Michigan’s ‘skyscraper’ coastal sand dunes


Arcadia Dunes as seen from Greenpoint Dune

Michigan is blessed with some of the most beautiful and tallest coastal sand dunes on the planet. Below is a list of the tallest dunes as measured about the level of the adjoining lake elevation, many of these freshwater dunes top out at skyscraper heights.

View from Empire Bluff Dune overlook to the north – more enormous dunes are visible in the distance.

Please note that this is not meant to be a complete list of all the dunes exceeding 100 feet in height in Michigan, but is intended to represent the tallest ones where the elevation is known through the sources listed at the end of the post. Those dunes which are unnamed are identified by approximate location. A 100 foot minimum was used for the list. As always, additions and corrections are welcome.

Atop Old Baldy in the Arcadia Dunes Preserve with Elberta Dunes in the distance

NOTES:

  • Marked trails do not necessarily extend to the peak of some of these towering  bluffs.
  • Several overlooks were also included in the list as are their corresponding elevation – usually somewhat below the summit.
  • When resources varied on the height of specific dunes, topography maps were used to determine the most correct elevation.
  • For sizable dunes without published data, online topography maps from topozone.com and other similar resources were used to determine the dune’s height.
  • Thankfully, a number of additional dunes have become accessible to the public since the publication of Mr. Dufrense’s book in 2005 (see sources) due to successful preservation campaigns by land conservancies across the state. These include Arcadia, Greenpoint, and Elberta South. Hopefully, such efforts will continue to be successful in the future, as we protect our precious sand dunes across Michigan.

Dusk at one of the smaller Sleeping Bear Dunes near Glen Haven – note the microscopic person standing atop the dune.

