Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

June 15, 2014

Parks see rise in local visitors

PORT HURON (AP) — Ronica Monzo doesn’t need to travel far for a getaway.

The Kimball Township woman keeps her recreational vehicle at the Port Huron KOA during the summer and visits there at least once a week.

“Even though we live right down the road, it feels like you’re a million miles away once you’re in here,” Monzo told the Times Herald of Port Huron.

Campground operators throughout the area said locals such as Monzo are their biggest customers — but campgrounds also are seeing an increase in Canadian traffic, day-use traffic and new users.

“It’s close to them, they’re trying to save some gas money and they’re achieving the same thing that they would if they went north or to the west side of the state,” said Mark Sine, supervisor for Lakeport State Park.

Dennis Wilson, supervisor for Algonac State Park, said Blue Water camping is unique from the rest of Michigan because of campgrounds’ proximity to the water and metro Detroit.

“The one draw that we have that no other campground in the area has is the parade of Great Lakes freighters going past in the St. Clair River,” Wilson said.

“Both Algonac and Lakeport are popular campgrounds mainly because of our location to the metro area,” he said.

Tony Nelson, general manager for the Port Huron KOA in Kimball Township, said his campground also capitalizes on the water, letting visitors know about the blue resource a few miles east.

But Nelson said the KOA campground also has plenty to do on-site.

“We try to have enough to do here so you don’t ever have to leave if you don’t want to,” Nelson said.

Sine said his numbers have increased from about 88,118 campers in 2011 to about 116,687 campers in 2013.

He said a lot of factors can contribute to that number — marketing, the economy or weather.

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