Ranger-led Programs

Attend a ranger-led program! Explore Sleeping Bear with a ranger on a hike or bike ride, at a campground or Junior Ranger program, and much more! Our seasonally available programs are FREE, cover a wide range of topics, and are fun for all ages. Download information about our current ranger programs.

For information about special events and programs, check our Schedule of Events.

Types of Programs


Hikes. Come prepared to hike one or two miles. Wear sunscreen and sturdy shoes and bring along water, bug spray, and a hat!

Bike Rides. Give alternative transportation a try by exploring the park on a bike! Be prepared to ride up to 5 miles. Wear sunscreen and bring along plenty of water, bug spray, and even a small snack. Helmets are encouraged.

Campground Programs. Campground programs are offered in the evenings at the Platte River Campground and D.H. Day amphitheaters and generally last between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bring bug spray and a flashlight.


Junior Ranger Programs. In addition to our Junior Ranger Book, visitors of all ages have the opportunity to attend special programs designed just for Junior Rangers during the summer months. Want to learn how to fish with a pop can? How about making your own fossil? Would you like to build a beaver? Check the current schedule to see if there are any Junior Ranger programs scheduled during your visit!

Dune Talks. These fast, fun talks usually last about 15 minutes. Want to know how our dunes formed? Do you know what sand is made out of? Would you like to see how the Dune Climb has changed over the years? Stop by the Dune Box at the base of the Dune Climb to find out!

Heroes of the Storm. Are you brave enough to help us perform a rescue once done by the United States Life Saving Service? Volunteer for our life-saving crew during the summer months at the Maritime Museum at 3 pm. Check the current schedule to see if Heroes of the Storm will be offered during your visit.


Lyle Gun Demonstration. Join us on the beach at the Maritime Museum to watch the Keeper and his Surfmen reenact the firing of the Lyle Gun, the only canon ever designed to save lives!

Snowshoe Hikes. Borrow snowshoes free of charge, learn some snowshoe basics, and join a Ranger to explore Sleeping Bear when snow transforms the park into a winter wonderland! Dress in layers and wear a hat and waterproof boots. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and bring along some water.

Port Oneida Fair. Bring the family out to our good, old-fashioned country fair! Every year on the second Friday and Saturday in August, Port Oneida Rural Historic District comes back to life with farm animals, timber framing, music, crafts, and much more!


Star Parties. Explore the park after dark with a ranger and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Star gazing, meteor showers, sun viewing, story-telling, and Junior Ranger activities make for an unforgettable evening!

Glen Haven Days. Elementary school students have the chance to step into the past and become a part of Great Lakes maritime history at this day-long event. Students will watch a blacksmith at the forge, compare and contrast historic boats, visit a general store, learn how ships and engines were powered by steam, participate in a shipwreck rescue, and much more!

Historic Beach Patrols. What was it like to work for the United States Life Saving Service (USLSS)? Join the Keeper on a historic beach patrol during the fall, when most shipwrecks on the Great Lakes occurred. Learn about the difficult task of rescuing shipwreck victims and working on Lake Michigan. Dress appropriately for the weather; after all, the motto of the USLSS was “you have to go out, but you don’t have to come back!” We will conduct our beach patrol regardless or rain, wind, or snow!


Special Events

National Junior Ranger Day. Calling all Junior Rangers! This event has a different theme each year, but it is sure to be fun for the whole family. Participate in outdoor games and indoor crafts. Learn something new, hang out with a ranger, and earn some official Junior Ranger swag!

National Park Week. Celebrate the National Parks at Sleeping Bear every year during a week-long celebration in April. Entrance to the park is FREE for five days.

National Public Lands Day. Wouldn’t you like to be a part of the largest single-day volunteer effort in the country? Come out to Sleeping Bear to help us celebrate National Public Lands Day by participating in a beach clean-up. We are also waiving our entrance fee!

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


(231) 326-4700

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