A Drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes

Spring is beginning to emerge following a hard winter during our mid-May visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, situated on the northwestern shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Young green grasses are poking out from the drab browns of winter, trees are beginning to leaf out, and the warm sun cuts through the chilly air.

ButterflyThe weather is ideal for a drive through the park with maybe a short hike or two. We stop at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan, and discover that the 7.4 mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will give us that exact experience. We’ll visit not only the dunes along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, but also smaller inland lakes surrounded by sandy dunes and grassy bluffs.

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So off we start, and wouldn’t you know it, we take a wrong turn before we even get to Stop Number 1. We end up at what is supposed to be one of the last tour stops, the North Bar Lake Overlook. But we stay, hike along the shore and up over a nearby sand dune.

North Bar Lake Overlook, Sleeping Bear DunesPierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear DunesBack on the road, we find the real first stop, a covered bridge.

Covered Bridge, Pierce Stocking Virtual Tour, Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreAfter that we stay on track, oohing and aahing and taking photos at several overlooks.

140518_SleepingBearDunes-8545 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakesshore, Michigan 140518_SleepingBearDunes-8525 140518_SleepingBearDunes-8521 140518_SleepingBearDunes-8518 140518_SleepingBearDunes-8517 As usual, we linger too long, time flies by, and we have to abandon our drive before it’s finished. We’re leaving for home that day, so we still have a five hour drive ahead of us. I’m not disappointed, though. It only means we’ll have to come back to finish what we started. Next time, though, it will be in the summer, when we can splash in the water instead of just taking pictures of it.

Be sure to check out our new road trip blog, U.S. Long Cuts.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Philip A. Hart Visitor Center is located on M-72 just east of the intersection with M-22 in Empire, Michigan. Check the web site for details, including a Pierce Stocking Virtual Tour.

Disclosure: Our visit to Michigan was hosted by Traverse City Tourism. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.


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4 thoughts on “A Drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes

  • May 4, 2015 at 5:18 am

    We didn’t have time for Sleeping Bear when we were in Michigan last year but lots of people recommended it. It is on our list for when we go back.

  • May 5, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Looks like a lovely place! I think I wouldn’t mind getting lost there either!

  • May 21, 2015 at 8:05 am

    This is wonderful, I had no idea about this place! I am a big fan of sand dunes, and your pictures make me want to visit. Thanks for sharing!

    • May 22, 2015 at 12:51 am

      Lake Michigan has some awesome sand dunes, both in Michigan and Indiana. Sleeping Bear Dunes are my favorite.


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