Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Planning Your Visit

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Northwestern Lower Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Visitor Center is in Empire, MI about 25 miles from Traverse City. Most people visit the park via car, but you can fly to Traverse City and rent a car to drive to the park. Take a look at our Directions page for driving or flying information to the Park.

Directions

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Northwestern Lower Michigan along the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan. The closest city is Traverse City, 25 miles to the east. Several Park Maps are available to download.

You can travel to the park by car, plane or bus.

By Car

From the south (Detroit or Chicago areas) - Take US-31, US-131, US-27 to M-115 & M-37, I-75 and M-72 North to Traverse City, then west on M-72 to the Village of Empire. You will see the Visitor Center as you enter Empire on your right.

You may also get to Empire from the south via US-31 to Ludington and then north to Manistee. You can follow either US-31 or M-22 from north of Manistee.

If you follow M-22, stay on it through Frankfort, and in about 10 miles, you will come to the Platte River Campground. Another 10 miles north will bring you to Empire where the Visitor Center is located. To get to the Visitor Center, turn right at M-72 and drive about 100 yards and you will see the Visitor Center on your left.

If you follow US-31 north of Manistee, you can either take M-115 to Frankfort where you can take M-22 to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as described above, or you can continue north on US-31 to Beulah. Proceed 3.3 miles and turn left on County Road 706. Construction on CR 706 in August, 2007 may cause delays. Follow CR 706 4.4 miles to M-22. Turn right and drive 1 mile to the Platte River Campground. Another 10 miles north on M-22 will bring you to Empire. To get to the Visitor Center, turn right at M-72 and drive about 100 yards and you will see the Visitor Center on your left.

To avoid construction delays on CR 706, go an additional mile (about 4.3 miles past Beulah) to Deadstream Road (CR 708) in Honor. Turn left and drive 4.4 miles to M-22. You will be about 0.5 miles north of the Platte River Campground and 9.5 miles south of Empire. To get to the Visitor Center, turn right at M-72 and drive about 100 yards and you will see the Visitor Center on your left.

From the north (Michigan's Upper Peninsula), take I-75 to Grayling and follow M-72 to Traverse City or take US-31 south to Traverse City, then go west on M-72 to the Village of Empire.

By Plane

The Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) in Traverse City (30 miles from the Lakeshore) has daily connections to Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis with seasonal connections to Cincinnati, Dallas, and New York City. The Traverse City Airport is serviced by Northwest, United, American, and Delta Airlines.

By Bus

Traverse City has a Greyhound bus station with local bus (BATA) service to Empire.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is open all year.
Operating hours for specific facilities within the park are shown below:

Philip A. Hart Visitor Center - Empire, MI
Hours:
Open all year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days.
Memorial Day to Labor Day (Summer) 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Labor Day to Memorial Day (Fall, Winter & Spring) 8:15a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Phone: 231-326-5134, ext. 328
Location: On highway M-72, 500 feet east of M-22 in Empire.
Special Programs: A free slide presentation, "Dreams of the Sleeping Bear," offers a beautiful mix of photography, music and narration, while providing an initial orientation to the park.
Exhibits: Museum exhibits explore the geologic, natural history, and human stories of the park. An interactive touch-screen kiosk and large relief map provide general park information.
Facilities: Eastern National Bookstore/sales area. Public restrooms, water fountain, pay phone (portable TTY available), assistive listening device at the information desk, closed captioning for the orientation slide show.

Dune Climb
Hours:
Open all year, 24 hours a day.
Location: From Empire, take M-22 north for 2 miles to M-109. then left on M-109 for 4 miles.
Facilities: Great family fun location to climb the dunes. Public restrooms, pay phone, water fountain, and vending machine snacks and drinks are available seasonally.

A sand-accessible wheelchair is available at the Dune Center. Duneside accessible trail begins at the north end of the parking lot.

Dune Center Bookstore
Hours: May 24 to June 26, 2008, Noon to 5:00 p.m., Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Only.
June 27 to September 1, 2008, Noon to 5:00 p.m., Open Daily.
Phone: 231-334-2010
Location: At the base of the Dune Climb off of M-109.
Available Facilities: Accessible Eastern National sales area featuring T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, postcards, books, videos, etc. Vending and restrooms located adjacent to building.

