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Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook: Discover Majestic Views

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

by William Orr

Discover the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

For hikers, travelers, and anyone seeking stunning vistas, the Lake Michigan Overlook, more commonly known as the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, is an absolute must-see.

Set on the pristine shores of Lake Michigan, this picturesque lookout 450-feet above sea level offers some of the most awe-inspiring views in all Northern Michigan. From its highest point to its lowest base, you can behold the breathtaking expanse for miles and miles.

The Lake Michigan Overlook is one of the most-visited spots in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, right alongside the Dune Climb.

The overlook at Sleeping Bear is the ninth stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7.8-mile path that leads you through some of the lakeshore’s most beautiful scenery including stunning views of North Bar Lake and a towering beechmaple forest.

It’s an amazing place to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. If you visit at dusk, you’ll see many visitors with blankets and foldable chairs, staking out a quiet spot along the dunes to take in the sunset views of Lake Michigan.

If you’re enchanted by dunes, shimmering waters, and plenty of sunshine, it’s time to plan your visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Getting To the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Starting on the historic M-22 highway in Empire, MI. Drive along this scenic road from either the north or south until you reach M-109. Take a turn onto this M-109, and continue until you arrive at the entrance of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Follow this drive and visit the 12 stops that provide an opportunity to learn about the natural beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes and take in some stunning views.

PLEASE NOTE: A vehicle pass is required to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Passes cost $25 and can be purchased at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center, the Dune Climb, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and The Homestead.

The Lake Michigan Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook awaits you at the ninth stop along this route. There’s a fairly large parking lot. From the parking lot, follow a small footpath for one-fifth of a mile to reach the overlook.

As you traverse the trail, be prepared for the transition from a paved path to soft sand underfoot as you near the summit. Once you reach the top, prepare to witness the sheer beauty and serenity of Lake Michigan.

pierce stocking drive

What You Can See at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook: Unveiling the Overlook’s Splendor

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook offers several remarkable sights to behold, with the shimmering waters below stealing the show. The observation deck is more than 400 feet above the shore, you can enjoy breathtaking views extending nearly 26 miles to the north and west.

Beneath you lies the mighty Dune, shaped by ancient glaciers and ice formations over countless millennia.

However, please exercise caution if you plan to journey to the beach below as it can be both hazardous and time-consuming. Returning to the top can take over two hours, so if you’re a beginner or intermediate hiker, proceed with care.

Additionally, help preserve the dune’s pristine appearance by avoiding walking on the surrounding vegetaion and dune grass.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Other Gems to Discover

Apart from the magnificent lake views, the overlook also provides excellent glimpses of other bays, bluffs, and islands in the area. As you gaze across the water, you’ll spot the majestic North and South Manitou Islands gracing the northern horizon, further enhancing the allure of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Towards the northeast, you can also admire Pyramid Point, another vantage point offering beautiful vistas of the water.

Sleeping Bear Bay lies in the same direction, a particularly enchanting jewel amidst the already stunning scenery. With over 100 square miles of land in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, be sure to explore the area beyond the overlook.

If you’re fortunate enough, stay to witness the sunset atop the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook. While Petoskey, Michigan is often hailed for its “million-dollar sunset,” the Sleeping Bear Dunes boasts a view that feels priceless.

Feast your eyes on a splendid blend of vivid reds, oranges, and purples, swirling harmoniously with vanilla-white clouds in the dimming sky. It’s an experience that transcends words—a view worth the entire trip, etched into your memory forever.

Nowhere else in Michigan will you find a vantage point as vast and sweeping as the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook. All other locations seem small in comparison to this awe-inspiring panorama that showcases the true essence of the state.

So, if you’re seeking a view like no other this summer, make sure to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes and witness these extraordinary sights and more.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

More to See Near the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

For an unforgettable journey, consider exploring the nearby attractions and activities around Sleeping Bear Dunes. Don’t miss out on the stunning views of Lake Michigan, the Empire Bluff Trail, Empire Bluff, sand dunes, the charming town of Glen Arbor, or the restored port village of Glen Haven.

Traverse the picturesque hiking trails near the area, such as the Alligator Hill, Cottonwood Trail, and Heritage Trail. For a more immersive experience, set up camp at the Platte River Campground or the DH Day Campground. If you’re in the mood for a day trip, explore the wonders of Leelanau Peninsula and embark on boat tours or visit the maritime museum.

Before setting off on your hikes in Sleeping Bear, make sure to download the GPX files for the trails to enhance your navigation. Finally, remember to watch the enchanting sunset over Bar Lake or the shimmering Glen Lake, and make a stop at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitor Center for valuable information and resources.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook is waiting to leave you breathless with its panoramic splendor. Venture forth and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty that Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes have to offer.

sleeping bear dunes

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About the Author:
William Orr has been a native Michigander all his life. He was born in Plymouth, Michigan in 2002 and now attends college at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor studying English and Communications. William is currently a content writer for My Michigan Beach and in the future, he dreams of becoming a novelist. William’s interests include guitar, fitness, and writing.