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1,360 votes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

9922 Front St, Philip A. Hart Visitor's Center, Empire, Michigan 49630 USA

Closed Now
Opens Tue 9a
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair
  • Public
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Natural Wonder

Our Take

The lakeshore gets its name from a heartwrenching Ojibwe legend about a mother bear waiting for her cubs who drowned after swimming across the lake. Sad stories aside, this is one incredible beach. The two-thousand-year-old dune itself is about 100 feet tall and can be summited at the park's designated Dune Climb; the trek up can be tiring, but jumping off the dune is a one-of-kind variety of fun.

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“Scenic beauty and outdoor adventure”

Explore the towering sand dunes, clear waters, and lush forests of this beautiful lakeshore. Hike, bike, kayak, or camp among the stunning landscapes that inspired the Native American legend of the Sleeping Bear. Don't forget to bring your camera!

The lakeshore is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so visit anytime! Keep in mind the availability of services changes by season and that the campgrounds, visitor centers, and facilities have separate hours.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 5 Helpful
September 18, 2016

Beautiful! 12 breathtaking turnouts on Pierce Stocking Drive and each one is unique. Great for anyone not able to walk far! Imagine standing on a 450 foot tall sand dune, staring out across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin and swear you were at the ocean, but it's salt free! The sand runs into the water changing it to 20 shades of blue. #homeistruenorth

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 6 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
June 13, 2017
Rated 5.0

A little further south, in Empire, there is a Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. It's definitely fun, but bring water!! It's about a 3.5 mile trek to the beach up and down dunes, but it is honestly so much fun. The day my friends and I went it was incredibly windy, which made things a little tricky (not to mention we ate a bunch of sand) but the views are breathtaking and it's such a remarkable experience. Highly recommend trying it at least once. But like I said, be prepared physically and bring water!

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
November 10, 2016
Rated 4.0

Just got back from a scenic road trip from Chicago to these Dunes. It was so peaceful and quiet but most of all beautiful. Some of the turnouts / turnarounds were great for picture taking as well as stretching your legs. Pierce Stocking Drive scenic route is fantastic especially with all the fall colors. We ended up in a little park called Cartier which had some lovely views as well. I highly recommend taking Blue Star Highway up to M-22 which runs along the lake. Its officially called the Lake Michigan Circle Tour route or something like only complaint was most of the "rustic bathrooms" at these lookouts were closed for the season. Most of the little towns too were boarded up as well for the season. We also really enjoyed Ludington State Park

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Dave Doster

  • 133 Reviews
  • 124 Helpful
April 13, 2014

If you have small ones that have tons of energy, take them here and let them run up and down the dunes. They'll have a blast and perhaps latter go down for their nap.

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Robin Zhang

  • 11 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
August 15, 2015
Rated 4.0

Be prepared! Bring lots of water and consider wearing shoes with arch support. A 1.3 mile walk/hike through the dunes took us 40 minutes and we're all college students in good shape! A great workout, for sure. When we finally made it to the lake, the beach was very rocky and the water was cold and wavy but still beautiful! Not the best kind of beach for relaxing/swimming though.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Joseph House

  • 25 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
January 09, 2022
Rated 5.0

I loved this park. The scenic drive is excellent, the dune climb is fun, and the overall amenities for the park are evident. Definitely helped by the fact that cars must pay to enter. Highly recommended (also, if camping, look at the Platte River Campground, which is within the park - excellent facilities).

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 10 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
July 26, 2016
Rated 5.0

One of the most beautiful places in Michigan. We climbed the dune, which offered great views of Glen Lake and Lake Michigan. Off in the distance you can see South and north manitou islands. If you enjoy hiking there's a 3.5 mile hike to Lake Michigan. Nothing like hiking in sand to tire out the kids (and adults).

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 4 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
July 18, 2016

Also worth mentioning are North and South Manitou Islands. You can do day trips to South, or camp in one of four campgrounds on the island, but you have to carry all your gear. North Manitou is much wilder and is more for backpacking, but there is also a campground near the dock. And both islands have awesome beaches all around.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
July 17, 2016
Rated 5.0

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a MUST experience for every generation. I've experienced this area with family and as a romantic weekend away with hubby. There is so much to see and do in this area regardless of your activity level. The towns of Glen Arbor and Empire offer quaint shops and great food not to mention the beautiful accommodations like The Homestead. If your looking for a Michigan Lakeshore experience "away from it all" Sleeping Bear can't be beat.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,414 Reviews
  • 624 Helpful
June 15, 2015
Rated 4.0

I loved coming here as a kid. Walking up the dunes was exhausting, but running and sliding down them was just so fun!

1 person found this review helpful

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

9922 Front St
Philip A. Hart Visitor's Center
Empire, Michigan
49630 USA
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Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

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Good for bird watching, hiking, and swimming.

  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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