The Disabled Traveler's Companion website
A good place to look for the latest information on accessibility is the Disabled Traveler's Companion website. While not officially affiliated with the National Park Service, they have been working with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and other National Parks to provide valuable information to the disabled traveler. Their website contains information on photographs, campgrounds, and park attractions that may help in planning your visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Accessible Park Facilities
The National Park Service is committed to providing the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities, while also being consistent with our concurrent mandates for the preservation and protection of our resources.
Park brochures are available in Braille, and most public facilities within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are wheelchair accessible as are the overlooks found along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Each campground has handicapped accessible campsites.
The free Interagency Access Pass to national parks and other Federal recreation sites is available to citizens who are permanently disabled. Proof of medically determined permanent disability or eligibility for receiving benefits under federal law must be shown. The pass is available at the Philip Hart Visitor Center in Empire and other locations where park passes are sold.
Site Information for the Mobility Impaired
The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire is a great place to start your visit and to find out more about the park's features and facilities It has accessible parking, exhibits, auditorium, bookstore and a short, multimedia presentation introducing visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Restrooms, water fountain, and telephone are all accessible. The visitor center is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days, Friday of Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day (summer) - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Labor Day to the Thursday prior to the Memorial Day Weekend (fall, winter, spring) - 8:30 a.m. to 4:00p.m. For more information, please call 231-326-4700, ext. 5010.
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 is accessible at #2 Picnic Mountain, though picnic tables and grills may be reached only by a steep climb. 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. However, ramps provide access to both overlook decks and with assistance it is possible for many to reach these sites. Benches are placed along the route for resting. Number 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.
The Dune Climb facilities include accessible restrooms with running water, picnic tables located under the trees, and drinking fountains. The Dune Center bookstore is also accessible.
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a hard-surfaced, non-motorized, multi-use trail planned to span 27 miles from the northern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at County Road 651 to the Leelanau/Benzie County line at Manning Road south of Empire. Currently the trail runs almost 16 miles between Empire and Port Oneida, connecting to park attractions and the town of Glen Arbor along the way. Park your car and use your bike to get around! Trailheads are at Bar Lake Road, Pierce Stocking, Dune Climb, Glen Haven, Alligator Hill, Crystal River, Bay View, and Port Oneida.
Sand Wheelchairs are available at the Maritime Museum boathouse and at the Cannery to enable handicapped individuals to enjoy the dunes and beaches. The wheelchairs must stay in the area where they were loaned.
Lake Michigan Beaches are often difficult to use because of deep loose sand. There is a hard-surfaced beach deck with benches at the Cannery Beach in Glen Haven. Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has accessibility information about each beach on their web site.
Trailheads at these locations are equipped with accessible vault toilets and no running water: 1 Old Indian Trail, 2 Platte Plains Trail, 3 Empire Bluff Trail, 4 Windy Moraine Trail, 5 Shauger Hill Trail, 7 Dunes Trail, 9 Sleeping Bear Point Trail, 10 Alligator Hill Trail, 11 Bay View Trail, 12 Pyramid Point Trail, 13 Good Harbor Bay Trail.
Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has accessibility information about each official trail in the park on their web site. This information includes maps showing degree of difficulty and photos of accessibility barriers.
For visitors with limited mobility, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is offering FREE use of the electric Track Chair on the Bay View Trail. To make reservations, go the the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes web site.
The Blacksmith Shop in Glen Haven Historic Village is a fully functioning shop and is accessible by a ramp built up to the front double doors. There is ample space inside the shop to see exhibits and watch the blacksmith and carpentry demonstrations from a safe distance. Benches are provided.Restrooms in Glen Haven are ramped and accessible with running water and a diaper changing station. Beach dressing areas are included.
D.H. Day General Store in Glen Haven is accessible. Parking is provided in the front with a ramped concrete path to the entrance. The interior space includes both displays and reproduction sales items from the late 1920s and early 1930s for purchase. The first floor of the Ranger Station is also fully accessible and is in the same structure as the D.H. Day Store.
The Cannery Boat Museum is accessible. The adjoining picnic area has picnic tables and raised grills. While the parking area is sandy, it is next to the beach and provides a beautiful view of Sleeping Bear Bay and the Manitou Islands. A sand wheelchair is available for use at the site.
Coast Guard Station Life-Saving Museum has accessible parking with hardened surfaces leading to the Boathouse exhibit. This is accessible by wheelchair, and a boardwalk leads from there to the beach. The entrance to the Station House requires stair climbing and is not wheelchair accessible. Benches facing the lake are located on the porch for those who can climb the stairs. A sand wheelchair is available for use at the site. Restrooms are ramped and accessible and there is running water.
D.H. Day Campground has one accessible campsite, on packed soil, with an accessible vault toilet adjacent. The site has an electric hook-up. Water spigots supply water. An RV dump station is located at the entrance to the campground. The Log Cabin shelter, amphitheater, campground office, and additional campground vault toilets are accessible. A boardwalk with a bench leads to the campground beach.
Platte River Campground has eight campsites which are wheelchair accessible: four are electric sites; two are non-electric, one walk-in non-electric site, and one electric group site. These sites have a hardened pad, a fire ring and a raised grill, and are located near accessible restrooms, showers and water. An RV dump station is located at the entrance to the camp ground. The Ranger Station offices and parking are also accessible.
Platte River Picnic Area is equipped with accessible parking, restrooms, picnic shelters, and a fish cleaning station, raised grills, and a hardened surface river walk. Some assistance may be necessary on the ramps to the river walk and to access boats on the river's edge.
Platte River Point beach and picnic area is equipped with accessible parking, restrooms with running water, accessible dressing rooms and raised charcoal grills.
Assistive Listening Program
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has initiated a program aimed at improving the park's ability to provide information and interpretive services to members of its staff and the visiting public who have experienced some degree of hearing loss. To accomplish this, the park has installed a permanent Assistive Listening Device at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center Information Desk. A compact TTY device is also available for use at the Visitor Center's pay telephone.
For interpretive programs in the visitor center, ranger-led walks out on the trail, or for the evening programs in the campgrounds, portable wireless FM Assistive Listening Devices are also available. A portable wireless device is also available at the Glen Haven General Store. Rangers are trained in the use of this technology.
Visitors are urged to request the amplification devices by calling the visitor center in advance of an interpretive program (231-326-4700 ext 5010).
Summary of Hearing Assist Devices Available at Sleeping Bear Dunes
Philip A. Hart Visitor Center (available year-round)
Platte River Campground Office (available June to September)
D. H. Day Campground Office (available June to September)
Glen Haven General Store (available Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Last updated: April 23, 2019