The most beautiful place on earth must be the views from Sleeping Bear Dunes dressed in fall colors for the leaf peepers to enjoy. Yesterday, hubby and I took a drive up to Sleeping Bear to take in the breathtaking views. It’s a national park located in the northwest part of lower Michigan and is one of the most visited national parks in the country. Sleeping Bear Dunes was voted the most beautiful place in America on the Today show a few years back. The featured image in my post today is a view of Glen Lake as seen from the dunes. We chose to take the Pierce Stocking scenic drive, one of many drives that runs through the park. Pierce Stocking was a lumberman who enjoyed walking through nature along these dunes and wanted others to enjoy it also. In 1967 this drive was opened and operated privately until it became part of the national park in 1977.
The first thing we encountered when beginning our drive was the trees on both sides of us. Did you know that this area of Michigan used to be a temperate rain forest? The dunes were formed by glaciers and many towns sprung up during the lumber trade days of the 1800’s. We saw quite a few trees that were damaged or down from the July 2015 storm. A welcoming sight was the covered bridge that begged to be photographed. The drive was hilly enough that we thought we were in the mountains…at least our ears popped like we were in the hills. We were some of the only visitors in the park yesterday. We preferred visiting on Monday since there was a lot fewer people enjoying the color tour.
The view from our first stop included the picture featured in the blog post (above) of Glen Lake and also of this farm nestled in the terrain between Glen Lake and Lake Michigan on the horizon. This farm is in the same area as the Thoreson Farm I wrote about this summer.
In the distance you can see Manitou Island, I believe that is the south island. The Algonquin Indian legend of the Manitou Islands are that a mother bear and her cubs were in Wisconsin when a huge forest fire forced them to swim across Lake Michigan to the shores of Michigan. The mother made it safely to land where the steep bluffs meet the lake but her cubs were exhausted from the waves and drowned just off the coast. The mother continued her grief stricken vigil for her cubs in the area now known as Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Manitou Islands, both north and south are where her cubs are immortalized.
The next stop we found featured a path that leads to the lookout of Sleeping Bear Dunes. There weren’t many people taking advantage of the views here because the wind was so strong it was blowing sand in our face, eyes, ears and mouth. I covered my camera in my jacket to protect it from the grains of sand. We estimated that the winds probably were whipping in over the bluff at about 50 mph or more. No one was sticking around long at this spot, that’s for sure.
If you are brave you can walk down the steep hill of the bluff to Lake Michigan, but beware…the trip back up could take up to 2 hours. There have been many tourists and locals alike that required rescuing by park rangers, hence the sign…and they aren’t kidding. Can you see the blur along the edge where the sand is being blown by the wind? Off to the right is a scenic overlook that is built out over Lake Michigan, so high above the shore. However the wind and sand prohibited me from going the distance to take the picture. I didn’t see many others venturing that way either. Just about everyone got up to this sign and turned back with their faces covered from the sand storm.
Last but not least, we stopped to view the Platte River emptying into Lake Michigan. The view is breathtaking….like it is from a movie. The winds really stirred the lake up and you can see the whitecaps below. Lake Michigan can be so calm one minute and kick up some fierce waves when a storm blows in.
You all know the famous song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.