Getting to Know the Dunes - Think Dunes - Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Getting to Know the Dunes

ThinkDunes|February 26th, 2022

Show Me The Way!

You have arrived….so, what’s next? We have assembled all of the information you will need for a great day on the dunes. From parking pitfalls to getting legal, we will make sure you have the lay of the land once you hit the sand.

Know these 5 key areas on and around the dunes…

The Dunes are divided into 5 areas, the ORV Area (no pedestrians permitted) at the northern most section, the Pedestrian Area (no vehicles permitted) in the central section of the Dunes, the area leased by Mac Woods Dune Rides for tours to the south, and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse at the southern most point along the dunes. Along the easter shores of the Pedestrian Dune Area and Mac Woods area you can enjoy the 690 acre all-sports Silver Lake.


This 450-acres area is the reason why many visit in the first place, and also the reason so many come back year after year. The ORV scramble area, is open to 4-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs and dirt bikes. All vehicles must have current permits including: ORV Permit, ORV Trail Permit, and valid Recreation Passport. Before zipping across the sand, stand back and get the lay of the land and be aware of the directional traffic zones designated in the ORV area.

As you make your way out to the ORV area, use the map above as a guide to understand the “do’s and don’ts” while enjoying your time in the sand. Note the two directional sections – when you are on the dunes, you will also see large sign postings as well. Be mindful of these signs and obey them at ALL times, they are there for your safety and the safety of others. As you make your way out from the access road, you can check out the drag racing, or make your way up “Test Hill” the largest of the dunes and the first right out of the opening gate. If you want to get your bearings, make your way up and over “Sunset Hill” for a spectacular view of Lake Michigan before heading over to the “South Flats” where you can get used to your vehicle on the sand is this is your first time. Look here for more information on this section of the dunes. 




For those who are seeking to meander among the dunes, the central section of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes area is designated for hiking/pedestrian foot traffic only. This portion of the dunes offers the opportunity for kids (and adults!) to scale the sand mountains or slide down them on sand boards and toboggans. The beauty of the pedestrian-only section of the sand dunes is highlighted by the connection between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. With nearly 1 mile of rolling dunes between these two diverse bodies of water, you can easily find a bustling spot with locals and visitors, or a secluded corner you can call your own for the day.


The Silver Lake area is home to several miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline in addition to numerous inland lakes. Visitors from all over flock to our beaches in the summer months to enjoy the clean, crisp water and warm sugar sands. Perfect for sunning, swimming, boating, fishing, and much more, these freshwater beaches provide endless enjoyment for the whole family. Nothing is more perfect than the 1-2 punch of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan, connected by 1 mile of rolling dunes. Silver Lake is 690 acres on Little Sable Point. You will find access to the beaches of Silver Lake at Silver Lake State Park and Campground, which provides the only public boat launch to the lake, and at Pedestrian Dunes Area (near the ORV entry area along the northern shores of the lake). If you plan to head over to the Pedestrian Parking area, be sure to know that you are going to have a hike over and across some sand dunes before you make it over to the waters edge. Silver Lake State Park, in addition to providing a great sandy beach location, also features 200 campsites, a playground, boat launch, fishing pier, hiking trails, picnic shelter, and modern restrooms.


Maybe you are traveling with the family and are looking for something lower octane? Mac Wood’s delivers a fun-filled, guided dune ride over our beautiful sand dunes. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the summit of the dune area and splashing along the Lake Michigan shoreline. During this 40-minute leisurely ride, you will learn all about the environment and history of the ever-changing dunes from our knowledgeable guides. Visitors of all ages enjoy this scenic ride and some even make it their annual tradition. This ride is also accessible to the mobility impaired to it can truly be enjoyed by all! On busy weekend, get there early, they don’t take reservations, first come, first served.



Oceana County boasts more than 26 miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, with several public beaches providing access for a stretched-out day relaxing in the sun. When your day exploring the Silver Lake area comes to an end, make your way to the shoreline to watch the sun dip below the horizon line. Truly breathtaking! The shoreline is also home to Little Sable Point Lighthouse built in the late 1870s, which is open for daily tours. Here you can climb up to the top and enjoy a 360 degree view of the dunes and Lake Michigan shoreline. This should be on your list of “must stops” when visiting the dunes! To get to the lighthouse, there is a dedicated parking area along N. Lighthouse Drive. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required to enter and park your vehicle. Just before you come across the lighthouse, about 1/4 miles north, you will find the Golden Township Park. This Lake Michigan beach area located where the Silver Creek channel meets Lake Michigan. Parking is very limited so arrive early or plan on walking from the Lighthouse beach parking lot. Whatever you do, don’t park along the road, or you will be towed away!

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