8100 Grange Hall Road
Dates of Visit: June 2-10, 2011
Holly Recreation Area was my first stopover in Michigan because I wanted to attend the event recreation 101 – Intro to Summer hosted by the Department of Natural Resources at Heron Lake.
The DNR has a beautiful 30 page slide show with a tour of the park, known as "The up-north experience, without the drive."
I was glad I had the chance to meet with Shawn Speaker, the Park Supervisor. He gave me the inside scoop about the campground and I'll share some of that info below. Shawn has been the supervisor here for 6 years, having worked in several other states before moving to Michigan. He says he really enjoys this park because it is a rarity in his experience: it's old enough (designed "back in the day") to have a large amount of land to work with so there's no "sardine effect" throughout the park and the camp sites. I agree!
Maple Loop – Here I am in Site 38. I really liked it because in my opinion, it gave me the best of all worlds – nice greenery all around, yet with an unobstructed southern sky so I was able to get DirecTV from my rooftop satellite dish.
Meet my neighbors down the road in Site 15 – Rick and his wife Lynn from Dearborn Heights, their daughter, Annie, with her 6 month old daughter, Rebecca, from nearby Rochester Hills. Rick and Lynn started tent camping with Annie when she was a child. I laughed when Rick said one particularly rainy camping trip made them start "moving on up" to pop-ups, and now they're in this motorhome. This was Rebecca's first camping expedition!
They also have friends who joined then in the adjoining Site 13, as well as other relatives across the street. They have these kind of get-togethers as often as possible and said they're enjoying Holly Recreation Area's kid-friendly facilities, the close proximity to the beach at Heron Lake but like that the campground still has a little rustic feel to it. With a relatively short season for camping opportunities, Rick said he appreciated having these kind of facilities close to home since they had made the decision to stay closer in because of the high price of gas. I really enjoyed meeting this family and will look for the pink flamingoes they use to mark their sites as I go around the state because they said they'd be out and about in more MI state parks this summer, also!
Rick shared his belief that kids that don't have these kind of outdoor experiences are missing out in important ways. He told me about the book "Last Child in the Woods" and I was intriqued enough to look it up. I've often been jealous of families I've seen sharing camping adventures and 'smores over campfires and have wished that would have been part of my growing up. This book's subtitle is "Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and discusses the lack of nature in the lives of today's 'wired generation' as being a factor in the rise of childhood obesity and attention disorders. Fascinating subject and makes me appreciate such outdoorsy families all the more!
Oak Loop – entrance showing sites 43, 45 & 47 on the right and 42, 44 & 46 on the left side of the road.
This loop is one of the most popular because it has a campground host next to a picnic shelter and playground where hosted activities are held periodically.
Trillium Loop – sites 101 and 103. This loop is much more shaded with heavy tree cover, but Shawn says it's popular because it's like being in a forest campground with lots of elbow room.
Hickory Loop – Looking across site 131 to the Class C in Site 129.
Shawn said that while all the loops will accommodate large rigs in at least some of the sites, this is the least popular for them due to navigating around the extensive trees.
General Campground and Reservations Information:
There is an additional $8.00 charge to make a reservation, and I found the DNR Reservations page to be pretty user friendly. It does take a little bit for the page to come up once you choose "Campsite" from the menu, though, so be patient and don't just assume it's not working.
However, while the system gives lots of good inforrmation on the 4 loops and the individual sites (maximum RV size, sunny or shady, size of asphalt pad, dimensions of each site), I found the information a bit confusing regarding the loops as listed on the main Holly Recreation Area website page. The links from there provide the following information:
Holly-McGinnis Lake – Modern Campground lists 144 sites at a rate of $21. Click on the Campground Map for this area and it shows the Trillium Loop (sites 80-119) and the Hickory Loop (sites 120-144).
Holly-McGinnis Lake – Semi-Modern Campground lists 15 sites at a rate of $16. Click on the Campground Map for this area and it shows the Maple Loop (sites 1-40), the Oak Loop (sites 41- 79), and the Aspen Loop (sites 147-161).
Reviews from other RVers: RVParkReviews.com
I assumed the difference between 'Modern' and 'Semi-Modern' was electric service. However, once I got here, I discovered this was not a correct assumption. With the only exception of Aspen Loop, all other sites in each of the other 3 loops have 30 amp electric, and while there are no water hookups at each site, there are a few water faucets scattered through the loops.
In clarifying this with Shawn, he agreed the maps linked that way are a bit misleading and will work on getting that changed that in the system. Actually, the Aspen Loop is the only one considered "Semi-Modern" because it has no electric and no water or toilet/shower facilities anywhere in that loop.
The site maps indicate individual sunny/shady sites, but basically, the differences between the loops are:
Maple Loop – sites are mostly sunny with clear skies.
Oak Loop – sites are partly shaded and party sunny.
Hickory and Trillium Loops – sites are heavily wooded.
Aspen Loop – no electric, water, toilet/shower facilities in that loop.
No pull-through sites in any of the loops.
After you pass the main entrance, you're about .7 mile to a crossroads with signs where you turn left for McGinnis Lake Camground and right to Holly Recreation Area. Right turn takes you to the beach area that I wrote about on my blog linked above, and there is a large parking area, but you want to turn left to get to the campground.
After that, you're almost to the registration station and all the campground loops.
Directions problems: 8100 Grange Hall Road is the address listed on the DNR website. That address is also given by Garmin Nuvi and Microsoft Streets & Trips. But using that address with Garmin, I was taken to the entrance of the Administration Offices, not the park or campground itself. I saw the sign that said Holly State Recreation Area and Administration Office, but there was nothing that said to continue on for the entrance to the campground, so of course, I found out the hard way I turned too soon. Luckily, the parking lot in the back was just big enough to turn around without me having to unhook the car, but just barely.
The entrance to the recreation area that leads to the campground is only .1 mile after that – a right turn onto McGinnis Road. Shortly therafter is the ranger station for campground registration. The GPS coordinates for that spot are listed above.
When I mentioned this issue to Shawn, he told me about using the address the utilities company use – 5300 McGinnis Road. Plugging that in to both Garmin and Streets & Trips took me right inside the entrance to the park and just about to the registration station, so use that one! I appreciated that Shawn saw to it that they did add this note to the website under "More Information" on the campground page, but since the main heading still shows the Grange Hall Road address, I wanted to make sure you saw it here, too.
Later, I checked the Garmin's Points of Interest and besides the 8100 Grange Road address, they also list another location for Holly State Recreation Center of 370 Grange Hall Road. Just to see where it would take me, I followed that and it's not even close. After going past the park, it takes you 5 more miles down Grange Hall Road to nothing that is related to the park.
Anyway, this is all just to let you know to be sure you have correct directions and don't make the same mistakes I made in getting here, because once I was here, I was sure glad I was!
I'd love to hear your own experiences about places I've been - and what you think are "must-sees" - and I really value any suggestions and feedback from readers, so please let me have your 2 cents in Comments below: