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Sleeping Bear Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

By August 28, 2019Adventures

One of my favorite places to visit in northern Michigan is Sleeping Bear Dunes. Garrin took me to the dunes during a few camping trips years ago when we were just dating so the area invokes a sentimental feeling too. I knew I wanted to share this place with my family during our vacation.

We had the dune climb as a possible destination, however I knew we wanted to explore the dunes in alternate ways as we were also traveling with my two year old niece, Atarah.

Our first day, we decided to explore the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive which showcases 12 scenic spots.

To enter the Sleeping Bear National Park, you do pay a fee of $25 per vehicle. This provides you with a 7 day pass. An annual pass is also available for $45 and definitely worth it if you visit a few times a year.

The Pierce Stocking drive starts with a small covered bridge and then passes the gorgeous Glen Lake. I would love to have a cottage on this lake someday.

Scenic stop #3 is the Dune Overlook and worth the stop. You are standing in the middle of a 2600 acre area called the Sleeping Bear Dunes complex.

Garrin & I captured a selfie with the beautiful view.

We passed the Cottonwood Trail which is a 1.5 mile loop through the dunes. We may hike this during a future visit.

The drive next featured views of the Beech-Maple Forest which is pretty though common scenery up north.

Soon we reached scenic stop #9 with the most magnificent view of Lake Michigan. The overlook platform is 450 feet above the lake.

We saw South Manitou Island 10 miles northwest with Empire Bluff and Platte Bay just 4 miles to the south. Wisconsin is actually 54 miles due west too.

The view was breath taking.

We all climbed down the dunes part way and were amazed that coming up is definitely more challenging than it looks.

My brother, Greg, actually climbed all the way down to the water and made it back up safely.

This is not something I recommend though as many people have to pay the hefty rescue fees due to the steep climb.

The next scenic stop is aptly named Sleeping Bear Overlook. The persistent winds have eroded the bump on the bluff so you may hardly see the “sleeping bear” image for which the dunes are named.

I loved this little tree alcove we passed and we enjoyed sitting in the shade for a moment before walking the dunes.

The area is still absolutely beautiful to see.

We had fun exploring and my niece Atarah enjoyed the view from her Dad’s shoulders.

We decided to eat our picnic lunch next as we were all hungry from the exercise of the dunes.

The last scenic areas of the drive showed off North Bar Lake and Pine Forest. Overall this drive was quite pleasant and a nice way to see the dunes with young children. I would not recommend it as a sole way to see Sleeping Bear but it is an easy trip to start your exploration.


Liz Ball

About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.