As the county gets covered in an abundance of ongoing snow, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore winter events are gearing up! Here’s a rundown of goodies they have planned. Get out and bundle up!


Geology Hike

Sat., Jan. 27 at 10am

Philip A. Hart Visitor Center, Empire, Free

Geology Hike
Have you wondered about the origins of the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore? Where did all that sand come from? Join experienced rangers on a 1-1.5 mile journey as we traverse the Alligator Hill Trail, to unravel these fascinating mysteries. This hike is designed to captivate both the young and the young at heart, making it an experience that all can enjoy. 

Pre-registration is required. Plan to meet park rangers at 10 am at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center for an introduction. From here, the group will caravan to the trail location. 

This trail is closed to pets from Dec. 1 through March 31. 

To make a reservation, please call 231-326-4700, extension 5010. If you need to cancel your reservation, please contact the National Lakeshore so that visitors on the waiting list can be informed and take part in the hike.


Junior Angler – Intro to Ice Fishing

Sat. Jan. 27 and Sat., Feb. 24 from 11 am-4 pm

Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Free

Junior Angler - Intro to Ice FishingBetween 11 am and 4 pm, join rangers at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center for an opportunity to become a Junior Angler. This event is perfect for youth in grades 2-5 who are interested in fishing.

Throughout this interactive event, participants will have the chance to practice their casting skills, learn essential fishing safety for both summer and winter, identify different types of fishing gear, and understand fishing regulations. 

Through a series of engaging stations and with the help of a Junior Angler booklet, young anglers will acquire all the necessary skills to fish confidently and responsibly. After completing all stations, participants will be sworn in as Junior Anglers, and they will receive a Junior Ranger Angler Badge. 

If ice conditions allow, participants are invited to showcase their ice fishing abilities at nearby North Bar Lake. A park ranger will be available at the lake to help them set up for ice fishing. However, this is subject to change based on the conditions of the ice. 

To ensure that all participants have ample time to complete the Junior Angler booklet and activities, arrive at the Visitor Center no later than 2 pm. This event has been made possible thanks to a grant from the National Park Foundation. 

Pre-registration is NOT required. Organized youth groups wishing to participate should contact to register.


Candlelight Snowshoe Hike

Feb. 10 and Feb. 17 at 6 pm

Dune Climb in Empire. Free with park pass.

Candlelit Snowshoe HikeThis free event is a crowd favorite! Arrive anytime between 6 pm and 7:30 pm to enjoy the full experience. The self-guided hike should take 30 minutes to one hour.

Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at night on a candlelit winter hike near the base of the Dune Climb. Experience the park after dark! Hike one mile on flat terrain. Bring your sense of adventure, enjoy a trail lit by luminaries, and engage with our knowledgeable rangers and volunteers at stations along the way. You can also hike the dune climb if you dare!

All ages are welcome. Please leave pets at home as the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is currently closed to dogs.

This hike will take place regardless of snow conditions. If there is adequate snow, this will be a snowshoe hike. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own snowshoes for the event. Snowshoes will also be loaned on a first-come, first-served basis.   

There is no advanced registration needed. Luminaries will light the trail; however, visitors are encouraged to bring a flashlight or headlamp and wear layers.


Maple Sugaring Days

Maple Sugaring: March 2 and 3, 10 am-3 pm (Free)

Pancake Breakfast (with what else? Maple syrup!): March 3, 9 am-1 pm ($10)

Maple Sugaring Days at Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreCome experience the sugaring process through time in the Port Oneida Historic District at the Dechow Farm and Olsen Farm. Learn the history of maple sugaring through a guided hiking tour from the Anishinaabe, to the Settler’s open fire process, to the sugar shack evolving to the present day.

Step inside the Olsen farmstead for the final boiling in the historic kitchen and purchase maple treats and books on maple sugaring. Try your hand at activities outside, carrying a yoke with buckets, hand drilling into a log, or making old-fashioned maple syrup taffy.

The event includes a guided hike, a visit to a historic sugar shack, sap boiling demonstrations, kid’s activities, and maple syrup sampling.

The Maple Sugaring event is free with a park pass.

Community Pancake Breakfast is being held on Saturday, March 2 from 9 am – 1 pm just down the road from Port Oneida. Admission: $10 per person at the door for pancakes, sausage, fruit, and beverages. Then head to the Maple Sugar event down the road in Port Oneida. Have breakfast with us and enter a drawing for 2 free annual park passes! The breakfast is hosted by The Homestead and sponsored by Sleeping Bear Visitor Center, with proceeds benefiting Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear which funds and helps organize Maple Sugar Days.

Locations: 1 mile north of The Homestead, between Thoreson Road and Port Oneida Road.

Dechow Farm:
3991 W Harbor Hwy, Maple City, MI 49664

Olsen Farm:
3164 W Harbor Hwy, Maple City, MI 49664

Want to volunteer? Send an email to


More events are being added as the season unfolds, so be sure to check back here. Now… let it snow!