Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Travel Guide

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
    by riorich55
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
    by riorich55
  • Welcome!
    Welcome!
    by PinkFloydActuary

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Things to Do

  • The Dune Climb

    Probably the most famous aspect of the park. The large parking lot allows you to get up and close with an enormous dune - and see if you can make it to the top. Climbing up a sand hill is no easy task - it takes a lot of power and in the hot sun (and hot sun) can be grueling.What makes this a huge tease is once you get to the "top" - you realize...

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  • The Dunes Trail - Sleeping Bear Point

    After the Dune climb, we decided to tackle one more trail. Actually, just a part of a trail as we were going to head to the first fork in the road and drift down to the beach.You'd think we would have learned how difficult it was to walk in sand by this point, but alas. Again, there was plenty of poison ivy to keep you honest in sticking on the...

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  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

    Continuing north, the next main attraction is the scenic drive. You turn off route 109, and after verifying (or paying) the park entrance fee, you're on your way around this 7 mile route (most of it is one way.)After crossing under a covered bridge, the first overlook is the Glen Lake overlook, where you can take in the beauty of the lake to the...

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  • Empire Bluffs Trail

    After departing from the visitor center, we were off to find our first hike of the day - Empire Bluffs. Perhaps the most difficult part of this was finding the trail head - we got turned around in the tiny town twice before finally trusting our gut and finding the right road.At the beginning of the trail, you can pick up a pamphlet to read about a...

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  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

    Pick up a self-guided tour map at the Visitor's Center and take the 7.4 mile driving tour which includes stops along the way for overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lakes, and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

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  • Hike Sleeping Bear Point Trail

    An easy 2.8 mile loop through sand dunes with views of Lake Michigan. $5 per person entrance fee or $10 per vehicle.

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  • Hike: Cottonwood Trail

    This trail is an interesting hike that gives a good glimpse over the great dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The trail begins, like so many others, from the scenic drive that rings the northwestern side of the park. It winds down slightly, then cuts off to the right across the dunes. It is a faint trail, but with few trees it is easy...

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  • Scenic Drive

    There is a traditional drive through the park, which hits the highlights. It is not too long, and is a good way to breeze through the park if you are short on time. It passes several overlooks, where you can see the immense sleeping bear dunes, as well as the beech forests which form the land to the east of the lake. Stop and take a walk if you...

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  • Wander the Beaches

    There are miles and miles of coastline within the Lakeshore. Pick a spot, any spot, and enjoy the experience.

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  • Climbing the Bluff

    The bluff, which was previously written about by basstbn in his tip titled "playing on the sand dunes", is a hard but awesome thing to climb. There are two ways to get to it. The average person takes the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to the stop where the bluff is located. They then climb down the bluff and climb back up it. I start at North Bar...

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  • Port Oneida Historic District

    Port Oneida today is a rural farm district from the 'turn of the century'. The 19th to 20th century. The buildings date from around 1900 and represent the countryside in the early 20th century. There are the Baker, Burfiend, Busch, Eckhert, and Olsen Farms. Along MI 22 you'll see the cemetery, school and additional farms. The actual port consisted...

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  • Glen Haven and the Coast Guard

    Glen Haven is located at the north end of Glen Haven Road. This is west of Glen Arbor. Here you'll find a restored hotel and shops. Further along, the boat house has been restored and displays water craft used by the Coast Guard and locals over the century. You'll see how rescues were handled. If the day is quiet and there is little traffic, you'll...

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  • Scenic Drive

    Take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. It is a twisted road that climbs up and down the dunes. Take is slow and enjoy the views. Oh, the views are at the view points with pakring lots. The rest of the drive is deep in the woods. That's right, these are dunes. Over time, open dunes will blow away in the wind. Slowly, dune grasses take root. These...

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  • The Sleeping Bear

    The Sleeping Bear is best seen from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The bear itself is a dune on top of hte high dunes along the shore.

