Officials: Parks filled to near capacity during 2022 camping season | News, Sports, Jobs


News photo by Steve Schulwitz
Sports Unlimited owner Doreen Kriniak looks over a camper at the store on Friday. Alpena County campgrounds were filled to near capacity this past camping season and Kriniak said the store was busy too.

ALPENA — Last year was a successful year for the three Alpena County owned campgrounds and park officials say this year’s camping season was equally as good.

Alpena County Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Jeff Kowalski said Beaver Lake, Long Lake, and Sunken Lake parks were near capacity this year, and guests came from near and far to enjoy the parks’ events and amenities.

The camping season is from May 13 until October 15, and during that time, each park hosts a series of fun and interactive events that have become quite popular. Events like Christmas in July, Halloween in the Park, and Harvest Fest, to name a few, draw families to enjoy the activities and entertainment.

“Last year was a banner year and this year appears to be on par with it,” Kowalski said. “We have made a lot of improvements over the years and continue to do so, and I think that has helped. We are always working to keep the momentum we have going.”

Over the last several years, Kowalski said, the parks have seen visitors hauling larger campers that offer many of the amenities that houses do. Many of them are seasonal campers who stay the entire camping season, and when short-term campers arrive, a need for additional sites arises.

Kowalski said Sunken Lake received permission from the state to utilize a portion of its day-use area for rustic camping sites, and Long Lake Park could see additional rustic lakeside sites added in the future. He said space is limited at Beaver Lake Park, but there may be room for a couple more campsites and cabins.

Unless people reserve their campsites early in the year, booking a premium lot — such as a campsite on the water — can be challenging. As the months pass, the campgrounds fill and those who didn’t act early, may be forced to find other camping options.

Currently, Kowalski said, a person needs to call the camp managers on Jan. 2 to reserve sites for stays. He said that could change in the near future because an online reservation system is being considered, thanks to a possible change in the county’s website provider.

Kowalski said allowing customers to book online will make things simpler and fairer for those seeking to book certain days and times. He said if things go smoothly, the new system could be up and running in time for next year’s camping season.

“It would allow people not only to reserve a site, but to look at pictures of the sites and not have to deal with people and worry about calling anyone,” he said. “This would bring us into the 21st Century and allow for a more seamless scheduling process.”

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