World's Best National Parks: Sleeping Bear Dunes
You don't have to travel to Pyla to visit the dunes. Residents of Michigan have been telling their friends about the 35-mile stretch of sandy hills of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park along Lake Michigan's eastern coast since the park opened.
With more than 100 miles of designated hiking trails, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a woodman's wonderland, while world-famous sand lots make it a beachcomber's dream. There are 13 marked paths on the mainland alone (two islands, North Manitou and South Manitou, are also included in the park property) that wind through forests, shoreline, marsh and dunes.
Park passes are required to get out on the trails, but visitors can enjoy the scenic views of Great Lake coastline and Michigan wildlife year round, since most areas are open for winter snow-shoeing too.
For those who prefer wheels to walking, the park offers self-guided bike tours and local clubs encourage tourists to hitch on with local cyclists on weekly rides. Two rivers provide ample opportunities for kayaking, tubing, and family-friendly canoeing. And for East (and West) Coast skeptics who claim no body of water could ever be as great as the ocean, the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve tells a different story. Lake Michigan diving expeditions come complete with two centuries of dock ruins and shipwrecks, too.
· Sleeping Bear Dunes [Official Site]