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About the Dunes

On the northwestern shore of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, in Leelanau and Benzie Counties, lies the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Sleeping Bear is an area unlike any other, over 50,000 acres along Lake Michigan replete with hills and forests of birch, pine, beech and maple. The Lakeshore encompasses numerous small lakes and rivers (perfect for fishing), sugar sand beaches and, of course, the massive coastal sand dunes and bluffs. Offshore in Lake Michigan lie the North and South Manitou Islands, the areas of first Leelanau County settlement and wholly a part of the Lakeshore. For more about the National Lakeshore check Park Issues & Information. For more about the North & South Manitou Islands, read The Manitou Islands Page.

Fossils tell of some of the earliest history, when a shallow warm sea covered the area. More recent history is revealed in the landscape. The shoreline, the hills, the valleys, the small lakes, and the sand dunes you see today are evidence that powerful earth-moving forces of ice, wind water have been at work here. Often geological changes occur slowly over millions of years, but here you can witness dramatic changes over your lifetime. Twice in this century sandslides at Sleeping Bear Point sent large land masses plunging into Lake Michigan and in June of 1998, a large slide at Pyramid Point took thousands of tons from the point. In theirThe Sleeping Bear Dunes took their name from the Ojibway legend to the left and from "the Bear", a tree covered bump in the shape of a bear that was eroded away by wind and water in the middle part of this century. There were many people whose lives were tied to this land long before it became a parkland -- Indians, lumberman, merchant sailors, farmers. Glen Haven and the Manitou Islands were once busy communities supplying lumber for construction and fuel for wood-burning ships that sailed the Great Lakes in the mid and late 1800s. Ruins of sawmills and fueling docks can still be seen. Crop farming followed the cutting of the forests but it, like lumbering, soon faded. Many farmers abandoned their fields and orchards, but many fruit trees and berries still grow in the park. For more historical information, visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes History Pages.

Top photo: IMG_2686 by renny67

Bottom photo: aDSC_9629.jpg by cyoas55

America's Lakeshore: The Comprehensive Guide to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was developed by Michigan Alive in conjuction with Leelanau.com. It is designed to be the premier guide to the Lakeshore.

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More about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
   Park Issues & Information
   Sleeping Bear Dunes Geology
   North & South Manitou Islands
   The Legend of the Sleeping Bear

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