MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) — Memorial Day weekend begins Friday, and tourists are expected to visit campgrounds throughout Upper Michigan.
Expect an influx of visitors to the UP, especially after last summer’s record numbers. The DNR says the holiday weekend means the start of summer. A time for many to experience Upper Michigan’s natural beauty for the first time of the year.
“Memorial Day weekend marks the start of a big summer of camping that will stretch into the fall,” said John Pepin, DNR assistant public affairs officer. “Everyone is looking forward to it. Visitors and park staff have been waiting for nice, warm weather.”
Meijer Store Manager John Spaulding said the retailer has everything you need for camping and outdoor adventures. From sleeping bags, three-season tents and hammocks to bug spray, coolers and barbecues.
“We carry so much for campers, whether they’re just starting out or veterans,” Spaulding said. “When people say, ‘I get rough,’ when they go camping, I say, ‘You really don’t have to.'”
When it comes to camping safety, Pepin said the DNR wants those who camp or enjoy the outdoors to follow some basic safety tips. The most important thing is to minimize the risk of wildfires in the forests.
“It’s about 90% of all wildfires that are caused by humans in one way or another,” Pepin said. “With more people in the forest, more people camping, and more people outdoors, the risk of fire increases.”
The DNR is still enforcing a burn permit restriction for the entire Upper Peninsula. According to Pepin, this doesn’t apply to cooking, recreational campfires, or if you’re burning household paper materials in a covered metal or masonry container with an opening no larger than three-quarters of an inch. For more information on where, what and when you can burn outdoors, visit the DNR’s Burning Permissions website.
Pepin said the DNR also urges you to maintain a safe distance from wild animals you may encounter while enjoying the great outdoors.
“People who come into contact with wildlife need to remember that these are wild animals,” Pepin said. “They’re not pets or anything you want to get close enough to.”
Pepin said he expects places like Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Palms Book State Park to be among the busiest this weekend. While Pepin said Memorial Day weekend will likely be busy, it’s not typically the busiest holiday weekend in the summer.
“It’s not necessarily the busiest weekend of the year,” said Pepin. “The 4th of July is still around the corner and typically by then more people are on vacation, visiting state parks, camping and doing things outdoors in the UP.”
Camping season ends in October for most campgrounds in Upper Michigan.
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