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I am aware that I just posted a trip report on a local trip about two weeks ago. Rest assured I’m not attempting to overrun the Worldwide Trip Report forum with constant submissions from my neighborhood surroundings like “Flora and Fauna Photos en route to the Pharmacy” or “Safari with Me Around the Parking Lot” or “My Big Day—Canine Collection from the Local Dog Park.”

 

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Platte River Point sunset, Sleeping Bear Dunes

 

 

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Dune Climb, Sleeping Bear Dunes

 

 

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Pierce Stocking Drive, Site #9, sunset

 

 

 

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Hike from a scenic pullout on Pierce Stocking Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise

 

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is located in the state of Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan.  The park has 64 miles of beaches, two islands, 26 inland lakes and more than 50,000 acres of land. We visited only the shoreline areas in our 4-night visit in early October, no islands.

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

 

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Platte River Point, just after sunrise

 

 

To prepare for this trip, I studied the maps shown below and the trail info at the helpful national park website https://www.nps.gov/slbe/index.htm . Given how extensive and spread out the various scenic spots were, I was concerned I’d get lost (not uncommon for me—at all) or waste time driving around trying to find the best sunrise or sunset spots, and miss it altogether. Also, even though my husband was joining me, I figured he might not enjoy long waits for the perfect photo conditions, especially before dawn or after dusk.  So, I decided to try to find a guide for the area.  And I did—Julie Den Uyl and her Sleeping Bear Tour Company.  https://sleepingbeartourco.com/ Julie was great at knowing where to be when and at doing hikes in the most scenic spots.  She also does birding tours in the spring for the Piping Plover.  I can say I made a new friend in Michigan and may be hunting plovers with her sometime in the future.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes, along the Great Lake of Michigan in the state of Michigan,  USA

 

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is located in the state of Michigan

 

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, spanning 64 miles of shoreline.  North and South Manitou Islands are also shown.

 

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Showing some of the key towns and cities near Sleeping Bear Dunes

 

 

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Sleeping Bear Dunes Complex Trail Map. Seeing this helped convince me to hire Julie Den Uyl and Sleeping Bear Tour Company, which turned out to be a good move.

 

 

I spent the most time, especially for sunrise and sunset shots at two places, Platte River Point and Pierce Stocking Drive:  

 

(1) Platte River Point is pretty much a point and not miles of shoreline.  It was possible to walk along the beach for probably a couple of miles from the actual point location, but the sunrise/sunset shots were all right at or within 100 yards of the point, where there is a parking lot nearby.

 

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Driving to Platte River Point and the nearby parking lot on the red winding Lake Michigan Road or 708 off of Hwy 22

 

 

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A 5 to 10-minute walk from the parking lot at Platte River Point.  The Platte River spillover is in the foreground and Lake Michigan is in the background.

 

 

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Platte River Point.  The Platte River and its spillover can be seen in the foreground with Lake Michigan in the background.

 

 

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A couple of minutes’ walk down the beach from Platte River Point

 

 

 

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  Platte River Point, sunrise.  The first ribbon of water is the Platte River and the big body is Lake Michigan.

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise.  Guide Julie and I said, “This looks like Iceland,” though neither of us has ever been.  We agreed we’d like to go.

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunset.  Platte River in foreground, Lake Michigan behind the sand dune.

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunset. Platte River is in foreground, just a sliver Lake Michigan is behind the sand dune.

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise.

 

(2) Pierce Stocking Drive’s 8 miles are well marked with numerous scenic lookouts and hiking areas.  We did a recognizance run mid-afternoon that took about 30 minutes to see which spots we’d like to hit for sunset or future hikes.  There is an easy dune climb at Site #9 that takes about 15 minutes, where I took sunset shots on two evenings, arriving an hour before the official setting of the sun.  There is also a wooden deck that overlooks Lake Michigan at Site #9.

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Pierce Stocking Drive-crude map of the 8 miles of scenic roads.  The entrance to the drive is well marked from Hwy 109.

 

 

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, sunset

 

 

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, sunset

 

 

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, sunset.  Dune Grass that is crucial to the sustainability of the dunes.  Invasive species are unfortunately intruding.

 

 

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, just before sunset

 

 

This is a good guide to the 8-mile Pierce Stocking Drive and the various scenic stops and hikes.

https://www.awesomemitten.com/pierce-stocking-scenic-drive-michigan/

To be continued.  Dune climbing in designated areas is next.

Edited by Atravelynn
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~ @Atravelynn:

 

A grandee associated with Platte River Point needs to nominate you for a positive image award.

 

Those shots showing sun colors are impressive.

 

You've brought to our attention a lovely landscape devoid of the visual clutter marring so many sites.

 

Thank you for sharing these photographs and the background information.

