Fat Biking on Silver Lake Sand Dunes

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are famous for their 450 acre ORV area where people bring their favorite off-road vehicle for a day on the dunes. When the season would change to winter, that same ORV waited until spring for everyone to return. That is until now! From December 15th through March 15th, the ORV is open to fat bikes. We geared up and made our way to the dunes for a new experience on the dunes.

This article first appeared on enjoymiplayground

First off, when you arrive at Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park, park at the pedestrian area of the dunes. A standard recreation passport is all you need to access the park and dunes. Once you park you will see signs right away on how to access the dunes on your fat bike. Like our typical outdoor adventures, we dressed for the weather. Being in the right gear in winter leads to the best experience. A tip from the start is to make sure to bring goggles, they are key!

The entrance for fat biking is actually the typical exit for ORV’s. Right before heading into the dunes you will see a map and additional information about the fat biking area. Depending on the amount of snow in the area, the entrance can have some snow to get through but don’t let make you think this will be what the dunes are like.

Once on the dunes, it is all about choosing your own adventure. For us, we decided to ride out towards Lake Michigan and then up the larger dunes to get views of the entire area and have fun riding down the dunes. We then made the decision that we wanted to get to the top of the iconic Test Hill. If you have ever been to Silver Lake Sand Dunes you probably know what Test Hill is. While ORV’s drive straight up the face of the dune, that would pretty much be impossible on a fat bike. “Pretty much” probably doesn’t need to be included here and we can just say that it would be impossible. Getting to the top is not impossible though. We found a path starting on the west side of test hill and make our way to the top from that side.

After reaching the top of Test Hill we took in the views before having what we believe is the most fun part. Riding down the dunes! Find a line and be ready for changing ground conditions with frozen sand, soft sand and snow. After conquering Test Hill we explored other parts of the fat biking area. This is quite a different experience than riding fat bikes on a groomed trail. There is a lot of opportunity for exploring and choosing your own adventure. It is challenging and fun at the same time.

One thing about the dunes are that they are ever changing because of wind and other weather conditions. This will lead to a new experience each time out. We recommend planning on spending at least a few hours out on the dunes. We packed waters, coffees and snacks to help us stay out for longer. Overall this is an amazing new way to be able to enjoy the Silver Lake Sand Dunes!

Check out this full video to learn more about riding the dunes!


Fall Fun in Silver Lake

Sunset of Silver Lake

It’s no secret the Silver Lake area is known for its splendid beauty and brilliant colors in the autumn months.

New for 2022! Silverback Offroad and Sunbuggy ORV Rentals will be open everyday until the ORV area closes October 31! Silver Lake ORV Rentals

With the dunes and lakeshore as a backdrop, the radiance of the trees always astounds. This year, we expect peak color to be mid October, and don’t forget the last day to enjoy riding the dunes is October 31st — so, plan your vacation accordingly!

Here are a few of our favorite fall festivals and activities you won’t want to miss while you’re here.

Silver Lake Area Fall Festivals

Steinfest Celebration at Golden Sands Golf Course & Bucket Bar

October 1st 4pm – 11pm

Commemorate the end of summer by attending the famed Steinfest at Golden Sands Golf Course & Bucket Bar. This favorite event, cherished by all golf and beer lovers, allows you to try your hand at keg rolling, keg tossing, an obstacle course, and of course — stein hoisting!

Shelby 2022 Harvest Festival – Farm To Table

October 1st, 2022  12pm-7pm

Put on by Shelby Township, The Village, The Chamber, and Schools of Shelby. The 2021 Harvest Festival is back. Saturday from 12pm to 7pm visit downtown Shelby (on Michigan Avenue) for a fresh farm to table meal, live music, antique car show, carnival games, and more. Pig roast serviced from 4pm-6pm.

Pentwater Area Fall Festivals

Head to nearby Pentwater to seek out even more autumn fun!

30th Annual Fall Fest Arts and Crafts Show

September 24th 10am – 5pm & September 25th 10am – 3pm

Stop by to do some shopping on the Village Green. Skilled crafters, artisans, and collectors will be selling their makes and wares all weekend — plus live music!

