August Newsletter

Summer is flying by much like the NEOWISE Comet (pictured above). The comet was discovered just a few months ago and was easily seen just after sunset from the lakeshore over the last few weeks. Below are some updates from the park and a call for volunteers.  We hope you all are enjoying your summer and are staying safe around the national lakeshore.  

We hope to see you DIGITAL for this year’s Annual meeting on August 26 at 7:00 PM.
Stay Tuned for more details and a link to join in! 


On July 23rd the U.S. House passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will invest $9.5 billion into national park and public lands repairs and protect and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Great American Outdoors Act will provide the biggest investment in parks and public lands in more than 65 years by addressing critical repair needs within the National Park Service (NPS) and other public land agencies.

Learn More about the Great American Outdoors Act. 



Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore resumed the collection of entrance fees Saturday, July 25, 2020. The $25.00 park entrance pass allows everyone in a private vehicle to recreate in the National Lakeshore for seven days.

Passes may be obtained at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, MI, daily from 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m., and at the Platte River and D. H. Day Campground offices, daily from 9:00 a.m. to9:00 p.m.

Park passes are also available at self-pay stations located at many of the beach road-ends, as well as local area businesses, including Manitou Island Transit (at their Fishtown gift shop), Crystal River Outfitters, Honor Trading Post, and Riverside Canoe Trips.

The Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive entrance stations remain under construction and will not be able to sell passes until later in August.


The Park is seeking volunteers to assist with conducting its bi-annual River Use Counts on the Crystal and Platte Rivers.  Volunteers will be designated a specific spot on the river and will be responsible for counting the number of visitors who pass through the area.  All shifts last approximately five (5) to six (6) hours. If you would like to assist the park in this effort or would like more information, please contact Renee Babiarz at renee_babiarz@nps.gov or (231) 326-4762, or learn more about the event on our news post


Our friends at Cherry Republic have started a campaign called “Cherrish Michigan”. The Cherrish Michigan campaign supports nine local non-profits, including the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.  Each organization has been matched with a mixed nut bag. 

For every bag purchased Cherry Republic has pledged to donate $1 of the sale back to the respective organization.
The Confiscated Nut Mix is our favorite!!

Read more about the campaign on their blog: https://cherryrepublic.com/cherrishmichigan/ and purchase a bag of confiscated nut mix today. https://cherryrepublic.com/confiscated-fruit-mix/



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July Newsletter

Summer weather has hit us full force and we are starting to see many visitors enjoying trails and beaches in the National Lakeshore.  Below you will find updates as well as happenings around the park as things begin to re-open with restrictions to help keep enjoying the park safely.


For the most up to date information and resources to plan your next visit, review all the latest news and resources here: https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/covid-19-update/


This year, we are asking participants to sign up ahead of class online and donate via our credit card processing as we will be cash-less this year.

You can review and learn about many flora and fauna in the Lakeshore by visiting our Wildflower Database.




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June Newsletter


Much has been changing these past few weeks, the Governor opened up some of the upper peninsula and lower northern Michigan and the forest floor is covered with wildflowers and green leaves are on the trees. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is alive with life! It was great to see people enjoying the lakeshore safely and at a distance from each other this Memorial Day weekend. Below you will find updated information about what is open in the National Lakeshore and other news from FSBD. 


For the most up to date information check our COVID-19 Updates on our website and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore website.  We encourage you to enjoy the park safely and at a distance from others. For more information and digital maps of the Park’s trails, visit our article about the Trails Reopening! A new Park Mini-Visitors Guide has also been created in a convenient PDF that can be printed or referenced before your next visit. 