A sand-accessible wheelchair is available for use in the Dune Climb area. Contact an Eastern National sales employee.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Hours: Open (To Be Announced) to November 11, 2008 - 9:00 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset.
Location: From Empire, take M-22 north for 2 miles to M-109, then left on M-109 for 2 miles.
Facilities: 12 numbered interpretive stops along the 7.4 mile scenic loop road. Spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Public restrooms are available at the entrance parking area, Picnic Mountain, Lake Michigan Overlook, and North Bar Overlook. Picnic areas are available at Picnic Mountain and North Bar Overlook.

Glen Haven Points of Interest

Glen Haven General Store
Hours
: May 24 to June 26, 2008, Noon to 5:00 p.m., Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Only.
June 27 to September 1, 2008, Noon to 5:00 p.m., Open Daily.
Phone: 231-334-3710
Location: Historic village of Glen Haven, M-209 between the Dune Climb and Glen Arbor.
Exhibits: Operated by Eastern National, this historic general store appears as it did in the 1920's and offers typical general store merchandise and items related to the history of the Glen Haven area including; kitchenware, foods, toys, maritime items and books.
Available Facilities: Public Restrooms are available next to the store. A wireless FM assistive listening device is available. Inquire at the store counter.

Cannery Boat Museum
Hours:
May 24 to September 1, 2008 - 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Daily.
Location: In the historic village of Glen Haven, off of M-109.
Special Programs: Volunteer staff available for impromptu interpretive talks.
Exhibits: Historic boat collection including vessels, motors and equipment.
Available Facilities: Picnic tables are available adjacent to the parking area and restrooms are located next to the Glen Haven General Store.

Glen Haven Blacksmith Shop
Hours:
June to early October, 2008 - 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Daily depending on staff availability.
Location: In the historic village of Glen Haven off M-109.
Activities: Fully restored 1920's Blacksmith Shop provides blacksmith demonstrations for all ages. Come and see how bars of iron are heated and transformed into useful items.
Facilities: Public restrooms are available next to the Glen Haven General Store.

Sleeping Bear Point Maritime Museum
Hours:
May 17 to September 30, 2008 - 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Daily.
October 1 to October 19, 2008 - Noon to 5:00 p.m., Weekends Only.
Location: At the end of Sleeping Bear Point, off of M-109/M-209 about 1/4 mile from Glen Haven.
Special Programs: 3:00 p.m. daily re-enactment of the U.S. Life-Saving Service rescue techniques. This program is especially for kids. A Lyle Gun firing demonstration takes place once a week. Check the Ranger Programs listing for day and time. Impromptu interpretive talks are given throughout the day by park and volunteer staff.
Exhibits: Exhibits highlight 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, and another room shows the surfmen's quarters.
Available Facilities: A sand-accessible wheelchair is available to access the beach by contacting the staff at the boathouse. Accessible public restrooms are also available.

Campgrounds

Platte River Campground Ranger Station
Hours:
Open All Year (Reservations accepted for the summer months only)
Memorial Day to Labor Day (Summer) 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Spring & Fall - Hours vary
December thru March (Winter) Self-Registration
Phone: 231-325-5881
Location: At the entrance to the Platte River Campground, Lake Michigan Road, 1/4 mi. off M-22, southern end of the park.
Special Programs: Amphitheater located adjacent to the Ranger Station provides Evening Campfire Programs every day during the summer.

D.H. Day Campground Ranger Station
Hours:
Open May and September 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
June thru August 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Phone: 231-334-4634
Location: M-109, 2 miles northeast of the Dune Climb.

Leelanau Ranger Station
Phone: 231-334-3756
Location: Glen Haven, above the General Store.

Fees & Reservations

Entrance Fees

Park Entrance Pass — $10.00 per private vehicle
Valid for 7 days from date of issue.
For entry into all areas of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Annual Park Entrance Pass — $20.00
Valid for 12 months from month of issue.
For entry into all areas of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
When purchased at an Automated Pay Station, please exchange the receipt for the Annual Park Pass card at any staffed fee collection station.

