Sand dunes season opener Monday.

March 29, 2019

2016 photo courtesy of Silver Lake State Park.

Sand dunes season opener Monday.

#SilverLakeSandDunes

#SilverLakeStatePark

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

GOLDEN TOWNSHIP – The only place of its kind in the US east of the Mississippi River, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes open for the 2019 season Monday, April 1.

Approximately 1 million people visit the scenic and unique park every year, said Silver Lake State Park Manager Jody Johnston.

“It’s a one million visitor park,” Johnston said. That number includes both visitors to the campground and the ORV area.

Photo courtesy of Silver Lake State Park.

The campground opens for the season Sunday, March 31.

Hours at the ORV area through May 15 are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on May 16, the hours extend until 10 p.m. through early fall. The dunes remain open for the season until Oct. 31.

“As far as an ORV park in the dunes, this is the only place east of the Mississippi,” Johnston said.

Unlicensed ORVs will now be able to operate on Fox Road from the Collin Hansen Welcome Center to the ORV entrance, which is a change just implemented this year, Johnston said. The change came about due to limited parking in the ORV area. Because it is situated in a critical dunes area, the state park cannot expand the ORV parking lot, Johnston said. However, parking at the welcome center is slated for expansion this spring. All permits are sold at the welcome center, which cuts down on time spent waiting in line to get into the dunes, he said.

Photo courtesy of Silver Lake State Park.

The challenge this time of year is having enough staff, Johnston said. The state park is currently accepting applications for seasonal employment (see the help wanted ad on this web site).

The path leading up to the dunes will be widened next year to accommodate two lanes, Johnston said.

Rustic bathrooms/vault toilets will be available on the dunes now. A food vendor will also be on hand. Light House Grill at Hideaway Campground will serve up burgers and other menu items for hungry dune enthusiasts.

Johnston advises dune riders to expect changes in the terrain from last year due to winter winds shifting the sand. “Some hills are steeper.”

Photo courtesy of Silver Lake State Park.

“Go slow and make a couple laps to become familiar with the terrain,” he said. “Look out for the guy not looking out for you.”

“We’ve had some serious accidents. It’s like parachuting – there are certain risks involved.”

There have been as many as 140 crashes on the dunes in one season, he said, but that number also includes non-injury crashes. “For the number of people there, in my opinion, that is a pretty low number.”

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

Photo courtesy of Silver Lake State Park.

 

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