Ice Caves No Longer Safe
The ice formations in Leelanau Township, north of the park, are no longer safe to visit. High winds have fractured the ice, moving it to the west. Huge cracks have formed in the cave arches, making them very unsafe and open water is now visible.
Snowshoe Hikes Resume at the Dunes!
Contact: Lisa Myers, 231-326-5134
Now that the snow has arrived, join a National Park Ranger on snowshoes and explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in all of its winter splendor! Snowshoe walks are offered every Saturday beginning December 27, and continue through the end of February or later, if conditions permit. In addition to these Saturday at the Lakeshore programs, a special holiday vacation hike will be presented on Tuesday, December 30. Each hike will start by meeting at the Philip Hart Visitor Center (VC) in Empire at 1:00 p.m. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, the park will provide them free of charge.
Inside the Visitor Center, a Park Ranger will distribute snowshoes to those who need them and provide basic snowshoeing instructions. Then the ranger will lead everyone in their own cars to the trailhead of the day. On the trail, the Ranger will help participants identify flora and fauna, learn more about the Lakeshore’s unique features, and witness the effects winter has on both. Visitors should arrive prepared to be outside for about an hour and a half. To be most comfortable and warm, dress in layers and wear waterproof boots. The program will conclude by 3:00 p.m. back at the trailhead. Note that the VC closes at 4:00 p.m., should you want to go back after the walk.
Snowshoeing is easy, fun, and good exercise! If you can walk, then you can snowshoe, so it is also an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. The ranger-led hikes are mildly strenuous, yet they proceed at a leisurely pace for only 0.5 – 1.5 miles. This allows visitors an opportunity for discovery, adventure, and to look for signs of wildlife or evidence of ancient glaciers. Some snowshoers simply want to experience and enjoy a winter wonderland, and that is what you will find at the National Lakeshore. Be aware that Rangers usually select a different location each week, so experiences vary.
The walk and snowshoe loan are free. However, participants need to purchase a park entrance pass or display an annual pass in their vehicle to join in the fun. Park passes cost $10/vehicle and are good for seven days. The annual pass costs $20 and is valid for a year from the month of purchase. Reservations are not required but are suggested, especially if you wish to borrow snowshoes or are with a group. Teachers and other group leaders may also schedule a ranger to take their group snowshoeing this winter. Please call 231-326-5134, extension 328, for details and to make reservations.
Did You Know?
There are over 100 miles of hiking trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Many of these trails can also be used for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. More...