National Park Service
The United States Congress designated the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness (map
) in 2014 and it now has a total of 32,556 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Michigan
and is managed by the National Park Service.
Sleeping Bear Dunes is as old as continental ice sheets and as young as the 1970 Establishment Act that set aside the Lakeshore for preservation of the natural resources and for public use. With 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and numerous inland lakes and streams, the park is wonderfully water oriented, however, the most prominent features, and those for which the park is named, are the perched dunes above Lake Michigan. These immense sand dunes are “perched” atop the already towering headlands that are glacial moraines. The dune overlooks at the Sleeping Bear, Empire and Pyramid Point bluffs are about 400 feet above Lake Michigan. Those who have a lot of energy can take a hike on the Dunes Trail to Lake Michigan. This is the most strenuous trail in the park. While only 3.5 miles round trip, it is all sand and you will find climbing the dunes all along the trail to be a challenge. Although the Lakeshore is long and narrow, it still has the depth for excellent representations of several northern hardwood and conifer forest types, abandoned farm site meadows, wetlands, lakes, streams, and bogs and splendid examples of glacially caused landforms. Whether you are on the sandy bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, in a canoe on one of the many inland lakes, hiking the myriad of trails through the forest, or visiting the Manitou Islands in Lake Michigan you will have a wonderful opportunity for bird watching, wildlife viewing, and for just enjoying nature at its best.