Fall Color and Farm Markets near Silver Lake

Whether you’re a lifetime Michigander or you’re visiting the Great Lakes State for the first time, there’s something uniquely special about experiencing fall in Pure Michigan. Guest blogger Andrea Hekkema from the Silver Lakes Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau shares some of what makes the dunes worth visiting in autumn.

 Autumn has a full color palette in Oceana County.  The dark green spruces, rising pines and the brilliant blues of the lakes and sky balance leaves of deep crimson, glorious golds, rich siennas and umbers.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau

Bountiful harvests of apples and pears color our orchards and plump orange pumpkins and multi-colored squash ripen in the fields. Our temperatures, moderated by Lake Michigan, mean crisp mornings give way to warm days well into October-lots of time for you to enjoy a weekend (or more!) on a color tour with many outdoor activities.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau

Take a drive in the country or a jeep or buggy tour. Consider a ride or stroll on the Hart-Montague Rail Trail, and a canoe or boat trip on one of our inland lakes or rivers. Be sure to stop and check out the fascinating and fun attractions along the way. And of course, while you’re here, indulge your taste buds at one of our roadside farm markets and orchards. The possibilities are as plentiful as the harvest in Oceana County.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau

Still not convinced? Here are some suggestions to get you to “fall” in love with the idea of visiting Oceana County.

Silver Lake: Visit Little Sable Point Lighthouse.  Take a ride over the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and witness a majestic view of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Join a dune buggy tour with Mac Woods or drive your own dune buggy or jeep (rentals are available) through October. Visit Fox Barn Winery and pick up some fresh apple cider or delicious fruit wine.

Historic Downtown Hart: Stroll the downtown district. Enjoy shopping and dining in this small lakeside area. Spend the night or weekend at any of our local hotels.

Mears: After visiting Silver Lake, be sure to stop in Mears. Take time to see the Oceana County Historical Transportation Museum.

The Hart-Montague Rail Trail is a 22 mile linear state park. The entire trail is at least a 10-foot wide paved trail through rich farm land, forests and quaint villages. There are many stops along the way to rest or catch a bite to eat. Start your trip at the Trail Head in downtown Hart, and enjoy your scenic tour of our beautiful area.

Bring your canoe or boat to enjoy the beauty of the season from a different point of view. Public launches and boat ramps can be found at Hart Lake and Silver Lake. You can also rent a canoe, kayak, tube, or raft at Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery and experience the scenic White River.

Map Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau


What is your favorite fall activity in Pure Michigan?

One Dune – Three Great Activities!

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a breathtaking sight in West Michigan. Check out three activities you will want to put on your summer bucket list, courtesy of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The first time you get to the Silver Lake area, you might think you’re in another country or on another planet with nothing but vistas of dunes and water as far as the eye can see. But when the moment of realization occurs and you discover that you are actually in West Michigan, you wonder why you haven’t been here sooner.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

Welcome to the Silver Lake State Park. Home to rolling dunes and dense hardwood forests, the Silver Lake State Park and its 2,936 acres of rolling terrain is the only State Park east of the Mississippi River that allows the use of motorized vehicles on dunes. This unique attribute is one of the major reasons why so many make the return trip to the dunes every year.

The physical dune area is separated into three distinct areas. The southern most section of the dunes, or the lower third, is reserved for Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and their 7-mile guided dune trips aboard one of their many open air dune cruisers. In 1930, Mac Wood’s began with a 4-passenger Model A Ford that carried visitors around the dunes. Today, they now have a fleet of 4-wheel drive dune cruisers with modified aircraft tires for the perfect dune experience. If you are interested in some of the origins of Mac Wood’s you can see their original vehicle at their onsite museum.

All together, this 40-minute trip is a great option for those looking to experience a more mild taste of the dunes as opposed to the fast-paced ORV experience to the north.

Making your way north to the central part of the dunes, you will find an area for pedestrians only which flanks Silver Lake to the east and runs to Lake Michigan on the west. Here you will see many sand boarders, hikers and nature enthusiasts taking in the natural beauty of the dunes. There are no ORVs allowed on this portion of the dunes. Its appeal lies in the peaceful views of the rolling dunes that change with the winds. As the terrain changes year to year, people return to hike and explore the new sand formations that make up the dunes.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The outdoor recreational vehicle (ORV) dune section is located on the northern third of the dunes where people can bring their own vehicles and ride the dunes (ORV permits required), or they may rent from any one of the great vendors in the Silver Lake Area. Here you will experience the true culture that is associated with “duning.”

The ORV section of the dunes is fast paced, where vehicles are allowed to freely roam across the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Here you will find a little bit of everything in terms of vehicles. From high-end dune buggies, fully equipped in the latest and greatest gear and technology associated with off roading, to the fresh-off-the-lot Jeep Sierra with the top down and kids laughing.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The ORV section is also home to a host of four wheelers and motor bikes, rooster tailing sand as they zip across the open terrain.

No matter what part of the dunes you are drawn to, each section has a common bond in that everyone is smiling, laughing and enjoy time with friends and family as they are unplugged from work and the everyday grind enjoying all 2,936 acres of fun in the sun that is the Silver Lake State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.


- Park Started in 1919 with the donation of 25 acres of land for park purposes by Carrie E. Mears, in 1964 the official masterplan was dedicated with 2936 acres

- 450 acres – private off road dune riding area – only dunes east of THE MISSISSIPPI to allow this.

- There are three distinct areas – 1. hiking and dune climbing, 2. orv area, 3. tour area for mac wood’s dune rides

- The dunes open for the summer on April 1 and the last day the park is open is on October 31.

- The dunes are home to fulgurites or commonly known as petrified lighting.  These natural forms are created during lighting strikes on the dunes and vary in size and shape and can be as large as a small shrub.

- The central section of the dunes, or the non-motorized section, plays host to many sand boarding enthusiasts throughout the season.

 What is your  favorite activity to partake on this unique Pure Michigan attraction?

Silver Lake Sand Dunes – the Thrill of a Lifetime!

Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Photo credit - Laurel Hess

Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Guest blogger Lauren Hess and her family recently took a trip to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, and had an exhilarating ride on the dunes – the only dunes in Michigan where you are allowed to ride dune buggies.

Who would have thought that one of the most fun-filled and exciting weekend getaways I’ve ever been on would be just a three hour drive from Metro Detroit? On little more than a whim, I recently booked a long weekend stay in Silver Lake, on the west side of the state. It’s an extremely unique and underpublicized area that I will now be sure to recommend to friends, and return to again next summer. Continue reading