Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan attracts solos, families

Jimmy Smith looking out at Lake Michigan on Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. (Julianne G. Crane)
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J H Day Campground at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. (Julianne G. Crane)

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is at the tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan. And, it is not one of those parks that can be fully appreciated in a day, or a weekend.

Simply put, there is a lot to see and do here.

Lucky for visitors of all ages and interests, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is open all year. However, indivual attractions have different hours, depending on time of year and weather conditions, click here for all the details.

Wide variety of camping possibilities

There are two campgrounds in this national treasure. Platte River is the larger, more modern camping destination and the one Jimmy and I stayed at on our first visit in 2010. It is open year-round and offers everything from backpacking in to pull through sites for RVs, some with electrical hookups.

DH Day Campground Office

This trip we stopped at the D. H. Day Campground, open from the first Friday in April until the last Sunday in November (weather permitting). Reservations are required from May 1 through October 15. However we arrived sans reservations and the ranger on duty helped us right there. At least half the 81 sites were empty.

This more rustic campground is within a short walking distance of the Lake Michigan shoreline. It is located in the northern district of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It is also near the Dune Climb, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and the museums in the historic village of Glen Haven.

Historic D.H. Day Log Cabin. (Julianne G. Crane)

The multi-use Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail winds its way almost 20 miles through the park.  It touches on D.H Day offering easy access to hiking, biking and even snow skiing in the winter.

One historic building in the campground is the D.H. Day Log Cabin. This landmark dates from when the campground was the first State Park in Michigan.

D.H. Day was the first Michigan State Park Commissioner. “He donated the land and built the cabin for use in the park,” according to Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Text and photos: Julianne G. Crane

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