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.
“voted one of the best beaches in America”
Miles of sand beach, bluffs that tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan, lush forests, clear inland lakes, unique flora and fauna make up the natural world of Sleeping Bear Dunes. High dunes afford spectacular views across the lake. An island lighthouse, US Life-Saving Service stations, coastal villages, and picturesque farmsteads reflect the park's rich maritime, agricultural, and recreational history.
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
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!
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 that...my 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
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
I loved coming here as a kid. Walking up the dunes was exhausting, but running and sliding down them was just so fun!
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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Good for bird watching, hiking, and swimming.
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