Steady bookings at tourist destinations in Lenawee County

Spring has been good for local tourist destinations.

And, so far, the summer has been the same with bookings about the same as last year when destinations saw record growth.

The only thing hampering tourists’ style this summer is the impact of gas prices on their wallets. With gas around $5 a gallon, locals are staying local, and residents of northern Ohio and Indiana are taking single-tank trips to their favorite places in Lenawee County.

“Travelers still want to travel, but are looking for something closer to home to ease the burden on the wallet due to inflation in gas prices,” said Justin Gifford, executive director of Visit Lenawee. “We have two of our major national events returning to the Michigan International Speedway campus. This summer Faster Horses will be back and then we will also have the August NASCAR race taking place there.

The department offers

Some of the county’s tourist attractions include lakes, camping, a wine route, kayaking, boating, an event-filled summer, trails, and a huge botanical garden.

Mark Johnson, owner of Tecumseh Paddling Co. in Globe Mill Pond, said business was good.

“Everyone is having a good time,” he said. “We have good water levels at the moment which is good. Can’t complain.”

Tecumseh Paddling Co. owner Mark Johnson instructs, left to right, Jason Natale, his son Colton, 15, and Hudson's Starr Natale on the paddle before heading to Globe Mill Pond on 15 June 2022, in Tecumseh.

He said their customers come from “Jackson to Toledo and everywhere in between.”

Johnson offers three different courses: paddle the ponds, which is the easy course; the two-hour river trip on the Raisin River through Indian Crossing Trails; and the five-hour trip where Tecumseh Paddling takes people to Clinton and drops them off. The long trip is the only one requiring a reservation. Everything else is first come, first served.

“There are other places to go, about an hour away, but we think we’ve got a pretty good thing here because it’s all in the downtown park here, so there’s a lot less concrete here,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot of wilderness and a lot of wild animals.”

Different trips use different types of watercraft, but they offer single and double kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.

“We’re really for beginners,” Johnson said. “We love for people to get out and use kayaks. They’re very stable. They’re more stable than canoes and we also have a handicapped ramp which also makes it fun to use for people who have sore knees and hips They have an easier time getting in and out of the boat.

Business for restaurants is better this year with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, according to Misty Robertson, owner of Two Lakes Tavern of Manitou Beach.

The restaurant is adjacent to Devils and Round lakes and attracts many cottagers who visit in the summer. When there are events at MIS, they attract people from out of town, but the restaurant caters mainly to summer locals.

Two Lakes Tavern at Manitou Beach caters primarily to people visiting Devils and Round lakes.  Business is much better now than when capacity was limited to 50% by COVID-19 public health orders, owner Misty Robertson said.

“Business isn’t bad,” Robertson said. “It’s starting again. People are starting to go out again. So it’s much better than the year before with the COVID and the 50% (capacity limit). The restaurant and businesses like ours have suffered a lot from all of this .

Reservations are stable for Hayes State Park compared to last year according to manager Shane Morse.

“I would say we’re in line with where we were in 2021,” Morse said. “We’ve had one of the busiest years ever. In the park we have boating, camping, obviously our Lake Wamplers beach. We also have access to area lakes; Lake Evans, Devils Lake and Allen’s Lake And then in our areas we have swimming, we have a concession stand, shelter rentals, volleyball – all that good stuff for recreation.

Morse doesn’t track where people are from, so it’s unclear whether people are from local areas or out of state. He also oversees the Hudson Lake Recreation Area. While the park offers tent camping, the majority of campers use trailers. Fishing and swimming are very good at the moment with perfect water temperatures for summer.

“Depending on the weekend, you’re looking at between 85% occupancy and 100% occupancy in both Hayes State Park and Hudson Lake Recreation Area,” Morse said. “Then during the week we’re sitting around 40% to 50% right now at Hayes State Park and probably a little lower than Hudson Lake. So we’re definitely a weekend park destination on both sides. .”

Evans Lake Resort in Tipton is also bustling. IKEA retirees and now business partners Thomas Emerson and Allan Macher bought the complex at the height of COVID in December 2020 and gutted everything and renovated it.

The large cabin and picnic area are pictured at Evans Lake Resort in Tipton.

“We have 11 lakeside cabins or cottages and they’re all just steps away from our private sandy beaches and tiki bar,” Emerson said. “We have kayaks, fishing boats, rowboats that are all free for our customers. All non-motorized boats are free for our customers. For motorboats, of course, there are rental costs, but we also have pontoons for rent.”

They also partner with Sandy Bottom Adventures to offer paddle board lessons, he said.

Each cabin has a full kitchen, all plates, dishes, cutlery, knives, silverware and linens. Everything is all included in the stay. The cabins can accommodate two people up to 12 people. Prices range from $159 to $599 depending on cabin size and whether it’s a weekend or weekday trip. From Sunday to Thursday it is cheaper.

“There’s plenty of availability Sunday through Thursday,” Emerson said. “It’s a bit more affordable for families looking to get away. Weekends vary but we’re probably at this point about 80-85% booked for the summer. We have a percentage of the county from Lenawee, but a lot of our guests travel. It’s kind of like a one-fuel-up trip idea where it only takes one tank of gas to come and visit. Indiana is very popular. “Ohio is very popular for us. If we had to rank them, it would probably be Ohio guests, then Indiana guests, then Michigan guests.

Indian Creek Campground near Tecumseh also offers nature interactions for tourists. The campground has a gemstone and fossil mining operation set up for 2022. This is Indian Creek’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Indian Creek Campground near Tecumseh offers a 700-foot zip line and a 45-foot climbing tower among its amenities.

“The Dorman family still owns and operates it and has gone above and beyond to provide locals and strangers alike with an adventurous and relaxing camping experience,” said campground manager Angela Harris.

They provide a home environment free of alcohol and marijuana, she said.

“We mostly see families camping, but also many travelers looking for a peaceful retreat,” Harris said.

From tents to full-size motorhomes, everyone finds the park comfortable and clean. The target market is families who want to continue the camping tradition generation after generation. The camp even offers daily pool passes during the week to allow non-campers to enjoy the park. The camp also offers cabin rentals.

“This year is pretty close to last year,” Harris said. “The cold spring and increased local COVID cases have caused more last minute cancellations than usual. We are seeing lots of local campers. Many families in Lenawee County and surrounding areas enjoy our campground as it allows for a quick getaway without breaking the bank. But also many trips from Ohio and Indiana to visit. There have been a few cases where campers had planned long trips and decided to cancel due to the gas prices but it hasn’t been as bad as the COVID cancellations plus I’ve had an increase in those who decided to find a new place closer to home to avoid the prices additional gasoline.

The 45-acre campground features nature trails, catch-and-release fishing on the pond with pedal boat and kayak rentals, Wi-Fi, heated pool, bouncy pillow, nine-hole mini-golf, disc golf, volleyball- sandball, basketball, playground with large sandpit, recreation room with library and games plus a water war game, 700ft zipline and 45ft climbing tower and adventures of act of faith.

There are llamas, goats and horses on site that campers can visit on their hikes. The campground offers special activities every weekend with staples like movie and karaoke nights to fireworks and live bands.

This year there is also a classic car show to benefit the Township of Ridgeway Fire Department.

To learn more about travel in Lenawee County, visit visitlenawee.com. For a calendar of current events, see visitlenawee.com/events and for a digital travel guide with an annual listing of events, see tinyurl.com/VisitLenaweeGuide2022.

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