  1. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff Main Dune) in Leelanau County = 526 feet
  2. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff, second peak) in Leelanau County = 492 feet
  3. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff Dune, third peak) in Leelanau County = 479 feet
  4. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Momma Bear Dune) in Leelanau County = 473 feet
  5. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Old Baldy Dune) in Leelanau County = 469 feet
  6. Arcadia Dunes (highest dune) in Benzie County = 460 feet
  7. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Shauger Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 460 feet
  8. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pierce Stocking/Overlook 9) in Leelanau County = 450 feet
  9. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune NE of N Bar Lake) in Leelanau County = 447 feet
  10. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune NW of Aral Hills) in Leelannau County = 430 feet
  11. Sleeping Bear Dunes (South Manitou Island – five highest dunes) in Leelannau County measure at 424 feet 338 feet, 329 feet, 325 feet, and 319 feet respectively
  12. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune SE of Momma Bear Dune) in Leelanau County = 417 feet
  13. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Radar Station Dune) in Leelananu County = 407 feet
  14. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff Overlook) in Leelanau County = 400 feet
  15. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune E of N. Bar Lake) in Leelanau County = 397 feet
  16. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune east of Shauger Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 388 feet
  17. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune east of Momma Bear Dune) in Leelanau County = 384 feet
  18. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune north of Shauger Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 381 feet
  19. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune S of Old Baldy Dune) in Leelanau County = 381 feet
  20. Lookout Point Dune in Manistee County = 379 feet
  21. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point Dune) in Leelanau County = 377 feet
  22. Arcadia Dunes (Old Baldy/North Bluff Dune) in Benzie County = 360 feet
  23. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point, second peak) in Leelanau County = 357 feet
  24. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune north of Momma Bear) in Leelanau County = 355 feet
  25. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune SE of Shauger) in Leelanau County = 352 feet
  26. Prospect Hill Dune in Leelanau County = 314 feet
  27. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Cottonwood Trail Dune Overlook) in Leelanau County = 311 feet
  28. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point, third peak) in Leelanau County = 311 feet
  29. Green Point Dune (highest dune) is Benzie County = 311 feet
  30. Dune apprx. one mile north of Onominese Cemetery in Leelanau County = 302 feet
  31. Whaleback Dune at Carp River Pount in Leelananu County = 301 feet
  32. Grand Sable Dunes in Alger County = 300 feet
  33. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point, fourth peak) in Leelanau County = 298 feet
  34. Green Point Dunes Overlook in Benzie County = 288 feet
  35. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Prospect Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 263 feet
  36. Elberta Dune South in Benzie County = 265 feet
  37. Arcadia Overlook/Inspiration Point in Manistee County = 252 feet
  38. P.F. Hoffmaster State Park (highest dune) in Muskegon County = 249 feet
  39. Laketown Park Dune in Allegan County = 240 feet
  40. Warren Dunes State Park (Tower Hill Dune) in Berrien County = 236 feet
  41. Elberta Bluff Dunes (highest dune) in Benzie County = 228 feet
  42. Saugatuck Dunes (highest dune) in Allegan County = 233 feet
  43. High Island Dunes in Charlevoix County = 220 feet
  44. Phillips Cemetery Dune in Mason County = 217 feet
  45. Warren Dunes State Park (Mt. Edward Dune) in Berrien County = 217 feet
  46. Mount Baldhead Dune in Allegan County = 214 feet
  47. Petoskey State Park (Old Baldy Dune) in Emmet County = 212 feet
  48. Bass Lake Dunes in Oceana County = 207 feet
  49. Cathead Dune in Leelanau County = 207 feet
  50. Baldy Dune at Castle Park in Allegan County = 204 feet
  51. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Old Baldy Hill Dune/N. Manitou Island) in Leelanau County = 204 feet
  52. Warren Dunes State Park (Mt. Randall Dune) in Berrien County = 203 feet
  53. P.F. Hoffmaster State Park (unnamed dune) in Muskegon County = 200 feet
  54. Rosy Mound Dune in Ottawa County = 200 feet
  55. Thunder Mountain Dune in Van Buren County = 200 feet
  56. Muskegon State Park (highest dune) in Muskegon County = 200 feet
  57. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Sleeping Bear Point Dune) = 199 feet
  58. P.F. Hoffmaster State Park (Dune Climb) in Muskegon County = 190 feet
  59. Clay Cliffs Dune in Leelanau County = 179 feet
  60. Dune north of Leland in Leelanau County = 174 feet
  61. Warren Dunes State Park (Pikes Peak Dune) in Berrien County = 171 feet
  62. Baldtop in Grand Mere State Park in Berrien County = 170 feet
  63. Tank Hill Dune in Benzie County = 168 feet
  64. Mt. McSauba Dune in Charlevoix County = 163 feet
  65. Silver Lake State Park (highest dune) in = 163 feet
  66. Kirk Park Dune in Ottawa County = 160 feet
  67. Green Mountain Beach Dune in Allegan County = 158 feet
  68. Warren Dunes State Park (Great Warren Dune) in Berrien County= 158 feet
  69. Mt. Pisgah Dune in Ottawa County = 157 feet
  70. Warren Dunes State Park (Mt. Fuller Dune) in Berrien County = 152 feet
  71. Mt. Pisgah Dune on Beaver Island in Charlevoix County = 150 feet
  72. North Beach Park Dune in Ottawa County = 148 feet
  73. McCort Hill Dune in Emmet County = 145 feet
  74. Pelican Peak Dune in Allegan County = 142 feet
  75. Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes (highest dune) is Ottawa County = 140 feet
  76. Nordhouse Dunes (highest dune) in Mason County = 140 feet
  77. Porter Creek Dune (lookout) in Mason County = 140 feet
  78. Tunnel Park Dune in Ottawa County = 140 feet
  79. Big Knob Dune in Mackinac County = 130 feet
  80. Holland State Park (highest dune) in Ottawa County = 130 feet
  81. Kruse Park Dune in Muskegon County = 130 feet
  82. Kitchel Dune in Ottawa County = 130 feet
  83. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Dune Climb) in Leelanau County = 110 feet
  84. Sturgeon Bay Point Dune in Emmet County = 109 feet
  85. Frenchtown Dune in Oceana County = 109 feet
  86. Duck Lake Dune in Muskegon County = 102 feet
  87. Week Beach Dune in Berrien County = 100 feet

Portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from space – Source: earthobservtory.nasa.gov

SOURCES

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This entry was posted in environment, geography, Geology, hiking, historic preservation, history, Maps, nature, place names, planning, Statistics, topography, tourism, trails, Travel, walking, weather, Wildlife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Michigan’s ‘skyscraper’ coastal sand dunes

  1. farlane says:

    Hey there – are you OK with me featuring your post on Michigan in Pictures along with a photo?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Michigan’s Tallest: Sand Dunes Edition | Michigan in Pictures

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