Tag: Empire Bluff
Back in 2019, we managed to score a campsite at one of Michigan’s most popular campgrounds right when they were first available to be booked in advance. Of course, I’m referring to D.H. Day Campground and when we first set up camp, we understood the hype around the campground. First of all, it is located in the amazingly beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Second, the campsites are big and private and the campground is quiet. Third, it is located in a great spot to explore all the fun things on Leelanau.
With campgrounds being closed longer than normal due to COVID, we didn’t attempt to get a prime summer reservation in 2020. Instead, we waited until late in the season when the campground goes back to sites being available on a first come first serve basis. This was Halloween weekend and I was nervous the campground was going to be busy and we were going to have a hard time getting a spot. Well, snow was on the forecast, and being a rustic park there is no electric service to heat up your campers in the freezing temperatures. When we pulled in there were maybe only three or four other sites that were occupied.
We did what any D.H. Day loving camper would do in that situation and we took one of the coveted and near impossible to reserve in the summer waterfront sites. It was very cold and the wind was strong so it was hard to enjoy the beach, but on the other side of the dune, it was a wonderful campsite. We discovered that many sites in this section involve some dune climbing to reach so there are only a few that are accessible to RVs or trailers. Those sites would be AMAZING for tents, though.
If you have been struggling to get a site at D.H. Day, try going offseason. It will be even quieter than in the summer and you may even be able to score a waterfront site. If you go in the fall you’ll also be treated to a show of fall colors on Leelanau. You’ll just need to bring extra blankets and maybe some hand warmers to keep warm.
While in Sleeping Bear Dunes we had to hike the Empire Bluff Trail (top). The last time we had been to the park, we tried the Alligator Hill trail and it did not live up to Empire Buff. I have heard really good things about the Pyramid Point trail and we will have to try it next time but I just needed another chance to soak in that Empire Bluff view before I try another trail that may or may not be better.
To try your hand a reserving a site at this very popular campground, visit Recreation.gov. Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.
This past summer, we took a weekend camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Located on Lake Michigan, just south of Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of the most beautiful places in the state! Usually, when we visit the dunes, we head for the Empire Bluff Trail, which ends in one of the best lookouts in the state. This time, we decided to try something different and hike the Alligator Hill Trail, one of the most popular trails in the park.
Although longer than the short Empire Bluff Trail, Alligator Hill was an easier hike. It was a gradual uphill for most of the 1.3 mile hike to the lookouts. By avoiding the intermediate and advanced trails and stopping at each of the lookouts, this hike is 4.1 miles round trip, but much less strenuous than climbing to the top of Empire Bluff. The view from the overlooks was nice, but it didn’t compare to the striking sand cliff at Empire Bluff.
After hiking Alligator Hill, I have some recommendations for hikers at Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you are looking for a fairly easy day hike, with some nice views, you can’t go wrong with Alligator Hill. If you’re up for something a little more strenuous with absolutely amazing views, hike Empire Bluff. I was glad we hiked the Alligator Hill trail, but the next time we’re at the dunes, we will go back to Empire Bluff instead!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week to read more about our weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.