Scenic Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Jutting out into Lake Michigan, the Leelanau Peninsula forms one of the sides of Grand Traverse Bay. It is one of Michigan’s most scenic areas, containing such features as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Empire Bluffs, miles of sandy beaches, and quaint little towns. There are rivers and streams of gin clear water flowing through the area on their way to join Lake Michigan, and lakes of turquoise water dotting the landscape.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted as the most beautiful place in the United States by ABC’s Good Morning America viewers, and the National Geographic Society rates it in the top ten of the most beautiful places in the world.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a United States National Lakeshore located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau County and Benzie County. The park covers a 35-mile (60-km) stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. This northern Michigan park was established primarily because of its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. The Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and an extensive rural historic farm district.
The park is named after a Chippewa legend of the sleeping bear. According to the legend, an enormous forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan drove a mother bear and her two cubs into the lake for shelter, determined to reach the opposite shore. After many miles of swimming, the two cubs lagged behind. When the mother bear reached the shore, she waited on the top of a high bluff. The exhausted cubs drowned in the lake, but the mother bear stayed and waited in hopes that her cubs would finally appear. Impressed by the mother bear’s determination and faith, the Great Spirit created two islands (North and South Manitou Island) to commemorate the cubs, and the winds buried the sleeping bear under the sands of the dunes where she waits to this day. The “bear” was a small tree-covered knoll at the top edge of the bluff that, from the water, had the appearance of a sleeping bear. Wind and erosion have caused the “bear” to be greatly reduced in size over the years.
These next few are nothing special, just a creek that I used to fish for steelhead, and some colorful berries and bushes nearby.
I found a information sign and map at a scenic turnout that is no longer maintained by the state.
The next few were shot from along the Pierce Stocking scenic drive within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Most of are of Glen Lake, and I think that it’s the most beautiful spot within the park. A friend used to rent a house on Glen Lake, and that’s where I would often stay on trips to the area.
Farther north, there’s a scenic look out that provides great views of the Empire Bluffs to the south.
Near Glen Lake is the “Climbing Dune”. This is one of the few areas left in the park where visitors are allowed on the dunes, due to the erosion caused by people. You can see on the left side of this photo how much the foot traffic is changing the shape of the dune.
One of the richest areas in Michigan for shipwreck diving is the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve. It surrounds the North and South Manitou Islands in Lake Michigan and lies next to Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. During the heyday of Michigan lumbering, this was a booming shipping area. It is also an area where ships have sought safety by attempting to ride out storms in the lee of the Islands. These activities have produced a substantial inventory of known and unknown shipwrecks.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!