Leelanau News and Events

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Is Turning The Big 5-O And We’ve Got A Way For Everyone To Celebrate

By Ross Boissoneau | Oct. 16, 2020

Wednesday, October 21 marks the 50th anniversary of the Sleeping Bear Dunes being part of the National Park Service. Even if it hasn’t been the birthday year anyone anticipated, the opportunities to celebrate are as endless as The Dune Climb.

Speaking of those enormous sand hills between Glen Lake and Lake Michigan, hiking up and back down The Dune Climb has always been among the most popular activities, and there is still time to do so before the snow flies. Even better, on October 17, 18 and 21, park staff and members of the Friends of Sleeping Bear volunteer organization will be hosting 50th Celebration Pop-ups there. From noon to 4pm you can visit their table and partake of hot cocoa and treats or check out park materials, such as the Life of the Sleeping Bear book and special anniversary merchandise. You can also talk to the volunteers and find out about other ways to enjoy your time in the park.

What better way to explore Sleeping Bear than decked out in an official Sleeping Bear 50th Anniversary hoodie? It’s just one of the shirts available through the non-profit Friends of Sleeping Bear. The shirts are only available through Nov. 8, so hurry online to order yours. All profits will be used by the organization to support projects in the National Lakeshore.

Simply supporting the Friends is another way to celebrate. Donations and volunteering are always welcome. Simply go to its website to avail yourself of numerous opportunities.

The younger crowd will get a kick out of a variety of activities, such as a scavenger hunt, working a maze and cracking a secret code. When they successfully finish them all, they can get a special edition wooden Sleeping Bear Dunes 50th Junior Ranger badge and a certificate. When they’re completed, contact SLBE_50@nps.gov or stop in at one of the campground offices or the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) in collaboration with Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) will be hosting a virtual star party on Friday, October 16, from 6-8pm. The GTAS has been a partner with the National Lakeshore for star parties since the 40th anniversary. For more information, including the link, go to the official Facebook page.

Don’t forget about visiting the virtual art gallery featuring submissions to the 2020 Artist-in-Residence program, the virtual museum opening October 21, or the park’s Youtube channel. Teachers can even directly interact with a ranger for distance learning.

Adding to the virtual celebration: each day of the week leading up to the birthday, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Rangers have recommended a guided activity wherever you are — including a taking a night hike, visiting a body of water, or having a picnic — and sharing the adventures using #7WaystoCelebrate50.

Of course, one of the best ways to celebrate the anniversary would be to simply get out there and enjoy it. You can do that now and later, as many of the more than 100 miles of hiking trails can also be enjoyed on skis or snowshoes come winter.

Photo: Nicole Geri @nicolegeri

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