Voted the most beautiful place in America by “Good Morning America” in 2011, and then named one of National Geographic’s best summer trips for 2012, it only makes sense that the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is in your itinerary this summer.
The lakeshore is located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s mitten, by Traverse City. This park has over 60 miles of beaches along the beautiful Lake Michigan, over 20 inland lakes, two islands, and of course the sand dunes.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
There are three different trails you can follow for the dune climb, each differentiating in difficulty. There’s the hard trail, which is a 3.5 mile hike to Lake Michigan and back. Then there’s the moderate trail, which is a 2.8 loop to the Sleeping Bear Point. Then the easy trail is a 1.8 mile handicap accessible hike through the forest.
Although the climb may be a little strenuous, the view from the dune’s summit makes the trip worthwhile. You get a view of Big and Little Glen Lake, and also a view of Lake Michigan.
After the dune climb you can take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The drive is 7.4 miles of dunes, woods, and views of Lake Michigan. A park fee is permitted for the drive, but you can purchase a pass for only $10. That pass is valid for seven days, or you could buy a season pass for $20 which is valid for 12 months.
The two islands that are located on the lakeshore are called North and South Manitou Island. The two islands are very different and you can catch ferry rides to the islands throughout most of the summer. The ferry is $29 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under (round trip).
South Manitou Island is known for their astonishing farmsteads and the island’s lighthouse. There’s also an old schoolhouse on the island.
North Manitou Island is for the adventurer. There’s over 15,000 acres of backpacking, camping, and hiking.
The scenery isn’t the only thing this area has to offer though. The surrounding areas of the park offer fishing, historic lighthouses, shopping, dining, a casino, and other popular attractions. For the outdoorsman there’s camping, canoeing, hiking and biking. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has something for the whole family to enjoy.