon, and once I was here, I quickly understood why she liked it so much – this place was AWESOME! The lake was so damn pretty and the whole town was just delightful from the welcoming little shops and restaurants to the colorful cabins which lined the edge of the water. They even had a little municipal RV park right next to the beach area which we decided would make a great place to come back to and spend an entire summer sometime down the road!

After leaving Beulah, we continued west and eventually turned onto M22 and made our way north along the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan until we turned off towards the Point Betsie Lighthouse.

We didn’t stick around here very long, we had bigger (literally) and better things to get to further up the highway, most notably the famous Dune Climb at the Sleeping Bear Dunes! This giant wall of sand is best tackled with bare feet, however, due to the late afternoon sun, the sand was scorching hot while we were there, which forced us to turn back before we could make it the full two miles to the lake due to blisters that were beginning to form on the bottom of our feet 😞. But, on the bright side, we still managed to get a good workout and tan in on the climb, while soaking up the awesome 360 degree views from the top of the dunes!

Our final stop along M22 came in the quaint little town of Glen Arbor where we rehydrated, explored the famous Cherry Republic, and snagged some of that trendy (expensive) M22 merch that you always see Michiganders sporting. Thoroughly fulfilled, but also worn out, we made our way back to the camper to get some much-needed rest and nourishment before we were scheduled to hit the road again the next day.

To say that we simply enjoyed our trip to Northern Michigan would be a massive understatement. I had always heard great things about “summers up north” from Sam and other Midwesterners, but you really have to experience it to understand what they’re talking about. By this point, we had been all over the country and I can say with full confidence that these 4-5 weeks up north were some of the best, most gratifying times that we have had while out on the road – and if you’ve been keeping up with our adventures, you’ll know that is really saying something!