Yurt Camping in Tawas: A Michigan Road Trip

by | Jun 11, 2023 | Beer, Travel

Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for an adventure as we embark on a road trip to Tawas, Michigan, for a unique yurting experience. Yes, you read that right—yurting. It’s not just camping; it’s camping with style! 

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Pitching the Yurt 

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When Michigan was still in the grip of winter, with snowflakes dancing in the air, I sold the idea of yurt camping. “I discovered a yurt in Tawas Point State Park. The yurt’s got everything—electricity, a cozy bed, a microwave, and even a refrigerator. It may be slightly better than a few of the hotels we’ve crashed in recently. We can take our bikes and check out a few breweries. It will be great,” I said, smiling, hoping he’d just hear breweries and agree.

“Book it,” Chuck said. I’m pretty sure the breweries cinched it. Plus, Michigan’s Sunrise Side, aka Lake Huron’s coast, has been on our list. So, with the lure of a cozy yurt and local brews, our road trip to Tawas Point State Park was set into motion.

Tawas Point State Park

It had been a hot minute since I last stayed at a State Park. I’d forgotten about the eclectic mix of fellow campers one might encounter. Not long after arriving, I found one leaning against her bike by the bathhouse. She casually said as I walked out, “You’ve got the best lot in the park, you know.”

Her voice was unexpected, catching me off guard like a sudden gust of wind on a calm day. Oddly enough, her spirited demeanor and yellow, frizzy hair that framed her face reminded me of a Chow Chow dog. I agree it is an unusual comparison, but something about her yellow, frizzy hair and energetic vibe felt reminiscent of that fluffy, spirited breed.

I followed her gaze and responded with a faint nod of agreement, although, in truth, I couldn’t confidently say that we had indeed snagged the best site in the park. Yes, the yurt was tucked away in the campground’s quieter area and was close to a trail that led to the historic lighthouse and a segment of the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail.

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The Yurt

And indeed, the yurt’s back was nestled against a charming pond, offering a sense of seclusion and tranquility. Additionally, the yurt was just a stone’s throw from the campground’s bathhouse—where the woman with the likeness of a Chow Chow was making her rounds.

Ok, perhaps the location offered a blend of privacy and convenience, making it a potentially coveted spot among the Tawas Point State Campground visitors.

The next morning Chow Chow was back, popping up in the bathroom like a jack-in-the-box. “How was it?” she asked like we were old friends. 

She caught me midway through my tooth-brushing routine with my mouth full of toothpaste. Like a kid caught reading a dirty magazine, I spun around. I had thought I was alone. My mind raced. Was she asking about the shower? My eyes must have been cartoonishly large in surprise. Reading my confusion, Chow Chow clarified, “How was the yurt?”

After a swift spit that would make my dad proud, I said, “It was amazing! We had loons serenading us with the frogs adding back-up. No bugs. The bed was quite comfortable, considering it was a camp bed. We just had coffee and watched the birds feeding their babies in the nest by our deck.”

As we were exiting the bathhouse, I held the door for her and asked, “How long are you staying?” 

Bird Watching

Eager to finally use our bikes, we took the path to the Tawas Point Lighthouse. We were surprised to find a segment of the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail. The sign boasted: “This trail highlights the largest contiguous freshwater coastal wetland systems in the United States and the birds that live here.” A stern warning followed: No dogs, no bikes, and beware of ticks!

We parked our bikes and crossed our fingers against any tick encounters. At that moment, I swear, Chuck underwent a transformation—morphing into the embodiment of John Audubon himself. We’d heard whispers of a haunted lighthouse; perhaps Audubon’s spirit inspired Chuck’s sudden bird-watching fervor.

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The Elusive Warbler

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His obsession of the day? The elusive yellow warbler— quick, camera-shy, and it seemingly took pleasure in Chuck’s aggravation at not snapping a picture. Several times, I spotted the yellow tease perched strategically just out of Chuck’s sight! And when I’d try to signal Chuck, the damn bird would dart away.

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Surprisingly, this wild goose—err, bird—chase was more fun than we could’ve ever predicted. Chuck’s transformation into a bird-watching enthusiast was a surprise and something I need to keep an eye on. 

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Bike Trails

“My butt is on fire!” Chuck declared, grimacing as we dismounted from our bikes on the first day. “I forgot my bike shorts,” he said as if this explained everything. I would never want Chuck to be in pain, but I sighed with relief that we were parking our bikes. My legs were jello, and honestly, my butt was a tad bit sore too. 

There are miles of bike trails; we biked just 14 miles (really a total of 28 because we did an about and back) of the Alabaster Pathway & Tawas Bay Bike Path. Part of which winds through the haunting remains of a gypsum mine. The entire path is scenic and offers great views of the bay.  

Local Brews

Finding breweries isn’t hard if you know where to look. A few trustworthy resources: 

Our first stop was at the Boathouse Beer Co. and Boozery in Tawas. We sat at the bar and ordered a flight and salads for lunch. The wasabi vinaigrette was so tasty I joked about bribing the chef for the recipe. The beers were quite good, with the “Nor’Easter” pale ale being a favorite.

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Our second brewery was the Alcona Brew Haus. We were quite smitten. I thought they were going to adopt Chuck! Within minutes of our arrival, Chuck was best friends with the bartender and the owner. I made friends with the other barflies. Oh, the beers were fabulous, and Chuck got enough to write an article

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Local Sites

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We decided to give the “Axe Throwing” a pass, but plenty kept us entertained. The Sturgeon Point Lighthouse was a delightful surprise. Beachcombers bustled around the area, their eyes scanning the water. I approached one, curiosity piqued, and asked, “What are you looking for?” Their response was cryptic: “I’m not sure; we haven’t found it yet.” I took that as my cue to move along.

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A must-visit is Lumberman’s Monument Park. Perched on the banks of the Ausable River, it has stunning views that beg a selfie.

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And then there’s Paul Bunyan, a figure that Chuck just can’t ignore. Every time we spot a statue or a sign of the giant lumberjack, Chuck can’t resist the pull to stop and snap a picture. So, naturally, we stopped…

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Homeward Bound

Cruising down US-23, towards home along Lake Huron, feels like stepping into a vintage postcard, if the postcard was 4D and connected to Google Maps. Perhaps Mother Nature had a hand in the vintage postcard by slapping an Instagram patina filter on the day. 

We were time travelers, catching glimpses of the past, like the old John Deere tractor rusting gracefully behind a collapsing barn. The Trump 2024 signs would snap us back to the present. 

Seeing the A&W and Big Boy restaurants, their parking lots empty compared to their heyday was a bit sad. The frequency of farm implements dealerships rivaled Ford dealers, a silent testament to the region’s agricultural backbone.

What surprised me the most, though, was the evident fondness for attorneys. The numerous billboards professing, “I love my lawyer,” added a dash of humor to our road trip.

Looking Back

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As we drove south on US-23, I couldn’t help but look back at our Tawas adventure. The yurt, the breweries, the birdwatching, the biking, and even our chow-chow friend—it was a trip marked by unexpected turns and delightful discoveries. It wasn’t just a journey through Michigan’s landscape but a journey into the heart of what makes travel so thrilling—the surprises that lie in wait, the connections you make, and the memories you gather along the way.

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Numerous friends have asked if we’d consider revisiting Tawas or opting for a yurt stay again. My response was an unequivocal “Absolutely!” Tawas exudes a sense of ease and comfort, while the yurt experience was simply a delight!

More Pictures

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We’ve got more shots from the Tawas Road Trip in our gallery. Please take a peek and let us know what you think. Leave a comment and show some love by sharing this post. 

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