Michigans Towering Sands
Take the challenge and climb a steep tower of sand, or delight in the sound of your children running down a majestic Lake Michigan sand dune, or experience the thrill of gliding across rugged sandy landscape during a zippy jeep ride.
Poet Carl Sandburg said, The Dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and the Yosemite is to California. They constitute a signature of time and eternity. Once lost, the loss would be irrevocable.
The Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center in Muskegon explains how dunes are formed and describes dune habitats. Then, visitors can take a half-mile trail to see a backdune forest and grassy foredune. Its 193 steps atop a large dune to reach spectacular Lake Michigan and sand dune views from the Dune Climb Stairway.
Several significant dune formations line the Lake Michigan shore, including the 260-foot formation at Warren Dunes State Park in southwestern Michigan and 3,450-acre Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness. Located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest south of Manistee, Nordhouse Dunes is the only designated wilderness in the Lower Peninsula. The dunes, an estimated 3,500-4,000 years old, reach 140 feet in height. The popular Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is just one feature of this 35-mile long natural area in Northwest Michigan. A strenuous Dune Trail to Lake Michigan is a 3.5-mile stretch of sand---each way.
Beyond impressive, the five square mile Grand Sable Dunes in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore overlook Lake Superior from the 300-foot high Grand Sable Banks. Also on the big lake Redwyn Dunes, between Eagle River and Eagle Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula, is a 20-acre Michigan Nature Association Sanctuary featuring rolling sand dunes, dune ponds and a pebble and sand beach.
It is possible to drive or ride across the desert-like dune territory in an off-road vehicle. At the 3,000-acre Silver Lake State Park in the Hart/Mears area, 450 acres are designated for off-road vehicles only. Since 1930 Mac Woods Scenic Dune Rides have offered open-air tours for those who want to experience the thrill but don't want to drive across the sweeping sands of these ancient formations.
Come and explore our astounding dunes and you'll experience one more thing that makes a Pure Michigan getaway so unique and authentic.