• Looking out at the lake

    Sleeping Bear Dunes

    National Lakeshore Michigan

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • No water at Weather Station Campground until further notice.

    The well at the Weather Station Campground is down for repair. Water is not available at the campground at this time.

  • Changes in compendium

    The Superintendent's Compendium for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was updated on August 19, 2014. Changes were related to designated wilderness, mushroom collecting, and the use of unmanned aircraft. More »

Swimming & Beach Activities

Sunshine, warm weather, and beautiful clear water are a recipe for beach activities, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a lot of pristine beach! This is the place to sunbathe, make sand castles, play in the Lake Michigan waves, swim, or just walk the beach. Lake Michigan is beautiful, and on a hot day it's inviting you to take a swim, but you'll find it more refreshing than the inland lakes, so be prepared! The whole Lake Michigan lakeshore is open to swimming, but there are no lifeguards on duty, and be aware of possible Rip Currents. Popular access points to Lake Michigan in the Lakeshore are listed below:


A Day at Glen Haven beach

Kerry Kelly 2007

Interested in helping us keep our beaches clean? Check out the Adopt-A-Beach program run by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Beach fires are permitted only on the mainland beaches of Lake Michigan between the water's edge and the first dune. Please do not build fires on or near vegetation and remember to extinguish your fire with water and clean up all debris before leaving. Thank you for helping to keep the beach fire tradition alive and our beaches clean for everyone's enjoyment.

Glass containers are prohibited on all beaches in the park.

Otter Creek Spit at Esch Road

Otter Creek empties into Lake Michigan at Esch Road

Kerry Kelly 2005

Sometimes Lake Michigan is a little colder than you want for swimming, so there are a few swimming areas on inland lakes in the Lakeshore too: North Bar Lake - just north of Empire is usually pretty warm and has easy access to Lake Michigan too. Glen Lake picnic area is just north of the Dune Climb and provides access to swimming in Glen Lake.

One of the most interesting features of the Lake Michigan shoreline is the dynamic beach structure where streams flow into the Lake. The shape of the inlet changes depending on the wave action from Lake Michigan. You can experience this at the inlet of North Bar Lake to Lake Michigan, and at the Esch Road access point where Otter Creek empties into the Lake.

Did You Know?

US Life-Saving Service

During the winter of 1870-71, 214 people lost their lives in shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, and congress established the US Life-Saving Service to conduct rescues from shore. This became the US Coast Guard in 1915. Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes to see how these men lived and worked. More...