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'Pack your patience' | large Memorial Day crowds expected at Holland State Parks

Campgrounds are expected to reach full capacity and park officials, say this could cause some delays in the check-in process.
Credit: Liliana Murillo

HOLLAND, Michigan — In just one more day Holland State Park will be welcoming nearly two thousand campers for the holiday weekend.

Holland State Park supervisor, Sean Mulligan calls this weekend the 'unofficial start' to their busy summer season. 

"Once we hit Memorial Day weekend, our campground tends to fill up. And then it kind of stays that way. Especially on weekends throughout the summer," says Mulligan, "during the week, it'll drop a little bit. But ever since the pandemic, the drop-off hasn't been that much. So we're staying quite busy."

And with full campgrounds come large crowds, so Mulligan says campers should pack their patience as delays with the check-in process are expected.

"Just be kind and courteous to the folks when you check-in. We do have a specified check-in time by policy, which is 3 p.m. And a lot of people tend to show up at that time. So it creates a long line to get in there. Just please be patient, let us work with each customer one at a time until we can get everybody through," said Mulligan. 

With the warming temperatures and several other factors comes an increased risk of campfires becoming dangerous. Mulligan reminds campers to be responsible when having a campfire.

"Make sure you keep your fires in the prescribed fire pits and not burning anywhere else, like on a beach or anything like that. Just make sure and tend to those fires and treat them with respect," said Mulligan. 

Temperatures are forecasted to be in the high 80's for the holiday weekend but Lake Michigan's waters will be far from that. For this reason, Mulligan does not recommend anyone jump from the pier into the water this weekend.

"The water temperatures, I just want to remind folks are very, still very cold on Lake Michigan, there is a hazard especially if you go to a pier and jump in the water from appear, and you hit that cold water, your body is not used to it, it could end in a drowning. So we just want people to be very cautious about going in the water on Lake Michigan, especially when we get to those days where it's going to be very warm," says Mulligan, "it's going to be inviting, but be very careful about how you do it. Do not recommend jumping in on any pier just because the body's reflex is to inhale sharply when you hit a very cold water. And if you're doing that, you know underwater, fill your lungs with water and have a hard time, people have died that way. So just be very cautious about entering the water."

Holland State Park does have a swim zone area but Mulligan says this won't be established for a few more weeks when water temperatures rise. 

While large crowds of people can be a lot for the staff to handle Mulligan says the support the parks get during these holidays helps the state economically. 

"The unofficial start of summer is Memorial Day weekend. So everybody wants to get out and do something. It's great for Michigan's economy, we've got a large portion of the economy is tourism-driven. And state parks are large part of that," says Mulligan, "so we love having people come out whether it's locally or from out of state. But of course, with the economy the way it is staying close to home. staycations are a great thing to do. And the local state park in your area is a great place to go."

You may be too late to book a site at Holland State Park but there is still a chance that another campground is available statewide. 

"You can make reservations six months in advance to the day and usually our holiday weekends get booked up six months in advance to the day. So at this point, the last time I looked, we were full. Sometimes people cancel the last minute, so things may pop open" says Mulligan, "we always encourage folks to check the central reservation service, because they'll be able to look statewide. So if you can't find anything at our park, they should be able to help you find something somewhere else." 

For help finding campgrounds available call, 1-800-44-PARKS or visit here.

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