We are looking for more volunteers in these programs. If you are interested in becoming a new volunteer please complete a Volunteer Registration form found on our website. All volunteers will participate in an orientation and training once the completed form is received and you speak with our volunteer coordinator. 
If you are already a volunteer for one of the programs that can begin work, be on the look-out for your Zoom Meeting Invite for this Summer’s Volunteer Training. Review our post about the Dates and times of this year’s trainings.
Learn more about all of our programs here: https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/programs/


Learn more about the Track Chair program by visiting: https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/programs/accessibility/track-chair/


Learn more about the Lakeshore’s Shipwrecks and how you can identify any new spottings on our post about Tracking Shipwrecks

May Newsletter

Although “stay-at-home” guidelines have been extended for a few more weeks, the sounds and signs of spring are in the air around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The color green is starting to outweigh the color brown, the spring peepers are out and the sandhill cranes can be heard around the Park. We know there are many questions about what people can and can’t do around the lakeshore.

We are updating our website (https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/) regularly with guidelines for Park visitation and dates when parts of the Park plan to be reopened. Currently, all in-Park volunteer activities remain on hold while the Park is closed to the public, however, we are currently seeking two highly organized and friendly individuals to join our team.

Answer: Currently the most up to date information is the following, all Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore trails, trailheads, picnic areas, parking areas, and boat launches will be closed with a target opening of campgrounds, museums, and attractions, as well as the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive by July 1, 2020. The visitor center, Dune Climb, restrooms, trails, and picnic areas, will be opened sooner than July 1 if public health guidance allows.

Check our website (https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/covid-19-update/) and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (https://www.nps.gov/slbe/index.htm) website for the most up to date information. 

To learn more about and purchase a book, visit our website (https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/sleeping-bear-book/)


Check out this blog on our website (https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/digital-park-visiting/)  to find out all the virtual ways you can “visit” your favorite National Lakeshore.

We are looking for a few special Friends with specific talents and good organizational skills who want to join our team of dedicated, high-functioning, and enthusiastic leaders. 
We have immediate openings for a Membership Record Manager and a Fund Development Director – full listings can be found in our article: https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/administrative-positions-open/

Our 600+ member organization helps to ensure that the more than 1.5 million visitors to the National Lakeshore each year have a great experience and learn how to protect this precious resource.

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April 14, 2020 Park Update

Dear Friends,

We know these are uncertain times for our country and the world. But one thing has not changed: our mission to protect resources and heighten visitor experiences in partnership with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

On April 14, 2020, in response to guidance from the CDC, United States Public Health Service, and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore announced that all trails, trailheads, picnic areas, parking areas, and boat launches are closed until further notice. As we celebrate the park’s 50th birthday this year, we cannot recall another time where closure was issued. This emphasizes the severity of the epidemic we are facing as a community.

This, we are sure, was not an easy decision. The health and safety of visitors, employees, volunteers and partners of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore continues to be their top priority.

Even though we are not able to visit the park at this time, we will be able to do so in the future.  Please join us in keeping the spirit of Sleeping Bear alive by enjoying our favorite lakeshore, virtuallyWe encourage you to connect with us via Facebook or Instagram and share your favorite park moments and photos or take a virtual journey down the Sleeping Bear Heritage trail via the virtual trail map. To get the most out of the virtual trail map, watch this instructional video on YouTube. 

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

With Gratitude,

Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes

April Newsletter


The one phrase we are all hearing and talking about is Social Distancing.

For those who live in the area around the Park, we would like to promote safe visitation on the trails and lakeshore as we know the area within the park is a great resource to stay active and healthy during these times. We would like to reiterate some helpful guidelines to keep the community safe.

Read more about measures taken by the park and tips for visiting in our article about Visiting the Park While Social Distancing.

email info@freindsofsleepingbear.org to submit safety hazards, trees down across trails, large items that have washed up on beaches, excess trash, and abnormal trail activity. 

Read more about Piping Plovers or an article by environmental writer, Susan Poirier-Sorg.


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Annual Report 2019

This Year We Are Celebrating 25 Years of Support


Download our 2019 Annual Report

In 2019, The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes provided over 13,500 volunteer hours to support a wide variety of projects at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The largest projects in 2019 were the inception of the Track Chair Program and the completion of the Kettles Trail.

