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.
The Dune Climb
The Dune Climb is the main attraction for the kids who love to run and roll down the dunes. Located just about 5 miles north of Empire on M-109, you can see it on the west side of the road. Visitors love to bring their children and friends to the Dune Climb because they remember how much fun they had playing in the dunes when they were here as children. Parents and grandparents enjoy watching the activities from a picnic table or blanket at the bottom of the dunes. It's a great spot for a picnic too. The Dune Center, located at the base of the Dune Climb, offers modern restrooms and a bookstore.
If you decide not to climb the dunes, then spend a little time exploring the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail which leaves from the base of the dune at the north end of the Dune Climb.
Climbing to the top of the Dune Climb is strenuous but rewarding, so be sure to evaluate your physical abilities before you start. The good thing about the Dune Climb is that if you get tired before you get to the top, you can just come back down to the picnic area. Gravity is on your side on the return. Once you get to the top and decide to make the hike to Lake Michigan, consider that you will be climbing and descending several steep dunes before you get to the lake, and you have to repeat the process to get back. The whole trip is about 3.5 miles and may take 3-4 hours depending on your condition and the weather.
If you are going to hike in the Dunes, there are a few things you should do to make your trip more enjoyable.
Did You Know?
Sleeping Bear Dunes includes two large islands in Lake Michigan - North and South Manitou Islands. Take a day trip to South Manitou Island and explore the island village and lighthouse or take a motor tour of the farming district. If you go to North Manitou Island, plan to camp overnight! More...