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.
Lake Michigan Overlook
Kerry Kelly 2006
Lake Michigan is a product of the Ice Age, formed by a great lobe of ice advancing down the continent. Look down the slope of the bluff; notice that it is not pure sand – there are rocks as well. This is not a sand dune, but rather a glacial hill. Also, notice the black soil layer at the top. Observations like this help geologists to reconstruct the past.
This photo was taken with a telescopic lense from the beach below the Lake Michigan Overlook Platform. You can get to this point by walking up the beach from North Bar Lake.
Kerry Kelly 2005
In recent times, the bluff has been wearing back at the rate of about a foot per year. Waves wear away the base the bluff and sand and rocks from above slide down to the beach. This process has gone on for many years, so we can infer that this hill once extended much further out into the lake. The shallow waters offshore also seem to indicate that a peninsula once extended from here about 2 miles out into the lake. This means that the site of this overlook used to be inland, protected from the strong winds off the lake. Plants took hold and, through decay, produced the thin layer of soil that we see here. As the waves wore back the old peninsula, this site got closer and closer to the lake. The resulting wind exposure produced an active dune environment.
CAUTION: Descending the Lake Michigan bluff causes erosion and is dangerous. The steep grade makes footing difficult and there is danger from falling rocks. The return climb is extremely strenuous!
Did You Know?
The night sky is vital to many plants and animals that call Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore home and it holds a variety of meanings for many cultures. An unpolluted night sky is especially valuable to humans wishing to experience natural darkness, shooting stars, or the Milky Way.