Hi there!

 

So THE scenic drive to do with a visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

It doesn’t really come with views of Lake Michigan AS you drive, but rather, you’ll make some stops at scenic overlooks so you can see grand views of Lake Michigan, and more.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is where you’ll see one of the most famous views of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. So, this might make it a required drive!

 

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive tour: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive tour: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive tour: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

 

 

 

A lot of the drive will basically be through a forest. It may feel like you’re driving through a tunnel of trees as you drive to the scenic overlooks.

 

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. tunnel of trees. northern michigan travel blog.

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. tunnel of trees. northern michigan travel blog.

 

First up is the quick list of what to know before driving the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive as part of your Sleeping Bear Dunes trip.

Then a few more scenic overlooks and stops you may want to make as you are doing this drive.

 

 

The need-to-know about Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

 

1. It’s a slow-going one-way 7.5 mile loop road, and along the way you can stop for the scenic overlooks.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour, one way road. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour, one way road. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour, one way road. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour, best overlooks. michigan travel blog

 

 

2. If you are going to just make ONE stop, then that will be the Lake Michigan overlook.

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

 

There are many stops you can make along the way for scenic overlooks. The one that you don’t want to miss is the Lake Michigan Overlook. The Lake Michigan views and the sand dunes views from this stop are among the Sleeping Bear Dunes pictures that you have very likely seen! You will see sign posts with numbers along the way, and this is stop #9.

 

 

3. You can expect to pay an entry fee at the start of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and there is an fee for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

So if you haven’t yet purchased a Sleeping Bear Dunes pass, then there will be an entry fee for Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

You can expect that there will be a staffed little kiosk at the start of the road.

The cost of a 7 day pass is around $25. See current fees. You can also buy the pass at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitor Center.

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

 

 

4. Take care not to step on dune grass!

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive sand dunes and dune grass. michigan travel blog

 

If you walk around on the sand dunes, you’ll see dune grass. This type of grass is said to be fragile and an important part of the coastal ecosystem, so take care not to step on it!

 

 

🌳

 

 

 

Now…

Scenic stops to make on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

In the order you’ll come across them

 

For google maps, your destination can be Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive entrance and it will get you there.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour entry. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour entry. michigan travel blog

 

Then, start your drive!

 

 

1. Covered bridge

Stop #1

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: covered bridge. stop #1. michigan travel blog

 

There are a couple of parking spots along the side of the road just past the covered bridge. So if you want to stop, drive slowly across the bridge and prepare to stop!

 

 

2. Glen Lake Overlook

Stop #2

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: glen lake overlook. stop #2. michigan travel blog

 

This is the first scenic overlook stop. There are a few parking spots along the side of the road.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking at glen lake overlook. stop #2. michigan travel blog

 

Next up, shortly before you get to stop #3, you’ll find a parking lot. There is a picnic area here, along with bathrooms.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking at picnic area near dune overlook. michigan travel blog

 

 

3. Dune Overlook

Stop #3

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook. stop #3. michigan travel blog

 

This will be the first scenic overlook that will give you views of sand dunes, along with Lake Michigan in the background. There’s a small parking lot here.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking at dune overlook. stop #3. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stops: dune overlook. stop #3. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stops: dune overlook. stop #3. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook. stop #3. michigan travel blog

 

And those sand dunes that you see down below from the overlook, you can go and play on them too. You can get there by taking the Cottonwood Trail (next on the list!) or the Dune Climb.

 

 

4. Cottonwood Trail

Stop #4

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

 

Now to get to those dunes that you saw from stop #3 Dune Overlook, you can hike the Cottonwood Trail! So, if you’re looking to go hiking in Sleeping Bear Dunes, you can do that as you drive the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive too.

This is a sand dunes hike. You will be hiking across sand dunes and walking through sand the entire time.

Remember that walking through sand takes more effort and energy than just a regular walk! You may give yourself 1 hour or so for this.

It will take you to a scenic dune overlook, the dune climb bench, with Lake Michigan off in the distance. And what you’ll be looking at “down below” are people who are doing the Dune Climb and beyond. You can hike down to those sand dunes from the Cottonwood Trail too.

 

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune climb bench overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: dune overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

 

And then also on the Cottonwood Trail you can see another view of Glen Lake.

