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Contact: Larry Johnson, 231-326-5134
If you want to walk your dog on the beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, there are six, newly-designated areas where you may go. “In response to public feedback about confusing signs, complicated instructions, and pets in closed areas, we have revised our pet policy and established more easily recognizable zones effective immediately,” said Chief Ranger Larry Johnson.
Pets are allowed on the following beach areas:
- Between the trail from Platte River Campground to Lake Michigan and the trail from the Peterson Beach parking lot;
- From the Esch Road beach access north to the Lakeshore boundary south of Empire;
- From the Lakeshore boundary north of Empire to just south of the North Bar Lake stream outlet;
- From the Maritime Museum in Glen Haven to the Lakeshore boundary west of Glen Arbor;
- From the Lakeshore boundary north of The Homestead Resort around Pyramid Point to the County Road 669 beach access; and
- From the County Road 651 beach access to the northern boundary of the National Lakeshore.
“Prior to this change, even a short beach walk was likely to lead you in and out of areas closed to pets, and it was very difficult to sign and inform visitors of where they could take their pets,” Johnson said. Superintendent Dusty Shultz added, “With the exception of few beach access points completely off-limits due to resource concerns such as nesting Piping Plovers or very crowded conditions such as at North Bar Lake, our policy is intended to provide opportunities at each mainland beach access point both for visitors who bring pets, as well as for those who want to enjoy the beach without pets.” Shultz added, “No other issue seems to generate as many strong opinions as the pet policy on the beaches. We ask that everyone recognize that we are doing our best to serve all of our visitors with this new policy.”
Visitors should watch for signs at beach access areas that show where pets can be taken and where they cannot. A Pet Owner's Guide to visiting the park is available at the park's Visitor Center or Click Here to Download a Copy (pdf file, 329 kb).
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are allowed full access to all trails, beaches, and facilities throughout the National Lakeshore.
Chief Ranger Johnson stated, “It is important to remember that federal regulations also require that pets be on a six-foot leash at all times while in the Lakeshore.” Johnson went on to caution that, “Lakeshore staff has seen an increasing number of irresponsible pet owners who fail to leash or clean up after their pets or who take them into the closed areas. This endangers wildlife, exposes the pets to disease, and infringes upon other visitors. We ask pet owners to be responsible and abide by the regulations so that certain areas can remain open to pets.” Park Rangers will be stepping up enforcement efforts to encourage compliance.
For more information on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, please call 231-326-5134.