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.
Our first hardcopy guidebook to the National Parks will be
released in June 2019!
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?
Sand dunes are like giant sandboxes for big kids to play in and hike on, so we came up with a list of our favorites from across the National Park Service (NPS) System. Unlike most NPS backcountry trails, dogs are allowed on many of these dunes if they are leashed and picked up after.
Twenty-one of the 22 islands within this archipelago jutting from northern Wisconsin into Lake Superior are part of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. This region is famous for its lighthouses and concessionaires offer tours to see them if you do not have your own boat. Kayakers come for the sea caves carved into Sand Island, Devils Island, and the mainland (accessible on foot after the lake freezes in winter).
Islands, lighthouses, boating, camping, sea caves
Even though this is a freshwater lake, Sand Island has sea caves carved into the billion-year-old sandstone cliffs by constant wave action. Located only 4 miles from shore, the Sand Island sea caves are carved nearly 50 feet into the rock and can be carefully navigated by kayak.
Sand Island was closed at the time of our visit due to black bear activity, but it is one of the few islands that has a hiking trail (Stockton, Basswood, and Outer being others). Lakeshore Trail on the west side of the Bayfield Peninsula offers a trail on the mainland.
You will need a kayak and a steady hand to take photographs while paddling through the sea caves on the east side of Sand Island.
None to visit, but there are fees to camp on the islands and for concessionaire boat tours.
Most roads on the Bayfield Peninsula are paved and the sandy roads through Chequamegon National Forest were passable by all vehicles.
Many visitors come with their own boat to camp on one of the 18 islands with sites (permit required and reservations recommended). Car camping is available at Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island (ferry service) and throughout Chequamegon National Forest on Bayfield Peninsula.
Explore More – When was Long Island added as the twenty-first island in the park?