I hear that renting rooms and whole homes using Airbnb is quite popular these days. Though to be honest, it’s not something I’ve ever done – yet.
What my husband and I have done quite a lot is stay in the different types of lodging at the state parks in Michigan over the past 20 years or so. Whether it’s a rustic cabin with wood or propane heat, a mini cabin with electricity and electric heat, a yurt, a “camper cabin” with two bedrooms, electricity and heat – or a fully modern cabin with a wet bar, full bathroom with shower? Yup, we’ve rented it!
Recently we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary a bit early and decided we didn’t want it to be a “rustic” experience. We wanted to be able to leave our camp stove, sleeping bags/pads and even the cookware/utensils at home for this trip. We answered that desire by taking a trip to Cheboygan State Park and staying four nights in the rental lodge – which used to be a home provided by the state for a park ranger and his or her family. With the pandemic still being somewhat of a threat, we were seeking isolation, solitude, privacy and access to nature – without having to travel too far by car to get there. Our trip was about four hours one way.
The verdict? That is exactly what we got! For inquiring minds, I think we paid about $160 per night.
The lodge we rented was a standard ranch-style home with a two-car garage (which we did not have access to from the outside), full kitchen, living room, full bathroom and three bedrooms. Out back is a fully accessible ramp leading to a deck with patio furniture, which leads to the home’s only “accessible” entrance.
Outside – next to the garage – is a fire pit. We had absolutely no problem finding downed wood to use for kindling!
As for the lodge’s rooms, the living is definitely the shining star. Boasting a wood fireplace, comfy furniture, full view of nature via the front picture windows, and even a small flat screen TV (I think I found four channels on it). I’m pretty sure that the entire book collection owned by the previous resident lines two sets of shelves next to the fireplace.
Judging from the subject matter of the books lining the shelves, I would presume this to be a book collection owned by a male (no bodice ripping trashy romance novels were to be seen). What it did have was plenty of Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy, outdoor recreation books, at least one Ian Fleming novel and a book that I shudder to think what it’s actually about called The Fist of God. A cursory Internet search tells me the book is not about the actual fist of God, but about the Iraqi war or something. I got a little excited when I saw a book called One Hit Wonders, but deflated rather quickly when I saw that it was about baseball – and not musical artists who had only one Billboard hit.
Seeing a 1988 World Almanac among the book collection was a clue for the rough timeline this place might have been called home by a park ranger.
It was fun to fantasize a bit about being winter caretakers in such a place. With that kind of book collection, you are not likely to ever lack for something to read! I opted to read my own books during my visit, so I started reading Michigan: A History by Bruce Catton (I’m still working on finishing it).
So what’s to do in the area? If you like hiking, there are miles and miles of trails in the park. If renting the lodge isn’t for you, you can also rent a rustic cabin (three are available for rent, all sit right by the water) or you can stay in the campground and and use a tent or RV – or rent a tipi. We stayed in a rustic cabin at Cheboygan in 2018, and rented the tipi in 2020:
If you decide to just hit the trails, you won’t be sorry! Some of them lead to glorious Lake Huron views:
If you don’t mind a walk, the beach overlooking Duncan Bay was only .8 miles away by foot. But strangely it felt like a longer walk than that. Could Google maps and the sign leading up to the road be wrong or are we just getting old? Or was that because nature called while we were on the hike? Note, we stayed in the lodge at a time when most of the other park facilities weren’t quite open, to the road to the beach was gated off and not accessible by car.
Here’s another view of the beach (note this photo was taken in the summer of 2020):
So what else is there to do? Well, we don’t have kids, so I don’t have any hot tips for fun kids’ activities. But some notable spots to check out in the area (and a bit beyond) include the Cheboygan City Marina, various other little spots in town (including an old timey movie theater) Ocqueoc Falls (the only waterfalls in the lower peninsula of Michigan), various other state parks – including Onaway, Aloha, Burt Lake, Young and Hoeft; and of course no trip “Up North” in Michigan is complete unless you see this beauty in Mackinaw City, which is about a half hour away:
If you cross the Mackinac Bridge and are only out for a day jaunt, you simply “must” go to “the” tourist destination in the Upper Peninsula – which is of course Tahquamenon Falls. We were delighted to be there off season – and see the falls in full flow – and not have to strongarm other tourists for ideal photo spots!
After a day of sightseeing and walking around, you probably want to know how the sleeping arrangements were in this lodge. The answer? Glorious! The beds and pillows (bedding is provided) were very comfy. And if sleeping during the day is more your thing, you’d be all set! I’m sure this lodge would be quite popular with the vampire crowds! Those blackout cordless blinds kept out all but the faintest light. It was almost too easy to sleep in. If sleeping in on your days off is your natural tendency but you still want to do some sightseeing, be sure to set an alarm!
Two of the bedrooms had queen bottom bunks with twin top bunks – the third bedroom had a single double bed.
So what about the other rooms? Well, the only other two rooms we had access to were the kitchen/dining room – and bathroom. The bathroom was extra roomy – presumably for handicap accessibility.
The kitchen/dining room:
And the bathroom/shower:
This concludes your virtual tour of the Cheboygan State Park rental lodge! I’d love to show you photos of the laundry room and hall closet, but those doors were locked!