Thousands of visitors love to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore each year. With over 32,000 acres of hardwood and conifer forests, pristine natural beaches, inland lakes, abandoned farm site meadows, wetlands, streams, and splendid examples of glacially caused landforms, namely “the dunes”, it is a wonderful sight to behold and experience. The area spans 35 miles of natural Lake Michigan shoreline on the mainland through Benzie and Leelanau Counties and two islands – North and South Manitou. One of its most striking features are its dunes which tower 400 feet above Lake Michigan. The sheer vertical drop from the top of the dunes to the lake, as well as the panoramic views of Lake Michigan and surrounding region, are spectacular.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore history stretches back to the continental ice sheets, or incredibly massive glaciers, which once covered the area thousands of years ago. Over centuries, the wind carried sand from the upper portion of the Lake Michigan bluff inland and deposited it to form the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The Chippewa tribe that populated the area for centuries gave the dunes and this area its name. Long ago they told a story – “…a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear”.
Experience the energy of the National Lakeshore with a number of other hiking and biking trails that wind through the National Park. Enjoy canoeing, tubing, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking along the Platte River through the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore ending at a lovely spot on Lake Michigan.
For more information about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visit www.nps.gov/slbe, Facebook, or call (231) 326-4700.
Photo courtesy of: Stacy Niedzwiecki