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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!
Recommendations and Cautions
Download the National Park Service app for a self-guided tour of the drive. There are numbered signs along the drive that will refer you to the guide, making your visit an educational adventure as well.
Please obey the 20 mph speed limit and drive carefully so that motorized vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians can share this roadway safely. While bicycling is permitted along the Scenic Drive, it is recommended for expert-level cyclists only due to the steep terrain, sharp curves and heavy traffic present. We recommend that anybody contemplating bicycling the Scenic Drive first take a car through it to see if your skill level is up to it.
As with any other section of the park, a Park pass is required for using the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Please refer to the "Fees" section of our Home Page for details.
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.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is certainly a must-do activity when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The 7.4 mile drive loops through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes and provides insight to the history of the area, a sampling of the vegetative communities found within the park and, best of all, spectacular overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Lake Michigan. You can take a dune hike along the Cottonwood Trail or stop for a picnic at one of the picnic areas on the drive.
Take a Virtual Tour now to get ready for you visit. You'll get an idea of what the Drive is like, but nothing compares to seeing it in person!
World-class vistas will give you a feel for Michigan that you may have never thought possible! The Scenic Drive will definitely reinforce why Congress saw fit to designate this area as a National Lakeshore within our great National Park system.
This is a view of Glen Lake from the Glen Lake Overlook stop on the Scenic Drive. If you look closely, you can see M-22 separate Big and Little Glen Lake. A picture can not describe what you'll see, so I guess you'll just have to visit the park and see for yourself.
The observation deck at the Lake Michigan Overlook is about 450 feet above the lake level, and the angle to the lake is very steep. The dunes are perched on top of a moraine bluff made of a mixture of rocks and sand deposited by the glacier when it melted.
Although going down the bluff is not prohibited, you are encouraged not to do so. Running down to the lake can be dangerous for yourself and for others below you, and erosion of the bluff face is obvious as you look down to Lake Michigan where others have climbed the bluff.
One of the most spectacular views in the Lakeshore is at the Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Take the short walk from the parking lot at # 9, 10 and you too can enjoy the view. Bring a chair if you want to stay a while or just sit in the sand. Sunsets from here are outstanding.
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 1960's, 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 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.