Old School Rest Stops: Wisconsin Waysides and Michigan Roadside Parks

When it comes to rest stops, Michigan is a pioneer. The first roadside parks were established in Michigan in the late 1920’s. Wisconsin was soon to follow with its version, the wayside. These roadside parks and waysides were primitive in nature. They had a place to park, a few picnic tables, a grill or two, and an old fashioned pit toilet. Electricity and running water seemed to be optional.

Despite being primitive by modern standards, these rest areas were forward thinking for the time. Their legacy still lives on in more rural areas. On my trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I stopped at both a Wisconsin wayside and a Michigan roadside park.

My first stop was at the Wisconsin wayside. This had the basic amenities of a pit toilet and a few picnic benches. I did see they modernized it a bit and provided hand sanitizer.

I stopped at the Michigan roadside park right after crossing into Michigan. I guess you can call it a rural welcome center. This one surprisingly had running water to it.

The only place you see these type of rest stops are in very rural areas. All modern ones have flush toilets and all the modern amenities. From a practical standpoint these rest stops are much better than nothing. From a historical standpoint, it’s great seeing some living history. In many ways, it takes you back to a time long gone.

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