 

Armchair travel at its finest, guided by someone who recognizes a truly beautiful landscape when they visit it.

 

         Tom K.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Tom Kellie said:

~ @Atravelynn:

 

You've brought to our attention a lovely landscape devoid of the visual clutter marring so many sites.

 

         Tom K.

 

 

Thank you, Tom! These landscapes were also brought to the attention of the nation, if not the world, about a decade ago by a titan of the major TV networks, as the last entry will show.

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Dune climbing can be done in a few places at Sleeping Bear.  One spot is Site #9 along Pierce Stocking Drive, ascending first, then descending.  There is a short, easy, 15-minute climb up where wooden viewing decks provide an optional lookout point, which my husband and I did.  All Site #9 dune photos were taken from atop this dune.

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, just before sunset

 

 

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This non-breeding Chipping Sparrow (I think) did not have to climb the dune at Site #9 like I did.

 

 

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, sunset

 

 

Another dune climb from Site #9 at Pierce Stocking Drive is to descend way, way down the steep dune to the lake, then trudge back up.  The walk down may be easy, but then you must climb back up, which can be very difficult.  I did not attempt this hike.  If you are unable to make the ascent on your own from the bottom, there is a cost of $3000 per person to be rescued.  Such a hefty fine was enacted because for years Sleeping Bear Dunes had the most rescues of all US National Parks because of people who overestimated their fitness levels and found themselves unable to climb back up the dune they had descended.  The steep fine (pun intended) serves as a deterrent to taking a cavalier attitude toward dune hiking.

 

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From the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking Drive, sunset

 

 

 

One more popular, fairly easy dune where you ascend first then come down is in Glen Arbor on Highway M-109.  I think it took Julie and me 40 minutes to ascend about 250 feet, but I stopped often for pictures.  In high season, this could get busy, but at 7 am on Oct 4 there was not one other soul.

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From Dune Climb along M109, Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, before 8 am

 

 

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From Dune Climb along M109, Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes

 

 

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From Dune Climb along M109, Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, before 8 am

 

 

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From Dune Climb along M109, Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, before 8 am

 

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From Dune Climb along M109, Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, before 8 am

 

 

 

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From Dune Climb along M109, Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, before 8 am

 

 

The Quote of the Trip is the sad legend of how the dunes got their name.  When the Chippewa occupied the area, they told of a mother bear and her two cubs who jumped into Lake Michigan to flee the neighboring state of Wisconsin.  Some versions are to escape a raging fire and other versions are to search for food which had become scarce.

 

The long swim across the lake was exhausting for the cubs and they fell behind.  When the mother bear reached the shore in Michigan and climbed out of the water, she turned to see the struggling cubs drown as they tried to swim toward her.  The mother bear then laid down and fell deep asleep, forever awaiting her cubs.  To honor the memory of these bear cubs, the Great Spirit Manitou created North and South Manitou islands. Then the spirit covered the mother bear with sand to form the largest dune along the lake.

 

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It would be a long swim for the bears in the legend, 60 miles or so.

 

 

I saw no bears, nor did I expect to see any, but a few other creatures appeared.  We saw 3 bald eagles too, but no photos.

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I hoped to get some kind of animal along with the iconic dunes.   This was the one opportunity—Tundra Swans.

 

 

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Tundra Swan and Mallard Ducks

 

 

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Tundra Swan

 

 

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Great Blue Heron

 

 

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Painted Turtles sunning themselves in 70°F warmth at midday, Oct 4

 

 

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Painted Turtles

 

 

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Painted Turtle

 

 

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Black Squirrel in Glen Arbor, the charming town next to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.  Black squirrels were all over but tricky to photograph.

 

 

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Of course, gulls were common around water.

 

 

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Gulls, a 15-minute walk down the beach from Platte River Point.

 

 

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Fertilizing Lake Michigan

 

 

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Gulls, a 15-minute walk down the beach from Platte River Point.

 

 

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No beavers were spotted, but their handiwork, accented by fungi, was visible.

 

Dates for Sleeping Bear Dunes, 2022, for a 4-night stay

3 Oct, arrive 1 pm at Platte River Point parking lot, meet Guide Julie

4 Oct

5 Oct

6 Oct, depart before sunrise, forecast for rain all day

 

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Platte River Point—the first band of water is the Platte River and Lake Michigan can be seen behind the sand dune.

 

 

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A Family at Platte River Point, sunset

 

 

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Big Dune that can be climbed where there is no vegetation.  Along M109 in Glen Arbor.

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

How many days for a visit?  Google suggests one day is enough to see the sights.  I’d agree.  But I wanted to get some nice photos in a variety of places and allow extra time for potential uncooperative weather, so I did 4 nights.  Weather was perfect up to Oct 6.  To do all those hikes described in the national park website, you could spend a few enjoyable weeks.

