Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses a 60 km (35 mi.) stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. The Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including an 1871 lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and an extensive rural historic farm district.
Visitors explore the park in their private vehicles and via 13 hiking trails located throughout the Lakeshore. Favorite activities include the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and the ever-popular Dune Climb. Ranger-led walks, campfire programs and other activities are available in July and August. The park has an excellent Maritime Museum which is open during the summer months; a daily re-enactment of a Life-Saving Service rescue is the highlight of every afternoon (specifically directed toward kids!).
A. Hart Visitor Center - Video and tactile exhibits explore the geological story of the Sleeping Bear Dunes area. Human history and natural history exhibits fill out the remainder of the Exhibit Room. An outstanding slide presentation offers a beautiful mix of photography, music and narration, while providing an initial orientation to the park. Located on highway M-72, 500' east of M-22 in Empire. (231) 326-5135, ext. 328.
Sleeping Bear Point Maritime Museum
- Exhibits cover the U.S. Life-Saving Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Great Lakes shipping history. A room on the second floor is outfitted as a steamer wheelhouse with a panorama of the Manitou Passage shipping channel. Daily re-enactment of the U.S. Life-Saving Service rescue techniques throughout the summer. This program is directed especially for kids. A Lyle Gun firing demonstration takes place once a week - inquire about day and time. Located at the end of Sleeping Bear Point, off of M-109/M-209. (231) 326-5134.
Glen Haven General Store - Operated by Eastern National, this historic general store appears as it did in the 1920's and features typical general store merchandise and items related to the history of the Glen Haven area including; kitchenware, prepackaged foods, toys, maritime related items and books. Also contains a small museum / exhibit area. Located in the Historic village of Glen Haven, off of M-109. (231) 334-3710.
The Cannery (Historic Boat Collection)
- Historic boat collection including vessels, motors and equipment. Located at the bend in the road in the historic village of Glen Haven, off of M-109/M-209.
D.H.Day Campground Ranger Station
- Located on M-109, 2 miles northeast of the Dune Climb. (231) 334-4634.
Platte River Campground Ranger Station
- Amphitheater located adjacent to the Ranger Station provides Evening Camfire Programs every day during the summer. Located at the entrance to the Platte River Campground, Lake Michigan Road, 1/4 mi. off M-22, southern end of the park. (231) 325-5881.
Park Entrance Pass - $10 per private vehicle. Valid for 7 days
Per Person Fee - $5. Valid for 7 days.
Annual Park Entrance Pass - $20
Motor vehicle access from Michigan's Upper Peninsula: cross the Mackinac Bridge, southbound on I- 75; exit I-75 on US-31 (Petoskey/Charlevoix) to the west side of Traverse City; turn left on M-72 to Empire (25 miles/43 km). Alternatively, you could stay on I-75 South to M-72 at Grayling. Travel M-72 westward through Kalkaska to Traverse City and onward to Empire. Access from points south by US 31, US 131, US 27, or I- 75, through Traverse City and onward to Empire as above. Also from the south by M-22 from Ludington/Manistee/Frankfort.