Silver Lake Sand Dunes Information & FAQs - Think Dunes - Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Silver Lake Sand Dunes Information & FAQs

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on accessing and enjoying the Silver Lake Sand Dunes!

In this guide, we provide essential information on location, hours of operation, permits, and passports; as well as general dune rules and safety tips. We also delve into the parking voucher system, which helps manage long lines during peak times.

So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned dune enthusiast, our guide has you covered for a safe and fun-filled experience at Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

How to Access the Silver Lake Sand Dunes:

Here’s a breakdown of accessing the Silver Lake Sand dunes, hours of operation, and State Park contact information. For full details, please visit the state park’s website and review all access information.

  • Location: 8960 W. Fox Road, Mears, Michigan, 49436
  • Season Information & Hours of Operation:
    • Open April 1 – Oct. 31 each year:
    • April 1 – 30, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • May 1 – Sept. 15, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Sept. 16 – Oct. 31, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Access to the ORV area and dunes is stopped ½ hour ahead of closing time each evening.
  • Permits & Passports: To enter the park, all motor vehicles riding on the dunes must display:
    • ORV license AND ORV trail permit.: Purchase at DNR ORV Welcome Center, or online.
    • Recreation Passport: Learn more by visiting the states website. & passport: Purchase at DNR ORV Welcome Center, or online
  • Orange Flag: To ride in the dunes, vehicles must display a rectangular orange safety flag that is 10 foot in height (at standstill, 8-foot in motion).
  • Learn More: Learn more by visiting the Silver Lake Stake Park’s website, or by contacting the State Park’s office directly at 231-873-3083.


Infographics & Guides:




Dune Map

Explore the Silver Lake Sand Dunes with ease using our comprehensive PDF map, which highlights the designated sections and ORV areas within the dunes. This valuable resource also provides the flow directions for each area, ensuring a safe and enjoyable off-roading experience for everyone. Keep this map handy to effortlessly navigate the diverse terrain and make the most of your time at the dunes.

View Maps



General Dune Rules:

Below is a quick start guide for rules. Please review all rules (even a break-down by vehicle type) by visiting the State Park’s official website.

  • Age for Operators:
    • 16 years or older: You must have a valid driver’s license. An ORV safety certificate is recommended.
    • At least 12 years old: You must have a valid ORV safety certificate and are under adult supervision, you may operate a 4-wheel ATV or a 2-wheel bike.
    • Under 12: You cannot operate vehicles on the dunes, but you may ride as passengers in ORVs.
  • Equipment: There are a handful of equipment-related requirements. Such as headlights, eye protection, helmets, tire PSI recommendations, etc. Please review these rules here.
  • Other Important Rules: There are also a handful of other helpful rules and requirements related to the general use of the Dunes. Such as alcohol usage, remote controlled devices, pets, speed limits, etc. Please review these rules here.
  • Requirements by vehicle type: The Silver Lake Sand Dunes state park has a break-down of requirements by vehicle type. Such as sound level requirements, specific eye protection, etc. Please review these rules here.
  • Full list of rules and regulations: See the full list of rules and regulations put forth by the Silver Lake State Park in the Land Use Order of the Director.

Dune Safety – S.A.N.D. and Be Safe:

The Silver Lake & Hart Visitor’s Bureau & Chamber of Commerce, in communication with local partners are working together to safeguard Michigan’s premier destination for ORV adventure, Silver Lake Sand Dunes. As such, the S.A.N.D. initiative was started.

What does S.A.N.D. stand for?

Stop, Assess, Note, & Drive – the S.A.N.D. acronym was designed to help dune visitors keep safety at top of mind. Each letter intends to remind us of the things we all need to do to keep each other safe.

  • S – Stop & Think: Pause for a moment, take another peek at the map. Have a plan of attack before getting in on the action.
  • A – Assess the Situation: Weather and wind change the dunes daily, and sometimes hourly. Before you rev it up, do a slow lap to get the lay of the land.
  • N – Note Your Surroundings: Everyone is here to have a great time. Some are risk takers and others are just puttering along. Overconfidence can be dangerous. Keep an eye out before making any quick moves.
  • D – Drive Safely: Be careful out there, and get ready for some fast-paced, free roaming fun on the unrivaled dunes of Silver Lake!

Learn more about S.A.N.D. by reading a past blog post.

Dune Parking Information:

Dune Ready & Non-Dune Ready Vehicles

Dune ready vehicles can use the dune ready express lane for a more efficient entry by following the solid red line/arrows. Non-dune ready vehicles should follow the dotted red line/arrows. The orange line/arrows indicate the clockwise travel direction of the parking lot.

