Hi there!

 

If you’ve seen pictures of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, then chances are that you have seen some sort of pictures of 2 iconic spots at the Lake Michigan overlook.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stops to make: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stops to make: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stops to make: Lake Michigan overlook. Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook to visit. Best Lake Michigan views. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

If you want to see the BEST of Michigan’s national lakeshores and you want to see the BEST of Michigan’s sand dunes, then the Lake Michigan overlook is a spot you need to see!

You will find this as a stop along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

 

 

So…

What is there to do at the Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive?!

How much time at Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

Well, it really is all about taking in the views!

As such, how much time you want to spend at the Lake Michigan overlook will depend on just how much of those views you want to take in and what you want to do here!

You can spend as little as 15-20 minutes taking in the views from the top of the sand dunes and walking out on the boardwalk.

Or it also wouldn’t be difficult to spend 1-2 hours here if you take the time to walk around more of the sand dunes, or to just sit on the sand and take in the views that way!

Here’s a bit of what you can do at the Lake Michigan overlook that’s located off of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

 

 

1. Hike the short sand trail from the parking lot.

This is a requirement. It’s how you get to the overlook! It will start off as a paved path, and then turn into a sand trail. It will be a walk of a couple of minutes.

 

Sand trail to Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

2. Arrive at sand dunes that tower over Lake Michigan!

The trail will take you out into the open, where you will be standing on the top of the tall sand dunes to see grand views of Lake Michigan! This will be your first Lake Michigan lookout point.

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook. Tall sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook. Tall sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook. Tall sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

3. Walk out onto the Lake Michigan overlook boardwalk. 

This will be the official stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive overlook. Stop #9! Grand views of Lake Michigan all around you, and views of the grand sand dunes!

 

Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Lake Michigan views on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Stop #9 on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour. Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Lake Michigan views on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Lake Michigan views on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Lake Michigan views on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Michigan sand dunes on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Michigan sand dunes on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

4. Continue your walk across the sand dunes.

How much time at Lake Michigan overlook to hike the best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

5. Hang out on the sand dunes!

How much time at Lake Michigan overlook to see the best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

You have probably also seen the pictures of people climbing up these steep sand dunes of Lake Michigan.

The pictures of people climbing up steep and tall sand dunes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are probably pictures from this Lake Michigan overlook. (There is also an official “Dune Climb” that’s in another part of the park, and those sand dunes aren’t as tall, and they don’t overlook Lake Michigan… although you can hike to Lake Michigan by taking the Dunes Trail.)

Well, officially, the National Park Service does not recommend going down the sand dunes to the shoreline. In fact they highly discourage it.

If you go DOWN, that means that you have to go back UP. And, walking UP a sand hill is going to feel much more difficult than walking DOWN a sand hill!

And, there are concerns that you may not be able to make the journey back up to where you started.

And… what happens if you decide you’re too tired to climb back up?!

 

Cost of dune climb rescue. The sand dune climb at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce stocking scenic drive. Best Michigan sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Cost of dune climb rescue. The sand dune climb at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce stocking scenic drive. Best Michigan sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

Lake Michigan overlook dune climb rescue safety. michigan travel blog

Message from the National Park Service Search & Rescue and Glen Lake Fire Department:

The National Park Service recommends that you do not attempt to climb down the dune to Lake Michigan.

Climbing this dune causes erosion and impacts the dune ecosystem.

Every year, people have to be rescued, some of them are seriously ill or injured.

Rescue could take hours, cost you several thousand dollars, and put rescuers at risk of injury.

It is best to enjoy the view from the top.

 

Lake Michigan overlook dune climb rescue safety. michigan travel blog

Message from the National Park Service Search & Rescue and Glen Lake Fire Department:

Please do not climb down the bluffs.

Lake Michigan is exceptionally high and is causing significant drop-offs and hazardous beach conditions.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to constrain response capability and adds additional concerns of exposure for both rescuers and victims.

 

If you DO decide to go down, treat this as a solid day hike! Bring along a hiking daypack, and make sure you have plenty of WATER and SNACKS with you! This will be a hike with no shade.

And on the topic of water, in general it’s good to always have a 1-2 gallon jugs of water in your car so you will always be able to have access to water! Whether you are planning for any “real hikes” in Sleeping Bears Dunes or not! It can get hot out on those sand dunes no matter where you are in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

 

 

Take care not to step on dune grass!

