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Things to Do

Home of the Sandhill Crane

View the largest nesting concentration in the state

You might wonder why when you go into stores in Chelsea such as Mike’s Deli there are Sandhill Crane statues.  You might also hear some really pre-historic, dinosaur-sounding bird cackling while you’re traversing the local woods.  

That’s because this area is a prime spot to find Sandhill Cranes, especially in October while the migration south is commencing.  These striking birds are one of the oldest bird species and have been around for at least 2 million years.  They stand about 4 feet tall and boast a wingspan that stretches up to 6 feet. In addition to their distinctive height, the sandhill crane sports a recognizable red crown that contrasts with their rust or grey plumage—making them an unmistakable species.  

Their most famous behavior is their dancing courtship ritual.  They produce a variety of calls of differing intensity and volume that are used in different social contexts. The calls range from a piercing rattle that can be heard from four kilometers away to low purrs that only carry a few meters.

Their local story is told best by Tom Hodgson and the Waterloo Natural History Association:  “Jackson and Washtenaw Counties still have the largest nesting concentration of sandhills. And in the fall when cranes from all over the state descend on southern Michigan, about 10,000 of those end up in these two counties. To fatten up before migration, they spend October and part of November feeding on waste grain and insects in area farm fields… At night, they roost in area marshes. The Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary on Seymour Road in Jackson County is the largest roosting area.”

A pair of Sandhill Cranes hunt in marshes in the Waterloo State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan. (© 2024 Alan Murray/Uncharted)

"Jackson and Washtenaw Counties still have the largest nesting concentration of Sandhills."

Activities Center

Multiple activities during the event such as meetings, dinners, awards, workshops, and other social gatherings will be held at the American Legion Post 31 property on beautiful Cavanaugh Lake outside of Chelsea. 

The facility includes indoor halls, a pavilion, a kitchen and BBQ grill, and campfire pit, all overlooking the lake.  We are thankful for the American Legion Post 31 making the facility available for our use. 

We encourage donations to the Post as a “thank you” and as a way to help support the needs of veterans in the area. 

American Legion Herbert J. McKune Post 31,
700 Ridge Rd., Chelsea, Michigan 48118


Official Event Lodging

fficial event lodging will be at the Comfort Inn in Chelsea, Michigan. 

Competitors can take advantage of a special group rate by following the link below or by calling the hotel and asking for the “US Radio Orienteering Championship” group rate upon making reservations. 

Since accommodations may be scarce and prices inflated during Michigan football weekends, we highly recommend that you make reservations early to secure a room with this good rate.

Comfort Inn
1645 Commerce Park Dr., 
Chelsea, MI 48118
(734) 433-8000

Group Discount $109/night

*Official loding may change to Hampton Inn and Suites. Check back just before making you reservation

Other Hotel Options
Other Area Hotels

Ann Arbor, Brighton and Jackson offer numerous options, but are a 30+ minute drive to the venues and may be priced higher

Cabins and Camping

• Near Waterloo State Recreation Area
• Can accommodate up to five people

• Near Waterloo State Recreation Area
• Can accommodate up to eight, ten, or 20 people per cabin

• Near Pinckney State Recreation Area
• Can accommodate tents campers and RVs

• Near Waterloo State Recreation Area
• Can accommodate tents, campers and RVs

• Near Pinckney State Recreation Area
• Can accommodate up to five people

• Near Pinckney State Recreation Area and relative to all venues

• Offers primitive and modern electrical/RV sites, pool, basketball courts, playground, trails, fishing, horse stables, kayak rentals

• Near  Waterloo State Recreation Area and west of all venues

• Accommodates family and equestrian visitors with access to recreation area trails

• Some sites have electricity, wanter and RV support

• Additional options for camping further away from the venues includes campgrounds at Brighton State Recreation Area (near the final day of competition)

• If all else fails and you can’t find anything, contact us about the possibility of camping on private property of organizing committee members who live in the Waterloo State Recreation Area vicinity. 


