At the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor’s Center in Empire, Michigan, a sign welcomes visitors to the most beautiful place in America. Dusty Schultz, Park Superintendent, reiterates this message in the park newsletter.
When I first read this, I kind of snickered. There is no way this off the radar National Lakeshore in Michigan is as or more beautiful than the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, or Yosemite.
This proclamation comes from Good Morning America. Last year they narrowed down the ten most beautiful places in America and had viewers vote on the winner. Sleeping Bear Dunes took first prize. Check out the video.
After spending two days hiking over twenty miles of trails, I began to see the designation as something not so ludicrous. The deep blue of Lake Michigan, the golden sands of the dunes, the green sedge grass, the deep dark forests, the inland lakes and rivers, and the gorgeous Manitou Islands definitely makes an impression.
I would not say this park is more beautiful than the Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains, but with scenic beauty it can be difficult to quantify and qualify. A picture from the South Rim in the Grand Canyon would certainly merit a ten as would any canyon in Zion. So too would a picture from Sleeping Bear with beautiful Lake Michigan in the distance with sand dunes in the foreground.
If the park, Good Morning America, or anyone else want to call it the most beautiful place in America, I will not disagree. In fact, this photo essay may cause some to agree and may also cause others to want to visit to see if it really is the most beautiful place in America.
so beautiful! And why do they call it sleeping bears?
Great question. It actually comes from Indian lore. According to a Chippewa Indian legend a momma bear and two cubs dashed into Lake Michigan to escape a forest fire.
They swam and swam, but soon the cubs grew tired. The momma bear made it to the other side, but the cubs drowned. The momma bear stayed on the shore and waited for the cubs who never arrived.
North and South Manitou Island signify the point where the cubs drowned. On the shoreline there is a dune with a lot of vegetation on top, which used to look like a sleeping bear. This is where the momma bear waited patiently and sadly for her drowned cubs.
The dune which used to look like a sleeping bear no longer has much vegetation on top and is actually in the process of blowing out. This means the wind is gradually blowing the dune away.
that’s just so sad:( what a touching story..
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This place is beautiful! I would love to hike and hang out here!
Jeremy Branham recently posted..A taste of Paris, Lebanon, and why you should eat at McDonalds when traveling
Great photos wow, makes me want to get up that way again even sooner. Thanks for sharing the Sleeping Bear story, didn’t know that, sad. 🙁
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