Many news sources were reporting that the most beautiful place in the United States was Sleeping Bear Dunes. Not ever hearing of such a place, research into its location was initiated. Sleeping Bear is located in northwest Michigan, along Lake Michigan. For most people, selecting identifiers of characteristics of the state of Michigan would not include the words "beaches" and "sand dunes." It seemed a bit incomprehensible that the most beautiful place in the United States is located in Michigan, and that the beauty of this place was created by 450 foot high sand dunes.
With the Great Loop journey passing the newly identified "Most Beautiful Place," and one of the objectives of this adventure being to be among beautiful places, it was imperative that the Last Dance Crew visit. Borrowing a car from the marina harbormaster in Leland, MI, provided the transportation to the park.
One of the National Park stops is at the base of a dune on the east/land side. At this point, people are permitted to climb the dune. The soft sand collapses under your feet as you try to climb. For every two feet your foot moves forward, it slides back 18 inches as soon as weight is applied. To say that the climb is "strenuous" is an understatement. As you reach the peak of the dune above, you are presented a small plateau followed by another sand dune. You proceed to climb again, knowing that your goal is within sight, only to find another plateau and another dune; encouraged as you see the crest of a dune come closer, then the discouraging sight of another dune appears.
Looking back down the dunes, the massive parking lot at the bottom appears small. This view is facing east, toward the interior of the state, across Glen Lake.
Sand dunes move. Winds coming off the water lifting grains of sand over the top and depositing them on the other side. Over years this process moves the dune landward. The Park Service placed a gauge at this dune to measure its movement. In 16 years, it has moved over 64 feet.
Fortunately, one can take a highway up the dunes to a National Park site that has a winding road over the top of the dunes with picnic areas and overlooks.
|Looking down the highway over Lake Michigan with North and South Manitou Islands in the background|
|Looking east over Glen Lake|
|Looking north over Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands|
|Looking south over Lake Michigan|
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore encompasses many miles of land along Lake Michigan. The beach that is on the other side of the far point of land in the above photo, is in the photo below, looking north.
Some areas of the beach are littered with rocks, more so than a southwest Florida beach is with shells. Jill would describe the beach as filled with treasures, seeing the gleaming, colorful rocks as anything but litter. A large number of the more polished, patterned, and interesting rocks were collected to add to the treasures from the Georgian Bay and North Channel. More ballast should be helpful in the rough waters of Lake Michigan.