Arrive by Air
AirportServiceDriving Distance to Event Hotel
Detroit International Airport (DTW)Major international hub airport for the entire Detroit metropolitan area; comprehensive world-wide service from many airlines; comprehensive USA service. Also provides Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services for private aircraft. 39 miles
Lansing (LAN) AirportRegional airport connecting to major international hubs including Detroit, MI (DTW), Chicago O-Hare (ORD), Washington D.C. Reagan National (DCA) and Orlando, FL (MCO). International service to Mexico, Jamaica and Dominican Republic. Also provides Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services for private aircraft.57 miles
Flint Bishop Airport (FNT)Regional airport connecting to Chicago O-Hare (ORD) as well as direct flights to Florida locations in Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Sanford (SFB), Sarasota (SRQ), Punta Gorda / Ft Meyers (PGD), Tampa Bay / St Pete (PIE), and Jacksonville (JAX); and direct flights to other location in the U.S. including Nashville, TN (BNA), Phoenix/Mesa, AZ (AZA) and Savannah, GA (SAV). Also provides Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services for private aircraft.65 miles
Toledo Express Airport (TOL)Small regional airport with direct flights to Phoenix/Mesa, AZ (AZA) as well as Sanford (SFB), Tampa Bay / St Pete (PIE) and Punta Gorda / Ft Meyers (PGD), FL. Also provides Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services for private aircraft.70 miles
Ann Arbor (ARB), Jackson (JXN), Ypsilanti (YIP) and Livingston County (OZW)Airports serving private aircraft closer to event venues than the above commercial airports. These airports offer full service Fixed Base Operator (FBO) support, fuel, and maintenance.20 to 30 miles
Arrive by Train

Amtrak passenger trains service Ann Arbor and Jackson train stations via the Wolverine line and each station is approximately a 30 minute drive to the event venues. 

Arrive by Automobile

All event venues are convenient to Interstate 94 (I-94) and U.S. 23 expressways.  

Parking Passes

You will need to pay for a vehicle pass for the following events & venues:

State Recreation Areas (Training Camp, Fox-O, 2m Classic, & 80m Classic)

Michigan residents: $19 annual vehicle passport or annual passport “P” on license plate
Michigan residents must either 1) purchase a vehicle “passport” in conjunction with annual license plate renewal, or 2) purchase at a State Park, Recreation Area, or DNR Service Center plus a $5 service charge.

Non-Michigan residents: $40 annual vehicle pass, or $11 per day vehicle pass paid on-site.
Non-Michigan residents may purchase your annual vehicle “passport” online at:

Hudson Mills Metropark (Sprint)

Every vehicle needs a pass to enter the Hudson Mills Metropark. If you already have an annual Metroparks vehicle pass then you can enter the park with that pass. If you don’t have an annual pass and need a daily pass, indicate in your registration that you will need a vehicle pass and you will be charged the $10 fee for your daily vehicle pass along with your registration fees. You will then be given a QR code to bring with you to the event to scan in at the park entrance gate.

Park Lyndon (Practice Day 1)
Vehicle passes are not required at Park Lyndon

Peach Mountain (Practice Day 2)
Vehicle passes are not required at Peach Mountain and must park offsite, small group only.

Transporation within the Area

• Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) operates a fleet of 15 vehicles offering both door-to-door and scheduled public transport service in the area.  You can either call and schedule specific door-to-door service, or if you are near a regularly scheduled bus stop you can utilize the scheduled service.  

• Ridesharing services are minimal to non-existent in the area of the venues and also in Chelsea and Dexter.  

• Abundant public transport options and ride sharing services are offered within Ann Arbor extending east into the Detroit metropolitan area. 

• The best and recommended form of transport to championship events is via automobile. 

Here are links to the WAVE public transport service options in Chelsea/Dexter/Washtenaw County:

WAVE Door-to-Door

WAVE within Chelsea

WAVE connecting Chelsea-Dexter-Ann Arbor

Foreign Visitor Information

• Passport and a visa may be needed to enter the United States depending on your country of passport issue.  For visa information, please visit the federal travel website.

• If you need visa help or special documentation, such as a visa invitation letter, please send an e-mail to [email protected] to request.

Things to Do

We are  tentatively planning some exciting cultural and enrichment activities.

Henry Ford Museum

Step into the past at the Henry Ford Museum of American History. Step inside the bus where Rosa Parks took a stand by taking a seat. Play pilot as you explore flight innovations, starting with the Wright brothers’ achievements.

Greenfield Village

Experience firsthand the sights, sounds and sensations of Greenfield Village like sitting on the bus where Rosa Parks took her courageous stand, or where the  Wright brothers learned to fly. You can even take a ride in a real Model T.

Rouge Factory

Get an inside look at the most iconic moments of American manufacturing history and see how the Ford F150 is made.

Peach Mountain Radio Telescope

Peach Mountain is the home of the 24” McMath Telescope and is part of Stinchfield Woods. Stinchfield Woods.

Dexter Cider Mill

Visit  the oldest, continuously operating cider mill in the State of Michigan. You can enjoy delicious doughnuts, wood pressed cider, caramel apples, and apple nut bread that’s baked daily.

Thomas Edison's Lab

Get a look inside the labe where Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb and learn how it was done. 

