A Photographic Tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes

Before I post my second poem from my trip into the “great white north,” it occurs to me that some of you might not be familiar with the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which was an important part of my trip. So allow me to tell you about one of the most curious aspects of life in Michigan, with the assistance of some of the photos I took while I was away.

Sunset on the Water. Traverse City, MI.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes encompass a 35 mile stretch of coast along Lake Michigan, the largest freshwater lake bordered exclusively by the United States (pictured above). The park was established for its breathtaking variety of natural features, including forests, beaches, and dune formations, as well as its historical connection to the glacier movements of old. The “bear” for which it was named was actually a small tree-covered knoll at the uppermost part of the bluff that. Sadly, wind and erosion have since caused the “bear” to dwindle over the years, leaving me without a photo for you.

Big and Little Glen Lakes

That’s a 450 ft. drop to the lakeshore, by the way.

The dunes were shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago, and evidence of their passing is still found in the diversity of the terrain, as well as the vibrant ecology of the environment. The national park that preserves them today was established in 1970, but the dunes themselves have never stopped growing. In fact, they are growing a little more every year–perhaps only by a few feet annually, but over time, that adds up.

Today, trails like this wind through miles of Pine and Beech-Maple Forests, all along the Dune.

There’s sand here. Lots and lots of sand.

Weather along the lakeshore and the dunes are actually a bit bizarre for those unfamiliar with them. The seasons are heavily influenced by winds crossing over Lake Michigan as they have a cooling effect in the summer and a warming effect in the winter. So temperatures remain somewhat moderated at most times of the year.

And that, friends, is a look at the beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I hope you like what you see, and consider a trip up north some time. It’s certainly worth your time!

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