Our 2017 Review Of Sleeping Bear Dunes - Traverse City MI
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a breathtaking symphony of water, sky and towering sand dunes on our Lake Michigan shoreline. Part of the national park system since 1970, Sleeping Bear is one of America’s most profoundly beautiful landscapes: a 64-mile curve of sweeping vistas, miles of perfect freshwater beaches, forested wilderness islands, and miles of hiking trails. Frequently mentioned favorites include the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Glen Haven Maritime Museum and Life Saving Station, canoe trips on the Crystal and Platte Rivers, and the biking and hiking trails - especially those with scenic overlooks as at Pyramid Point. Many locals enjoy stopping off for an ice cream cone, and then driving the smaller local roads to appreciate the wide range of flora and fauna in Leelanau County. The ranger-led tours and campfire programs are also a perennial favorite. Although the communities in the area surrounding Sleeping Bear Dunes are small, they are rich with shops, galleries, music, food and wine. And, they are very much unlike what you will find at the malls or in the cities. Perhaps that is because the beauty of the area and its relaxed waterfront lifestyle has always drawn creative, independent people. It is very small. The year-round population of the two villages within the National Lakeshore - Empire and Glen Arbor - is about 378 and 788 respectively. The seasonal population jumps dramatically as there are numerous seasonal homes on the lakes and at The Homestead.The economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism as the orchards and vineyards are not in the villages which are within the National Lakeshore. For one example of that, consider this: there are 732 restaurant seats in Empire and Glen Arbor. That equates to .63 seats for every year-round resident! There are four very distinct seasons. Each season is heavily influenced by winds crossing over Lake Michigan as they have a cooling effect in the summer and a warming effect in the winter. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a United States National Lakeshore located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau and Benzie counties near Empire, Michigan. The park covers a 35-mile-long (56 km) stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou islands. This Northern Michigan park was established primarily because of its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. The lakeshore also contains many cultural features including the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse, three former stations of the Coast Guard (formerly the Life-Saving Service) and an extensive rural historic farm district. In 2011, the area won the title of "The Most Beautiful Place in America" from Good Morning America. In 2014, a section of the park was named the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness by the United States Congress. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of Michigan's most popular destinations for camping vacations, possibly the most popular. This popularity may be due to the fact it was named the "Most Beautiful Place in America" by Good Morning America in 2011. There are a few campgrounds in the national lakeshore and they are grouped into D.H. Day Campground, Platte River Campground, a few camping areas on the Manitou Islands within, and some other sites for backcountry or group camping. D.H. Day Campground is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and offers a moderate level of privacy and a beach on Lake Michigan. Campsites are rustic, wooded, and more far apart than campsites at most campgrounds. Nearby points of interest include Empire Bluffs, the "dune climb", and North Bar Lake. It is extremely popular and does not accept reservations; all sites are "first-come, first-served." Because of the campground's popularity it's recommended that campers arrive early to obtain a first-come, first-served campsite during summer months. Campsites 1-31 allow the use of a generator, the remaining sites forbid generator use. Platte River Campground is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and offers a variety of campsites, some of which are reservable and some of which are set aside as first-come first-served. Some campsites are modern (with electrical hookups), some are "hike-in," and others are more rustic. Nearby points of interest include Platte River Point, the Platte River, and Big Platte Lake. The north section of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is a short drive from Platte River Campground. Kayaking is a popular activity at the campground, especially the kayak trail leading from the campground to Platte River Point. Manitou Island campgrounds. Sleeping Bear Dunes also has three main campgrounds on South Manitou Island, including the Weather Station Campground located on the south side of the island, the Bay Campground on the west shore of the island and the Popple Campground on the north shore. Other camping areas nearby. In addition to federal campgrounds within the national lakeshore itself, there are many other camping areas nearby, which cater to the large number of tourists visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes each year. There are at least 20 distinct camping areas in the region immediately surrounding Sleeping Bear Dunes.