Rippling River Resort was RV Destinations Magazine Campground and Resport Spotlight for July 2020 Issue. We are hapy to share this campground review with you.
Upper Peninsula Michigan is dotted (dotted being the operative word because cities are sparse up there) with seven cities, the largest of which is Marquette—our destination for four days in October 2019. We had been on the hunt for the perfect campground. Let me just say that finding a good campground is much like an Easter egg hunt. You pick up the plastic egg with excitement, give it a quick shake and just know that this is the Easter egg above all others, holding the mother lode of candy for sure. We go into the “Great Campground Search” with much of the same anticipation, combing over websites and Google reviews in hopes of choosing the mother lode of campgrounds. There were only a couple of campgrounds in the area we wanted to stay in, and Rippling River Resort seemed to be the best choice. Thankfully, the resort did not disappoint.
Arriving into the campground just after sunset, it was hard to image what lay behind the cover of darkness. The campground sits down in a small valley, but it was easy to navigate the winding driveway in our 41-foot diesel pusher (the beloved Winnie Rae) with our 1500 Dodge Ram truck flat towing behind us. Our first stop was at the bottom of the hill to check in at the front office—a newly built log cabin. We were greeted with a smiling face behind the counter, but my brain could register only one thing. Wine. Lots and lots of wine. As I peered over racks of beautifully displayed wines, I felt the gods of wine smiling down upon me as harps played in the background. Pure magic. The owner, Mark Curran, clearly has a love for wine. He sells it by the bottle or by the glass to enjoy at his quaint bar. We are grateful for Curran’s love of wine, as it enhanced the overall experience at the resort. (In fact, as I write this, I’m enjoying a glass of his delicious wine. We couldn’t resist buying a bottle to take home.) The front office also boasts a robust shop complete with food goods, beer, wine (of course), camping items, novelty items and more, all at reasonable prices.
When morning arrived, we opened our shades and were met with a spectacular view. Trees just beginning to don their fall colors surround all sides of the campground. The southern edge of the campground is boarded by the Carp River, which runs majestically through the colorful trees, tumbling over rocks and boulders effortlessly. A walk through the campground reveals amenities galore and a campground dedicated to the outdoor lover and adventurer.
In the center of the campground lies one of the bathhouses. A quick peek inside the private shower rooms reveals a clean, ample-sized shower, vanity and toilet, along with plenty of space to dress. Not far from the entrance to the park are a dumping station and dumpsters, which includes recycling. The front office is warm, welcoming and has become the center gathering place for the campsite and community. Cozy couches and chairs surround a hearty fireplace. The bar occupies one corner and opens out to a covered patio overlooking the Carp River. A short flight of stairs takes you down to a small gazebo next to the river, where live music is performed on certain nights during peak season. Next to the gazebo is a stone firepit that welcomes visitors to sit, relax and listen to some great music fireside or watch the river roll by. Campers can also enjoy a competitive game of mini golf on the onsite course, relax poolside or take a dip in the oversized hot tub.
Rippling River Resort is spaced out among 37 wooded acres. It is the first campground we’ve visited that has merged the love of outdoor activities and sports with the love of camping at all levels—with a sprinkling of pampering in between. Yes, we glamp and are proud to admit it. Like many others, we have tent camped. But it’s not necessarily our thing. We love the outdoors. We love hiking and being in nature. We don’t mind the dirt, mud and getting sweaty. But at the end of the day, we want our own hot shower and comfy bed … and maybe a flat screen TV to watch a great movie on a rainy night.
So, whether you’re a fellow glamper, a tent camper or somewhere in between, Rippling River Resort has accommodations to fit your needs. All the campsites are large and offer a picnic table and fire ring. New trees have been planted throughout the campground that will grow to offer more shade and privacy. For now, though, if you want something a little more private with full hook-ups, I’d recommend a site on the river side of the park (sites 1 through 27). Sites 29 through 50 back up to the hillside north of the park and offer some privacy as well, especially the sites toward the back of the park. The middle sites are sparse of trees and offer no privacy but would be perfect for a group of campers. For those in need of electric only, separate loops are available. Nestled among the trees, these sites are removed from the larger campers and RVs that usually occupy the full hook-up sites. Want full-on rustic? Tent campers have the best sites by far. Completely hidden among the trees and along the Carp River, there are 12 tent sites surrounded only by the glory of nature. What if you don’t tent camp or own an RV or camper? No worries. Rippling River has you covered with 26 cabins, offering a choice of a luxury cabin (your own bathroom and kitchenette) or rustic cabin (bed and roof over your head), some of which are open year-round.
Rippling River is tucked perfectly in between the Noquemanon Trail Network and Marquette Mountain Ski Lodge. This means year-round outdoor activities galore! Rippling River has connector trails leading into the Noquemanon Trail Network South Trails, which offer 45 miles of trails just steps away from your front door. My husband and I, along with two of our three dogs, headed out from the campground to the Carp River trail for a few-hour hike. The Carp River trail is an 8.3-mile loop trail that runs along a ridge line, dipping down to the Carp River to cross over to the other side of the ridge. We hiked about 5 miles of the gorgeous trail. In fact, the trail is called the Gorge-Eous trail and for obvious reasons. The views were spectacular, winding in between the trees and overlooking the river. It was unseasonably warm day in October and perfect for hiking. Our dogs found the river refreshing and appreciated the cold water. We, however, opted to stay dry.
During warmer weather, hikers, trail runners and bikers can be found along the trails. In fact, these trails have made Marquette County a premier mountain biking destination. During colder weather, trails are used for snow mobiles, winter biking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and skijoring. Admittedly, I’m not a cold-weather person, so I had no idea what skijoring was (thank you, Google). Skijoring is when you ski and are pulled by a horse, dog or motorized vehicle. Honestly that sounds like my kind of cold weather sport, but I doubt our two Boxers could be talked into it. When the snow falls, campers can walk a few short steps to the lifts at Marquette Mountain Ski Lodge for some downhill skiing. I’m feeling a cup of hot chocolate in my near future just writing about this.
At the time of this article, we were excited to hear about additions that Rippling River was adding to their extensive list of amenities. Imagine this: You’ve spent the day doing your favorite outdoor activity, be it skiing, hiking, biking, snow shoeing, kayaking, fishing, riding snow mobiles or convincing your two Chihuahuas to tow you on a set of skis. You have that glorious feeling of having stretched your muscles to their peak abilities and know that you are going to sleep good tonight. You get back to Rippling River and head off to your scheduled massage. A what? Yes, a massage. Rippling River is adding a year-round tent (think yurt on steroids) that will be available to book for massages. They plan on making it a truly Zen experience. Sitting along the riverside, those smart enough to book a massage will get to have muscles soothed into relaxation while listening to the rushing river, the wind rustling amongst the trees and, in the distance, a gong being tapped to coax out its relaxing song. Have a bit of a romantic side? You’ll also be able to add on a couples’ massage, bottle of champagne and some chocolates to your stay. Gentlemen, this is a great way to score some serious brownie points with your love. You’re welcome in advance.
To say that we’re impressed isn’t even close to encompassing our feelings about Rippling River. The owners and staff have done an incredible job of thinking outside the typical campground box. They’ve established Rippling River as a gathering place within the community; a year-round resort for campers and non-campers alike; and just a great place to stop by for a great glass of wine, live music and a warm, crackling fire. In fact, the day of our checkout, Rippling River was hosting hayrides, wine tastings, live music, pizza and other fun fall festivities at no cost, not only campers, but to the entire community. This is the type of campground that more communities need. Kudos, Rippling River. Kudos.
Rippling River Resort
Marquette, MI 49855