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Monday, March 29, 2010

Campground Review - Portage Bay State Forest Campground June 2007

(this is one of series of posts of various campgrounds we have been to over the years... I am going through my files in alphabetical order and posting past camping trips in my blog.... something to do over this long long winter---- sigh)

Ok.. here is our favorite campground to go to when we are alone.. just the two of us.   It's sooooo remote and hard to get into, that is our favorite boondocking campground!  Located about 150 miles from our house, it's quite a trek up there.   It's located east of Escanaba, between there and Manistique, then south on the Garden Peninsula.  If you look at a map, look at the pointy of the finger of Wisconsin, (Door County)  as it goes north.. If you follow along through the waters of Lake Michigan, on the other side is the Garden Peninsula coming down from the north.  The Portage Bay State Forest campground is along the eastern shore of that peninsula.

map of state

Don't have a map of the campground, but thought I would do a Google Earth photo of it....  all the sites are along the water... this campground has a pitchepump well, a couple of outhouses, and nice quiet rustic camping.  The people who want hookups and noise and jammed in like sardines go to the other side of the Garden Peninsula, to Lafayette State Park.

google view

Information link:

THIS is what we have to drive on to get into this park....
road in

NOTE: this is a single lane road, with trees tight to each side... some curves are very very tight. If you meet an oncoming vehicle, someone has to back up till you find a wide spot in the road.  Those are few and far between!    The branches scraped our paint, and the bumps had us crawling along at less than 5 miles per hour.  But we KNEW what was waiting for us on the end of this road!


along the shoreline

When we pulled in, we got our bestest site, number 2!  There was only one other campsite occupied in the whole place anyhow.  LOL   It's always like this.   Pay a the post for your site, honor system.   We pulled in frontwards so we could see the water through the front windshield.  The firepit was movable (just a ring of rocks) so we made a new one on the other side.

We found a nest of ants right near our door... so we had to give it a good squirt of bug spray.  (now.. I don't want to get on a firearms tangent here)    We also keep along a can of wasp spray in close proximity to our doorway.  Did you know that it shoots 20 feet?   We keep it on hand for stray dogs after our pets, and potentially wild animals that would happen to get too bold?  Some folks have used it for attackers or hoodlums.. a good spray in the face and get away fast before they stop screaming?  We also have a can of grizzly spray that serves the same purpose when out walking with our dogs.  A few times we have had aggressive strays come after us, so a squirt of this can make em run off pretty fast.

Once we got set up in our campsite...  we went down to the beach. Heck it's only a few steps from the back side of our site.  There was nobody else around, so off came the leashes and out came the frisbee!
doin the friz

It was a lovely time, with sun, breezes and we had the entire place to ourselves....  except for this visitor!
JL visit

Here was our view right outta the campsite to the bay.....
our view

And of course the required photo of our dogs.. they MUST be in each blog post, right?
water dogs

That is my cool hippie tye-dyed shirt I bought when we went out to Mt Rushmore and Custer Park in 2006. It's a favorite of mine.  tee heeeee

Later on in the daqy, we unloaded the scooter and took a nice long ride around the peninsula.  We stopped at a cute little winery, chatted with the owner and loaded up on a couple bottles of cherry wine, some apricot mead and some bottles for gift giving.   Then we bought some produce from a roadside truck farmer and headed back to our campsite.

Steveio made the best of the afternoon... he hauled his lawnchair to the beach and relaxed in the sunshine.
relaxing again

We relaxed for the weekend, and enjoyed the peace and quiet.  A few times some cars drove through, once a State Park truck drove through and collected trash.  That was about it.  The rest of the time is was just us.  But can you imagine the surprise of these folks coming into the park, and instead of the usual tents or a pickup camper or two.. they see a monster diesel pusher???    I tell ya, the road in is tight, sometimes barely being able to swing the front end to avoid a tree with one mirror and the back end swinging out the other way to hit another tree.   Not too many big rigs would attempt this park, we have been here before so we knew what we were getting into.

The neighboring folks on site number one were kayakers and gone more of the time, so we only saw them a bit in the morning and then heard their car start up when they packed their tent and were gone.   Then we had the place to ourselves.

That evening, we were walking around the loop of campsites with the dogs (luckily on leash when we are that remote in the woods) and across in front of us first bounded a deer. It was pretty and golden and graceful as it bounded back into the woods.   That was fun.  Then we turned a curve and there we saw a SKUNK!   Both dogs were very excited about it, but luckily were on leash so they could not dash up to the skunk to investigate it.  Ducky was *sure* it was a kitty, she barked and barked to be able to go see for herself.  Finally, the fat old skunk waddled off into the woods and we waited till he was long gone before we walked past that spot in the road.  This is another good reason to keep your dogs ON leash when in the wild areas.  We sometimes let ours off leash if we are on a dog-friendly beach or lake or a large grassy field.  At least in open areas you can see what is coming and quickly snap on a leash if need be.  Both our dogs are obedience trained, but I don't want to risk a skunk or porcupine encounter to test their limits of obeying me .. or giving in to the thrill of the chase!

That night we had a clear sky, a zillion stars, and the soft lap lap lap of the waves on the shore....  slept with all the windows open and woke to the squawking of some sea gulls, begging us to come back to the beach for another day!


  1. Ducky would have really been sorry if she checked out that kitty, I had a dog tangle with a skunk once and it took forever to get the stink off, I thought I was gonna have to sleep otside after giving him the bath, We really enjoy your campground posts, Sam & Donna.

  2. Another great post. That is quite a wonderful place you showed us today. Thanks for showing your readers all of these great natural spaces to camp in. We love RV parks, but sometimes want a more natural setting to really be able to appreciate the great outdoors. And water, too??? Couldn't be better.
    Have a great week ahead.

  3. Thank you for the information and pics. I'm a yooper stuck in Iowa and will be traveling to Garden peninsula this summer. Had no idea what the campsite would be like. Now I can't wait to stay there.


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