DNR Events: Wildlife Weekend, backpacking class, state park races & more

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DNR Events - June 2019

two women in ORV on sand dune

Here are a few ways to get out and enjoy Michigan’s natural resources in June. For a full list of events, see the Department of Natural Resources calendar at Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar.

Enjoy free fishing, off-roading, state park entry June 8-9

boy and two girls holding fishing poles and fish

Our popular “Three Free” weekend – two full days when Michigan residents and visitors can grab a fishing pole, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks, all free of charge – is back, June 8 and 9.

You can enjoy fishing without a license (all other fishing regulations apply) and a variety of no-cost events planned around the state during Free Fishing Weekend; ride without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit as part of Free ORV Weekend and visit state parks without the regular Recreation Passport entry fee.

Learn more about the DNR’s “Three Free” weekend.

Celebrate Wildlife Weekend at state parks June 21-23

group of people looking for birds through binoculars in wetland area

We’ll be celebrating our feathered friends with programs in many state parks during Wildlife Weekend, June 21-23. From hummingbirds to song sparrows to trumpeter swans and more, learn about Michigan’s birds by joining in our featured hikes, informative talks, identification programs and various other activities. These programs are fun, educational and great for the whole family. 

Wildlife Weekend is an annual event with a different group of animals featured each year. A variety of outdoor education opportunities are offered throughout the summer at more than 50 state parks and fish hatcheries, with enthusiastic, nature-minded staff leading hikes, activities and interesting programs that shine a spotlight on each location’s unique resources.

To find Wildlife Weekend events or other outdoor education programs near you or your travel destination, visit Michigan.gov/NaturePrograms.

Backpacking and butterflies: June outdoor skills workshops

three young ladies and man hiking with backpacks on bridge over stream

Interested in learning how to get started with backpacking or in bringing butterflies to your garden? There’s still time to register for these upcoming DNR Outdoor Skills Academy classes:

Backpacking Workshop and Overnight Experience
Friday, June 7, and Saturday/Sunday, June 15/16, at Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea

Learn the basics of backpacking – like what and how to pack, meal planning and safety – in the Friday night workshop, then practice with a backpacking experience the following weekend. During this overnight backpacking experience, you’ll take a guided hike along the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail 4.5 miles to Green Lake Campground. Learn about tent setup, meal preparations and backcountry camp stove basics, to go along with a campfire and a comradery-filled evening, then breakfast and a hike back after packing up Sunday morning. Cost is $40 per family, which includes dinner and breakfast.

Register online for the backpacking workshop and overnight experience.

Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants
Saturday, June 8, at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon

This class will cover the basics of butterfly identification, life cycles and habitat needs, the advantages of using native plants in the home landscape, how to use native plants to attract butterflies and other pollinators, how to start your own butterfly/pollinator garden, and the top nectar/larval plants for butterflies. This program will include an indoor presentation and two outdoor sessions in native plantings that will give participants an opportunity to view butterflies, other insects and birds. Cost is $50, which includes lunch, a field guide and other native plant gardening materials.

Register online for Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants.

This Outdoor Skills Academy offers in-depth, expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of outdoor activities at locations around the state. Learn more at Michigan.gov/OutdoorSkills.

Michigan State Park Centennial Race Series up and running

group of people running through the woods on a trail

Athletes can explore Michigan’s state parks while celebrating 100 years of state park history as part of the Michigan State Park Race Series, taking place in 2019 and 2020. It’s a chance to check out parks you might not have visited yet, and get a commemorative coin at each race in the series. 

See a list of upcoming races, and stay tuned to StateParkRaceSeries.com, as more events will be added over the course of the year.

For more information about the Michigan state parks 100th anniversary celebration, including other fun centennial events, visit Michigan.gov/StateParks100.

Family fun at Michigan History Center

Don’t miss out on the family adventure and historic fun at Michigan History Center events around the state this summer. This month, make a lava lamp, take a walking tour of historic Concord, see vintage cars at one of the Upper Peninsula's premiere auto shows, step back in time with a Victorian-style tea or some old-fashioned “base ball,” shop for fresh produce and local crafts at the largest farmers market of its kind in southeast Michigan, and more.

Campfire storytelling at state parks

As part of the state parks centennial celebration, we’re hosting Campfire Storytelling Project events across the state to help capture state park stories and give visitors a glimpse of the lifelong memories made in Michigan’s most beautiful places. Seasoned storytellers will share their stories, while attendees are welcome to give short anecdotes. This month, head to Interlochen State Park June 22 to gather around the campfire and hear tales of Michigan’s great outdoors.