Slow 2008 Season for State Parks

With record-high gas prices this summer and the generally weak economy, one of the U.P.’s main tourist offerings had an off year.

Still, there may be a more important reason for the slowdown than those.

The DNR says an official count won’t be finished for another month, but so far, it looks like about 10% fewer people used U.P. state forest campgrounds this year than last.

After good seasons at Van Riper State Park in Champion the last 2 years, attendance there dropped to 2005 levels.

Park supervisor Doug Barry says the extremely cold May and early June that we had put the park into a hole that it wasn’t able to get completely out of.

Even so, the season at Van Riper isn’t over.

Foundation work is going on right now on a new group cabin that’s already been built.

It just needs to be moved into the park to its new home right on Lake Michigamme.

The cabin should have enough space for 6 people to sleep.

It’ll be available for rent next spring, and it should be moved in next week.

Barry is hoping to get a canoe or kayak as well.

It would be tied up to a nearby dock, and it’d be open for cabin renters to use.