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  • Coast Guard Station & Maritime Museum

    The Coast Guard station is at the end of the lake front road from Glen Haven. In reality, it is not on the lake. There is a row of dunes between you and the lake. This short drive will bring you into the windswept sand fields with it's barren look and a feel that you're heading into a vast unknown region. At the end of the road, you'll come to a...

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  • Climb a Dune

    The Dune Climb is located on MI 109, near Glen Lake Beach. Here you'll be able to climb the face of a dune. Nearly 10 stories high, the dune face is only the first level. There is a shelf at the top and a short distance back, it continues another hundred feet. Few visitors try the second face as the first is enough work.

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  • Empire Bluff

    Just south of Empire on Wilco road (easier to find from MI 22 than from in town) is the trail to Empire Bluff. The walk takes you through a lush forest with squirrels and wildflowers. It's about a mile each way, but at the end, you come out on to the very edge of the bluff. From here, you gaze down across the lake. To the south, range more sand...

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  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

    Nancy and I were pretty weary. It had been a long day, and the hiking about on the hot sands had drained us of a lot of energy and we were dreading a long drive back to our lodging; however, I think we were on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive when I got this photo of a covered bridge. I'm hopeful somebody more knowledgeable than I will correct me...

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Restaurants

  • Cherries

    If you're not bringing a picnic lunch to the park, you might consider a stop at this place in Glen Arbor. It's about a 15 minute drive from the Dune climb. The cafe is nestled in the center of the Cherry Republic complex. After doing any shopping (and sampling) head over here for lunch.As you might imagine, cherries work their way into most of the...

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  • There's Always Something Good to Eat At...

    Art's has a special place in almost everyone's heart who's been there. It's a great end-of-the- day on the beach, grab-a-bite place; cold weather hangout and all around fun atmosphere kind of joint that has no pretentions. Chicken Jalepenio Soup on Wednesday's only. Yum! People I am with enjoy a good burger.Everything is good at Art's.

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  • Few choices available...

    We entered the park area at Empire, Michigan. At this small village, there was a restaurant and a general store with a deli. Since we were travelling with our dog, we decided to pick up some deli sandwiches and picnic in the park. Fun, tasty, cheap. And the view was good.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Nightlife

  • ciaobellamici's Profile Photo

    by ciaobellamici Updated Oct 3, 2009

    August above the beach (450 feet!)...overlooking the Big Lake...sunset and dreams. Give yourself PLENTY of time to stop and enjoy the various views of the Park. Bring a picnic, if you wish, and sit on at the tables - almost a 360 degree view.

    Make sure to end up at the Overlook for sunset.

    Dress Code: Bring a sweatshirt and blanket!

    Looking North Toward D. H. Day Farm and Pyramid Pt The Manitous The Final Minutes... Ah, Serenity..

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Warnings and Dangers

  • Don't get burnt!

    It gets really hot climbing around in the dunes and not only is the sun beaming down on you but it is reflecting off the sand. That makes it Really easy to get burnt so make sure you wear sunblock (even if it is cloudy!) and if you burn easy, like me, it's not a bad idea to wear a hat to shield you from some of that sun!From going there year after...

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  • Leaves of three - let them be!

    I did observe a considerable amount of poison ivy growing along the few paths that we walked, and the unofficial park web site brings attention to its presence. If you are unfamiliar with poison ivy and are not certain you can identify it, check with a park ranger or somebody who can point it out to you. Until then, don't touch any plant that...

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  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Hotels

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Off The Beaten Path

  • South Bar Lake

    If you're in Empire and looking for a break, take the short drive out to the Empire public beach. This is located on Lake Michigan, between South Bar Lake and Lake Michigan. Here is a chance to see nature at it's geologic best. Don't expect the bare rocky slopes of western parks. Around the Great Lakes, geologic processes are a work in...

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  • South Manitou Island

    South Manitou Island is located off the coast of Leland. You'll need a boat or to use the boat service that daily travels out. There is day service, so you can go out and spend several hours visiting the lighthouse and seeing the other sights. There is also a tram that will take you to the far end of the island to see the historic ruins and...

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