Thursday, July 28, 2011

Traverse Bay and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

Traverse City and Great Traverse Bay is south of us at Petoskey and we wanted to tour the area to see what was there. Our first stop was on the Old Mission peninsula which forms part of the Bay. The peninsula runs about 16 miles north of Traverse City and at the end is the Old Mission Lighthouse, seen here. We also learned a remarkable thing -- we are at the exact site of the 45th parallel or exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole. Cool!

The lighthouse was built in 1879 and kept watch over these busy waters. In front of the house, is a beach area that is full of sand -- we found out later that there was lots of sand in the area.

Grand Traverse Bay is about 10 miles wide and 32 miles long (and over 600' deep) and this is a just bay in a very large lake! We were fortunate to have beautiful weather for our travels.

After driving back to Traverse City, we headed toward the western peninsula and then headed north on the coast road. Our first stop here was at Sutton's Bay, one of a number of small, pretty towns. Of course, Rick had to check out the marina which looks out over the north of Traverse Bay. What a beautiful view.

Orinda heard of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Traverse City area, so we headed a bit south to take a look. Frankly, we did not think that the dunes could be very big being next to the lake. Certainly, they could not be very large compared to the dunes we saw on the Pacific coast -- but we were in for a surprise. This sign pointed our way to the first dune.

The climbing dune was just what the name implied -- a huge dune to climb and lots of kids were having a blast. We enjoyed the view, but did not take part in climbing the dune. Whew!

Fortunately, there was a great scenic drive -- the Pierce Stocking drive which took us to several great vistas. We were surprised to see the vast dunes that stretched in front of us. In fact, you can just see an island well behind Orinda -- that is a big dune too!

This was the most dramatic view -- we are on top of a dune several hundred feet high and directly next to Lake Michigan. This is one VERY steep dune surface and we did not want to get too close to the edge.

Indeed, we were not the only ones concerned about this -- this sign showed that there have been issues before -- and if you are nutty enough to try and go down, you pay for the rescue to bring you back up.

Here is a side view of the dune -- those little specks are people! This dune is huge and we found out that we are 450' above Lake Michigan from this point.
This is a view directly below the overlook Rick is on. Now we can really understand the warning to be cautious about getting too close to the edge, although a number of folks were trying the daunting climb down and then up.

These dunes run for miles down the coast and we can fully appreciate why this was deemed a National Lakeshore. Sleeping Bear Dunes is well worth the trip if you are near the Traverse City area in Michigan.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Thanks for a tour of a beautiful area!

squawmama said...

Loved the little lighthouse... and the dunes were awesome!
Have fun