Beautiful Grand Mere Dunes

Beautiful Grand Mere Dunes by Mark Swanson

Beautiful Grand Mere Dunes by Mark Swanson

Michigan Trail Maps says that Grand Mere State Park:

…is a 985-acre unit in Berrien County that lacks the amenities found in most other state parks along Lake Michigan, including a campground and even direct access to its mile of Lake Michigan shoreline. It attracts only a fraction of the visitors that flock to parks such as Warren Dunes or Hoffmaster. Yet from a naturalist’s point of view Grand Mere is one of the most inquiring set of dunes in the state, an area so ecologically diverse that it 1976 it was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Congress.

The glaciers that scooped out the Great Lakes 10,000 years ago also carved out a number of smaller depressions along the western edge of the state, which evolved into interdunal lakes, ponds, and wetlands. At one time, this area contained a chain of five such lakes that were protected ecologically by a line of windblown sand dunes between them and Lake Michigan. Now there are only three, a result of aquatic succession. Today Grand Mere is a textbook example of the various stages of succession from aquatic communities to terrestrial. Beginning at North Lake, you can see how each lake is progressively disappearing, with open water first turning into marsh and then woodland swamps and closed bog forests, the fate of the former two lakes that lie south of the park.

Almost 4 miles of trails form a loop through open dunes and the wooded areas of the park, but the only designated trail is a half-mile Nature Trail. The paved, handicapped accessible trail extends from the picnic shelter around South Lake, passing 10 interpretive posts that correspond to back of the park map. The rest of the trails are neither posted nor maintained. The most distinguishable trail extends almost a mile from a small parking area off Wishart Road to the west end of the Nature Trail.

Mark took this photo a couple months ago & you can see more in his Spring gallery on Flickr.

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Michigan State Parks announce Covid-19 policy changes

Dune Climbers by Bill Dolak

Dune Climbers by Bill Dolak

The Michigan DNR has announced that although state parks and recreation areas remain open to provide residents with local opportunities to get outdoors, extensive travel should be minimal & effective social distancing is required so that unsafe conditions do not develop and state-managed lands can remain open.

“We are doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff at state parks and recreation areas,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “No matter how people are choosing to get outdoors, it is critical that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines. If they don’t, we will be forced to close public access to all state-managed lands.”

Closures and reduction in services include

Many park amenities have been closed in order to minimize the chance of people gathering in groups and/or maximize the environment for effective social distancing. Current closures include, but are not limited to, concessions, playgrounds and play equipment, viewing platforms, fishing piers, GaGa ball bits, volleyball and basketball courts, designated dog areas, disc golf courses, radio-controlled flying fields, pump tracks, and picnic tables and shelters.

All bathroom buildings and vault toilets will be closed in all state parks and recreation areas, including those at campgrounds, boating access sites, trailheads at state-designated trails, etc. People are encouraged to plan accordingly to avoid needing a restroom during a visit. Note: Over the next few days, vault toilets will be closing. Many locations, where available, will be transitioning to portable toilets that will be cleaned by local vendors.

There will be minimal trash service available. Visitors are encouraged to bring trash bags, if needed, to carry trash home and minimize litter.

No hand washing stations will be provided. Please carry hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes containing at least 60% alcohol, as well as trash bags to carry out used wipes.

Additionally, grooming of snowmobile trails (the season closes March 31) and grooming, brushing, grading and clearing of all nonmotorized trails and ORV trails are suspended until at least the end of the order. When out on any trail, be aware of surroundings, including the potential for washouts or debris. To report anything that could be a risk to other trail users, call 517-331-0111.

Follow the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage for the latest closure information related to events, meetings and facilities, including campgrounds, harbors and other sites.

Bill took this photo last October at Van Buren State Park near South Haven. See many more incredible shots in his Drone the Sixth – DJI Phantom 4 Advanced album on Flickr!

See photos and read about many of Michigan’s state & national parks on Michigan in Pictures!

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Flip out because Summer 2016 is here!!

Grand Haven Flip

Grand Haven MI, photo by Cyndie M

Summer 2016 is here, and as it’s the only Summer 2016 you’re ever gonna have – I recommend you get the most out of it!!

Cyndie took this last week at the sand dunes by Grand Haven. View it background bigtacular, see more in her slideshow, and check out more of her work on her website.

PS: More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

The Science of Sand Waves, Silver Lake Dunes Edition

Sand Waves

Sand Waves, photo by Charles Bonham

Confession: I probably don’t give Silver Lake Dunes State Park enough love. What an incredible place.

In Scientific American Robert S. Anderson, associate professor of earth sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz explains why regular, wavelike shapes form when the wind blows over the sand on the beach for a long time:

Ripples in sand, found on both beaches and dunes, are one of nature’s most ubiquitous and spectacular examples of self-organization. They do not result from some predetermined pattern in the wind that is somehow impressed on the surface, but rather from the dynamics of individual grains in motion across the surface. They arise whenever wind blows strongly enough over a sand surface to entrain grains into the wind. The subsequent hopping and leaping of these grains is called saltation. Saltating grains travel elongated, asymmetric trajectories: Rising relatively steeply off the bed, their path is then stretched downwind as they are accelerated by drag forces. They impact the sand surface centimeters to tens of centimeters downwind, typically at a low angle, around 10 degrees. It is this beam of wind-accelerated grains impacting the sand surface at a low angle that is responsible for ripples.

“An artificially flattened sand surface will not remain flat for long. (Try it on the beach or on the upwind side of a dune and see for yourself.) Small irregular mottles in the sand surface, perhaps a couple centimeters in wavelength, rapidly arise and grow once the wind starts to blow hard enough to initiate saltation. They then slowly organize themselves into more regular waves whose low crests are aligned perpendicular to the wind direction and begin to march slowly downwind. Typical ripple spacing is about 10 centimeters, whereas the typical height of the crests above the troughs is a few millimeters. The pattern is never perfect, but instead the ripple crests occasionally split or terminate, generating a pattern that looks remarkably like one’s fingerprint.

Read on for a whole lot more including Michigan Sea Grant educator Walt Hoagman explaining how the speed of wind (and water) over sand influences the waves.

View Charles’s photo background bigilicious and definitely check out his incredible Silver Lake Dunes photos.

More science, more dunes and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Promising Start

Promising Start

Promising Start, photo by Heather Higham

Heather writes:

Hard to believe that a raging storm tore through just hours after this idyllic morning in the dunes. But this is from the same day (Sunday) as the monster winds that uprooted and snapped countless large trees…

View her photo bigger, see more in her Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow and follow her at Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook.

PS: I’ve been posting lots of updates from the storm on my Leelanau.com Facebook.

View of Manitou Islands from Sleeping Bear Dunes

View of Manitou Islands from Sleeping Bear Dunes

View of Manitou Islands from Sleeping Bear Dunes, photo by jess_clifton

Last week’s Leelanau Enterprise is reporting that October 2013 had the lowest number of Sleeping Bear Dunes visitors in a decade – an impressive testimony to the impact of our recent government shutdown. You’ll be able to read the article in a month … when it’s no longer news I guess.

Jess took this from the Pierce Stocking Drive a week ago. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in her Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow.

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.