Winter Activities

Nature transforms Sleeping Bear Dunes from season to season, and winter provides the opportunity to experience this wonderful landscape with fresh eyes. The trails, scenic views and popular destinations are all still here…just embellished with a new look. The days are shorter, the pace is slower and crowds are never an issue during the winter months. Yet activities are abundant and the Lakeshore remains a wonderful place to explore.


Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire is open 9 am to 4 pm, seven days a week, year round, and is located just east of the intersection of M72 and M22. Pick up a Park Entrance Pass, maps, and brochures. See the wonderful captioned multimedia presentation and exhibits. There is free wifi where you can check on the weather, and accessible restrooms and a souvenir shop. Start your visit here and get all your questions answered!

Please exercise caution! The Lakeshore offers fascinating winter activities, but freezing temperatures, as well as slippery and unstable surfaces, create hazards. Ice formations along the Lake Michigan shoreline may be tempting to explore but are dangerous. Avalanche is a possibility on steep, snow-covered dunes.

Sledding down the Dune Climb
Sledding on the Dune Climb

Kerry Kelly 2007

Sledding is permitted at the Dune Climb in the designated area only when it is covered with snow. Sleds, skis, snowboards, toboggans, saucer sleds, inflatable tubes or similar equipment are restricted to use within the designated snow covered area of the Dune Climb.

In other areas of the dunes the use of skis, snowboards, sleds, toboggans, saucer sleds, inflatable tubes or similar equipment is prohibited except when snow covered.

Ice fishing in compliance with State of regulations is permitted. Restrictions apply to the use of powered ice augers and power engines to cut through the ice. A free permit is available at the visitor center.

Snowmobiling is not permitted on lands or waters of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Camping is available all year at Platte River Campground. Year-round facilities include showers and restrooms.

Snowshoeing in the park
Snowshoeing on Old Indian Trail

Kerry Kelly 2007

Snowshoeing is permitted on all snow-covered dunes, fields, and forests in the Lakeshore, although it is recommended that you stay on well-marked pathways. If you are snowshoeing along a cross-country ski trail, please stay off to the side of the skiers' tracks.

Guided Snowshoe Hikes
Ranger-led snowshoe hikes and self-guided hikes are listed on the Lakeshore's calendar. Registration details will be included in the calendar listing.

Skiing on the Heritage Trail
Skiers enjoying the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Cross Country Skiing is wonderful on the groomed sections of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This paved multi-use trail is transformed in winter, and skiing conditions may be found at, and on the park Facebook page. The park’s popular hiking trails are not groomed, though some are designated ski trails. These include Old Indian Trail, Platte Plains, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Windy Moraine, Alligator Hill, and Bay View. Trail maps are available at the visitor center in Empire, or on the Park website at Be safe! Ski with a partner! Pets are not allowed on ski trails while snow is on the ground.

Last updated: January 11, 2024

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Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

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