Per Person Fee — $5.00 per person
Valid for 7 days from date of issue.
For individuals 16 years of age or older who enter the park by foot, bicycle, motorcycle (per rider), or as part of an organized group (each member) not involved in a commercial tour.
For entry into all areas of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Click here to download a copy of the 2008 Fee Schedule. (pdf file, 161 kb)

Passes are good for entry into all areas of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Passes are non-transferable and generally non-refundable. Show the pass to rangers at entrance stations at the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or place your pass on your vehicle dashboard if you park within the Lakeshore. If you park outside the Lakeshore boundary (see park map) and enter the Lakeshore on foot, carry your pass with you.

PLEASE NOTE - FAILURE TO OBTAIN A PARK PASS MAY RESULT IN A FINE.


Where Can I Purchase a Pass?

You can purchase your park pass at any of the following fee collection locations:

  • Philip A. Hart Visitor Center, Empire, MI - Year-round
  • Platte River Campground Office - March to November
  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Entrance Station - April to November
  • Dune Climb Entrance Station - May to October
  • D. H. Day Campground Office - May to October
  • Leland Boat Dock during the summer 8:30-10:00 AM
  • North Bar Lake Self-Pay Fee Canister - April to November
  • Esch Beach Self-Pay Fee Canister - April to November
  • Peterson Beach Self-Pay Fee Canister - April to November

Automated Pay Stations are available to purchase Lakeshore Passes after hours in the following places:

  • Philip A. Hart Visitor Center, Empire, MI - Year-round
  • Platte River Point - Year-round
  • D. H. Day Campground Office - Camping fees can also be purchased here in the Spring and Fall seasons.

America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass

Starting January 1, 2007 the old Golden Age, Golden Eagle, and Golden Access Passes were replaced with a new series of interagency passes called the Americathe Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

All National Parks Passes, Golden Eagle, Golden Eagle Hologram, Golden Access and Golden Age Passports will continue to be honored according to the provisions of the pass. Only paper Golden Age and Access Passports may be exchanged free of charge for the new plastic passes.

Click Here for a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" about the new Interagency Pass Program.

America the Beautiful
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
Annual Pass -
Cost $80
This pass is available to the general public and provides access to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee for a full year from month of purchase. The Annual Pass admits the pass holder/s and passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per-person fee areas. Children under 16 are admitted free. The pass is non-transferable and does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires. The Annual Pass can be obtained in person at the park, by calling 1-888-ASK USGS, Ext. 1, or via the Internet here.

America the Beautiful
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
Senior Pass -
Cost $10
This is a lifetime pass for U.S.citizens and permanent residents age 62 and over. The pass provides access to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per-person fee areas. Children under 16 are admitted free. The Senior Pass provides a 50 % discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. In some areas where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 % price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires. TheSeniorPasscan only be obtained in person at the park.

America the Beautiful
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
Access Pass -
Free
This is a lifetime pass for U.S.citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Documentation is required to obtain the pass. Acceptable documentation includes: statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income, or Supplemental Security Income; or a document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency. The pass provides access to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per-person fee areas. Children under 16 are admitted free. The Access Pass provides a 50 % discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. In some areas where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 % price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires. TheAccessPasscan only be obtained in person at the park.

America the Beautiful
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
Volunteer Pass -
Free
Volunteers who acquire 500 service hours on a cumulative basis are eligible for this pass. It provides access to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee for a full year from month of award. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per-person fee areas. Children under 16 are admitted free. Contact Lisa Myers at 231-326-5134 to learn about volunteer opportunities in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or click here for more information.


Commercial Tour Vehicles

Vehicle

Passengers

Fee

Sedan

1-6

$25.00 + $5.00 per person

Van

7-15

$40.00

Mini-bus

16-25

$40.00

Motorcoach

26+

$100.00



School Groups

An Educational Fee Waiver is available for educational groups that apply prior to their visit to the park.

Getting Around

Most visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore arrive and travel through the Park by car, RV, or motorcycle. You can easily get to all attractions by driving on M-22 through most of the Park and then taking the M-109 loop about 2 miles north of Empire. You can take M-109 to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, the Dune Climb, Glen Haven, and D. H. Day Campground and then back to M-22 in Glen Arbor.

