Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Sleeping Bear Dunes and Other Scenic Sights of the Lower Peninsula

We headed south out of Mackinaw City and took the scenic route. We drove the 20-mile stretch of M-119 known as the Tunnel of Trees. The 1.5 lane road twists and turns along a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

The scenic part of the drive concludes in the charming town of Harbor Springs.

I had intended to hsve lunch in Traverse City where we enjoyed the Cherry Festival four years ago. But as we drove through downtown and saw the traffic and the crowds of tourists, I called an audible and we drove on.

We ended up having lunch at a take-out joint in the small town of Empire. My wife and Kai had great Cuban sandwiches - who would have guessed we'd find great Cubanos there! I had a sub sandwich.

Our main destination for the day was Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The climb up to the top was a bit arduous, but the temperature was only in the upper 60s and we took frequent breaks on the way up. Kai grumbled a bit but persisted and we made it to the top where we had a nice view of Glen Lake below. You can get a sense of how high we climbed by looking at the parking lot just to the left of Kai in the next photo.

In the other direction, we could see Lake Michigan in the distance.

Coming down from the dunes was easy and fun. Afterward we drove to where we could wade into Lake Michigan. This was our third Great Lake on this trip after Superior and Huron earlier.

But Kai didn't go swimming there as we were staying at a motel on the shores of a smaller lake in the area - Crystal Lake.

The water was a bit warmer than Lake Michigan and Kai enjoyed swimming there. I joined him in the water but spent much of my time on a floating tube that was anchored off shore.

We got takeout pizza for dinner and took it to Inspiration Point near the small town of Arcadia. The pizza was so-so but the view was spectacular.

After we finished our dinner, we climbed up a set of stairs to an observation area where we could see for miles down south.

It was also a perfect viewing spot to see the best sunset of the trip.

Our trip is rapidly winding down. We continue the drive south tomorrow.


  1. There we go....a nice sunset. Big sand dune...too tiring for me.

    1. Shiroi, it was a nice sunset but nowhere near as spectacular as the ones you regularly showcase in your blog. I've gotten a better appreciation for how rare the great sunsets are, at least in this area.

      Sand dunes are tough to climb but this one seemed more packed in and thus a bit easier to climb than White Sands.


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