Scenic USA - Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Dune Trail - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, Michigan

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     A unique section of the Great Lakes region, Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes - Leelanlau, Michigan northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula is dominated by the immense Sleeping Bear Dunes. Where dunes tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan, the lakeshore national park is made up of coastal villages, picturesque farmsteads, an island lighthouse, and a historic Life-Saving Station.
     In this view, thousands of footprints cover the Dunes Trail as visitors take up the climbing challenge that lies before them. Once on top of the crest, three more larger dunes appear in the distance, giving visitors a great sense of the massive size of this large dune area. This distant view to the northeast captures a private farm near the town of Glen Arbor where Route 22 skirts Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Bay. Views of Lake Michigan will elude the majority of dune climbers, as it's a tough three mile trek through sugar sand. Easier routes out to the lake follow several paved highways, including Pierce Stocking Drive. At Sleeping Bear Point, not only will visitors enjoy views of Lake Michigan, but a rare look at a vintage Coast Guard Station. Here the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station, built in 1901, represents some of the first professional light saving stations in America. Following the Civil War, Congress appropriated money for a series of 60 Life Saving stations, spaced throughout the Great Lakes. Each station had a small crew of six to eight surfmen, able to row in the surf and work efficiently during foul weather. Another means of rescue used a Lyle Gun. This device fired a projectile, with a line attached, to the floundering ship. Because of constant shifting sands, the station was moved eastward to its present Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station and Maritime Museum - Glen Haven, Michigan location in 1931. In 1915 the U.S. Life-Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to create the U.S. Coast Guard.
     An Ojibwe Native tale of long ago conveys the legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes ... a story of a mother bear and her two cubs that were forced into Lake Michigan by a forest fire. The bear family attempted to cross the lake, but the bear cubs lacked the strength to make it all the way. The mother bear reached the shore and climbed atop the bluff to watch for her cubs. The offshore Manitou Islands, created by the Great Spirit Manitou, represent the unlucky cubs. A solitary dune was created to represent mother bear where she stood faithfully waiting.

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