Other Activities

Dexter Apple Daze Festival

• 5 October 2024
Downtown fun, pumpkin bowling, hayrides, cider, music, antique car drive-in, arts and crafts

Huron River Water Trail
• Canoeing, Kayaking, Tubing

Haehnle Sanctuary
• Watch the sandhill crane migration

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
• Accessible fishing piers at some of the venues and other locations filled with Pike, Brass and Crappie

Sandhill Soaring Club

• Glider Flights

Downtown Chelsea 

• Chelsea Visitor Center located inside Palmer Auto Service (222 South Main Street, Chelsea) and across the street from the Chelsea District Library

• Get information about upcoming events, brochures, maps, phone books, visitor guides, and coupons

Downtown Dexter

• The City of Dexter is located in Southeast Michigan, along the banks of the Huron River and Mill Creek.

• A walk through the unique, historic downtown offers visitors the opportunity to experience nostalgic small town America only minutes from Ann Arbor.

Downtown Ann Arbor

• Ann Arbor offers a bustling university town, culinary hotspot, and a tech hub with a walkable downtown that includes world-class arts and culture.

• Located in southeast Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Ann Arbor lies at the center of a greater collection of communities in Washtenaw County.

Hell, Michigan

• Tell your friends you’ve been to Hell and back with souvenir T-shirts, coffee mugs, patches, pins, and unique Halloween items

• Become an official property owner of Hell, Michigan. You can buy your own square inch of Hell and become part of the elite group of individuals known as the Hell Landowner’s Society. 

Dexter Cider Mill

• Family owned and operated since 1886, The Dexter Cider Mill has been serving customers for over 137 years. 

• It’s the oldest continuously operating cider mill in Michigan.

Jenny’s Farm Stand and Cider Mill

• Known for their donuts and specialty food products.

• Activities include a petting zoo, hay maze, hay rides and pony rides.

• Enjoy traditional cider mill classics and plenty of baked goods.

Berry Hill Farm

• Picking season starts mid-July with black raspberries and goes into October

• Has raised raspberries since 1985.

• Berry plants on trellises for easy picking.

Lesser Farms & Orchard

• Family-owned and operated 5th generation farm located in Dexter, Michigan.

• Get farm-raised beef and home-grown fruits

Frosty Apple Orchard

• Enjoy apples and apple pie

Arctic Coliseum

• Hockey

• Ice Skating

• Curling

Chelsea Lanes

• Bowling

University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

• Planetarium Shows

• Exhibits

• Darwin’s Cafe

MJR Movie Theater,
Brighton, Michigan

Cinemark Ann Arbor 20 & IMAX,
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Encore Musical Theater,
Dexter, Michigan

Places to Eat

Our Top 3 Must-try Options
More Options by Location

Common Grill

• Fine bistro dining – or just go to back door to take-out their tasty rolls

Smokehouse 52

• BBQ is the catered meal on Saturday evenings

Brahma Haus

• Mediterranean

Jiffy Mix

• World HQ in Chelsea!

• Fourteen quick, easy mixes for creating sweet desserts and savory main dishes at home

Virtual tour of Jiffy Mix World Headquarters

Thompson’s Pizza

• This is our favorite pizza in the area

Jet’s Pizza

• Detroit-style pizzas


American style pizzas, feta bread, chicken wings, meatballs, salads calzones


• Fast food drive-in, fast food, burgers, root beer & floats

La Marsa

• Mediterranean

Riverview Cafe

• Breakfast & Brunch

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

• American dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, Mac ‘n Cheese, NOLA Gumbo, Nashville Hot Chicken, Cornmeal Fried Catfish, Oyster Po’Boys, full-flavored burgers, Grits n’ Bits Waffles and Donut Sundaes

• Popular destination for really good BBQ

The Gandy Dancer

• Fine dining in historic 1886 Michigan Central train depot


• Spanish cuisine like modern tapas, world-renowned Valencian paella, and great customer service

Jerusalem Garden 

• Local, independent eatery that offers fresh, Middle Eastern dishes including a variety of sandwiches, hummus, falafel and kabob

Cafe Zola

• Crepes, Mediterranean, Turkish,  omelettes, sandwiches, burgers, waffles, steak, seafood and pasta


• Eclectic, local, and brunches too

• Diverse menu blends that include American classics with global cuisine


• Vegetarian/Vegan, Fresh, imaginative vegetarian cuisine

Frita Baditos

• Really good burgers and Cuban inspired street food

Main Osteria

• Locally owned family-friendly Italian restaurant that serves wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, and signature antipasti

What Do You Think?

Send us a message and tell us which activities most interest you and we’ll do our best to work it out. 

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