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

Plovers Returning

Nature never closes, and migrations of animals and birds are one of the most remarkable things in Nature. Here on the sandy shores of the Great Lakes, we see a special little bird called the Piping Plover return every year to nest and raise their young.

Plovers were classified an endangered species in 1985 when only 12 couples were spotted in the Great Lakes region. The birds are very sensitive to humans and dogs in the area which they nest and abandon nests if they feel threatened. Through conservation and protection by park staff, volunteers, and biologists, the Plover population reached a high of 41 pairs, half of them nested on North Manitu Island.

This season will be different. This year, volunteers will not be able to be on the beaches to spot and protect plover nests until the Stay at Home Ordinance is lifted and we can safely work with park staff. 

We ask our community to take extra care when visiting the shoreline by doing the following in April: 
– If you bring your dog, they must remain on a leash and within a close distance to you. 
– Please stay away from rocky areas on the beach and bluffs as this is where the Plovers build shallow nests in the sand and line them with pebbles or broken shells.

Sharing the shorelines, protecting piping plovers at Sleeping Bear


COVID-19 Update

Updated July 25, 2020 – all Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has reopened The visitor center and has resumed Fee Operation. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (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. to

9:00 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 will also resume selling National Lakeshore, 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.

You can visit select Museum sites at Glen Haven and Port Oneida with proper social distancing protocols. 
The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will be CLOSED
while the entry station continues to be worked on. 
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is open and maintaining operations based on information from the CDC, state governments, and local health authorities. Check out the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information on your national parks.
The Park has also created a new mini-Visitors Guide with additional information you may need while visiting the park during this time.
The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will be open on weekends, starting July 11th but will be closed to all traffic on weekdays when the construction at the drive entrance will make it unsafe to enter. Visitors should also be aware that in order to provide for social distancing the narrow boardwalk to the Lake Michigan Overlook platform has not yet been installed. Visitors with limited mobility are encouraged to enjoy the spectacular views (and shorter paths) at the Dune and North Bar Lake Overlooks for now.

Park Rangers will be at the drive entrance from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each weekend to answer visitor questions.

The visitor center will be open daily from 9am-4pm with CDC guidelines in place including social distancing (at least 6 feet) and face coverings. The number of visitors allowed in the building will be limited. Services will be limited to visitor information, restroom use, and purchasing sales items through America’s National Parks, our cooperating association. We are requesting payment via credit or debit card.
Campground offices will be open daily from 9am-9pm with the same safety practices as the visitor center. Camping reservations for Platte River and D.H. Day Campgrounds will reopen via on June 23rd. The first loop (sites 1-31) and site 85 at D.H. Day Campground are currently closed through July 21st due to flooding. Extensions to these closures are possible as staff continues to monitor the water level.  Park rangers will be available at the Dune Climb under the green tent to provide information daily from 9am-4pm as well.
Follow these links below to download Sleeping Bear Dunes mobile app for both Apple and Android.
Our participation in National Lakeshore events will be determined by the guidance of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore management.
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the park is announcing additional modifications to operations in response to guidance from the CDC, United States Public Health Service, and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department. For further information about park closures, visit:
If you see any safety concerns that may require immediate attention, please fill out the safety report on our website. 
And please, e-mail any questions to
Stay healthy, 
Friends of Sleeping Bear Executive Committee 

High Water Impact

As we have witnessed for the past months, Lake Michigan has had higher than usual water levels which has caused erosion problems at some of the stairs going down to the Lake (Lane Rd, No-Name Rd, Sunset Shores). In each case, the sand has been washed away at the bottom of the stairs. When built, the bottom step was at ground level. Now they are all about 3 feet above ground (or water) level. One (No Pets) signpost at CR-669 has almost washed away.
The Park will schedule time in the spring to dis-assemble these stairs and replace them where appropriate. The Friends will provide funding and volunteers to work with them to do the repairs. Stay Tuned for updates to dates to which the park may require help. 
Please be aware when visiting that the beach is both difficult to get to in some places as well as the ground is very icy. Please be advised that the trails and beaches will continue to be slippery with on and off snowmelt. Take additional precautions by using trekking poles and crampons or other ice-grabbing additions to shoes. 

Volunteer Position Openings

We are seeking a few special Friends with specific talents and good organizational skills who want to join our team of dedicated, high-functioning, and enthusiastic leaders.