Parking Lot Voucher System

The voucher system was created to manage long lines at the park during weekends and holidays. Free parking lot vouchers, available at the Off-Road Vehicle Welcome Center, provide a designated parking area for tow vehicles and trailers, and help stagger arrival times by holding a place in line.

  • Voucher System Season: Vouchers are distributed from mid-May (two weeks before Memorial Day) through the summer on weekends and holidays until the Sunday after Labor Day.
  • Voucher Distribution Times: The Fox Road voucher distribution point is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., starting at 8 a.m. on Friday. The Welcome Center adjusts its hours based on traffic and usage.
  • Voucher Time Periods: Parking Lot Vouchers cover two periods: 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. or 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Stand-by Vouchers are distributed after these periods’ spaces are exhausted.
  • Late Arrivals: Late arrivals must secure a Parking Lot Stand-by Voucher for later entry. No parking spaces are guaranteed after 9 a.m.
  • Leaving and Re-entering: Voucher holders re-entering the park must go to the end of the waiting line, and space is not guaranteed upon return.
  • Number of Daily Vouchers: Spaces in the lot determine the number of vouchers. Stand-by Vouchers are used for unexpected events.
  • Picking up a Voucher for Someone Else: An adult can pick up one voucher for themselves or someone else, requiring the user’s name and main vehicle license number.
  • Voucher Center Parking Lot: Used for Stand-by Voucher stacking during regular business hours, with no overnight parking allowed.
  • ORV Area Parking Lot: Spaces are 12ft x 60ft, and no side awnings are allowed on voucher days.
  • Use of Trailers: Trailers are not allowed in the ORV Area beyond the Safety Check Station, except for certain situations with Park Rangers’ approval.

Remember to purchase your Recreation Passport and ORV license and permits at the Welcome Center or any DNR license agent and dealer to speed up entry into the ORV area. For more information, visit the State Park’s official website.

Infographics & Guides:




What parts of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes are designated for pedestrians and vehicles?

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are divided into three areas: the Pedestrian Area (no vehicles allowed), the ORV Area (no pedestrians allowed), and the area leased by Mac Woods Dune Rides for tours. Consult a map for more information.

When are the Dunes open and what are their hours?

The Dunes are open from April 1 to October 31. Early Season hours (April 1-May 1) are 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily; Peak Season hours (May 1-September 15) are 9:00 am to 10:00 pm daily; and Late Season hours (September 15-October 31) are 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily.

Can I bring a motorbike or ATV on the Dunes?

Yes, motorbikes and ATVs are allowed on the Dunes if they have a safety flag and spark arrestor. Goggles and helmets are also required.

Do I need a permit to drive on the Dunes?

Yes, you need an ORV Permit, an ORV Trails Permit, and a Recreation Passport. Learn more about obtaining these permits.

What are the requirements for taking my vehicle on the Dunes?

To drive on the Dunes, you must have a valid ORV Permit, ORV Trails Permit, and Recreation Passport; a 4-wheel drive vehicle; tires with a maximum of 15 PSI; and a safety flag.

What type of flag is required for the Dunes, and how tall should it be?

A single type of flag is required for the Dunes. All 4-wheel drive vehicles must display an 8-foot flag mounted to the front bumper at 10 feet off the ground. Motorbikes and ATVs must display the flag mounted to the rear at 10 feet off the ground.

What should my tire pressure be on the Dunes?

Your tire pressure should be between 12 and 15 PSI while driving on the Dunes.

Can I rent a dune buggy or ATV for the Dunes?

Yes, there are several places in Silver Lake that rent dune buggies and ATVs. Check out the listings for rental options.

Are there safety tips I should know?

Absolutely, please review the State Park’s Dune Safety information before venturing out.

Do I need a driver’s license to ride an ATV on the Dunes?

To operate an ATV on the Dunes, you must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license or have an ORV Safety Training Certificate from the Michigan DNR. Riders aged 12-16 must complete a DNR ORV education course, and certificates can be obtained through the DNR’s website. Children under 12 may not operate an ORV/ATV in Silver Lake State Park but may ride as passengers in ORVs. Only one person is allowed on an ATV-quad wheel vehicle or dirt bike.

Can I access Lake Michigan from the Dunes?

Yes, you can park within 50-100 yards of the water in the designated ORV Area and walk to the beach as marked by Silver Lake State Park. Vehicles are not allowed on the water’s edge. Alternatively, you can walk to the lake through the Pedestrian Area of the Dunes. Outside of the Dunes, there are several other parks with Lake Michigan beach access and convenient parking.

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