Map of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Basic information for visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Northwest lower Michigan, near Empire.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Northwest lower Michigan, near Empire.
Massive sand dunes rise like smooth mountains above the Lake Michigan coasts, protecting 35 mi of shoreline and edging acres of gorgeous inland terrain. Beech-maple forests shimmer with light in the summer, and months later their cheery autumn hues are reflected in dozens of clear lakes and quiet rivers. Grassy bluffs rise up to 460 feet, providing sweeping views of Lake Michigan's two offshore wilderness islands, as well as a wetland environment filled with birds and mammals. The area's history is rediscovered at the Boat Museum and the Maritime Museum in Glen Haven; a cannery is also open for touring. The park was authorized in 1970 and established in 1977.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Apple and mushroom picking, auto touring, bicycling, bird-watching, canoeing (rentals in and near park), cross-country skiing (rentals in Traverse City), dune climbing, fishing, hang gliding (permit required, see below), hunting, picnicking, nonpowered-model flying, scuba diving (rentals in Traverse City), snowshoeing (rentals in Glen Arbor, Traverse City), swimming, touring museum, tubing (rentals in and near park), walking beaches. Facilities: 2 visitor centers: Empire (9922 Front St.) and South Manitou Island; 2 museums, outdoor interpretive exhibits, hiking trails. Covered picnic tables with fire grills. Programs & Events: Guided walks and campfire programs (late June-Labor Day), snow-shoe hikes (Dec.-Mar., weekends), lyle-gun firing (Memorial Day-Labor Day, weekly). Special events (Apr-mid-Sept). Tips & Hints: Expect summer highs near 90°F with much cooler evenings, and below-freezing temperatures in winter. Bring layered clothing and rain gear. Use caution when hiking trails near sand cliffs. Bring insect repellent in warmer months to combat black flies and mosquitoes. No food or lodging available on islands. Make ferry reservations in advance for travel to the Manitou Islands. Busiest July and Aug., least crowded Nov.-Apr.
FOOD, LODGING & SUPPLIES
Camping: In the park: D.H. Day (87 sites; $10; vault toilets; closed late Nov.-early Apr.), Platte River (179 sites; $12-$21; flush toilets, showers, hook-ups). Backcountry camping ($5-$12) available at Valley View, White Pine, and on North and South Manitou Islands. Hotels: None in park. In Thompsonville: Crystal Mountain (12500 Crystal Mountain Dr., tel. 231/378-2000 or 800/968-7686; 63 rooms, 29 suites, 136 condos; $289). In Frankfort: Harbor Lights Motel & Condos (15 2nd St., tel. 231/352-9614 or 800/346-9614; 29 rooms, 22 suites, 20 condos; $115-$135, $195-$225 suites). X Restaurants: None in park. In Frankfort: Hotel Frankfort (231 Main St., tel. 231/352-4303; $5-$10). In Glen Arbor: Western Avenue Grill (6410 Western Ave., tel. 231/334-3362; $6-$10). 6 Groceries & Gear: None in park. In Empire: Deerings Food Market (11033 Main St., tel. 231/326-5249).
FEES, HOURS & REGULATIONS
Park pass: $10 per car, $5 per person on foot, bicycles, or motorcycles. Permits required for all ($5-$20) backcountry campers. Obtain Valley View permit from D.H. Day; obtain White Pine permit from Platte River. Permit required (free) for hang gliding and nonpowered-model flying. Ferries $25 round-trip adults, $14 round-trip ages 12 and under. Michigan state fishing and hunting licenses ($7-$ 14 per day) required. Stay on established trails, especially on dunes. No pets on Dune Climb, islands, swim beaches, or ski trails. Leashed pets elsewhere. No boat motors on most inland lakes. No glass on beaches. Park open daily. Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire open Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily 9-6; Labor Day-Memorial Day, daily 9-4. Scenic drive open mid-Apr.-mid-Nov. Maritime Museum buildings open Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily 10:30-5, Labor Day-mid-Oct., weekends with varying hours. Manitou Islands ferry runs from Leland May-Oct.
HOW TO GET THERE
25 mi north of Frankfort via Rte. 22, and 25 mi west of Traverse City via Rte. 72. Closest airport: Traverse City (30 mi).
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (9922 Front St., Empire, MI 49630, tel. 231/326-5134; 800/365-2267 camping reservations, fax 231/ 326-5382). Manitou Island Transit (tel. 231/256-9061 ferry reservations). Benzie County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau (Box 204, Benzonia, MI 49616, tel. 231/882-5801 or 800/ 882-5801, fax 231/882-9249). Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce (202 E. Grandview Pkwy., Traverse City, MI 49684, tel. 231/ 947-5075, fax 231/946-2565). Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce (5046 S.W. Bay Shore Dr., Suite G, Suttons Bay, MI 49682, tel. 231/271-9895, fax 231/271-9896).
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Basic information for visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Northwest lower Michigan, near Empire