Description - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was designated to protect the diverse landscape along Lake Michigan's shoreline and the two wilderness islands, North and South Manitou. Beautiful forests, white sand beaches, towering 460-foot dune formations, ancient glacial phenomena, and a host of culture features, characterize this 56,993-acre national land. Most folks visit this national park to view the beautiful dunes but quickly realize there is much more including a 1871 lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations, an extensive rural historic farm district, Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan, and the Maritime Museum.
Copyright: National Park Service
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- The recreation opportunities at this National Lakeshore are diverse enough to please many types of visitors. An excellent place to begin your trip through the park and gather information is the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan. It features an exhibit area with a slide presentation, a large-scale relief map of the park, a bookstore and well-informed staff. Other information centers can be found on South Manitou Island in the Glen Haven area.
Scenic driving on the lakeshore is a popular activity. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7-mile (12 km) self-guided auto tour, offers world-class vistas of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes plateau, Lake Michigan, the Manitou Islands and North Bar Lake. The park features 13 mainland hiking / cross-country ski trails totaling 55 miles (94 km). The islands also support many miles of hiking trails. Horseback riding is allowed only on the Alligator Hill hiking trail. Ranger-guided nature hikes along the Cottonwood Trail are a regular feature of the summer season.
Two campgrounds are available for public use within the lakeshore. D.H. Day Campground is open from mid-April through November. It is a primitive campground, with vault toilets and potable water, but no trailer hookups. The Platte River Campground remains open year-round with fully modern facilities, including electrical hookups and restrooms with hot water. Coin-operated laundry and showers are available at this site. Calling 1-800-365-CAMP reserves a campsite. Two mainland backcountry campgrounds are available for self-contained backpackers. Mainland backcountry facilities are available for winter use. Backcountry camping is also available on both Manitou Islands.
A pastoral picnic area, appropriately named Picnic Mountain, invitingly suggests red-checked tablecloths, wicker baskets and cool refreshments. Picnic tables and grills are readily available; comfort facilities are located onsite. Handicap accessible.
Other features of Sleeping Bear include the Dune Climb, the Maritime Museum, The Cannery (historic boat museum), campfire programs, Junior Ranger programs, canoeing, and boating.
Recreation - The site offers boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, scenic driving, nature study, camping, and winter sporting opportunities.
Climate - The climate in northern Michigan varies as much as the seasons. Summertime high temperatures can reach 90 degrees with much cooler evening temperatures. Wintertime temperatures below freezing are common. Layered clothing for changing weather and rain gear are recommended.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore lies on Michigan's northwestern coast. The site includes 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and two wilderness islands. It is accessible by State Highways 22, 72 and 109. The largest community in the region is Traverse City.