Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses 65 miles of sandy shoreline along Lake Michigan. The area also includes several lakes and streams, making this National Lakeshore a great summer destination.

This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddunes
Can you see the hikers?

The fall will bring you bright vibrant orange, yellow, and red foliage making for a spectacular display of color. The winters can be brutally cold, but the snow provides great snowshoeing conditions through the dunes.


How To Get to Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Before booking your trip, make sure you protect yourself and your money and purchase travel insurance! You will need to rent a car to get to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It is a 4.5 hour drive from the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) and a 3.5 hour drive from the Flint Bishop International airport.

This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddunes

Where to Stay by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The sleeping bear dunes are 25 miles west of Traverse City, making this a great city for accommodations, night life, restaurants and wineries. Try an AirBnB and see how the locals live. If you’re looking for a closer city outside the park you can find hotels in Empire or Glen Arbor. There are several state parks, and private campgrounds in the area. Rent an RV and spend a weekend exploring. Bring a tent, or you can rent rustic cabins in some state parks as well.

“Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.” 

John Muir


How are the dunes created?

The sand from the steep bluffs along the lakeshore fall or slide into Lake Michigan. This provides massive amounts of sand and gravel to the National Lakeshore. Some individual landslides have dumped a million cubic yards of sand into the great lake in just one single event.

This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddune
Can you see the boat?

Waves cut away the bases of the bluffs, providing a continuous supply of sand and gravel to the winds blowing against them. The sand continues to get whisked up and deposited on top.

The Dune Climb in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a hike no one should miss. | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

More National Parks to Explore


 

What To Do In Sleeping Bear Dunes

The Lake Michigan coastline along Sleeping Bear Dunes and the offshore Islands are a very large component of the National Lakeshore environment. Small patches of ancient forests buried by sand eons ago continue to be exposed, as sand moves inland and attempts to bury the forests there today.

The Dune Climb in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Running down is the best part about climbing up. | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

The Dune Climb

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Climb the dunes or enjoy the sand. The Dune Climb offers plenty of fresh, wind-blown sand for your climbing pleasure. While the climb can be strenuous, the run back down to the picnic area is a blast!

The Dune Climb in Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore in Michigan. | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #dunehike #hiking #hike

The climb up the dunes provides you a view of Glen Lake. The Dune Climb is located just about 5 miles north of Empire on M-109. You will need an annual National Park Pass or $25 for parking at this dune climb. For those who have extra time and a lot of energy, take a hike through the dunes all the way to Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan Overlook Sleeping Bear Dunes | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

Lake Michigan Overlook

Safety Tips: Take lots of water and remember you’ll be walking up and down the dunes of loose sand the entire way. Hiking through the dunes can be disorienting, so be sure to keep children within sight. If hiking with a group, agree on a time and place to meet up before leaving.

Avoid getting stuck at the bottom of the dune at the Lake Michigan Overlook!

This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddunes

Michigan Lakeshore Beaches

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has miles of pristine beach! Cool off in the beautiful clear water of Lake Michigan with beach activities like sunbathing, reading, or making sand castles. The whole Lake Michigan lakeshore is open to swimming, but there are no lifeguards on duty, and be aware of possible Rip Currents.

Visitors are advised not to go down the dune at the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Lake Michigan Overlook. Lake levels are high – the only way out is up. Keep yourself and rescuers out of danger.

Play in the waves, swim, or just take a stroll along the beach. Lake Michigan is beautiful, but it’s more refreshing than the inland lakes, so be prepared!

Safe popular access points to the Lake Michigan Lakeshore can be found here.

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This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddunes

Hiking Trails

You can hike over 100 miles of designated trails along the Lakeshore. There are thirteen hiking trails on the mainland, most of which are maintained during the winter for cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Each trailhead has a parking area, and the trails will be marked with blue tipped posts.

Tip: There is limited or no service throughout the park. To keep your phone fully charged and ready to catch those amazing shots, you’ll need an extra battery charger. I take my Mophie everywhere I travel, just in case!

Lake Michigan Overlook Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore hiking trail along the water through the dunes. | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a must-do when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This 7.4 mile drive loops through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes. You’ll gain insight to the history of the area, learn about the different ecosystems found within the park and, best of all, spectacular overlooks along the way.

Pierce Stocking Historic Bridge in Sleeping Bear Dunes along the scenic drive. | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

Do a Lazy River Float

Cool off with a relaxing float down the Platte River on a hot summer day. This is one of the most popular summer recreational activities in the area. The river is shallow and clear, moving at a good pace, with no rapids making it perfect for all ages. You can either bring your own tube, raft, air mattress, etc. or you can rent them from local outfitters. If you need to rent during the height of the summer season, you will want to plan ahead and get reservations.

Lake Michigan Overlook Sleeping Bear Dunes stretching farther than you can see. | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

Lake Michigan Sunsets

Lake Michigan sunsets will take your breath away. Find a good dune to hike along the shoreline and watch the sun slowly set along the horizon. We were able to find our own private viewing area along one of the dune trails. Taking in the glow of the sunset in peace, with sounds of waves washing below. Glen Lake pictured below is another great sunset viewing spot.

Lake Michigan Sunset in Sleeping Bear Dunes | herlifeadventures.blog | #camping #usdestinations #sleepingbeardunes #nationallakeshore #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist

This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddunes
My Travel Crew aka Family ๐Ÿ™‚

This Sleeping Bear Dunes itinerary covers the best of what to do on the National Lakeshore, how to get there and where to stay. Add this hidden gem to your summer bucket list. | Her Life Adventures | #camping #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #michigantravel #greatlakes #ustravel #summer #bucketlist #sleepingbear #lakemichigan #sanddunes

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90 thoughts on “Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is indeed a great summer getaway. Loving the pictures of the pristine beach and the beautiful water. But what makes the place really unique for me are the sand dunes that offer a unique trekking opportunity. Not to forget the magical sunsets.

  • Ahh that lazy river float sounds like the perfect way to end a busy day on the dunes! I’d never heard of sleeping bear dunes but it looks beautiufl

  • Our Great Lakes are amazing. It feels like you are on the shore of an ocean. I love that there are sand dunes to climb. I had never heard of this park and will need to visit when I finally get to Michigan.

  • Man, Sleeping Bear Nunes in Michigan looks really cool. I bet the hike across those dunes is a serious workout for your calves & overall! So cool to find something like a Sand dune in an unexpected place but that is why our world is so cool! So how cold was the water cause I hate seeing beautiful places like this where I can swim only to freeze to death in the water!

    • Hiking in sand is SO MUCH HARDER than regular hiking. The water is warmest in July-September, and it feels refreshing after a long day in the hot humid sun. Great beaches.

  • I loved this place as it is perfect for relaxed weekend holiday. I loved the beaches of Lakeshore as they are very clean and the water looks perfect blue.

    • YES! Lake Michigan is such a beautiful lake. I grew up in Michigan so I’ve visited the Great Lakes my whole life – I forget to appreciate their beauty sometimes ๐Ÿ’œ

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