Fall in the Park

Take a Peek at our Fall Colors

October is leaf peeping month! provides a great update of colors around the region. Warmer temperatures early in September lead to less leaf change, but now that we have seen some cooler temps, be on the lookout as colors will start to change quickly.

Visit our Trails page to find all the trails in the park to explore, some of our favorites in the fall are the Kettles Trail, Alligator Hill, and Platt Plains Trails. Find new areas in the park through the Educational Booklets like learning about the Lakeshore Ghost Towns

Emmy Strickland Lemonade Stand

Emmy Strickland Lemonade Stand Benefits Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Back in August, the Friends had a special visitor to one of our table events.
The Friends of Sleeping Bear were at the Glen Arbor Farmers’ Market on August 3rd  promoting their new book, Picture-Perfect Sleeping Bear. 

Emmy Strickland (Age 5) heard the Friends would be there. With her dad, Bill, Emmy rushed over to the Market to surprise the Friends with a money donation earned at her lemonade stand.
Emmy had offered free lemonade at her stand for a donation to the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. She arrived at the booth that day with over $163!

Emmy (5) and Bill Strickland approach the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes booth at the Glen Arbor Farmers’ Market on August 3rd with a jar containing donations she raised at a lemonade stand to support the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Emmy Strickland fills the donation box at the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes booth at the Glen Arbor Farmers’ Market on August 3rd. Emmy’s donation was the result of a very successful lemonade stand she organized to support the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

After word had spread through the Market about her efforts, she came back with another $25 she had received from Market attendees. Emmy was asked how she raised so much money. She said, “I wanted to give free lemonade to people and help the park.” Her dad piped in that Sleeping Bear Point is one of her favorite places. He said that Emmy squeezed the lemons and made the fresh lemonade, herself.

Friends Chair, Jerry Peterson had this to say to Emmy. “Thank you, Emmy. What a pleasant surprise to have such an enterprising young lady squeeze fresh lemons for lemonade, coordinate a lemonade stand, and then donate the money to the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.”

 The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is protecting resources and heightening visitor experiences in partnership with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Plover Update 2021

Piping Plovers

Written by Sherry Gigous July 2021

Piping Plover Chick, Photo by Sheen Watkins

Adorable little balls of fluff are coming to a beach near you! Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to 35 pairs this season of nesting piping plovers (Charadrius melodus). During this nesting season, small birds will begin arriving around the Lakeshore in April and stay until August. At this time, these endangered birds must be given extra protection. Visitors may notice certain areas will be cordoned off and dog leashing rules strictly observed. (For reference: dogs should be on a 6-foot leash, closely controlled, and kept in designated areas. Restricted areas are clearly marked and fluid, depending on where Plover are specifically locating.)

Because these little white and sand-colored birds with black neckbands and bar patterns on their foreheads (these markings, only present during mating and nesting time, gradually fading away along with the bright orange of their legs during the rest of the year, and orange beaks turning black) lay four creamy colored, dark brown flecked eggs in open sandy pebbled areas, there is a greater chance of them being stepped on by humans. Human disruption, in general, may cause them to leave their nest, young and eggs vulnerable.

Both male and female of the lifelong pair. While pairs may stay together for many years, they are generally more tied into a place than a mate and will often switch mates, but not nesting locations! Pairs incubate the eggs, for 27 days. Hatchlings, looking much like cotton balls have feathers and are able to move and leave the nest within hours of hatching and will walk and run on the beach. They will be able to fly after about 28 days but will stick with adult birds through migration. 

The Piping Plover voice sounds like, “peep-lo” or simply “peep.” Their diet consists of insects and other invertebrates due to limited vegetation growing on sandy beaches. Plovers are very territorial and will approach unsuspecting humans and attempt to “walk” them past nesting areas. Sometimes they feign a broken wing, such as their Killdeer cousins. If you see this particular behavior, please distance yourself as quickly and as much as possible from the area. You can also help by not burying trash or food on the beach that might attract predators.

