As winds sweep eastward across Lake
Michigan, they cause one of nature's greatest
phenomena in the often towering and most picturesque lakeshore
sand dunes. Stretching up Michigan's western coast,
these dunes attract thousands of visitors each year and
one of the best places to enjoy them is at the Sleeping
Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Located just to the west
of Traverse City, the
dunes here rise up to 400 feet and have an array of colors
from light champagne to burnt sienna. Year round, the
Sleeping Bear Dunes and surrounding terrain will reward
all your outdoor endeavors. These dunes are special, and
the rich diversity of wildlife and sweeping panoramic
views will exhaust your camera.
Sleeping Bear Dunes takes its name from an old Chippewa legend that tells of a mother bear and her two cubs who left the Wisconsin shores to escape a large forest fire. Determined to reach safety, they made an attempt to cross Lake Michigan, yet the two cubs lagged behind. As the mother bear reached the Michigan shores, she waited for the arrival of the cubs who drowned along the way. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore she continues to wait atop the high bluff. North and South Manitou islands were created by the Great Spirit to honor the cubs, and they remain a popular part of the area's splendor.
The North and South Manitou islands are part of the National Park, and in the past were a shipping station where crews would dock to escape storms, or to stock up on wood, food and ice. These islands in the 1800's were the only shipping stop for 220 miles and on South Manitou, you'll find a lighthouse and coast guard life saving station that can be accessed through tours that give you a history lesson on the islands and their important role from the past. If you are looking for some unique Michigan camping and Michigan hiking, you'll like that most of the islands' area is reserved for recreation, and on Northern Manitou island you'll see a numerous array of hawks and eagles. The Manitou Islands Transit provides ferry rides to the islands for campers and day-trippers and leaves from nearby Leland, Michigan. On South Manitou Island, the Valley of the Giants is a popular hike through white cedar groves where the trees rise over 100 feet.
Back on the mainland, you'll find so much to do in both summer and winter. In summer, enjoy picnics along the shore and watch stunning sunsets in the evening. You can rent kayaks or canoes, or go tubing on the crystal clear streams that wind through the park. Climbing the dunes is an ever popular attraction, and hiking through the park's trails will give you a true appreciation of the park's beauty. In the winter, the views change and are just as amazing. Snow-shoeing is a great way to take it all in as you work off some stress and calories. Cross-country skiing through the park and finding some of the best Michigan skiing at area slopes are an exciting way to cure winter-time angst. Come to Sleeping Bear Dunes for both seasons, and then try to decide which trip you enjoyed more.
Where should you stay at Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan? That depends on what you're looking for. You can stay in multi-bedroom condominiums, luxurious resorts, private homes for rent, various inns, or pitch your tent at area campgrounds to enjoy a night out on the dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan, being so close to Traverse City, let's you explore different options, and you can even take a side tour to some of the Michigan wineries in the area, or find some excellent Michigan golf at places like Arcadia.
Throughout history, Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan has been a spot for maritime endeavors, recreational abundance, and agricultural activity. Through restored and renovated buildings and landmarks, you'll learn about the past while you take advantage of the present. Numerous uniformed park employees and the various volunteers that work here will answer any questions you have, and help you to maximize your experience. So, go ahead and plan your next getaway for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and take advantage of all the things to do.