Baraga SP upgrade will modernize its facilities

A $1.2 million improvement project at the Baraga State Park will mean more electric hookups available but fewer camping sites.

“We’re combining sites and adding pull-throughs,” said Dan Dowdy, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) unit supervisor for Baraga State Park.

The park, which currently has 114 sites, will have 95 sites when the renovations are complete. Forty of the sites will have 50-amp electric hookups which, according to Dowdy, is double what is required by code. Fifteen sites around the park will be pull-through sites. Fourteen gravel sites near the south end of the park will have full utility hookups for RVs, which include water, electric and sewer.

The $1.2 million is being taken out of the DNR Parks and Recreation Fund. That fund is primarily fed by campsite fees, as well as other commercial purchases at parks, like firewood. Dowdy said this means the improvements are being paid for by the people who use the parks the most. The park does not receive any tax funding.

Dowdy said camping trends have changed, and Baraga State Park is not considered a “destination park” with a beach or other attractions. This has driven the need for park renovations.

People like pull-through sites to avoid having to back a 30-foot trailer into a space. There is more desire for sites with the electricity to support trailers and RVs with multiple air conditioning units and greater electricity demands. He also said the electrical system, some of which dates back to 1969, was outdated and out of code.

Along with layout and electric grid changes, the wet wells for the park’s sewage system will be updated to accommodate the new sewer hookups.

The work will be completed in stages. Starting in May, the north part of the park will be closed until late in June. In July, the DNR plans to have the entire park open for a couple of weeks before closing the south end of the park for the rest of the season. Moyle Construction won the construction bid against five other bidders, according to Dowdy.

Dowdy said the closures might make the park harder to get into this summer, so if a camper has particular dates in mind, they should make site reservations as soon as possible.

All of the usual annual events at the park, like Christmas in July, are still planned.