MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — COVID-19 and the state's shutdown cut several weeks from the season for family-owned, county, and state park campgrounds.
For campground operators going into the season there was great concern about the impact of loosing between four and eight weeks.
Once the season started campgrounds experienced a boom in business, especially during July and August.
Lake Sch-Nepp-A-Ho along US-31 north of Muskegon opened to campers in mid-May. Campground owners Jean and Shaun Perrault say the first weekend of business only about half the camp sites were occupied.
"Since then we have been full every weekend," Jean said. "So it's been good."
Lake Sch-Nepp-A-Ho tracked an increase in campers from the Muskegon area, and campers who normally camp at Michigan State Park campgrounds but couldn't because the state didn't open those to campers until June 22.
Jean says because of COVID-19 and the shut down nothing about this camping season has been normal, but business was strong and the campground attracted new customers.
"It has been a good season for us after all," Jean said.
Muskegon County's three campgrounds opened five weeks later than normal.
Pioneer Park Manager Jeff Hiddema says the season started slow with revenue lagging between 12-15%.
"But July and August we made it up," Hiddema said. Heading into the Labor Day weekend all three of the county's campgrounds are full, and Hiddema estimates the season could end with business down just 3% compared to last year.
"We were busier probably Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays," Hiddema said.
DNR Park's director Ron Olson tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE the state's campgrounds are only down 10% compared to the same time last year.
Olson says he's cautiously optimistic the state's campgrounds will end the year in good shape after posting very high camping numbers in July and August.
The state also noticed a 25% spike in visitors to day use area like hiking trails, beaches, and boat ramps.
Going into the Labor Day holiday 94% of the state's 14,000 campsites are reserved with parks on Lake Michigan completely full for the holiday.
Muskegon County's Pioneer, Blue Lake, and Meinert campgrounds are full. Lake Sch-Nepp-A-Ho is also full for the long holiday weekend.
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