Things To Do
If you have only a few hours to spend at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, you will want to start at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, MI to get oriented, get your maps and see the slide show. Ask a ranger for advice for things to do that match your interests. You will find amazing views of the dunes and Lake Michigan, great hiking, interesting local history, and of course some incredible sand dunes to climb.
Be a part of National Park Service tradition and attend a ranger-led program! Explore Sleeping Bear with a ranger on a hike or bike ride, at a campground or Junior Ranger program, and much more! Our seasonally available programs are FREE, cover a wide range of topics, and are fun for all ages.
For information about current programs, click here. Download information about our current ranger programs.
Kerry Kelly 2005
Take a drive on the 7-mile drive Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive loop through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes and enjoy spectacular views of Glen Lake and Lake Michigan or take a dune hike along the Cottonwood Trail. You can also stop for a picnic at one of the picnic areas on the drive.
TERRY PHIPPS 2005
Kerry Kelly 2012
Take time to learn about the flora and fauna in the area by walking or biking on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This trail is wheelchair accessible. The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is paved and currently travels 9.7 miles from the village of Empire to the village of Glen Arbor. Riding this trail will take you through scenic hardwood forest, the Dune Climb area, the historic village of Glen Haven and the D.H. Day Campground on your way to Glen Arbor. Several trailheads provide access to the trail.
Kerry Kelly 2005
Terry Phipps 2005
Walk through Glen Haven, a lumbering village restored to the way it was around 1900. You can visit a Blacksmith Shop which is in operation from June to early October to see how iron is heated and forged into useful tools and parts. Then walk through the Cannery Boathouse to see the displays of some of the boats used on the Great Lakes. The Glen Haven General Store appears as it did in the 1920’s and offers typical merchandise and items related to the history of the area. The beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan are right there, so take time for a swim or walk along the beach.
Kerry Kelly 2005
If you will be spending a few days in the area consider a day trip to South Manitou Island where you can enjoy a picnic lunch by the ranger station, walk through the village and imagine what it would have been like to live here 100 years ago. Take a tour of the lighthouse. The view from the top provides an excellent panorama of the island and the mainland. Hike the trails to see some of the historic farmsteads and the old schoolhouse, or the wreck of the Francisco Morazan which is visible from the south end of the island.
Download a list of Authorized Business Providers that offer trips, tours and expedition services within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (pdf file, 40 kb).
Current Volunteer Opportunities
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.