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Location:

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Empire, approximately 25 miles west of Traverse City

Population:

Approximately 263

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located north of Empire, Michigan, in the northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula. 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 overlooks at the Sleeping Bear, Empire, and Pyramid Point bluffs are about 400 feet above Lake Michigan. With 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and numerous inland lakes and streams, the park is wonderfully water-oriented, providing access for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or tubing in the spring, summer, and fall. The views from the Empire Bluffs Overlook are spectacular, and on a clear day you can see South Manitou Island. Five lighthouses are also near the Dunes: North Manitou Shoal Light, Point Betsie Light, Grand Traverse Light, Mission Point Light, and South Fox Island Lighthouse.

Although the lakeshore is long and narrow due to the bluffs, it still has plenty of room for several northern hardwood and conifer forests, meadows, wetlands, lakes, streams, and bogs, as well as 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, or hiking the myriad of trails through the forest, you will have a wonderful opportunity for bird watching, wildlife viewing, and just enjoying nature at its best. In winter, you can snowshoe, cross-country or downhill ski, snowboard, or hike into the wilderness. There are many options for camping; tent camping, RV camping, and cabins are available. If you are driving to Sleeping Bear Dunes from the south or west, Lake Michigan car ferries provide transportation and add to the excitement of your trip.

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