The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in NW Lower Michigan. The National Lakeshore was established in 1970 and encompasses just over 71,000 acres and attracts over one million visitors a year. Sleeping Bear, managed by the National Park Service, has a good-sized hiking trail system that provides breathtaking views year round. Sleeping Bear Dunes was named after a Chippewa legend of the Sleeping Bear. According to the National Park Service the legend is as follows.
"Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear."
I have spent most of my life admiring the beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, growing up in the area, my parents took me to the dune climb many times when I was a young whippersnappa. Sleeping Bear provides many activities in all seasons, but my favorite are fall and mid spring. The surrounding area towns include Glen Arbor, Glen Lake, Glen Haven, and Empire. These small villages cater to the tourism that Sleeping Bear draws in and being surrounded by water, forests, and farmland it's really is a magical place to visit.
Traverse City is the nearest "big" city that has all the hotels and restaurants that you could ever want, but Traverse City is about 30 to 40 minutes away from The Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you want to stay in a bed and breakfast or vacation rental to isolate yourself from the crowds, there are many to choose from in the local communities. Click here to start planning a visit.
The dunes offer many photographic subjects. The dunes itself, Lake Michigan, wildlife, vegetation, and even Americana in the surrounding towns. I usually travel with my backpack full of gear, but a safe bet would be a wide-angle lens to encompass the Sleeping Bear Dunes landscape. You will run into many species of wildlife but most likely whitetail deer and various small critters.
It's definitely a place I will always go back to see because it holds a lot of magic, mystery, and intrigue. This weeks post image was taken from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which is one of the main attractions of the lakeshore.