State parks see more campers due to national park closures

Leelanau State Park offers a beautiful view for campers in lieu of Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore closure.

The government shutdown is having a positive impact on some state parks. In Leelanau County, staff members said they have seen more visitors than usual for this time of year.

We always think a year ahead and go from there.

Carol Winn, from Columbiaville, Michigan, said she and her husband planned on camping at Leelanau State Park. They prefer the rustic camping to that offered at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. She conceded planning in advance can be risky.

â??We always think a year ahead and go from there,â?? said Winn.

With the government shutdown, guests at Sleeping Bear were turned away Tuesday morning.

â??There were apparently lines of traffic that couldn't get in and had long-standing reservations for it,â?? said John Brown, a camper from St. Louis, Missouri. â??The people in there were asked to leave.â??

Brown traveled over 400 miles with the intent of camping at Sleeping Bear. While he would have liked to experience the national park, he was not disappointed by Leelanau State Park's view.

â??It's a good second choice. I never knew Northern Michigan had so much to offer,â?? said Brown.

Park officials said they expect more people to make the switch.

â??With the national park closed, it definitely affects us,â?? said Tim Rosochacki, a Leelanau State Park Ranger. â??This weekend if things continue as it is, we're definitely going to see a big up-swing.â??

Rangers predict they will have more people camping, and anywhere from 100 to 150 extra cars coming through the gates this weekend if the shutdown lasts that long. The rustic campground will be busier than usual.

â??It's not a big deal, everybody's respectful of everyone's space,â?? said Deanne Ellard, a camper from Paw Paw, Michigan. â??We would much rather prefer to do this kind of camping rather than the full hookup. I don't know, this is just special for us up here.â??

â??It's quiet,â?? said Winn. â??We've done a lot of reading. We went kayaking three times this last week and a half. It's just amazing.â??

For some, the allure of Sleeping Bear is that it is not a rustic campground. Campers say it is well maintained.

â??It's a beautiful spot. It's clean, well done. The feds do things well, you have to give them credit,â?? said Dan Ellard, Deanneâ??s husband.

Rangers say things normally slow down after Labor Day at the Leelanau State Park, but the staff there is well equipped to handle the extra crowds coming because of the shutdown.

The Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore Park will remain closed until the government shutdown ends.

Leelanau State Park will stay open for the color tour season. They close for winter November third.