25th Annual Oktoberfest

October 9th 10 am

Join the long-standing tradition of Oktoberfest in downtown Pentwater. All-day activities include the famed Stout Stumble 5K, the Classic Car and Hot Rod Show, live music, great food, and much more!

More Family Activities and Sightseeing Near Silver Lake

Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo

Enjoy loads of family fun at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo. Choose pumpkins in the Pumpkin Patch, find your way through the Corn Maze, pick your own apples, ride the BumpAlong Barrel Train, and much more! Fall activities and events run through October 31st.

Mac Wood’s Dune Rides

Take a 7-mile tour on a Mac Wood’s dune buggy and see the dunes like you never have before! Learn their history and how they were formed — plus what fulgurites and piping plovers are! Hurry to get your tickets now because Mac Wood’s will close for the season after October 2nd.

Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Center

Spend the day go-karting, mini golfing, and bumper boating with the fam! Although hours are limited to just a few final Saturdays and Sundays (the season ends October 2nd), there’s still time to enjoy all that Craig’s Cruisers has to offer.

Getting a jumpstart on planning your autumn getaway?

Make sure the Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a part of your big adventure!

It all starts here. Check out our Lodging page to find the perfect place to stay. Our Food & Drink page features listings of popular area eateries, and you’ll find even more ideas for fall fun on our Things to Do page.

For additional information on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and how best to enjoy your vacation at the dunes, take a look at our Visitors Guide.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Reflections on a Great Season

Little Sable Lighthouse

Reflections on a Great 2021 Dune Season

GENERAL NEWS| January 2022

As start the new year, we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on our past season at the dunes.

Although as a region and a nation we faced many of the same challenges as we faced in 2020 this year, we are immensely proud of the way our community came together with creativity and tenacity. In the end, it was a record-breaking season — with well-over one million visitors at the State Park alone.

As October 31st officially marks the final day of ORV access at the dunes, let’s take a look back at some of our most memorable moments of the season!


Huge Numbers of Visitors Mark Record-Breaking Season

The Silver Lake area welcomed an extraordinary number of visitors this year! We remained a favored destination for families and adventure-seekers from around the nation and the globe. We also shined as a tourism hotspot for Michiganders who wanted to stay closer to home over the summer holidays.


Popular Annual Events Draw Dune Lovers from Around the Nation

Three popular events made their marks on the calendar this year:

2021 Jeep Invasion

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes Jeep Invasion celebrated its 5th year in 2021. The fun-filled weekend featured thousands of Jeeps from all over the state and nation. Trail rides, an off-road course, raffles, live music, and great food were just a few of the perks of this year’s event — a great success for all vehicle owners, Jeep enthusiasts, and friends who participated! First weekend in June 2022.

Thunder Over the Dunes

After being cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce was thrilled to bring back Thunder Over the Dunes to commemorate Independence Day this July! Community members and visitors alike once again gathered to watch the brilliant display of fireworks over the dunes — undoubtedly a night to remember. July 4 2022

Apple BBQ Festival

2021 Apple & BBQ Festival returned after a one year pause in 2020. A record attendance of 15000+ people attended on Saturday to enjoy the largest craft fair ever, with 125 booths, 80+ registered cars in the Classic Car and ORV show, and lots of good food and music. The annual 5K race returned also this year along with the Kansas City BBQ Society BBQ cooking competition. September 9 & 10 2022

Be sure to check back for details on these events coming in 2022!


Mac Wood’s Dune Rides Celebrates Their 91st Year in Business

Since 1930, Mac Wood’s Dune Rides has been a mainstay business of the Silver Lake area. Originally started by Malcom “Mac” Wood on what was then just a small plot of hilly dunes, the business quickly grew into a booming operation.

This year, Mac Wood’s celebrated their 91st year in business. With each passing year, the establishment continues to introduce new families to the dunes and the beauty and adventure they have to offer.


