October 2018 – After enjoying several weeks of waterfalls and fall foliage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a delightful day on Mackinac Island, we stopped to camp at Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area in the Lower Peninsula. Despite cold rain and drizzle in mid-October, we were shocked to see that the campground was packed to the gills when we arrived on a Sunday morning. It turned out that the State Park campgrounds in Michigan celebrate Halloween each weekend in late September and October, and the festivities were in full swing.
Families were shivering in the rain and huddled around the campfires, but nothing could dampen their spirits as they showed off their wild Halloween campsite decorations.
After we quickly set up camp, we walked around the campground loops and were floored by how elaborate the campsite decorations were.
Families had gone all out with witches riding broomsticks, ghosts twisting in the wind, pumpkins grinning wickedly and skeletons perched on everything.
The night before we got there, all of the displays had been lit up. There were power cords running every this way and that between the campsites and the displays. But even in the bitter morning air without any glow-in-the-dark spookiness, we still caught Halloween fever as we walked the campground loops and admired the decorations.
Every Saturday night in September/October at all the Michigan State Park campgrounds — and in many other midwest campgrounds too — the kids get dressed up in Halloween costumes and go from campsite door to campsite door all around the campground trick-or-treating.
I don’t know who loves it more, the kids or the parents and grandparents. One older fellow told us he went Halloween camping every year for 15 or so years as he raised his kids (the youngest was now 24!), but he still comes out because it is so much fun to see the kids in their costumes and give out candy.
He kinda laughed as he told me that if you time it right, you can hit all six State Park campgrounds in this area from late September through October and experience the fun over and over in different settings!
Every campsite had decorations, and some were very complex. Pumpkins and ghosts were popular themes, but it was the carefully laid out headstones in the Halloween graveyards that caught our attention!
The front end of a travel trailer is an ideal place to set a few ornaments, and sure enough we found skeletons and ghosts and pumpkins aplenty.
There were lots of skeletons hanging around too.
Other skeletons sat in kayaks and cackled as they paddled and fished alongside their toy hauler.
One campsite had a big skeleton of an animal standing out in front of a cute retro trailer.
Upon closer inspection we realized it was the skeleton of a horse pulling a carriage. Inside the carriage were the skeletons of a bride and groom.
Another campsite featured a skeleton bride and groom getting married in the grass under a trellis.
The bodies of a pair of old retired skeletons had given up the ghost. All that remained was their skulls which peered out of the front windshield of a motorhome.
As I walked around the campground loop taking photos, Buddy did his usual sniffing and socializing. Suddenly, I felt him stiffen at the end of his leash. I looked down and he was staring at a corpse sticking halfway out of the ground. He crouched really low and gingerly sniffed at the corpse. Suddenly, he jumped back in fright. Then he slowly crept in and got another sniff.
We had missed the big trick-or-treat night, so we never saw the kids in their costumes. But what a super fun way for families to celebrate Halloween and extend their camping season past the end of summer.
Lots of families knew each other from previous years and there was a fantastic spirit of celebration everywhere as kids ran between the trailers and parents and grandparents unwound by the campfire.
Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area campground is a wonderful place to camp that sits on the shores of a small lake.
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More info about Michigan State Parks:
- Map of Michigan State Parks Campgrounds
- Metamora-Hadley Campground
- Location of Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area
Related blog posts:
- Mackinac Island, Michigan – A Precious Walk Back in Time!
- Fall Foliage in Michigan’s U.P. + Lake Superior at Sunset
- Waterfalls in Michigan’s U.P. – Tahquamenon, Bond Falls & Black River Jewels
- Lake Michigan – Charming coastal towns
- South Haven – Harbor Village
- Soo Locks – Freighter Elevator
- North Lake Michigan – Alluring Coastal Towns
- Upper Peninsula (MI) – Cute Towns & Fine Craftsmanship
- Lake St. Clair, Michigan – Quick Trip Abroad
- Lake Huron MI – Hydroplane Races and the Joseph S. Fay Shipwreck
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