Sleeping Bear Dunes: The most beautiful place you never knew existed

by | Jun 14, 2017

Unless you are from Michigan, the chance that you have heard of the Sleeping Bear Dunes is slim. Allow me to fill you in: The Sleeping Bear Dunes sit along the coast of Lake Michigan in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. When I say sand dunes, you probably think of a little rolling hill of sand that shifts with the wind on any given day.

Wrong. This behemoth system of sand dunes soars 450 feet above the lake. Why is that cool? Glimpse the sparkling waters stretching out for miles, the two Manitou Islands perched off shore, or if you’re lucky catch a postcard sunset over the seemingly endless lake and you’ll truly appreciate the elevated vantage point.

Proof that you should visit:

One of the many beautiful scenes that awaits you.

Now that I’ve convinced you, let me tell you a little more about the area. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a National Park Service protected landscape. The bluffs and dunes along the lakeshore were glacial moraines that have eroded over time, but that grow and shift inland over time as the wind off the lake pushes sand up and over the bluff, only to be trapped by dune grasses.

What to do while you’re there:

  • Climb the dunes! At the designated dune climb along M-109 you can climb up one of the many dunes, and you will win a beautiful view of the two Glen Lakes. Hike a little (okay, kind of a lot) further and you will be rewarded with a view of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands.
  • Not able or willing to climb for your views? Take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and enjoy several vantage points, none more beautiful than the scenic overlook of Lake Michigan.
  • Hike some of the 100 miles of designated trails, or snowshoe if you are visiting in winter
  • Cycle along the 22-mile Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and enjoy the views and wooded scenery
  • Kayak or canoe along the nearby Platte River and/or Crystal River
  • Into backwoods camping? Take a ferry and rough it on the Manitou Islands; don’t miss the South Manitou Island Lighthouse while you’re there!
  • Visit Glen Haven, a step back in time with a small village that has been restored to it’s working order from the 1920’s

Curious about the name?

Read about the legend of sleeping bear.


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Laura is one half of the traveling couple behind CoupleTakes. When she’s not traveling, she works as a law librarian in Las Vegas, NV and loves exploring the beautiful desert landscapes in the Southwestern United States on the weekends. Read her posts here.

Juan Pablo is one half of the traveling couple behind CoupleTakes. When he is not traveling he is at a desk somewhere pursuing his studies for his PhD Program in Modern Thought & Literature at Stanford University. Read his posts here.