Make a Winter Visit to Silver Lake

Although the dunes are closed to ORV access until April 1, 2022 there’s always more fun to be had in the winter — from hiking and biking to snowmobiling and cross-country skiing against the snow-white landscapes of winter.

Silver Lake State Park & the dunes are available for hiking

Be sure to check the websites of area hotelsshops, and restaurants before you book as some establishments have limited fall hours. You can also venture into nearby downtown Hart for everything you need.

Finally, no matter when you make your plans for a Silver Lake vacation, be sure to share your photos and videos with us! Use the hashtag #ThinkDunes when posting your memories, and we may feature you on one of our social media pages!

Thank you for another wonderful season at the dunes, and we hope to see you again soon in Silver Lake!

Silver Lake Sand Dunes Camping

While snow may be blanketing the Silver Lake Sand Dunes at the moment, summer will be here sooner than you think! Here in Silver Lake, many area campgrounds are already taking reservations, making now the perfect time to reserve your spot.


Why Choose Silver Lake as Your Summer Camping Destination?

Never camped at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes before? Here’s why seasonal visitors keep coming back every year.


The Dunes

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are one of the most unique landscapes in the entire Midwest. The area boasts more than 850,000 visitors annually! With acres upon acres of sand (over 2,900!) and four miles of freshwater shoreline, this natural landform is a literal playground for a range of fun outdoor activities. You can rent an ORV and drive the dunes, trek the sand on foot, or take a Mac Woods Dune Ride tour — just to name a few.


Lake Living

Around here, lake living is a way of life. Not only is Lake Michigan the backdrop to all we do in the Silver Lake Area, we also have many inland lakes to enjoy. No matter what your personal taste is, you’ll find something fun to do in or around the water. Boating, canoeing, fishing, and swimming are always on the agenda.

And if you’re not up for heading in the waves? Simply stake out your spot on the beach, lay back, and soak up the sun!


Shopping and Attractions

Even at the dunes, rainy days happen. And when they do, it’s always nice to have some indoor activities lined up as a backup plan. Luckily, in the Silver Lake Area, there’s as much to do inside as there is to do outside. For starters, there’s shopping for every interest — from clothing stores and gift shops, to general stores and antique shops.

And when you’re not in the mood for simply browsing, just head to our Things to Do page. There, you’ll find a long list of indoor activities to pique your interest: Arcades, historic sites, museums, art galleries, wineries, and more.


3 Steps to the Perfect Camping Trip

Ready to start making your summer camping trip a reality? Putting your vacation in motion takes just 3 simple steps:

 1. Choose your dates.

The best camping spots at the dunes go fast — especially as spring rolls around. So, it’s wise to schedule your trip [ https://thinkdunes.com/plan-your-trip/ ] as early as possible. This is especially true for popular dates such as opening day at the Silver Lake State Park, Memorial Day weekend, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.

2. Select your lodging.

How do you like to camp? Silver Lake Sand Dunes has it all. Choose from rustic cabins, tent camping sites, RV spots, and more. Camping not your thing? If that’s the case, not to worry. The Silver Lake Area boasts a range of lodging options and things to do for non-campers as well.

3. Start filling up your vacation days with fun activities in the Silver Lake Area!

At this point, all that remains of your plans is to fill up your schedule with fun things to do. Check out our Attractions and Places to Eat pages to start making your arrangements now.

A relaxing and memorable summer camping trip awaits at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes — Start planning today!

Silver Lake Summer Food Tour

No matter what your taste buds are after, Silver Lake offers a wide range of dining options to please every palate.

Choose from delicious local flavors, fresh-off-the-grill burgers and dogs, mouthwatering chicken wings and pizza, Mexican fare, and cold sweet treats for those late-night cravings — we’ve got everything!

Here’s a bit more about what to expect when dining in Silver Lake:

 A Wide Range of Choices

In the Silver Lake area, no two meals need be the same. Whether you’re traveling with the family, your sweetheart, or a group of friends, there’s something here for everyone.

