Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses a 60 km (35 mi.) reasons to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands.
The park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including an 1871 lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and an extensive historic farm district.
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1. The dune climb
It's the most well-known attraction in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and is a Midwest tradition of summer that is a 110-foot high white sand wall that visitors can climb to enjoy. It's a 10-minute hike an intense hike that will leave you breathless. Take it on. Everyone does.
Sand is indeed one of the major attractions in the park, which is federally owned and located in the northwest of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. It encompasses 71,200 acres of land and water , and extends over the 65-mile Lake Michigan shoreline, plus two islands off the coast.
The park is home to the biggest freshwater sand dunes in all of the world. The dunes are stunning, breathtaking, impressive, and vivid particularly during sunset and sunrise. Glaciers leave behind rubble along with fine-grained, sand. The southern portion of the park is home to dunes that were created by wind blowing beach sand over low-lying dunes.
4. Ghost trees
The park's unique attractions is the ghost forests that has been dug up before being uncovered by shifting sands.
Alongside three former Coast Guard stations, a historic farm district, inland lakes, and woodlands, the park is home to an 1871 lighthouse on South Manitou Island. It's 100 feet high and was operational until 1958.
The short hikes will take you to high bluffs that offer stunning panoramas of Lake Michigan shoreline. Empire Bluffs trails are a one-way 3/4-mile trail that ascends through the old fields of farms and orchards, and then through a forest before ending in a clearing on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The park's northern end is located. the park, there's only a small hike, just six-tenths of one mile until Pyramid Point, where visitors can stand 260 feet high above the water in Lake Michigan on a perched dune. It's away from the main roads and is away from crowds.
7. Scenic drives
The 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is open from late April to early November and features 12 stops and trailheads, including my favorite dune stop, a wooden observation deck perched atop the dunes with take-your-breath-away vistas, 450 feet above Lake Michigan.
8. A great story
The park's name is derived because of the 400-foot high Sleeping Bear Dune, a significant landmark for the early lake-going travelers, and also the subject to the story of an Indian legend.
The mother bear as well as twin cubs were swimming away from Wisconsin over Lake Michigan to escape a forest fire, as the story is told. When they reached the Michigan shoreline The cubs were lagging in the water. The mother went up the bluff to sit. The cubs did not reach her. Mother bears are named after the dunes and her cubs are the park's Manitou islands that lie offshore.
In actuality, the tale is Michigan's official book for children: "The Legend of Sleeping Bear" written by Kathy-jo Wargin.
9. Sleeping Bear Point
Point and Coast Guard station lies west of the historical town of Glen Haven with its general store and maritime museum (open during the season) and blacksmith shop, and inn. It is one of the most historic sights in the park. Glen Haven, a onetime fueling station, was constructed to preserve its 1920s-inspired look and feel.
10. Camping on islands
The park is home to wild islands of about 7 miles off the coast with ferry access in the summer. In the 5,313-acre South Manitou, a trail connects into the Valley of the Gods with its old trees of 500 years with some that measure 15 feet in circumference and 90 feet high.
It is home to its own sandy dunes, farmsteads from the past and giant white cedars. an gull colony, as well as 16 miles of trail. It's roughly 3x3 miles. There are three campsites.
North Manitou is less developed and has 15 426 acres of nature preserve. The island measures 7 1/4 by 4 1/2 miles. Backcountry permits must be obtained for camping. The trails cover 23 miles.
Both islands were settled to facilitate agriculture and for lumbering.