Spanning 65 miles of the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is easily the most interesting National Park Service unit on Michigan’s lower peninsula. Once buried under the Continental Ice Sheet during the most recent Ice Age, the retreating glaciers left behind a landscape of glacial kettles, moraines, towering bluffs, and dozens of smaller lakes—followed soon by thick, windswept sand dunes. It is those dunes, of course, that are the biggest draw. And these are not your average mild sand drifts you might find at your local beach: the Sleeping Bear Dunes are massive, multi-tiered ridges, rising as high as 450 feet above the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s no wonder then that one of the most renowned challenges in the area is the so-called “Dune Climb”—a stiff ascent up and over the highest dunes. (Note: To be fair, the elevation gain from the parking area is perhaps 100 feet; continuing on the Dunes Trail down to the lake and back is a far more strenuous walk.) The most popular activity at the Dunes is to simply wander: trekking in and out of shady ravines and up along high ridgelines with excellent views westward to Lake Michigan and east to Glen Lake.
Below is a small collection of photographs from a late June visit to the Dunes.