The Kettles Trail is officially complete and was commemorated by a Grand Opening Ceremony in late October which was attended by over 150 people. Attendees had the opportunity to see the trail with a guided hike by volunteers who helped build the trail. Our Track Chair Program is the first of its kind in a national park. We helped 70 visitors experience the Bay View Trail who otherwise would not be able to access due to the sandy and uneven trail. 

This year, The Friends raised over $122, 500 for programs to maintain the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail all year long, facilitate the completion of the Kettles Trail, support school snowshoe hikes in the park, produce and update trail maps in the park, provide preventative search and rescue efforts, as well as purchase an additional Track Chair for the 2nd year of the program. 

In November, The Friends also released a book written and published by volunteers, The Life of the Sleeping Bear which blends art, history, and science to provide a colorful tour of this precious geological and environmental area. With every purchase of our book, all proceeds come directly back to The Friends to support continuing programs.  

 For those who want more details about all of the projects we supported in 2019, click here.


Please consider making a donation for one of these projects or our General Fund.

Accomplishments by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes in 2019.

If you are not already a member, please consider joining.
All you have to do is make a donation or sign up as a volunteer!

What’s in the Plan for 2020?

Not only are we celebrating 25 years of service in partnership with the National Park, but the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore will also be celebrating its 50th year in existence in the year 2020. Keep an eye out for special events from us and the park all year long to commemorate the history and impact the National Park has made to protect the natural wonder of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. 

We will continue to be busy in 2020 with our ongoing volunteer programs, but there will also be several big projects that we will need your help with.

  • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail – Annual Operations & Maintenance plus beginning work on an extension of the trail from Bohemian Road (CR669) to Good Harbor Trail (CR-651)
    creating 5 more miles of paved access.
  • Kettles Trail – We will continue work and maintenance on the new trail including adding an observation deck at the bog, benches, as well as additional interpretive and directional signage. 
  • Proposed Mountian Bike Trail – Assessment and planning for a proposed mountain bike trail will begin in the spring of 2020. 
  • Continued accessibility improvements to trails and beach access points. 

A Busy Year – 2016 Accomplishments

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes spent over $66,000 in support of a wide variety of projects at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The largest projects in 2016 were maintenance of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, recovery from the windstorm in 2015, and the snowshoe program for 4th graders. Click here to see our annual newsletter that describes some of the projects and includes a list of projects we funded. For those of you who want more details about all of the projects we funded in 2016, click here.

What’s in the Plan for 2017?

We will definitely be busy in 2017 with our ongoing volunteer programs, but there will also be several big projects that we will need your help with. We will need volunteers AND donations to accomplish these big goals next year.

  • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail – Annual Operations & Maintenance ($25,000)
  • Kettles Trail in the Bow Lakes Region of the Park – We will be building trail, observation deck, and parking lot in 2017 ($40,000)
  • Improvements to trails and Lake Michigan beach areas to make it easier for everyone to use. Projects are being identified and developed through an assessment by Park staff and nationally recognized experts. One beach that will definitely be addressed is Glen Haven. ($$ has not been determined yet)
  • New wayside interpretive panels for stops along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to replace the existing panels that were installed in the 1980’s. ($10,700)

Click here to make a donation for one of these projects or our General Fund.

2015 Accomplishments

Each year presents its own challenges, but the storm on August 2, 2015 threw an already busy year into turmoil. Thousands of trees were blown down in the Park and surrounding community, and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail was especially hard hit. The outpouring of community support was amazing.

Even with the added work that the storm created, we had to redirect our priorities, but we made a significant positive impact on Park operations. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes made direct grants to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore (the Lakeshore) of $11,682.50 and in-kind grants valued at $55,764.65 through a long list of projects this year. Unfortunately because of the storm, we were not able to make much progress on new trails (Kettles, Bay to Bay, and Echo Valley), but we expect some of these projects to resume in 2016.

CLICK HERE for a detailed description of our 2015 projects.

The Friends is an all-volunteer organization, and we work hard to keep our overhead low. Donations designated for a specific project goes 100% to the project. Overhead comes out of general donations. As you read about our work, I hope you will find a project or two that you will want to support – either with your time or your donations.

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