Does Nordhouse Dunes have Michigan’s Best Sunrise?

Nordhouse Dunes Sunrise, photo by Shane Blood Photography

That’s the question the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area Facebook page asked Michigan in Pictures on Facebook. It’s a good question. Click over and let them know what you think!

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area:

…is a Federally designated wilderness in Michigan’s lower peninsula and encompasses 3,450 acres of National Forest. Nordhouse Dunes is part of the Ludington Dune Ecosystem, which also includes Lake Michigan Recreation Area, and Ludington State Park. The dunes were formed 3,500 to 4,000 years ago and stand up to 140 feet high. Ludington Dune Ecosystem has the largest area of fresh water interdunal ponds in the world. The interdunal ponds, small water holes and marshes, decorate the area. Dune grass covers many of the dunes and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species.

The Nordhouse Dunes are interspersed with woody vegetation such as juniper, jack pine and hemlock. Plant life is varied and includes the Federally Endangered Pitcher’s Thistle. The sand beach along the lake varies from narrow to wide and is home to the Federally Endangered Piping Plover, a shore bird that nests on the ground in small cobbles.

The wilderness area is popular for hiking, camping, hunting, nature study and wildlife viewing. There are approximately 10-miles of trail that can be accessed from 2 developed trailheads at the end of Nurnberg Road and Lake Michigan Recreation Area.

View the photo bigger and head over to Shane Blood Photography on Facebook for more shots from Nordhouse Dunes.

More Michigan sunrises on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan’s Tallest: Sand Dunes Edition

Empire Bluff, photo by Pantheos

The author of my favorite Michigan blogs writes that Michigan is blessed with some of the most beautiful and tallest coastal sand dunes on the planet. He decided to climb some and put together a big old list of 87 Michigan’s ‘skyscraper’ Coastal Dunes that he could verify at 100′ or more in height.

This photo is from the tallest one, the 526-foot Empire Bluff Dune in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (which includes many of the tallest). To put this in perspective, it’s almost exactly 200′ shorter that our tallest building, the Renaissance Center in Detroit as well as One Detroit Center and the Penobscot, but it’s taller than the 4th highest – the Guardian Building.

More photos and a list of all the dunes on the post, including the option to follow!

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Feeling Free at Pierce Stocking

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Feeling Free, photo by Matt Kazmierski

Few places in Michigan have the expansive view of the Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s 450′ feet down to the water, so remember that freedom comes at a price!

View Matt’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Warren Dunes in black & white

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Warren Dunes, photo by Mark Swanson

Warren Dunes State Park has three miles of shoreline and six miles of hiking trails on nearly 2000 acres. It is open year-round, and the centerpiece is the dune formation that rises 260 feet above the lake and offers spectacular views. It’s also our busiest state park!

View Mark’s photo bigger and see more in his Michigan – Black & White slideshow.

More about Edward K Warren & Warren Dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Silver Dunes, Remains

Silver Dune, Remains, photo by Charles Bonham

View Charles’ photo background big and see more in his Silver Lake Sand Dunes slideshow.

Soaring Saturday: Hang Gliding in Michigan

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Coming In, photo by David Clark

USA Today has a feature on Hang Gliding Sites in Michigan that says (in part):

Most individuals will need lessons in hang gliding from a certified instructor prior to their first flight. Hang gliding schools provide instructions, gear, permits and safety equipment. The Draachen Fliegen Soaring Club is located in Cloud 9 Field between Detroit and Lansing, with instructors offering “tandem discovery” flights lasting from 15 minutes to one hour. Gliders drift in air space up to two miles high, in tandem with an instructor. Individuals with proven experience and certifications may rent gliders for solo flights. Traverse City Hang Gliders offers full programs of training and instruction in both traditional powerless hang gliding and “the Mosquito” powered hang gliding harness.

Hang gliding enthusiasts can enjoy practicing the sport at national parks within the state of Michigan, including Sleeping Bear Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several spots within the park are approved for powerless flight. Hang gliders can take off and land at Empire Bluff, Pyramid Point and Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, as well as Dune Climb in the months of November through March. Powerless flight permits are required and can be obtained free of charge at the Visitor Center Information Desk. Launch sites within the park require proficiency ratings established by the U.S. Hang Gliding Association. Gliders must also follow safety and federal regulations. Warren Dunes State Park also issues permits for hang gliding along the coastal dunes, about 14 miles from the state border with Indiana. Favorite launch and return sites within the park include Tower Hill and New Buffalo.

In the 1970s, Elberta Beach and the adjacent city of Frankfort, in Northern Michigan, were popular spots for what was then the new sport of hang gliding. Once referred to as the “Sail Plane Capital,” the area is still a magnet for gliders today. Just south of Frankfort, gliders can experience the thrill of soaring over sand dunes at Green Point Dunes. The Green Point Flyers Association, established in 1978, is a club for both hang gliders and parasailers, with a main flying site that is a sand dune stretching for three miles at a height of 370 feet. Licenses are required to fly at Green Point, and certified instructors are available. Pilots at Green Point also have access to hang gliding sites inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, as well as the bluffs of Elberta. Visitors can also team up for a ride with members of the Northwest Soaring Club, which is located in Cadillac, Michigan. Flights depart from the Wexford County Airport, then cruise over Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac.

View David’s photo background bigilicious, see more in his Turning 42 slideshow, and view and purchase work at leelanauphotography.com!

If you’d like to get a look at the process, here’s a video of aerial photographer Jim Anderson taking a flight from the Bluffs!

Rockport State Recreation Area on Lake Huron

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Rockport State Recreation Area – I, Alpena, MI, September, 2016, photo by Norm Powell

The Alpena CVB’s page on Rockport State Recreation Area says:

Rockport State Park, Michigan’s 100th State Park and an official Dark Sky Preserve, has over 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron north of Alpena. The property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, Devonian Era fossils, the Besser Natural Area, and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor the DNR has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park with picnic areas.

If you click through, they have a nifty guide that includes more information on the offerings including the fossils and sinkholes! You can get a map and more info from the State of Michigan’s page on Rockport Recreation Area.

View Norm’s photo bigger, see more in his slideshow, and view and purchase his photos on his website.

Many more Michigan parks on Michigan in Pictures!