 

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: glen lake overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: glen lake overlook on the Cottonwood Trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

 

There is a small parking lot at the start of the Cottonwood Trail, which means there’s a chance it could be full.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking at cottonwood trail. stop #4. michigan travel blog

 

You may want to walk over from the Dune Overlook parking lot, or if you find that the Cottonwood Trail is full, you may take your chances and drive up a little further where there are a couple of parking spots along the side of the road at stop #5, which is just past the Cottonwood Trail stop.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking near cottonwood trail. stop #5. michigan travel blog

 

Cottonwood Trail: See more about this stop along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

 

 

5. Lake Michigan Overlook

Stop #9

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

 

This is the mandatory stop and possibly THE reason to drive the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive!

You’ll walk a short trail from the parking lot, and you’ll be on top of the sand dunes, and you’ll also be met with vast views of Lake Michigan! You can then walk out onto the boardwalk for more views. And then you can continue walking on the sand dunes that surround you. You are officially discouraged by the National Park Service from going DOWN the sand dunes here though.

 

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: best overlook is lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

 

There’s a pretty big parking area here, along with a bathroom at this stop.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking at lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive parking at lake michigan overlook. stop #9. michigan travel blog

 

Lake Michigan Overlook: See more about this stop along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

 

 

6. Sleeping Bear Dune Overlook

Stop #10

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: sleeping bear dune overlook. stop #10. michigan travel blog

 

Stop #10 is a combined stop with stop #9. You’ll hike a bit beyond the sand dunes at stop #9 to find stop #10 which will give you another scenic overlook of the sand dunes and Lake Michigan.

 

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: sleeping bear dune overlook. stop #10. michigan travel blog

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: sleeping bear dune overlook. stop #10. michigan travel blog

 

 

7. North Bar Lake overlook

Stop #11

Best stops on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: north bar lake overlook. stop #11. michigan travel blog

 

And this is the last overlook stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

There’s a picnic area here too, along with bathrooms.

 

And then shortly after that, you’ll reach the end of the drive!

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour how long. michigan travel blog

 

 

Official stops on a self-guided tour of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour stops. michigan travel blog

 

If you’re interested in learning about history and geology of Sleeping Bear Dunes, then before you start the drive, consider stopping by the visitor center to pick up a copy of the Pierce Stocking Drive self-guided tour booklet. If you’re camping in Sleeping Bear Dunes, they might be available in the campground office as well.

Someone can read the “tour” information in the booklet as you drive along Pierce Stocking Drive.

There’s a suggested “donation” of $2 for the booklet, so bring along the dollar bills! Otherwise, you can always donate to Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes when you get back home. There are also other booklets to enhance your Sleeping Bear Dunes visit that you might be interested in.

There are 12 “stops” on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive as a part of a self-guided tour:

  1. Covered Bridge
  2. Glen Lake Overlook
  3. Dune Overlook
  4. Cottonwood Trail
  5. Dune ecology
  6. Leaving the dunes
  7. Maple beech forest
  8. Glacier moraine
  9. Lake Michigan Overlook
  10. Sleeping Bear Dune Overlook
  11. North Bar Lake Overlook
  12. Pine plantation

Many of these you don’t actually need to get out of the car for, but there are numbered sign posts with pull-over areas to indicate where on the drive you are so you can follow along on the self-guided tour.

There are also some informational signs along the way too, including why it’s called Sleeping Bear Dunes! You can also learn about the history and geology of the area.

 

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tour stops. michigan travel blog

 

 

How much time do you need for Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive?

How much time for the best stops and best overlooks on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. michigan travel blog

 

Well… it depends! 😜

If you were to drive straight through without stopping, then it might take you around 30 minutes or less. (Google maps says 22 minutes.)

But, the purpose in doing this scenic drive is the stops!

So beyond that, how long you need for Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will depend entirely on how much time you want to spend taking in the views and walking around the sand dunes.

You’ll likely want to give yourself at least 1 hour though.

You could easily spend 2-3 hours too. You could spend an hour on the Cottonwood Trail, an hour at the Lake Michigan Overlook, and 30 minutes for a picnic, and there is nearly 3 hours that have gone by.

And so… the lame answer of “it depends” really does depend on what you want to do!

 

No matter what, be sure to bring along WATER and SNACKS! Have a gallon jug of water or 2 in your car no matter where you go so you’ll always have easy access to water! It can get hot out there on the sand dunes!

 

And that’s a bit about driving in Sleeping Bear Dunes on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive!

 

More places to drive to near Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive:

 

See the best of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

And the best of Michigan’s national lakeshores.

 

HAPPY DRIVING TO THE OVERLOOKS ON PIERCE STOCKING SCENIC DRIVE!

 

Pierce Scenic Stocking Drive tour: scenic drive in sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore. best overlooks. best stops. best things to do. northern michigan travel blog.

 

 

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