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.
Rangers Offer Free Snowshoe Hikes
Contact: Lisa Myers, 231-326-5134
Do you only go to the dunes in the summer? Make this the year to venture out there now! Winter is an excellent time to explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, especially with a National Park Ranger on snowshoes! Holiday hikes will begin at the Visitor Center on Highway M-72 near the village of Empire at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 28, and Saturday, December 30, 2006. For the rest of the winter, snowshoe walks will be offered every Saturday in January and February, meeting at the same time and place. (If there is no snow, rangers will still offer a guided walk.)
Inside the Visitor Center, park rangers will first provide basic snowshoeing instructions and then, everyone will travel by car to some trail or area the ranger has pre-selected. Once out there, the ranger will challenge participants to learn about the park’s unique features and winter’s effect on them. Be prepared and plan to be outside until about 3:00 p.m. Dress in layers and wear waterproof boots to be most comfortable.
Not only is snowshoeing easy, fun, and good exercise, 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 one and a half miles at the most. 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.
The National Lakeshore has a supply of snowshoes and will provide them free of charge for those who do not have their own. Participants need only purchase the park entrance fee or hold an annual pass to join in the fun. Reservations are not required but are suggested, especially if you wish to borrow snowshoes or are with an organized group. Please call 231-326-5134, extension 328, for details and to make reservations.
Did You Know?
The lighthouse on South Manitou Island (Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore) was commissioned in 1872 and served Lake Michigan Shipping for over 100 years. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and climb its 117 step circular stairway to a great view of the Manitou Passage. More...