Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Track for Record-Breaking Year

Hundreds of thousands of people, from all over the country, are helping push Sleeping Bear Dunes to another record-breaking year.

Last year, the National Park saw more than 1.5 million visitors.

It was their best year ever.

But so far this year, they’ve already surpassed those numbers.

Fox 32’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Harrison Light explain what’s helping boost the park’s visitor numbers.

“The beaches are really very popular this time of year. Our campgrounds are full every night this time of year.”

Great summer weather, the National Park’s Centennial Anniversary and a growing spotlight on northern Michigan – there big reasons why the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is on their way to a record-breaking year.

“It’s been the busiest ever. We have been busy all year long but we really saw it in July. We’re about 5% ahead in visitation,” says Merrith Baughman, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park Ranger.

The park is drawing in former and new visitors, like Robert Barrall who made the trip from Pennsylvania.

“I had to see it to believe it myself. It’s incredible. It’s more than what I expected really,” Barrall says. “It’s a beautiful site that nature created and it’s very easy to go down, but very hard to come up so I’m not even going to attempt it today.”

From the sun dunes, to the water, businesses within the National Park grounds are seeing the uptick too.

“We’re a perfect half day adventure,” says Kyle Orr, owner of Riverside Canoe Trips. “For people who want to do a half day doing Pierce Stocking drive and the dune climb, and then spending the other half of the day going down the river. Spending time at Platte River Point at the beach.”

The National Park has already seen more than one million visitors this year.

And they enjoy it just as much as the people visiting.

“I think the staff loves introducing people to the park because we love the park,” Baughman says. “So I think that’s the best part of it. And seeing so many kids and families in the park enjoying the park. It’s just wonderful.”

In celebrating of the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary several events are planned.

The NPS Centennial Band is performing around Traverse City, Petoskey and the National Park from August 18-20th.

You can find more information here.