Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: M22 Road Trip with Lighthouses, Scenic Drives and Breathtaking Views (+Camping and Maps)
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore | By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan at Travel-Mi.com | Updated: August 27,2022
You can turn Sleeping Bear Dunes into a three-day road trip with exquisite views of Lake Michigan, heart-pounding dune climbs, hiking trails, scenic vistas, and unbelievable photographic opportunities. Plus, great camping!
This is the perfect Michigan road trip for the solo traveler, families with children, and adventurers of any age!
Voted Best Scenic Drive in America, M-22 Will Be Our Route As We Explore Frankfort, Point Betsie Lighthouse, Empire, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and Lots of Adventures Along the Way.
Sleeping Bear Dunes Map
We created this Sleeping Bear Dunes Interactive Map to help you find your specific stops and aid in planning your trip.
Helpful Map Tips:
Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.
Are you ready? Let's GO! Be sure to use the map above to reference all our stops!
So many things to do at Sleeping Bear Dunes!
National Park Pass: A vehicle pass is required for parking at any beaches, climbing, and exploring within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. The cost for the pass is $25 for weekly access.
Visitors can purchase this pass at the entrance to the dunes.
Day One of The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Road Trip
Inspiration Point Offers Pristine Overlooks of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes
Day one of this Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore road trip begins at Inspiration Point, located in Arcadia, Michigan.
After climbing a few stairs to the boardwalk vantage point, photographers will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes.
If you are unable to climb stairs, don’t worry, the view is magnificent near the parking area.
Restrooms: port-a-john (pit toilet). You might need to bring toilet tissue and hand sanitizer with you, just sayin'.
Continue north along M-22 through Frankfort to enjoy the marina, downtown shopping, lighthouse, beach, hiking trails, and marina.
Frankfort Michigan is home to dunes, lighthouse, beach, Betsie trail system, mineral springs and so much more!
Crystal Lake Adventure Sports rents water sports equipment, so get out on the water!
If you brought your bike, be sure to bike the Betsie trail for a couple miles to enjoy the area. Walk by the marina and pick out our favorite boat! We love spending time at the beach as the sand is just magical.
Where to Eat: We recommend dining on pizzas and drinks at the Stormcloud Brewing Company.
The restaurant offers outside seating and a great menu selection with prices ranging from $5.00-$20.00.
Where to Stay: The Hotel Frankfort and Restaurant is only a six-minute walk from the scenic Lake Michigan shoreline.
The restaurant offers fantastic crab cakes and burgers. Rates for this hotel range from $90.00-$300.00 per night, depending on the room selection and time of year.
Rest up before day two of your Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore adventure!
Day Two of The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Road Trip
The next day, continue along M-22 to Point Betsie Lighthouse. One of the Most Famous Lighthouses in Michigan
The views from this iconic red lighthouse are just spectacular as you can sit along the break wall and watch the crystal-clear blue waves crash along the shoreline.
Location: 3701 Pointe Betsie Road, Frankfort, MI
Tip: During the summer, this lighthouse is very crowded and vehicles will be parked along the road for a half mile. We highly recommend getting here first thing in the morning (I mean, EARLY) if you want to avoid crowds, take photos or park to the lighthouse.
Here's More About Point Betsie Lighthouse and Touring the Tower.
Continuing on, if you love tubing and kayaking, the Platte river offers various opportunities to cool off and enjoy a leisurely paddle down the scenic tree-lined river. Lunches can be purchased from the kayak rental store to take along the river.
Location: 5042 N. Scenic Highway, Honor, MI
Even if you aren’t interesting in kayaking, you MUST stop at Riverside Canoes to check out the view from the bridge (and grab some ice cream from the store).
There are also hiking and dune climbing opportunities in this area. It may be best to spend two nights at the Hotel Frankfort.
Day Three of The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Road Trip
We recommend grabbing snacks, water or lunch before proceeding to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive as there are no restaurants there.
On day three, continue north along M-22 and then turn left onto S. Dune Highway toward Empire, Michigan. Turn left onto Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and spend the day hiking the dune trails, climbing the dunes, and photographing the dunes and lakeshore.
This incredibly scenic 7.4 mile drive loops through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes with spectacular overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and Lake Michigan. Dune hikes are amazing along the Cottonwood Trail.
Time Allotment: 2 hrs to all day, depending on what you do...hiking, photography, exploring the area. We usually spend about 4 hours as this drive is the best way to truly experience the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Several outstanding vistas along this drive are a photographer’s paradise, included a nostalgic covered bridge.
We recommend packing snacks, drinks, and meals for the day as there are no restaurants along this drive.
Visitors Center: Philip Hart Visitor Center: 9922 Front Street, Empire MI.
National Park Pass: The park passes for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are $25 for a weekly pass-daily passes are not offered. You will need this pass for Pierce Stocking Drive and any adventures with Sleeping Bear Dunes. This pass allows access to all areas within the park including its parking lots and roadside parking. You don’t need a pass to park for a few minutes. Read more on the National Parks Service Page.
Where to Stay: We recommend spending the night in nearby Glen Arbor at The Homestead (approximately $185.00-$400.00 per night depending on room and time of year) or one of the many quaint bed and breakfasts.
The observation deck at the Lake Michigan Overlook is about 450 feet above the lake level and is one of my favorite overlooks. The view is breathtaking!
As you can see, the angle to the lake is very steep. You can descend down the bluff to the lake, but it is VERY difficult going back up. We only recommend this if you are very physically fit because if you can't make it back up, the cost for the park to bring you up is exorbitant.
Want More Details? See Our Massive Ultimate Sleeping Bear Dunes Guide
Road trip planning notes
What to bring
Details of what to see, where to go, things to do
Best Sleeping Bear Dunes Campground, Cabins, Tent Camping and RV Park Locations + Map
Looking to tent camp, an RV park, backcountry backpack camping near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore? We have an interactive map and lots of info!
Where to Stay in Empire
Where to Stay in Glen Arbor
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