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

Descriptions for these roles are at Friends Job Descriptions

The Grants Writer identifies possible sources of grants that match Friends project needs, writes grant applications, and follows-up with granting sources as required.

The Donor Development Manager identifies potential donors with substantial financial capability, who may be interested in supporting the Friends generally or a specific project.

The Fund Development Director is responsible for developing and implementing fundraising programs to assure sufficient financial support for Friends operations.

If you are interested in any of the following positions, please email Bill Stott, state the position you are applying for, please include your resume or brief statement of relevant experience.

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization. 


Trail Study Results

Click to Enlarge

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail has been a great addition to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the surrounding community. Anytime you are on the trail in the summer, you can see that it is getting a lot of use. 
The Friends had done several non-scientific surveys in the past 7 years, but during the summer of 2019, we worked with TART Trails and the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation to conduct a scientific survey of trail users and local businesses and community members.
We wanted to learn more about how trail users felt about the trail and what community members, businesses, and healthcare providers thought – was the trail improving the quality of life for visitors and the community. The survey was done for two trails in the region: Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and the Leelanau Trail. Our volunteers administered over 400 trail use surveys on the Heritage Trail and TART staff did surveys with 400 trail users on the Leelanau Trail. The University of Florida students interviewed businesses and healthcare providers.
One of the surprising things was the difference in the type of user between the two trails. The Heritage Trail was a tourist destination and closely related to the visitation of the National Lakeshore, while the use of the Leelanau Trail was more local residents using the trail for recreation and exercise. That difference shows up in the economic impact numbers. According to the study, the Heritage Trail brings in over $3.3 Million per year to the local economy.
The other thing that stood out was that trail users felt that biking, walking, running on the trail was one way for them to improve their health and reduce healthcare costs. The study also highlighted the fact that both trails are accessible, provides opportunities for those with disabilities to enjoy nature too. 
Summary of work completed by the Friends summarized by Kerry Kelly; Former Chair and SBHT Program Manager.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Visitor Profile from the TART Benefit Study

A summary of the study results are posted on TART Trails website.

There is still time to order the book for Christmas

The countdown to the holidays is on, and if you are still looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list, we may have it, The Life of the Sleeping Bear!



Purchase by December 20th for expedited shipping before Christmas


A great gift for the person who is new to Sleeping Bear:

“The book is a fine memento for your visit to the National Lakeshore and makes a better guide for planning a visit. You will arrive with a better appreciation for “The Most Beautiful Place in America” and it will single-out not-to-be-missed points of interest and spots of breathtaking beauty.”

                                                                                  – Tom Powers, Michigan in Books Review

A great gift for the person who has known Sleeping Bear for years:

“I have been living in the grasp of the Sleeping Bear dunes all my life, and I didn’t know half the information packed in this guidebook. Did I find this book valuable? Yes. Engrossing? Yes. Beautiful? Yes. Full of history and fact? Yes!”

– Bob Sutherland, President, Cherry Republic

A great gift for the person with a home in Sleeping Bear:

“This is a book to enjoy reading by the fireplace, leaving out on the coffee table for guests, or using as a source for unforgettable bedtime stories.”

-Colleen Wares, Newstalk 580, WCTM

A great gift for the student of the Sleeping Bear:

“The latest book, The Life of the Sleeping Bear, is by far the most complete on the subject. It locates and explains the unique features of the dunes and places them in the context of their rich social, cultural, environmental, ecological, geologic, and recreational history. No book has attempted this broad range and synopses of information, and it stands on the shoulders of all that have preceded it.”

-Barbara Siepker, Leelanau County historian, author, and publisher

And a great gift for the person just looking for a good read:

“I love this book. It has something for everyone, the historian, the environmentalist, the traveler, the photographer, and perhaps most of all, the person who has lived or visited here almost forever and never realized the true stories of The Life of the Sleeping Bear.”

-Barbara Reed, Owner, The Bookstore, Frankfort, Michigan

Order now at

New Vice-chair for the Friends

Congratulations to Ross McAninch, our new Vice-Chair


Beginning as a SBHT Ambassador, soon the extended family found themselves volunteering time and funds to support the trail’s additional segments.  In 2013, Ross took the Trail Crew “Boss” position. He was then appointed to the Board in 2014 and took on an additional task of managing the design and implementation of the SBHT Imap (interactive map) project and became actively involved as the Friends IT Coordinator.

