Michigan Campers Cite Gas Price Hike Impact

April 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Aerial view of Ludington State Park, most popular state park camping site in Michigan. Lake Michigan is at left.

Aerial view of Ludington State Park, a popular state park camping site in Michigan. Lake Michigan is at left. Sand dunes highlight the park.

Editor’s Note: The following story was provided by the Michigan Business Review, based in Grand Rapids.

Roughly 24 hours after we first posed the question, most respondents to our poll on gas prices vs. camping seem split into two, um, camps: those who think gas prices are already too high, and those who won’t let any price get between them and a s’more.

Unfortunately for that first group, gas prices were not declining yet this afternoon following the surprise spike on Monday (April 25). Website found gas prices in the Grand Rapids area still close to $4.17 this afternoon.

That’s the price where many area stations have been stuck since Monday morning, a price that caused us to ask, “When gas hits $4.17 a gallon, are you still going camping?” Publishers of the Michigan Campground Directory shared the question on their Facebook page, and we had 430 responses by mid-day Tuesday — a good time to tally the results.

First, we asked about gas prices, and what price range would convince you to change your plans this summer.

The largest group of responses, 166, said they would be forced to change their plans if the going price was $3.90-$3.99 a gallon — a price the Grand Rapids area hasn’t seen since last Tuesday, according to

However, the next-largest group, at 132, said the price of gas was no object.

The remainder: 79 said their tipping point was between $4.00 and $4.09, while 53 put that figure at between $4.10 and $4.20.

Several of the respondents commented that their preferred camping site this year would be the backyard, due to gasoline and other travel costs.

But not everyone. We also asked readers to list their favorite state park campground in the western half of the Lower Peninsula.

Ludington State Park was the single most popular pick, with 89 responses, or 21%. Perhaps that’s no surprise for a park known as “Queen of the State Parks,” with a reputation for filling up with reservations early.

Next was Charles Mears State Park with 51, and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park with 43. Other popular choices were Grand Haven, Silver Lake, Traverse City and Yankee Springs.

But “other” remained the largest group, including entries such as Warren Dunes, Wilderness State Park, and Isle Royale National Park (“no cars, few people, no cell phones. Also the night sky is amazing.”)

But this also was the place where several respondents registered their frustration with gas prices, selecting “my backyard,” or even “my backyard pool.” For these folks, the best hope for summer travel might be a return to last year, when Michigan prices were well below $3 a gallon for the Memorial Day kickoff of summer travel.

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