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise

 

 

 

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Clear water on shoreline of Sleeping Bear Dunes

The fall colors just started, but were not at their peak at Sleeping Bear Dunes during our Oct 3-6 stay.  On the return trip, Oct 6, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan colors were at peak. 

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Near Platte River Point, fall colors starting to show on Oct 4

 

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Fall colors just starting to pop in Sleeping Bear Dunes, Oct 5

 

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Fall colors on road next to M22 Inn, also called Maple Inn Resort, near Sleeping Bear Dunes, Oct 5

 

 

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Fall colors on road next to M22 Inn, also called Maple Inn Resort, near Sleeping Bear Dunes, Oct 5

 

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Fall colors coming into aerial view, seen from the dune at Site #9, Pierce Stocking just before sunset

 

We stayed at M22 Inn also known as Maple Inn Resort at 8720 South Dorsey Rd in Empire, Michigan.  Very charming and quite reasonable.  Great location.

https://www.m22inn.com/m22-inn-empire/

 

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This map shows the distances between the two spots where I took the most photos—Pierce Stocking Drive & Platte River Point--and M22 Inn, where we stayed.

 

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

 

The cost for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is $25/week /car or you could use a park pass, purchased annually for $80 or $60 lifetime for seniors.

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

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Platte River Point, sunset

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise

In August of 2011, the popular American TV show, Good Morning America took a poll of viewers and Sleeping Bear Dunes was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” https://www.cbsnews.com/detroit/news/sleeping-bear-dunes-voted-most-beautiful-place-in-america/

 

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Platte River Point, just after sunrise

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunrise

 

 

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Platte River Point, sunset.  The Happy Strolling Couple is not my husband and me.

 

 

 

The Good Morning America show also described Sleeping Bear Dunes as “one of the nation’s best kept secrets.” Shhhh, let’s keep it that way.

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The Happy Couple is my husband and me.  Behind us is the dune that has cost people $3000 when the easily go down it but can’t get back up.

 

The End

Edited by Atravelynn
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Enjoyable report and a really lovely collection of sunrises and sunsets.

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It may be local to you @Atravelynn, but it's just as 'foreign' as many places for a lot of us! And interesting to see.

 

Given the fragility of a dune habitat, are there strict rules about where you can/ cannot walk and climb?

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Towlersonsafari

what a beautiful place, just right for a pootle @Atravelynn

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A really beautiful place Lynn, and nice I can now put a face to your husband. :)

 

On 12/21/2022 at 5:34 AM, Atravelynn said:

Rest assured I’m not attempting to overrun the Worldwide Trip Report forum with constant submissions from my neighborhood surroundings like “Flora and Fauna Photos en route to the Pharmacy” or “Safari with Me Around the Parking Lot” or “My Big Day—Canine Collection from the Local Dog Park.”

 

Oh please do - I will read them all! With pleasure. Just don´t forget the adapter. :)

 

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I really enjoyed this quick report Lynn, it just goes to show how many underappreciated places there are everywhere. Please keep them coming! 

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16 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Enjoyable report and a really lovely collection of sunrises and sunsets.

Thank you, that's what made me want to visit.

15 hours ago, Galago said:

It may be local to you @Atravelynn, but it's just as 'foreign' as many places for a lot of us! And interesting to see.  Thanks.

 

Given the fragility of a dune habitat, are there strict rules about where you can/ cannot walk and climb?  Yes, most of the dunes are not for climbing.  For the ones we could climb, the area was all sand.  Once the dune grass is stepped on, it is dead.  There are designated trails in the area.  Until the 70s there were "dunemobiles" which were cars equipped with special tires so people could drive up and down the dunes.  I shudder to think of the damage done. 

 

14 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

what a beautiful place, just right for a pootle @Atravelynn

And pootle we did.  Thanks for bringing up that term again.  I've seen that a word must be used 7 times before it becomes part of one's vocabulary.

7 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

A really beautiful place Lynn, and nice I can now put a face to your husband. :)  He's not one for photographs, but we had to take a dune shot!

 

 

Oh please do - I will read them all! With pleasure. Just don´t forget the adapter. :)ha ha ha ha

 

 

6 hours ago, Zubbie15 said:

I really enjoyed this quick report Lynn, it just goes to show how many underappreciated places there are everywhere. Please keep them coming!  Thanks, there are little treasures in every neck of the woods!

 

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@AtravelynnThat's good to know about the protection of the dunes.

Meanwhile, I hope you're not being hit too hard by the severe weather over your way. Keep warm and safe!

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Nothing too cold, in fact I was out wandering around in it wearing warm clothes.  I even managed to photograph a frozen ostrich along Lake Michigan!  A stuffed toy.  Thanks for your concern!

 

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Edited by Atravelynn
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