It’s nothing short of miraculous so many of these birds choose the Great Lakes to build their families. They were hunted nearly into extinction by 1900, primarily for sport and gathering feathers for the hat industry. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, saw the Piping Plover population recovered to a 20th-century peak in the 1940s, only to decline again as human development and recreational use greatly intensified in coastal habitats. That decline led to Federal Endangered Species Act protection in 1986. In 1990 there were only 12 pairs in the Great Lakes population! Today there are seventy-five to eighty pairs. As recently as 2017, there were 41 of them calling SLBE home. This is your National Park Service at work!

For more information about Piping Plovers in Sleeping Bear Dunes:


Article by: Sherry Gigous, Friends Volunteer

Information Certified by:
Vince Cavalieri, CWB®
Wildlife Biologist, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Photo by: Sheen Watkins 

Tick Warning for 2021



By Sherry Gigous, FSBD Volunteer 

Park Rangers at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are adding ticks to their list of things to keep an eye on and educate visitors about this summer season.

Some of these little guys, who hitchhike on bushes tall grasses and other vegetation are so small that they are not visible to the human eye or are extremely difficult to spot. They can be smaller than poppy seeds! They also have the ability to transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis.

Photo from Mlive

Photo from MLive Article, Tick Explosion Underway in Michigan.

PARK Superintendent Scott Tucker, along with Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, is focused on following preventative safety measures against ticks before they even have a chance to bite. This includes wearing long sleeves (tick gaiter sleeves will enhance safety) and long pants that can be tucked into boots or socks if possible. Light-colored clothes will make it easier to spot ticks. Use insect repellent that includes 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. Consider wearing clothing treated with permethrin. Inspect yourself for ticks after being outdoors. Pay particular attention to skin folds. Put clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks. 

Check for any bull’s-eye patterned rashes. And if you find a tick, a tick-removing tool will help remove it intact, leaving no parts behind. Friends of Sleeping Bear will donate 150 such tools to Park staff this summer.

Unfortunately, even with the best proactive practices, illness may still be transmitted from ticks. A Friends volunteer became infected with Lyme disease after hiking the Kettles trail last year, even though she had worn long clothing, found no ticks on herself, and had no warning rash. A few weeks after returning to her home downstate, she visited her local ER thinking she was experiencing a heart attack and has suffered malaise, neurological pain in her neck and the base of her skull. She has been diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Even with fairly successful treatment, she continues to have Lyme-related rheumatoid pain in her knees. If you are feeling unwell for no explainable reason after recently visiting an area where ticks are prevalent, it’s important to follow up in diagnosing possible tickborne illness.

Don’t forget about your fur babies either! Make sure you discuss tick prevention with your veterinarian.

Be tick smart to stay safe and have fun at SLBE this summer!

For more information, see the MDHHS Tick info sheet. 


Read Sherry’s other healful posts about Morells and Potosky stones

Beach Stairs Repair

Friends Supported Park Project. 

Getting the Park ready for Summer!


Along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, there are several access points to Lake Michigan. Three beach access stairs were installed in 2012 at Lane Road, 2013 at No-Name Road, 2014 at Sunset Shores Drive. All were damaged by high water levels and waves over the last 2 years. All of these stairs were closed off to visitors last year due to the damage.

Read More

Plover Update-Winter 2021

This time of the winter it is hard to think about warmer weather and Piping Plover, but our nesting pairs are starting to show up in Florida, their winter residence. Reports of piping plovers from Sleeping Bear Dunes have come in, including from Bunche Beach, Big Marco Pass, and Anclote Key, Florida, as well as Kiawah Island in South Carolina. It is good to see plovers surviving down south! Learn more about Piping Plover on the NPS website and follow Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort on Facebook to get real-time updates on what birds have been sited where.

2020 Donations to the Friends


Many individuals 70 1/2 years old or older may donate up to $100,000 each year to charitable organizations directly from their IRA, without that donation being counted as taxable income when it is withdrawn, whether or not they itemize their tax deductions.

In March, lawmakers approved the CARES Act, which allows some Americans to deduct up to $300 in charitable donations from their taxable income when they file their 2020 tax returns in 2021, whether or not they itemize their tax deductions.

