Remember the opening lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Poem “The Song of Hiawatha:”
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shinning Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis…
We wondered if we could RV travel to Gitche Gumee, translated means the Big-Sea-Water, further identified as Lake Superior. Our research pinpointed that the scene of the poem could be about 11 miles east of Marquette, MI, 33 miles west of Munising, MI on Highway 28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So we loaded up the RV and headed out going over Mackinac Bridge, AKA “Big Mac.” Once across the bridge we headed west and sure enough our research proved to be right on as we discovered Gitche Gumee RV Park.
The entrance to the RV Park is just across the street from what is 1.5 to 2 miles of beautiful Lake Superior beach. Lake Superior is the second largest freshwater lake in the world. We were able to witness many magnificent sunsets looking to the west from the beach.
The RV Park is on a 52 acre plot, nestled in a deeply wooded strand of pines. Jeff Glass, better known as Ranger Jeff created the park to reflect the area’s Native American heritage. Along with the parks name, roads, buildings and other features reflect themes from Longfellow’s poem. The all log lodge is named Pau-Puk-Keewis, the “handsome storm fool,” who dashed away with a white woman who liked the Indian way.
Ranger Jeff was educated as an engineer and the park reflects his great talent in creating what one might call a little piece of Hiawathaland. It’s amazing to watch him operate his 1946 Crane, that’s right 1946 and it still runs, lifting pillars and logs into place on his many projects. He’ll show you many tools that he has modified with his ideas, making them more user friendly and productive.
There is another side to Ranger Jeff’s talents that truly amazes RVers and Campers. Inside the park you’ll find hand carved stones that are one of a kind. Both “Miskodeed, the Spring Beauty and Pau-Puk-Kee-wis, the handsome Yenadize are carved in stone. Some of the other cravings are The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, cravings of presidents, Indian Chiefs and a mini Mount Rushmore. Out of all the cravings our favorite is the 10 ton marble rock of “The Last of the Mohicans.”
Whether you’re an Rver or a camper be sure to leave time in your itinerary to talk to Ranger Jeff an learn about his achievements and travels. You’ll be amazed and captivated by some of his adventures.
We don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression that Rving or camping at Giche Gumee RV Park is roughing it. It really isn’t as Ranger Jeff has provide cable, WiFi and many other amenities for his guest. One of Ranger Jeff’s favorite sayings is that RVing & camping are “Roughing it Smoothly” at Gitche Gumee RV Park