Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Wooden overlook platform nestled in trees at edge of dune bluff with turquoise water behind
Overlooking Lake Michigan.

NPS credit

Quick Facts
8500 Stocking Drive, Empire, MI 49630

Entrance Passes for Sale, Information - Maps Available, Information - Park Newspaper Available, Information - Ranger/Staff Member Present, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Picnic Table, Toilet - Vault/Composting

Closed to vehicles

*The drive is closed to vehicles for the annual winter/spring closure. It will reopen mid-late May 2024.

The drive remains open to foot traffic in the winter.

  • Drive slow
  • Watch for bikers and motorcyclists
  • Park only in designated parking spots
  • Be aware of your surroundings


Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
8500 Stocking Drive, Empire, MI 49630


The iconic Lake Michigan Overlook is located on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Download the free NPS app for a self-guided map and tour.

Take a virtual tour to get ready for your visit.


No visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes is complete without spending time on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Enjoy spectacular views of Glen Lake, undulating sand dunes, and breathtaking views of the grandest of all dunes, with shimmering Lake Michigan as the backdrop. Wind through cool forests of sugar maple and beech trees. Take a moment along the way to enjoy a picnic, take a walk, or just linger in the sunshine.

Stopping at all twelve points on the 7.4-mile Scenic Drive will take about two hours. 

The parking lot inside the Scenic Drive entrance serves hikers, bikers, and skiers as the Pierce Stocking Trailhead for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and as the Shauger Hill trail trailhead.


Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers a 7.4 mile loop with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, the Glen Lakes, and the dunes, much of which can be appreciated through the vehicle windows. The twelve stops along the way allow for a leisurely pace.

Accessible parking and toilets are at four locations: the entrance trailer parking area, #2 Picnic Mountain, #9 Lake Michigan Overlook, and #11 North Bar Lake Overlook and picnic area.

Running water and flush toilets are accessible at #2 Picnic Mountain. A hard-surfaced picnic area with table and raised grill is also available.

The #3 Dunes Overlook has a ramped deck with two levels lined with benches. The stunning panorama of dunes and lake views may also be seen from the circle drive.

The #9 Lake Michigan Overlook and #10 Sleeping Bear Dune Overlook are not handicap accessible and require following a steep asphalt trail and boardwalk.

The #11 North Bar Lake Overlook picnic area is fairly flat with tables and raised grills located near accessible parking. Accessible vault toilets are provided, but there is no running water at this location.

Enjoy the drive safely

Vehicle drivers: drive slowly, obey the 20 mph speed limit, and remain vigilant! Wandering children, stopped vehicles, distracted drivers and pedestrians, when combined with our inattention, can quickly turn an enjoyable drive into a series of serious problems.

A Note to Bicyclists

The scenic drive is a challenging bicycle tour with some steep uphill and downhill grades. Consider your ability before starting. Ride single file, stay to the right, obey the posted speed limit, keep your bicycle under control on the downhill sections, and watch for vehicles entering exiting the scenic overlooks. Remember: Motorists often have difficulty seeing cyclists. Ride defensively.

Who Was Pierce Stocking?

Pierce Stocking spent his youth working as a lumberman in Michigan's forests. He loved the woods and spent most of his spare time there, developing a self-taught knowledge of nature.

He used to walk the bluffs above Lake Michigan, awed by the views of the dunes, Lake Michigan, and the islands. He wanted to share this beauty with others and conceived the idea of a road to the top of the dunes.

As a lumberman, he had built roads in difficult terrain before. The planning for the road began in the early 1960s, and in 1967, the road, then known as the Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, first opened to the public.

Stocking continued to operate the scenic drive until his death in 1976. In 1977, the road became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several years later, based on public opinion, the drive was named the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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The Pierce Stocking Drive takes a momentous effort from the Roads and Trails Crew to prepare for summer visitation. Learn what is involved in getting the 7.8 mile loop open safely for visitors to enjoy!

Last updated: March 25, 2024