Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


Authorized by Congress on October 21, 1970, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses a 31-mile stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern shoreline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The park was established to preserve the "outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena...for the benefit, inspiration, education, recreation, and enjoyment of the public." The Lakeshore also contains many cultural features, including an 1871 lighthouse, three former U.S. Life Saving Service / Coast Guard Stations, and an extensive rural historic district.


Seasonality / Weather

Sleeping Bear Dunes is located in northern lower Michigan. Summer days have highs ranging from upper 70's to 90's with lows typically in the 50's to 70's. Winter days have highs ranging from 20's to 30's and lows in the 10's to 20's. Snow is usually on the ground from late November through March.



Motor vehicle access from Michigan's Upper Peninsula: cross the Mackinac Bridge, southbound on I- 75; exit I-75 on US-31 (Petoskey/Charlevoix) to the west side of Traverse City; turn left on M-72 to Empire (25 miles/43 km). Alternatively, you could stay on I-75 South to M-72 at Grayling. Travel M-72 westward through Kalkaska to Traverse City and onward to Empire. Access from points south by US 31, US 131, US 27, or I- 75, through Traverse City and onward to Empire as above. Also from the south by M-22 from Ludington/Manistee/Frankfort.


The Traverse City Airport (30 miles/51 km from Lakeshore) has connections with Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis. The Traverse City Airport (TVC) is serviced by Northwest, United and American.

Public Transport: 

Traverse City has a Greyhound bus station with local buses (BATA) connecting to the lakeshore.