Frequently Asked Questions

Visitor Resources

About the National Lakeshore

What's the history of the National Lakeshore?

Long and sometimes controversial. For more information see: "A Nationalized Lakeshore: The Creation and Administration of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore" at National Park History.

Is a pass required for admission?

Yes, 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. Revenues received from pass sales are used to maintain and improve facilities in the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Are the facilities barrier free?

The man-made facilities are. Many of the natural attractions are not. 

Are pets allowed?

Pets are allowed in certain locations but must be leashed. For more information, visit our lodging options under Stay.

Can I be married in the National Lakeshore?

You can be married at one of a number of locations in the Sleeping Bear Dunes but must first obtain a permit from the National Park Service.

For more information, call the National Park Service at 231.326.4700 or visit the National Park Service.

Are hunting and fishing allowed?

Yes, you may hunt and fish in the Lakeshore but must first obtain the appropriate license from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. You can obtain information and purchase permits at Michigan Department of Natural Resources or at many of the local sportsmen stores. 

How far are the Lakeshore attractions from your accommodations?

The most popular attractions are within a 15-minute drive of all of our member properties. The livery for the Platte River canoe trip is about 17 miles away. 

Is there a best time to visit?

That depends on the visitor. Many families prefer the peak summer months when the weather is the warmest and the dunes and beaches are most enjoyable. Some couples say the spring and fall, when the pace of life is very relaxed, are their favorites. All rave about the spring blossoms and fall colors. Active outdoor enthusiasts love exploring the winter white.

About the Area

What's it like?

It is very small. The year-round population of the two villages within the National Lakeshore - Empire and Glen Arbor - is about 372 and 855 respectively. The seasonal population jumps dramatically as there are numerous seasonal homes on the lakes and at The Homestead.

The economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism as the orchards and vineyards are not in the villages which are within the National Lakeshore. For one example of that, consider this: there are 732 restaurant seats in Empire and Glen Arbor. That equates to .63 seats for every year-round resident!

There are four very distinct seasons. Each season is heavily influenced by winds crossing over Lake Michigan as they have a cooling effect in the summer and a warming effect in the winter. 

Popular Attractions

Frequently mentioned favorites include the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Glen Haven Maritime Museum and Life Saving…

Family Activities

A good part of the history of our area relates, as you would expect, to the water and vessels plying it. A part of that history deals…

Visitor Center

The Philip A. Hart Visitor’s Center located about 22 miles west of Traverse City, on the edge of the Village of Empire, is an…

Getting Here

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in the northwest corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, about 25 miles west…

Park History

The hills, dunes, valleys, shoreline, small lakes, and streams which you'll see throughout the area were formed by the powerful…

Winter Activities

Everyone knows the magic of summer in Northern Michigan… the days on the beach, the nights around a campfire. What could be…


Want to discover hidden vistas, dig into the natural history of the dunes, or learn about local wildlife? Sleeping Bear Dunes tours…