Download a Map of the Park or stop in the Visitor Center and pick one up.

Planning to visit North or South Manitou Island? Get a reservation with the Manitou Transit (231-256-9061) for the ferry ride. Remember there is no food available for sale on either island, so take it with you.

Access to South Manitou Island is by private boat or by passenger ferry service operated by Manitou Island Transit. The ferry service operates from the Fishtown Dock located in Leland, MI. The ferry operators have been servicing the islands for many generations and the company is still run as a family business.

Between June and August, the ferries for each island leave daily from the Fishtown Dock in Leland at 10:00 AM. Reservations are recommended. Plan to arrive at the Fishtown Dock 45 minutes prior to departure. Leland is located 27 miles north of Empire on M-22.

The boat trip can be cool even in summer, so plan ahead and bring a jacket. In case of rain, bring rain gear. Wear comfortable hiking boots. Mosquitoes are common in summer. Poison ivy is abundant. There is no food service or store on the island. Bring a lunch. Be sure to return to the dock in time for the boat departure.

Visitors to the islands are also required to secure an entrance pass to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Park Passes are available at the Fishtown Dock during the summer months from 8:30 am to 10:00am, or at any fee collection station within the park.

Accessibility

Park brochures are available in Braille, and most public facilities within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are wheelchair accessible as are the overlooks found along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Each campground has handicapped accessible campsites.

The Duneside Accessible Nature Trail is located at the Dune Climb. The trail (0.9 miles round trip) begins at the north end of the picnic area and parking lot. It is level and made of packed graded crushed limestone, so it is easy to walk on or to push a wheelchair. You will find several interpretive signs and benches along the trail. Click here for a trail map and more description of the trail.

Sand wheelchairs are available at the Maritime Museum boathouse and at the Dune Climb to enable handicapped individuals to enjoy the dunes and beaches. The sand wheelchair at the Dune Climb is kept at the Dune Center. The wheelchairs must stay in the area where they were loaned.

Weather

Sleeping Bear Dunes is located in northern lower Michigan. You want to come equipped for any condition that may present itself as lake-borne weather patterns can change quickly. The well-advised visitor dresses in layers, prepared for a variety of conditions.

Summer days have highs ranging from upper 70's to 90's with lows typically in the 50's to 70's. Winter days have highs ranging from 20's to 30's and lows in the 10's to 20's. Snow is usually on the ground from late November through March.

Click here for Current Weather Information.

Park Statistics

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was authorized by congress on October 21, 1970. It encompasses a 35 mile stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern shoreline and North and South Manitou Islands. The Park was established to preserve the "outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena...for the benefit, inspiration, education, recreation, and enjoyment of the public." The Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including an 1871 lighthouse, three former U.S. Life-Saving Service or Coast Guard Stations and an extensive rural historic farm district - Port Oneida.

Other Statistics

General
Annual Visits - 1,143,857
Employees - 46 permanent, 84 seasonal
Volunteer Hours - 29,595 from 850 volunteers

Natural and Cultural Resources

Area - 71,199 acres
Lake Michigan Shoreline - 65 miles (35 miles on the mainland)
Inland Lakes - 26
Miles of rivers and streams - 12
Terrestrial plant species - 908
Bird species - 246
Federally threatened or endangered species - 4
Historic structures on List of Classified Structures - 369
Sites on National Register of Historic Places - 8
Cultural Landscapes - 9 (4,500 acres)
Prehistoric archeological sites - 150
Historic boats - 24
Lighthouse - 1
Historic artifacts - 2,500
Archived documents - 500

Infrastructure

Buildings - 370
Employee housing units - 28
Campgrounds - 9 (357 sites)
Picnic Areas - 5
Visitor Centers - 3
Outdoor ampitheaters - 2
Miles of roads - 23
Covered bridge - 1 (Pierce Stocking Drive)
Miles of trails - 105
Lake access ramps - 9
Signs and wayside exhibits - 596
Major photovoltaic power systems - 2
Motor vehicles in fleet - 63
Large boats - 4