Swimming at Lake Michigan's Warren Dunes: A Family Day Trip
Climbing the Dunes at One of Michigan's Great State Parks
Michigan's Warren Dunes State Park contains three miles of beach among its almost 2,000 acres of dunes, woods and campgrounds. Located on Lake Michigan near the border with Indiana, it is close enough for a day trip from Chicago so it also get a good number of Illinois visitors.
In fact, Wikipedia says the park receives 1 million visitors each year. Judging by the summer day we visited I imagine that could be correct.
Here are some highlights of our visit. All photos were taken by us unless otherwise stated.
Taking a Dip in Lake Michigan, One of North America's Great Lakes
Lake Michigan is the second largest of the five Great Lakes by volume, the third largest by surface area, and the only one entirely within the U.S. borders -- the other four are shared with Canada to the north.
While we had been warned that the lake's temperatures could be quite cool even in summer, we found the water to be almost warm when we were there in mid-August. Maybe not Caribbean-like, but very pleasant.
And clear! The thing that amazed us most about swimming in the lake was how clear the water was. We could easily see the bottom even when we went out to where the water was five-six feet deep. That was probably our biggest surprise.
Of course, being a lake there weren't the waves that ocean swimming has to offer. I enjoyed watching the little children futilely try to use their Boogie Boards on the very gentle ripples caused by passing boats on the lake.
The swimming was gentle and relaxing on the day we were there, and though the beach had a good number of people on it there wasn't a feeling that we were being crowded.
Hiking Up The Sand Dunes at the Park
The dunes at the park are caused by westerly winds that have long swept across the lake, creating piles as high as 240 feet. The sand was softer and more off-white than the stuff at the Jersey Shore that we are used to dealing with during the summer, and that seemed to make it easier to walk on the beach.
However, the softness became quite an obstacle when faced with the challenge of climbing to the top of he dune behind the main parking lot! The dune rises at a fairly sharp angle -- more than 45 degree at some points -- and with the sand being so soft our feet sunk right in to it, making progress very slow.
About 30 feet from the top there is some grass and some fallen tree limbs that we used to help get a leg up, but even so it was an arduous enough ordeal that neither my teenager or wife even bothered to try. My son collapsed about 40 feet from the top and needed to rest for a long time before he could complete the climb.
But it sure was sweet when we got to the top.
Watching the Cheerleaders and Enjoying the Shade
Once my son and I got to the top we sat in the shade alongside other families and just enjoyed the view of the lake and surroundings.
In fact, the top of the dune was like a small party. There were families playing with their dogs and friends hanging out and goofing off. A group of cheerleaders (boys and girls) practiced their routines and flips.
The main attraction though was watching people try to run straight down a steep side of the dune that had been long used for that activity. They would pick up speed as they barreled down, their feet churning, sand shooting everywhere -- and a good many would wipe out at some point and go face first to the ground!
We looked inland from the dune and saw the wooded part of the park. There are six miles of hiking trails available, and some 300 campsites as well. (Later, we would try to drive into one of the camping areas to see what it looked like, but we got turned away by a park guard who said only those who paid for a site could travel to that part of the park. And the north part of the park is open to hunting, so we had no interest in going there.)
My son and I stood at the edge, thinking a long time about joining the locals who were barreling down the dune at at top speed. We dared each other to go for it, but in the end we found a more gently slope to one side and strolled down casually. A nice end to a perfect day at the beach.
Have You Been to Warren Dunes State Park?
Have You Been to Warren Dunes State Park?
For More Information
- Michigan's Warren Dunes State Park
The state's web page about the park, though the information is pretty scant.
- Warren Dunes State Park - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia's page about Warren Dunes has more information.
Book Your Vacation Room Today
We have used Hotels.com to book our recent vacations, and haven't had a problem yet. You do have to spend a bit of time reading the reviews to make sure the hotel you select is exactly what you want, of course. Sometimes a good price just means that the hotel has had a lot of poor reviews and has dropped what it charges to attract customers!
One other bit of good news is that you get a free night's stay after booking 10 nights. The freebie has to be on a subsequent trip, but it has helped us save money. Check out Hotels.com today:
Michigan Maps to Help Guide Your Way
Gettysburg Battlefield Museum: A Pennsylvania Family Day Trip
The Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum, located in the Gettysburg National Military Park, is the best place to start any visit to the Civil War battlefield...
Thomas Edison House Glenmont: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
Thomas Edison, one of America's greatest inventors, lived for more than four decades in a 29-room mansion called Glenmont in the exclusive Llewellyn Park nei...
Thomas Edison's Laboratory: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
The Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey is a great family day trip. Edison was the inventor of the first practical electric bulb, the motion picture camer...
Highlights of the Frick Collection in New York City
The Frick Collection is an art museum in Manhattan's Upper East Side, and is world-famous for its collection of Old Master paintings. Included in the collect...
Highlights of The National Zoo: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is a great place to take the kids when they need a break from all the monuments...
Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the same building, and are officially called the Donald W. Reynolds Cent...
Highlights of the Library of Congress: Thomas Jefferson, Bob Hope and the Gutenberg Bible!
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, photographs, maps and other items in its collection. The Thomas Jefferso...
Renoir and Highlights of the Phillips Collection: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Phillips Collection opened in 1921 as America's first museum of modern art, and it is still considered one of the premiere places to see such masterpiece...
Highlights of the National Museum of American History: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The National Museum of American History in the heart of Washington D.C. is one of those places that can really capture the attention of every member of the f...
Ford's Theatre, Where Lincoln Was Assassinated: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. was the scene of America's greatest tragedy. On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, having successfully guided the c...
Highlights of the National Gallery of Art: A Washington Family Day Trip
The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and is a great change of pace from the many museums that are nearby. The pain...
Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore: A Tourist's Guide to Comic Book Heaven!
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located in Baltimore and is dedicated to all sorts of American pop culture: comic books, television, radio, movies, magazines...
Highlights of Fort McHenry, Birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a great place to visit, full of inspiring history, lovely grounds and cool views. It's also a place to ...
Moon Baltimore Book Review: A Great Little Tourist Guide!
We used this guidebook for a long weekend in Baltimore, and never felt the need to consult any other tour books or seek out more information from the Baltimo...
Things to Do in Nova Scotia: Highlights of Our Family Vacation
Nova Scotia offered our family a good mix of what we seek when we go away on vacation. There's beautiful scenery to hike through, historical and cultural sit...
Top Five Travel Tips For Tourists Going to Nova Scotia
Our family recently visited Nova Scotia, which a wonderful place that has a wide variety of things to do for everyone. We wrote an online diary of the trip, ...
Of Family Vacations and Comic Books
Who Are Goldenrulecomics?
For more about who we are and what we write about please see here:
Of Comic Books and Family Vacations: Who is GoldenRuleComics?
Who is GoldenRuleComics? Actually, the better question is who ARE GoldenRuleComics! I am the father of a teenage daughter, and we live in New Jersey. I hand...
I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as we enjoyed our travels and writing it. Now it's your turn!
Thanks for visiting!