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Park Ranger-led programs continue at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). Visit the National Lakeshore on Saturdays and Memorial Weekend, and spend some time learning about frogs and toads, the logging town of Aral, or the night sky. Park rangers are leading hikes, a Families United with Nature program, and evening programs for visitors of all ages. As a part of their "Saturdays at the Lakeshore" series, every Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., a park ranger will await you at the visitor center in Empire to introduce a topic and then lead a car caravan a short distance to where the walk will begin. Each week features a different topic and location. Hikes last 1 to 1½ hours and are no longer than 1½ miles. Park rangers ask that you please dress for the weather.
May 26 (1:00 p.m.) - Saturdays at the Lakeshore - Frogs and Toads: Explore the natural history of these fascinating amphibians and enjoy an "up-close encounter" (no kissing them, though). Meet at the visitor center in Empire.
May 26 (3:00 p.m.) - Biking the North Country: Ride approximately eight miles through the D. H. Day Kingdom and Glen Haven with a park ranger to explore the natural and cultural history of the area while on this recreational and scenic two-hour adventure. Meet at the Glen Lake Picnic Area on M-109.
May 26 (7:00 p.m.) - Owls of Sleeping Bear Dunes: Enjoy an evening outdoors with a Park Ranger at the Platte River Campground Amphitheater. Hear a 45-minute program about the many unique adaptations of owls that make them effective nocturnal predators. Their hoots and howls resonate throughout the forest. They are the silent night flyers of Sleeping Bear Dunes.
May 27 (1:00 p.m.) - A Hidden Treat: Discover the joys and hardships of life on the Treat Family Farm with a guided walk to their home, barn, and circular garage. Meet at the visitor center in Empire.
June 2 (1:00 p.m.) - Saturdays at the Lakeshore - The Town That Vanished: Once a big logging area, now there is only a few foundations remaining and your imagination! Explore this area with a park ranger and learn about this once lively logging town. Meet at the visitor center in Empire.
June 2 (9:00 p.m.) - Almost Full Moon Party: Observe the nearly full moon as well as Venus, Mars, and Saturn from Dune Overlook #3 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive with park rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS). Park at Picnic Mountain; the first right-hand turn after the #2 stop. This program is from 9:00-11:00 p.m. Bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray if needed. Park rangers and GTAS staff will be wearing red glow bracelets at the event. The monthly Star Parties will be cancelled during inclement weather. The decision is usually made three hours in advance. Please call 231-326-5134, ext. 331, for a voicemail message with the decision.
June 9 (1:00 p.m.) - Saturdays at the Lakeshore - Butterfly Watching: Bird watching has become a popular activity, but what about butterfly watching? Grab your binoculars and learn to identify these colorful and sometimes not so colorful insects. Binoculars will be provided if you don't have your own. Meet at the visitor center in Empire.
June 9 (3:00 p.m.) - Families United with Nature (FUN) National Park Fun: Join park rangers for an afternoon to learn about some of our 397 national parks and create a "flat" animal (just like the famous "Flat Stanley") that will visit some of these special places. Meet the park ranger at the visitor center in Empire for a short introduction, then car caravan to the activity site. FUN is a free outdoor activity club for families of all shapes and sizes that is hosted by the National Lakeshore. Park rangers lead programs for families to get outdoors together and try their hand at something new, breathe a little fresh air, and meet other families who enjoy being outside.
Sunday, June 10, will mark the start of the National Lakeshore's summer program schedule. Park ranger-led programs will be provided daily at no charge. Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. Please call 231-326-5135, ext. 328, to make reservations or ask questions, or visit their website at www.nps.gov/slbe. Information is also available on the National Lakeshore's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl and Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/#!/ SleepingBearNPS.