Map and Directions to the Sleeping Bear Dunes

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in the northwest corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, about 25 miles west of Traverse City.  For your convenience, we have compiled driving directions to the Phillip A. Hart Visitor's Center in Empire from Traverse City.  Please drive with caution, and be aware that driving times vary depending on weather, road construction, and traffic.

Driving Instructions

If you are driving, drive along the Bay to the intersection of M-72 and M-22 on the western side of Traverse City, and then:

  • Turn left on M-72 toward Empire and travel about 14 miles to a blinking light and;
  • Turn left to continue on M-72 another 8 ¼ miles. The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center will be on your right.
  • For more information, visit National Lakeshore Visitors Center.

Lake Michigan Ferries

If you are driving from any location to the south or west of Lake Michigan, you should know that Lake Michigan car ferries provide an alternative form of transportation which, in and of itself, adds excitement to the trip.  One, the Lake Express, is a newer, high-speed, catamaran style ship which sails between Milwaukee and Muskegon in 2 ½ hours. For more information, visit  Lake Express . The other, the Badger, is an older and larger ship.  It sails between Manitowoc and Ludington in 4 hours.  For more information, visit SS Badger.  Note: There is a time change from Central to Eastern or Eastern to Central en route.  

For an interesting article on the history of car ferries on Lake Michigan, visit Car Ferries.

Flying Instructions

Flights are available to Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), as well as to Manistee National Airport (MBL).  Cherry Capital Airport has year-round service to and from Chicago and Detroit, as well as seasonal service from some destinations on the East Coast.  Manistee National Airport offers service to and from Chicago, and has a number of charter flight options available for groups.  Both are located about an hour from the Dunes.  Both airports have rental car access.  For more information, including schedules, visit Traverse City Airport.  For information and fairs, visit Manistee National Airport.

The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located about 28 miles from the airport. The drive, depending on the time of year and weather, will take 45 minutes to an hour with these directions:

  • Take the airport access road to South Airport Road and turn right.
  • Drive west on South Airport 1 mile to Garfield Road and turn right. 
  • Continue north on Garfield about 2 ¼ miles to Grandview Parkway and turn left.
  • Go west on Grandview Parkway about 2 ½ miles to M-72.
  • Turn left on M-72 toward Empire and travel about 14 miles until until you come to a blinking light.
  • Turn left to continue on M-72 another 8 ¼ miles. The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center will be on your right. 

For more information, visit Philip Hart Visitor Center.