Try not to step on dune grass at Lake Michigan overlook. northern michigan travel blog

 

You’ll see dune grass as you’re hiking around sand dunes. Dune grass is said to be fragile and an important part of the coastal ecosystem, so try not to step on it!

 

 

About this Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook and Lake Michigan

According to the National Park Service:

This overlook, 450 feet above Lake Michigan, provides a magnificent view of the shoreline.

Lake Michigan is the largest lake completely within the United States and is the fourth largest fresh-water lake in the world. It has had a profound influence on the region, including the formation of the sand dunes.

 

 

Cost to visit Lake Michigan overlook

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and the Lake Michigan overlook are a part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There is an entry fee for the national lakeshore park.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a slow-going one-way loop road, and there is a little park ranger station at the start of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive that you can expect to be staffed. So if you haven’t received a national park pass elsewhere in the park, then you can get one when you start driving on this road.

You can also get a park pass at the Sleeping Bear Dunes visitor center in Empire MI, which is about a 10 minute drive from the start of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

In 2020, a one week pass was $25. See current fees here, where you can also buy your pass online.

If you have an America the Beautiful annual national park pass, then that will work for Sleeping Bear Dunes!

 

 

🌳

 

 

 

And now…

A few more PHOTOS of Lake Michigan overlook and the surrounding sand dunes!

So being stop #9 out of 12 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic drive auto tour, you will find the Lake Michigan overlook towards the end of the drive. You’ll see a sign for it, and it will be obvious. You can’t miss it.

As the most popular stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, this is the biggest parking lot you’ll find along the loop road.

 

Driving Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to get to Lake Michigan overlook parking. michigan travel blog

Driving Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to get to Lake Michigan overlook. Stop #9. Stop #10. michigan travel blog

Driving Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to get to Lake Michigan overlook parking. michigan travel blog

 

There’s also a bathroom here, along with “bear-proof” or “wildlife-proof” trash cans.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive toilet at Lake Michigan overlook parking. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive bear-proof wildlife proof trash cans at Lake Michigan overlook parking. michigan travel blog

 

And then you can look for the trail to the sand dunes!

 

Trail from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to Lake Michigan overlook. michigan travel blog

Trail from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to Lake Michigan overlook. michigan travel blog

Trail from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to Lake Michigan overlook. michigan travel blog

Trail from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to Lake Michigan overlook. michigan travel blog

 

And then take in the Lake Michigan views from the top of the sand dunes! (Technically, geologically speaking, it seems this may be a “glacier hill.”)

 

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

And then once you’ve taken in these views, head over to the official stop #9!

 

sand dunes at Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Top of Lake Michigan overlook dune climb. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Sand dunes hike to Lake Michigan overlook. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Sand dunes hike to Lake Michigan overlook. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #9: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stop #10: Sleeping Bear overlook

And if you keep walking across the sand dunes, there is also the official stop #10 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. I didn’t find it to be well-marked. But I think this is it. 👇

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #10: Sleeping Bear overlook. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #10: Sleeping Bear overlook. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #10: Sleeping Bear overlook. northern michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive auto tour, stop #10: Sleeping Bear overlook. northern michigan travel blog

 

 

And then…

Finish taking in the views of the sand dunes and Lake Michigan before you head back onto Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive!

Lake Michigan overlook sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan overlook sand dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

And that’s a bit about what you’ll see at the Lake Michigan overlook stop on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive!

 

Have a look at more overlooks to stop at along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

 

More of the best places to see sand dunes in Sleeping Bear Dunes:

Also see some of the great hikes in Sleeping Bear Dunes, including hikes to a Lake Michigan beach!

See the best of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Plus the best of Michigan’s national lakeshores!

 

HAPPY DRIVING PIERCE STOCKING SCENIC DRIVE TO LAKE MICHIGAN OVERLOOK!

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stops to make: Lake Michigan overlook. Best Lake Michigan views. Best Michigan sand dunes. Best things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes. northern michigan travel blog

 

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Things to pack for your Michigan vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more lightweight than your average beach towel while still being absorbent. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
How to be a little bit more eco-friendly during your road trip!
Instead of using plastic silverware, try out bamboo silverware like this set!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can beach-proof your phone with a simple waterproof phone case like this.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming in Lake Michigan or Lake Superior! Less sunscreen also means less chemicals from that sunscreen will enter our precious Great Lakes!
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Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.