Dunes opener expected to be ‘as busy or busier’ than holiday weekend.

June 10, 2020

– Contributed photo

Dunes opener expected to be ‘as busy or busier’ than holiday weekend.

Welcome Center gates to open at 3 a.m. Friday.

GOLDEN TOWNSHIP — Silver Lake State Park Manager Jody Johnston said he expects this Saturday’s season opener for the ORV area of the sand dunes to be as busy or busier than a summer holiday weekend.

Normally, the ORV area opens April 1, but due to COVID-19 the date was pushed back.

Under normal conditions, approximately 1 million people visit the scenic and unique park every year, said Johnston. It is the only place of its kind in the US east of the Mississippi River.

The Silver Lake State Park posted the following on its Facebook page:

“The ORV area will open for vehicles Saturday June 13, 2020. We anticipate a very large volume of vehicles and visitors this weekend, and we believe it may be as busy or busier than some of the holiday weekends. Please keep these things in mind as you visit the park. As always, please operate safely! Please adhere to social distancing and other CDC guidelines pertaining to the COVID-19 issue.

• The parking lot voucher system will be in effect for weekends and holidays. Additional 8-9 a.m. vouchers have been added to account for the new parking lot located at the Welcome Center. If you prefer to park in the original ORV lot, you will want to get a 7-8 a.m. voucher.
• The Welcome Center gates will open at 3 a.m. on Friday June 12 to allow visitors who feel the need to arrive early to receive a parking lot voucher. Vehicles will be lined up in the order of arrival. No unattended vehicles. Vouchers will be handed out beginning at 8 a.m. as usual.
• ORV permits and recreation passports are not required on vehicles for this weekend. This is the first of two free ORV weekends each summer. You may purchase permits at the Welcome Center if you choose, but you may also make these purchases on a future visit when it may not be as busy this weekend may be.
• The Welcome Center will be open for permit sales on Friday June 12 until 6 p.m., but there will be a lot of parking lot voucher people in there for vouchers that morning. It is recommended that people not attempt to enter until after 10 a.m. if you are just purchasing permits so you do not get caught up in traffic unnecessarily.
• The up-ramp now has two lanes for traffic, and there will be several openings to allow traffic to change lanes if needed. Please stay in your chosen lane unless traffic stops in your lane for some reason and a lane change is justified. Lane changes to speed entry or pass other vehicles is not permitted. Frequent lane changes, passing vehicles, speeding on this up ramp will be strictly enforced. Please operate slowly on the up ramp and down ramp areas.
• DNR staff has moved the north boundary line in about 100 yards in from the normal location. This 100-yard-wide area begins at Lake Michigan and extends a short way into the North Directional Zone. This area is a temporarily closed area required by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect a Great Lakes Piping Plover nest site. The Great Lakes Piping Plover is an endangered species, and we are required by several rules and laws (including the Endangered Species Act) to protect these birds. This small closed area will return to normal use once the plover chicks fledge (fly) which is around the end of July/early August.”

The area shaded in blue is reserved to protect a Great Lakes Piping Plover nest site.

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