Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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.


Traverse City Sunflowers

I have seen many sunflower field pictures but I never been to a sunflower field. I started researching sunflower fields. Google came up with a few, and I even got in touch with George Lepp, to see where he goes to take sunflower pictures. He said Goodland Kansas. Well that is a bit too far away to go for sunflowers so I kept researching. I found some possible fields in Northern California but it's still a good 6 or so hour drive up there. I kept looking and then I found it.  Traverse City Sunflowers. It's true and it just so happened I was going there visiting family and friends.

The fields I found are just north of Traverse City off of M72 heading towards Elk Rapids. I took the turn off of 72 to Bates rd. Once there I just pulled off the road, got out and started taking pictures. I went during sunrise being that was the direction the flowers were facing and I could get some good front lighting. In the evening you would have back lighting and it might prove a bit more difficult getting a proper exposure.

It was late July when I went  and some of the flowers had yet to open so I would maybe try middle to the end of August to get more blooms. I am not sure who owns the fields so for the most part I just stayed on the shoulder of the road. If I was to venture further in I would get permission to do so.

Never the less it was fun and I will be going back there as long as they keep planting them.

If you're in the area it's worth a gander.