Revisiting Michigan’s Colwell Lake Campground an autumn surprise in 2010

Autumn Sunset at Colwell Lake, 2010 (Julianne G. Crane)
Fishing pier at Colwell Lake USFS Campground in Michigan. (Julianne G. Crane)

Nine years ago, on our first autumn trip through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we stumbled onto a brilliant autumn surprise.

Driving north on SR 94, from US 2, we pulled into Colwell Lake Campground. With its fall palette of oranges, yellows and reds we decided to camp there over night.

This year we hoped to recapture that memory.  However, while we were only two weeks ahead of our 2010 trip, it made all the difference in color. Colwell Lake is still a great campground, but with the unusual heat this year, it definitely felt more like summer than mid-September.

Colwell Lake site 27, 2019 (Julianne G. Crane)

Located within the Hiawatha National Forest, the 40-site campground includes several sites with electricity. The majority, however, are boondock sites.

As with most forest service campgrounds, this one has no frills and no showers. There are only vaulted toilets, and drinking water. On this visit, as with the first, we selected a non-hookup site, although in no way was it primitive.

Incredible views and access to the lake

Each site is HUGE, almost any size rig could fit easily. More that half of the sites have incredible views and access to the lake. There is a fishing pier near site # 7 that stretches out onto the lake.

Jimmy Smith walking the 2-mile trail around Colwell Lake. (Julianne G. Crane)

A sweet, meandering two-mile nature trail circles the edge of the lake. The autumn sunsets are breathtaking.

“It’s a great place to be on warm fall days among the tall mature trees in full autumn color,” says RVer Thom Hoch, of Sutherlin, Ore., who travels with his wife, Dar, in their class B Sportsmobile van. “We try to camp here whenever we’re in the area visiting family.”

The campground is only open until Mon., Oct. 7. But definitely put Colwell Lake on your list to explore. Peak season goes May 15-Oct. 7. We paid $10 with our America the Beautiful Senior Access 50-percent off pass.

Text and photos: Julianne G. Crane


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