Allegan, Michigan, our hometown — that is where Scot and I grew up — and residence for the last five years, was not intended to become a camping destination, but became one when we had to extend our stay due to wrapping up moving, sorting, storing, recycling and gifting our remaining stuffs. We had been parked in the driveway of our former abode, living and trying to work in the WordCamper, while still trying to extricate ourselves from brick and mortar. One morning, while trying to write and formulate that day’s strategy for exit, we experienced a parade of people — friends, contractors, assessors, family — stopping in to say hello or goodbye, or to ask us about our trip. Furthermore, living in a camper in the driveway of a home could be convenient, but mostly it’s not, or wasn’t for us, especially when it comes to the filling-up of the grey and black water tanks. (If you don’t know what those are, they are short code for dish water and poo water, respectively.) The combination parade and poo-water build-up made for a huge distraction, so it was time to find a semi-permanent home offsite, while we attempted to end one journey and embark on another. Thus, camping in Allegan was born.
Allegan, Michigan, is the county seat of Allegan County, which is located in southwest Michigan. According to Wikipedia, the name “Allegan” “was coined by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in 1837 to sound like a Native American word.” (After all of these years, this fact was new to me. Now I wonder how many other American towns were named in such an annoying way.) After a land purchase from government, a village was organized in 1838. Later, in 1907, a city was incorporated.
Many of Allegan’s familiar streets were named after the men that patented land that would become Allegan, who foresaw a future in industry and transportation, powered by water from the Kalamazoo River. A one-lane iron bridge — erected in 1886 and resurrected in 1983 — is a staple of Allegan imagery and acts as a gateway to the downtown Kalamazoo River waterfront area.
Known primarily for its rural setting, agriculture, forests and access to beautiful bodies of water, Allegan is home to many outdoor enthusiasts, farmers and artists, and probably are all reasons why our parents moved us to West Michigan in the late seventies. It is well known for its historical district and architecture, including the Griswold Auditorium, the Old Regent Theatre and the Allegan District Library, a Carnegie building. It is has a thriving public school system, government base as county seat, community hospital and businesses, including Perrigo, Ropes Courses and Allegan Tubular Products.
Of course, we can’t talk about Allegan without mentioning the Allegan County Fair. Beginning in 1852 and growing ever since, the fair boasts a large and popular annual 4-H showing, and hosts many events, such as the Allegan Antiques Market and the Michigan Fiber Festival throughout the summer months.
Yet, after all of these years growing up in and visiting Allegan, we had never camped here. Many friends had, but we had not, and we needed a new home base. There are a few campgrounds in the area, including Sandy Pines and Dumont Creek, but only one stood out in name recognition, and that was Triponds Family Camp Resort in rural Allegan.
Unique and Interesting Bits
Triponds Family Camp Resort does not make it difficult to choose as a camping destination. In a word, Triponds campground is beautiful. It also receives five full stars consistently in reviews online and in person. Lots of care and attention to detail have gone into the planning and growth of this place. It is large, but that is mostly because of the enormous greenspace right in the middle of it all, as well as the 60 acres it encompasses — much of it woods — encouraging long walks to the next destination or activity.
There is no doubt about it: what you see is what you get at Triponds. The scenic drive sets the tone for the arrival at the outbuildings, handsomely designed and suited to its rural setting. As you enter, it becomes obvious instantly that Triponds is a place for kids and activities: a volleyball court, game room, petting zoo, horseshoes, frog pond, miniature golf course, swimming and boating ponds, archery, an outdoor movie setting, hiking trails, tractor rides, swimming pool, jumping pillow, fishing, Geocaching and more. Drop by the office and give them a $10 deposit, your driver’s license or your entire wallet as collateral for a paddle for the kayaks or paddle boards; they are first come, first serve and free. They’ll return your deposit. Trust us.
And when we say that Triponds is a place for kids, we mean that Triponds is geared toward kids: kids (on bikes) rule here. They know every inch of the campground and use it as their own backyard. A one-lane road that is not one way can be tough to navigate with children on bicycles. Five-miles-an-hour and a watchful eye must be observed.
The store is lovely, the managers/employees nice, and so are the kind neighbors you will encounter there. Our visit was more work trip than camping trip — a bit regretfully — but it was wonderful to be around people that were camping with their families, their sweet dogs, their kids. It was reassuring to us that we had a place to call home, while we exited our former residence and continued to set the tone for our new path. We even entertained some of our dearest friends, who have their sights set on the Iberian Peninsula, preparing a grilled outdoor meal Spanish-style.
Although we did not do anything special during our camping excursion in Allegan, there are many interesting things to do there, including hiking the Allegan State Game Area, walking along the Riverfront in downtown Allegan, catching a movie at the Regent Theatre and travelling along any or all of Allegan County’s many rural roads to find homemade or homegrown goods. For more information about Allegan, visit Positively Allegan.
What we learned / would do differently
- We would have enjoyed a more thorough stay at Triponds to enjoy the beautiful campground, but we just didn’t have the time. Each day was filled more or less with tasks related to sorting/purging/delivering our stuff and wrapping up some business in the area, all of which took us away from the campground. Luna was able to enjoy countless trips to the large jumping pillow. So yeah, we’d like to enjoy it … someday. There is so much to do/one is able to be.
- We had to extend our trip another week, but we didn’t let the office know early enough, and so our campsite (the one in the corner in the woods opposite the entrance) was rented to someone else. The folks — Angela and the ladies — at Triponds were incredibly accommodating working with our crazy schedule. Fun fact: one of the site choices they gave us was the site right next to us. That’s a lot of work for a 20′ move, so we chose a site on the other side of the campground, just for a change of scenery. It was a nice slip, too.
- This camping experience emphasized how having things and being responsible for them took away from being — being with Luna, being in/with oneself, being with others, being present, being in the world and in the woods. We will be mindful of putting ourselves in the position of having too many things, so that it does not take energy away from what is important. Hopefully we can visit Triponds again for a true camping experience.
Financial info (daily rate, fuel, entertainment, etc.)
- Camping w/ full hookup: $560 ($40/night)
- Groceries/food out: $378
- Jumping pillow access: $7
- Travel fuel: $129
- Guest fees: $13
- Doughnuts: $4
Luna: Jumpy pilow!!!
Liza: I can’t believe the owners and managers do what they do. Triponds is such a nice campground and there is so much to maintain. I wonder if they ever are able to rest. The swimming pool is salt water, which is great, and I hope we can hike in their woods. So much to see. Love all of the toads and frogs!
Scot: Amazing property, well manicured and great attention to detail. With everything we had to do, I feel like we missed out on a great campground, but it just wasn’t meant to be.