We stayed on U.S. 31 today, along the shore, although the lake is not often visible for all the forests. I am continually impressed with the attractiveness of the towns, such as this intersection in Manistee.
Our destination this morning was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We knew campground sites were at a premium in the park, with only one third on a walk-in basis and we didn’t have a reservation. We called yesterday, and were told to be at the park by 8 a.m., and we might get a site. Once again, Michigan roads tricked us, and we had to backtrack about 6 miles when we missed a turn. We arrived at the park around 8:30, only to find out that no sites with electric had become available.
The park gave us a list of nearby campgrounds. One was a Passport America Park, Sunny Woods, in the small town of Honor, MI, just a few miles from the park, so we set up there. A little overpriced, it nevertheless was a quiet setting, and included laundry facilities.
Arriving so early gave us the opportunity to see the park today, catch up on our laundry tonight, and be ready to hit the road in the morning.
SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE
“Long ago, in the land that is now Wisconsin, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. They swam and swam, but soon the cubs tired and lagged far behind. Mother bear finally reached the opposite shore and climbed to the top of a bluff to watch and wait for her offspring. But the cubs drowned. Today “Sleeping Bear”, a solitary dune in Michigan overlooking Lake Michigan, marks the spot where mother bear waited. Her hapless cubs are the Manitou islands.” CHIPPEWA INDIAN LEGEND
The Native Americans were the first to try to give reason to the shape of the land. More recently, scientists have sought other reasons and attribute the sand dunes of Michigan to the Ice Age, wind, and water. It continues to change. Twice in the last century, landslides have dramatically altered this coast.
The park scenery is diverse and encompasses birch-lined streams, dense forests, beaches, and rugged bluffs towering as high as 460 feet above the lake.
The most oft visited area of the park is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7 mile loop with panoramic views of the dune and lake.
One of the most amusing stops along the drive was a public beach area that extends 450 ft almost straight down to the lake. Only the young or the brave attempt slipping and sliding down to the beach, and the almost crawling return to the top. We were neither, but enjoyed watching those who were.
We did not attempt any dune climbing, as I have been experiencing a knee problem.
After our picnic lunch and the scenic drive, we drove north to Glen Haven and Glen Arbor.
For a slide show of our day at the park and nearby communities, click below:
Click here for the website for the SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE