There are exactly 10 National Seashores in the National Park Service (NPS) system, so choosing which ones to put in the Top 10 was not difficult. However, they are all similar, so ranking them was tricky. Also, without anything to put in the Honorable Mentions category, we decided to rank the three remaining National Lakeshores (after Indiana Dunes became a National Park in 2019). Click here to see all of our Top 10 Lists.
We own a 17-foot long tandem kayak that we have taken all over the United States, including some rivers where it may have been preferable to canoe. Some of our most memorable National Park experiences have happened while seated in our kayak. This does not include two amazing trips through Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, which you can read about on our other travel blog since it is not managed by the National Park Service. Please check out all of our Top 10 lists for more adventure ideas and book recommendations!
To celebrate reaching the milestone of our first 100 blog posts, we are linking to our top 10 posts based on number of page views and personal favorites. Thank you to our readers for continuing to inspire us to visit new National Park Service (NPS) units and share the wonders with you all. We are heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands in less than two weeks and we will visit all 5 NPS sites there.
There are currently three National Lakeshores in the National Park Service system, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of two in Michigan. It encompasses 31 miles of mainland shoreline and 34 more miles on two large islands that give the park its name. The park receives over a million visitors annually and is known for its fishing and canoeing.
Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Glen Haven Village
Historic District, 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse
Much of this National Lakeshore is forested and surrounds
several small townships (marked “Twp” on many maps). For a backcountry experience on the mainland,
take the winding 7-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive that becomes a
cross-country ski trail in winter.
Trails and overlooks provide stops along the route, which is not
recommended for long vehicles or trailers.
Dune Climb is more than 100 feet tall and the best place to
play in the sand. This is a perched dune
where sand accumulated atop glacial moraines left from the last ice age. From the top there are great views and you
can continue on several other trails.
Glen Haven Village Historic District maintains a former general store, blacksmithy, and cannery, which now contains a museum dedicated to small watercraft. The Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum is open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The main roads are paved, but some beach access is only by
dirt road. Ferries in the summer leave
from Leland, Michigan to either North or South Manitou Islands where there are
no roads. Unless you are doing a day
trip, camping permits are required before departure.
Platte River Campground is open year round and takes
reservations. Backpackers can enjoy more
than 100 miles of trails, including some on the two wilderness islands. Backcountry camping requires a permit.
Explore More – What
were they canning at the old cannery in Glen Haven Village Historic District?