My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

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.

The Sleeping Bear Dune

The Sleeping Bear Dune

These next few are nothing special, just a creek that I used to fish for steelhead, and some colorful berries and bushes nearby.

Otter Creek

Otter Creek

Otter Creek

Otter Creek

Berries and leaves

Berries and leaves

Berries and leaves

Berries and leaves

I found a information sign and map at a scenic turnout that is no longer maintained by the state.

Leelanau Peninsula map and info

Leelanau Peninsula map and info

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.

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Glen Lake

Looking North towards the Sleeping Bear Dune

Looking North towards the Sleeping Bear Dune

North Manitou Island

North Manitou Island

South Manitou Island

South Manitou Island

One of the old farms

Historic D.H. Day Farm

The Sleeping Bear Dune in the distance

The Sleeping Bear Dune in the distance

South Manitou Island and lighthouse

South Manitou Island and lighthouse

Farther north, there’s a scenic look out that provides great views of the Empire Bluffs to the south.

IMG_9987

Looking south towards the Empire Bluffs

Looking south towards the Empire Bluffs

Looking south towards the Empire Bluffs

IMG_9996

Looking down at North Bar Lake and Lake Michigan

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.

The "climbing" dune

The “climbing” dune

The "climbing" dune

The “climbing” dune

Passing gull

Passing gull

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.

A northbound freighter taking the Manitou Passage

A northbound freighter taking the Manitou Passage

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Advertisements

15 responses

  1. Great post….thanks for taking me back 🙂

    August 12, 2013 at 10:47 am

    • Thanks, I’m always happy to jog a few memories.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

  2. Miriam

    Gorgeous. This is a place I hope to visit someday- I’m from Maine and now live in Colorado, so I’ve been lucky to live in some beautiful places, but I have a fascination with the Great Lakes. And I do miss lush green trees and northern lakes.

    August 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

    • Thanks, this would have been a good year to visit, the weather has been perfect for lush green trees!

      August 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm

  3. What a lovely story of the mother bear and her cubs! Thanks for sharing that!!!

    August 12, 2013 at 11:42 am

    • Thanks, I had to share the story of how the place was named, it’s something that was taught in school when I was kid.

      August 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm

  4. Beautiful pictures… This is on my bucket list!!

    August 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    • Thank you, it’s a beautiful place that no photo can do justice to.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:08 am

  5. Some truly beautiful scenery here.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    • Thank you!

      August 13, 2013 at 2:09 am

  6. I’m not seeing the bear but who cares-Michigan is a beautiful place!

    August 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    • Thanks, the bear is gone, weathered away over the years, but it’still beautiful!

      August 13, 2013 at 2:10 am

  7. Wow, what the wonderful series of delightful pictures! the place looking awesome in the pictures.

    August 13, 2013 at 2:46 am

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment!

      August 13, 2013 at 8:25 am

  8. Pingback: My week, you can never go home again? | Quiet Solo Pursuits