Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Increasing Summer Numbers

One of the most beautiful places in America, and it’s right in our backyard.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is reporting a record breaking year.

“We are always here to welcome visitors,” says park ranger Merrith Baughman.

With over 256,000 visitors in June alone the park is looking at a record year.

“2012 has been our highest visitation with over 1.5 million. Last year we had close to 1.4 million, but we're approaching the 2012 visitation. We are right on the mark,” Baughman says.

The park’s natural beauty has become a must see for many near and far.

“People are learning about all the things to be done in the park. If you go to the dune climb you'll see plates from all 50 states and Canada.”

More visitors means more foot traffic for neighboring businesses.

“I would say nine out of every ten customers that come into Empire Village Inn come in because they are coming from the sand dunes,” manager Jeremy Houghton says. “It's always in some sort of top 10 list of national parks to go to so it certainly helps business and awareness in the area.

Riverside Canoe Trips sees themselves as an additional attraction to what the park offers.

“I think we go as the park goes. When the park's numbers are up, we're definitely up and I attribute it all to the weather. When the weathers nice people flock to the park and flock to the river,” owner Kyle Orr says. “A lot of people will quite often do a morning trip here and do the scenic drive in the afternoon and dune climb as well, or vice versa. Just make a day here at the park and it's a great way to do a river trip and see the park all in one day.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a place many keep coming back to year after year.

“You’ve been here once, it's very easy to fall in love with this place, and people just keep coming back,” Baughman says.