Two for the price of one

People are welcomed to Merrill-Gorrel as they arrive at the campground. This two-in-one park offers many amenities including swimming, fishing and paddle boarding. (Courtesy photo)

SEARS — Offering 146 campsites and four cabins, Merrill-Gorrel Park offers campers a chance to try new things or reconnect with their rustic roots.

“Merrill-Gorrel Park is like two parks in one,” Mecosta County Parks Superintendent Jeff Abel said. “We have two different wings of camping there.”

With two lakes, the Merrill and Gorrel, people have access to two of everything — whether that be boating, swimming, fishing or paddle boarding.

Abel considers this park one of the more camping-oriented parks because of the different camping options available including electrical hook-ups, by the water, with fire pit availability and rustic camping for those who want to reconnect with their wildlife roots.

Merrill-Gorrel Park Manager Laura Odette notices many people like rustic camping because it’s a chance for campers to “rough it” in the outdoors. This means each of the 24 rustic campsites have shared water and no electric on-site.

While some people enjoying “roughing it,” Abel said the people of Merrill-Gorrel are focused on some new improvements for other areas on site this year.

“We’re working on enhancing the Merrill lake beach this year,” he said. “We just brought a bunch of sand in that we’ll be getting spread out to the beach area.”

Along with new improvements, Abel has been implementing new activities for campers and began his work last year.

“We have stand-up paddle boards for rent,” Odette said.

Stand-up paddle-boarding is a unique way people can spend time in the water, while getting in a little workout. With this, campers can cruise on either of the two lakes for two hours for just $20.

For those who aren’t a fan of water, they can still spend time with their family — their whole family — as Merrill-Gorrel is one of Mecosta County’s many pet-friendly parks, because Abel understands what it means to be able to bring a furry friend along.

“To many people, pets are family, so they are welcome in the majority of our parks,” he said.

That doesn’t apply to just the campers, however. Having two dogs herself, Odette enjoys the opportunity to have her dogs with her as well.

“A lot of people have pets,” Odette said. “That’s why a lot of people come here.”

To those who don’t have their own pets, but still love animals, Odette says there are many opportunities to see wildlife when visiting Merrill-Gorrel.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of birds here,” she said, noting many seasonal campers consider this an added-bonus to their trip and like feeding the birds whenever they’re near.

Out of many of the Mecosta County parks, Abel said Merrill-Gorrel is one of the parks with a more quiet and tranquil atmosphere, and campers enjoy the scenery and different animals that can been seen when visiting.

“The wildlife that you can experience while visiting the park is abundant in that area,” Abel said. “It’s a good place to get away.”

For more information and a full list of prices, call (989) 382-7158 or visit mecostacountyparks.com.

This is the third in a series of articles featuring Mecosta County park opportunities for the summer.

Campers relax in the sun while staying cool in the water. This is one of two lakes offered at Merrill-Gorrel Park. (Courtesy photo)

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