Park History

Experience The Beauty Of The Sleeping Bear Dunes

The hills, dunes, valleys, shoreline, small lakes, and streams which you'll see throughout the area were formed by the powerful earth-moving forces of ice, wind, and water over time.

During the Ice Age, continental glaciers spread southward from Canada repeatedly burying the area under ice. Those massive glaciers enlarged river valleys and carved out the wide, deep basins of the Great Lakes. They also created "Perched Dunes" which are dunes formed by glacial sands deposited on plateaus high above the shore. The Sleeping Bear Dunes are an easily accessible, beautiful example of this type of dune.

As the glaciers melted, many of their carvings were filled with melted water and the setting we know today began to emerge.

By strolling the beaches you may see another reminder of geological time, the "Petoskey Stone." A Petoskey is a fossil colonial coral. These corals lived in warm, shallow seas that covered Michigan during Devonian time, some 350 million years ago. 

Be sure, too, to read the interpretive materials you will see indoors and out as you travel through the Sleeping Bear Dunes - they will give you a great deal more information on our area's natural resources.