The Department of Natural Resources is offering an alternative to the indoor party scene this New Year’s Eve. Swap those dancing shoes for a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis and spend a GO-Get Outdoors “Shoe Year’s Eve” in one of Michigan’s state parks or recreation areas.
This year, gather up friends and family for a fun-filled New Year’s holiday in one of the state parks’ many winterized cabins, yurts or lodges. Don headlights and snowshoes for an evening adventure through the campground, and then enjoy a potluck in the cabin and ring in the New Year gathered around a blazing campfire.
According to DNR Recreation Programmer Maia Stephens, the idea isn’t new.
“People have been enjoying rustic New Year’s celebrations in our cabins and lodges for years,” Stephens said. “Just think — no crowds, no dangerous driving. It’s just a chance to relax, reflect and reconnect with the people who mean the most to you. And the Recreation Passport makes it both an unusual and affordable way to celebrate the season.”
Don’t let a lack of snow deter the vision of a simple, rustic holiday in the woods. Michigan has plenty of trails for hiking, biking or just wildlife viewing within its park system.
“Whether there’s snow for the holidays or not, the state parks offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to get out and enjoy the beauty of our parks this time of year,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “You can be part of a nationwide state park effort to start the New Year with a hike.”
If your New Year’s Eve plans already are set, plan on getting those New Year’s resolutions off to a good start by attending one of the DNR-sponsored “Shoe” Year’s Day events scheduled for Jan. 1 in many of Michigan’s state parks. Park staff, as well as local health professionals, will be on hand to guide hikes, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing events for participants eager to start their exercise commitments off on the right foot.
For a listing of state parks offering alternative winter lodging over the holidays and throughout the winter, or to find a “Shoe” Year’s Day hike near you, visit www.michigan.gov/gogetoutdoors.
The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.
Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking “YES” on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call 517-241-7275.