Ross has been very dedicated to the Friends efforts to enhance the visitor experience at the Lakeshore and believes the best way to support these efforts is to be involved at multiple levels of the organization. The role of the Vice-Chair is to be a  backup for the Chair in his/her absence or to help the Chair upon request and training to be the next Board Chairman. Ross takes on this position as Jeff Brown, our previous co-chair, moved into the position of Chair of the Board after Kerry Kelly.


To learn more about our Board of Directors, check out all of their bios on the Board Members page. 

Book Release Party Sunday December 8th at 3pm

Come Celebrate with us at our Book Release Party at Cherry Republic Glen Arbor! 


Come meet the historians, photographers, and writers who created The Life of the Sleeping Bear and the story that chronicles the journey of our Park and community.
This is a FREE Event with delicious treats, including cherry pie donated by Cherry Republic.

Enter a drawing for a Cherry Republic $30 gift card with each book purchased at the event! The drawing will take place at 3:30 after a short program.

Sunday from 3-5 pm, Cherry Republic will offer a 15% discount on any products shipped from the store if you include a book purchased during the Book Celebration event. Send cherry goodies and a copy of the book to those on your holiday shopping list. Flat-rate shipping is $9.95 per shipping location.

Event Information: 

Location: Cherry Republic Public House
Address: 6026 A, 5109, S Lake St, Glen Arbor, MI 49636
Date: Sunday, December 8, 2019
Time: 3-5 pm

To learn more about the book and pre-order a copy of your own, visit the book page here

Missing ‘Baby Monkey’ FOUND by Friends Volunteer Search and Rescue

Last known image of Baby Monkey

“My young son’s Baby Monkey is lost!” read the frantic note sent to Sleeping Bear Marathon organizer Tricia Davies. The email, along with the picture below, was sent by Jessica Scudder who participated in the event with her family.

Last known image of Baby Monkey

This is the last known image of Baby Monkey before he went missing during Sleeping Bear Marathon on October 5th.

Mrs. Scudder explained where she thought her son Beck’s precious Baby Monkey went missing and asked if there was any way to check if it had been turned in. Ms Davies hadn’t heard anything and she knew that locating Baby Monkey, now over a week after the event, would not be likely.

Nonetheless, on October 14th, when she wrote a thank you note to Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Chair, Kerry Kelly, for the help of our volunteers, she added, “I have a huge ‘long shot’ question for you…” and she went on to explain what she learned about Baby Monkey and where he was “last seen”.

Without hesitation, Kerry put the call out to all the Friends trail volunteers to be on the lookout for the lost monkey, even sharing the picture to help with identification! Word quickly spread and there were even special search efforts undertaken, but unfortunately, there was no sign of Baby Monkey.

Then, in early November, while Friends volunteer Laurie Pope was strolling through the Park, she looked up and much to her surprise, she saw Baby Monkey hanging from a sign! Amazingly, Laurie found him about two miles from where he was reported lost!

According to Laurie, “One paw was raised high as if to say “Here I am!”. And he was in really good shape for being lost in the woods for so long. He was dry and clean, as if he had found shelter somewhere. Maybe a hollow log or a rabbits’ hole? Anyways it looks like he was able to avoid the larger wildlife in the Park!”

Baby Monkey is found

Friends volunteer Laurie Pope and Park Rangers Andrew VanOHeren and Katelyn McDonald-Phillips pose with Baby Monkey after he was found.

She continued with the story, “We contacted Tricia about the find, and she gave us the address of Baby Monkey’s family. We contacted them about the rescue and let them know Baby Monkey would soon be on his way home!’

“We decided to include a rescue ranger doll and a short rescue summary note to accompany the baby monkey home safely from his big adventure. Also included in the box was a framed photo of the rescue team, a “Junior Ranger” work booklet, rack card maps of the Heritage Trail with location of the find, along with Heritage Trail and Friend’s stickers.”

Baby Monkey heading home

Baby Monkey on his way back home with some company.

Baby Monkey’s homecoming was quite the reunion! He got lots of hugs from his pal, Beck and Mrs. Scudder sent a heartfelt thank you note to the Friends which was most appreciated.  

Baby Monkey reunited with his pal Beck

After surviving a month in the wild, Baby Monkey is smiling extra big now that he’s back with his pal Beck — who’s pretty happy as well!

Baby Monkey thank you note

“That’s Northern Michigan people for you!”

After a quick review of Park history, it’s been concluded this was the one-and-only monkey search and rescue ever recorded within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — we’re just happy it was successful! 

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