If you wish to claim your donation to the Friends as a tax deduction, you should consult your tax, legal, and/or accounting advisors beforehand.



Petoskeys: Hunt, Enjoy, But Please Don’t Take

Searching for Petoskey stones may as well be Michigan’s favorite pastime. These beautiful prehistoric coral have been found all over the state, even on forest floors. They are remnants of a coral reef that existed during the Devonian time period when this area was a tropical sea! 

Although Petoskey stone collection is strictly prohibited on federal lands, such as the National Lakeshore, rock hunters may still collect up to 25 pounds of stones per year outside of the Park, on state-owned lands.

Petoskeys are the official state stone and very abundant along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. But pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 – 2.1, they must remain in the Park. It is illegal to take any natural thing from a National Park, even flowers, mosses and rocks unless explicitly permitted. Park Rangers liken the National Lakeshore to a museum. It is intended to be left as-is for the next visitors to explore.

The National Lakeshore ends at 1/4 of a mile into Lake Michigan, the National Park Service does not allow the taking of any rocks. This policy is enforced by Rangers and local law enforcement along National Lakeshore beaches. Some edibles (the fruiting portion) are allowed to be harvested from Sleeping Bear, such as the Morel mushrooms and fruits that are not deemed to damage the natural areas by doing so, but this does not include rocks.

According to Julie Christian, Chief of Natural Resources at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, “Lakeshore visitors may find and admire Petoskey stones on its Lake Michigan beaches, but the stones must be returned to the lake to maintain the pristine nature of the environment.” 
Enjoy the hunt, but please don’t take. 

So feel free to explore the beautiful rocks along our National Lakeshore, whether it be Petoskeys , Frankfort Greens or Leland Blues; there’s truly nothing like it for avid rock hounds or budding pebble pups. Just be sure to put them back for the next visitors. Several local rock hounds have found Petoskeys and other favorite stones at Point Betsie, City of Frankfort Beach, Van’s Beach in Leland as well as Crystal Lake. 

(This article was updated in August 2021.)

Earth Day and National Park Week

We celebrated National Park Week with a look back in history, past projects, and future plans to work with the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore to protect natural resources and heighten visitor experiences. 

This year is also the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The purpose of Earth Day is to support environmental protection and we can work together to protect our natural resources. Everyone can make an impact on preserving earth’s resources through individual volunteering keeping natural spaces clean using Leave No Trace principles

Be prepared, travel on safe and durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, and respect wildlife and each other. 

There are so many reasons to be conscious when visiting the National Lakeshore and to remember these principals while enjoying your time at the park. We help the park preserve natural and historic sights, advise safe visitation to help foster the natural habitat of an endangered bird, the Piping Plover, and create educational materials to share why this location is so special. 

One such project was the creation of Interpretive Sign Areas around park interest points and along the Pierce Stocking Drive. This project involved the collection of geologic and historic information about this popular point of interest never found in one spot before and inspired the idea to create a book. Our book, The Life of the Sleeping Bear is now a fundraiser for us to be able to further support park programs. 

You can also visit our site before you visit the park to understand what trails and beaches to explore next. 

We can always use helping hands around the lakeshore. Now, this year we are awaiting when we can get back to help the land we love, but you can sign up to volunteer at any time, just fill out our Volunteer Application

Digital Park Visiting

During these times of Stay at Home and social distancing, there are many ways to explore the park and learn more about your favorite sites or prepare to explore some new locations for the next time you visit! 

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail IMAP outlines the entire Heritage trail, key sites, and park facilities along the trail. You can explore the entire length of the trail by clicking any point on the map and a photo of that area will come up on the right side of the screen – walking along the trail, digital, in any season. 
A video tutorial about how to use the IMAP can be found on YouTube.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Virtual Visit Showcases all points of interest in the park; viewpoints, campsites, and historic locations with links to learn about the history and importance of protecting each site. 
Follow these links below to download Sleeping Bear Dunes mobile app for both Apple and Android.

National Park System Virtual Visits provides links to many more of the National Park system’s 400+ parks and monuments. 



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