Skip to Content

Everything about Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

Everything about Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

My husband I were talking about what we would like to do for either Fall Break or Spring Break this school year. Yes, I realize that it is only July but this summer is flying by, and it is time to start planning ahead. I am nothing if not a planner!

The hubs threw out Michigan so I immediately began my research!  I stumbled across Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan. It looked like a perfect place for our little family and so I thought I would share with you why it looks like a vacation win for us!

What to know about Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

In order to get into the park, a pass needs to be purchased. There are 2 choices as far as passes go. The first is good for 7 days and runs $15 the second option is good for an entire year and costs $30.

Just a note, Sleeping Bear Dunes is operated by the National Park service, hence the need for a pass into the park. If your kids have been participating in the Junior Rangers program, they can continue with this program at while visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.

No matter what sort of traveler you are, make sure you make the hike up the dune, it is one of those simple pleasure sort of things that will be forever etched into your children’s memory.

There is something for everyone. My husband would much rather spend time hiking and be exploring at our destination while I would prefer to grab a book and enjoy the beach.

Sleeping Bear Dunes has both of those options. With over 100 miles of hiking trails, he would be one happy visitor and I would be perfectly content to find a spot on the 35 miles of beachfront.

If you and your family are big biking family then don’t forget to pack your bikes, there are so many great spots to ride your bike!

In addition, there are several lighthouses in the area that can be toured.

Where to stay near Sleeping Bear Dunes:

Camping the island is an option when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes, with 2 campgrounds to pick from. One is more modern and the other will have you living much more primitively.

If a hotel is more up your alley (I sure wouldn’t blame you!) check out these great choices:

The Lakeshore Inn is a very reasonably priced option for your family.

If you are looking for something that is a little more upscale, then check out the various accommodations that the Homestead offers, from romantic getaways to something more family friendly you will find it with this resort!

There is also quite a selection of Bed and Breakfast options, as well.

Top Ten Most Frequently asked Questions about Sleeping Bear Dunes…answered.

We know you have questions, and we are going to provide the answers! Here are our most asked questions about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore:

What exactly is Sleeping Bear Dunes?

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a National Park located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Known for its huge dune formations, Sleeping Bear Dunes is the perfect locale for a family getaway. 

How were the Dunes formed?

Let’s delve into a little bit of science. The Dunes were formed by glaciers MANY years ago. Specifically, these dunes are known as Perched Dunes. A visit to Philip A. Hart Visitor’s Center will show you exactly how the area came to be, and will give you an insight to all the other geological features to explore.

When are the Dunes open? When are they closed?

The Dunes themselves are open all day long, year round. The Philip A. Hart Visitor’s Center is open year round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Normal hours for the Visitor’s Center are 8:30am to 6:00pm Memorial Day to Columbus Day and 8:30am to 4:00pm Columbus Day to Memorial Day. 

When is the best time to visit?

With the Dunes open year round, any time is the best time to visit! Keep in mind, summer temps can range from upper 70s to 90s during the day, and 50s to 70s in the evenings. Winters can be especially cold with highs ranging in the 20s and 30s, with lows in the teens. Summers are the most popular time to visit, but I would recommend a spring or fall visit. This will still allow you to enjoy many of the activities that surround the dunes, but probably won’t be as crowded. 

Where are the Dunes located?

Sleeping Bear Dunes lies right on Lake Michigan on the Lower Peninsula. The Dunes are located about 3 miles from Glen Arbor, 25 miles from Traverse City, and about 85 miles from Mackinac Island.

Are the Dunes pet-friendly?

Pets on leashes are welcome in certain locations. 

What is there to do other than climbing  the Dunes?

There is so much to do and see! Being on Lake Michigan is one of the big perks of visiting the Dunes. There are 65 miles of protected shoreline within the Park, so there is no end to the possibilities. Swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are some of the favorite pastimes on the water. There are also lighthouses to experience and scenic drives to enjoy. Museums, shopping and events celebrating the arts & culture of the area are also in abundance. If you are looking for something extra to do with the younger crowd, there are plenty of playgrounds nearby and even some special amenities at some hotels and resorts.

What trails should I explore?

There are over 100 miles of trails in the Lakeshore area. Trails are also maintained during the winter months for those that enjoy winter activities. The Bass Lake Loop, Good Harbor Bay Trail, and the Green Arrow Loop on the Old Indian Hiking Trail are great choices for families. 

What else should I know before I go?

Since the Dunes are considered a National Park area, there will be a vehicle fee. Your best course of action before venturing out is to check the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page of the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information. 

What you need to know about Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan


Saturday 27th of June 2020

Yes we've been to Sleeping Bear Dunes twice and are heading back next week. We LOVE it there! We enjoy the hiking, biking, kayaking, tubing down the Crystal River is a fun time too! We also rent a boat and spend the day on Glen Lake. It is so beautiful! Make sure you go to Empire Bluff for an amazing view. Our favorite town is Glen Arbor. Enjoy! I know you'll love it too!!