Check out a smattering of vacationer favorites below:

Enjoying a day at the dunes on your ORV? Check out the Lighthouse Concessions Food Truck, which hangs out right at the state park or Duneland Diner, located within DuneLand Off-Road Center — the perfect place to grab a bite while picking up parts for your ATV.

  • Mexican Fare: Enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine in downtown Hart! Folks come from miles around to enjoy tacos, enchiladas, flautas, tostadas, burritos, and much more at both La Fiesta and La Probadita.

Locally-Sourced Ingredients

In Silver Lake, we are uniquely situated in the middle of the “Michigan Fruit Belt,” known for growing some of the nation’s most-prized fruits and other produce. Here, local foods are always available — whether at farmers’ markets or side-of-the-road produce stands or in area restaurants.

Want to try a “taste of Silver Lake”? Check out these establishments:

  • Woodland Farm Market and Bakery: Award-winning, made-from-scratch pies and baked goods, jams and jellies, maple syrup, and much more.
  • Country Dairy Market & Cafe: Fully-functioning dairy farm that makes their own ice cream, milk, and cheese. Their cafe menu is full of delicious sandwiches, wraps, soups, and pizzas.
  • Pleasant Valley Farms & Vineyard: Family-owned winery, featuring an array of farm-made wines (imported ingredients are never used!).

Dinner With Entertainment

Perfect for couples looking for a night on the town, several local establishments feature live music, entertainment, karaoke, and dancing on select nights of the week. Check out their event schedules below:

Food the Kids Will Love

Traveling with little ones? Silver Lake has a wide variety of kid-friendly dining options! Here are a few we recommend:

Local Hideaways

Interested in the little hideaways locals love when they dine out? Check out these must-visit establishments:

  • For Breakfast: Head to downtown Hart for an old-fashioned diner breakfast at The Pink Elephant Diner.
  • For Lunch: Try a “flight of soup” (or a sandwich or wrap) at the Soup of the Day Cafe in Hart — a great place to go for vegan and vegetarian options as well!
  • For Dinner: Enjoy a delicious sit-down dinner with a cozy atmosphere at the Open Hearth Grille & Bar in Mears.

So, is your mouth watering yet? Explore our complete listing of dining options on our Food & Drink page, and start planning your trip to Silver Lake today!

ThinkDunes|August 22nd, 2019

8 Super Ideas for Summer Fun in Silver Lake

Mac Woods Dune Rides

Whether you’ve been planning your trip to Silver Lake for months or have just decided to stop by on a whim, we’ve got the perfect summer-fun ideas for your visit!

Summer Amusement at the Dunes…

How could we not put the Silver Lake Sand Dunes first on the list? This extraordinary landmark remains the main attraction in our neck of the woods. Here are some ways we recommend enjoying these huge sand hills of amusement:

1. ORV

The Dunes are divided into three distinct areas — the first of which is just for ORVs (off-road vehicles). You can bring your own or rent one when you get here. Learn more about personal ORV requirements or rent a vehicle when you get here at:

2. Walk in the pedestrian area

No vehicles are permitted in the pedestrian area of the Dunes, so it’s the perfect place to meander along the sand hill peaks and take in the breathtaking views. Go at your own pace. Kids love this area, and it’s perfectly safe from the ORV and tour buggy zones.

3. Take a Dunes tour

Don’t feel like walking? Not to worry. There’s a designated third area of the Dunes that’s only for Mac Wood’s Dune Rides. These rides take you and your group on a thrilling 7-mile tour of the Dunes, bringing you all the way to the beaches of Lake Michigan and back again in an exciting 40-minute trip.

At the Beach for Swimming & Watersports…

Travel along the entirety of the 1,640-mile shoreline of Lake Michigan, and you’ll notice one thing right away: The Silver Lake stretch of coastline has the best beaches. Take your choice as you schedule a day of fun in the sand and surf, along the big lake or beautiful inland Silver Lake:

4. Swim

Want to go swimming, lay on the beach, and build sand castles? We recommend these local beaches:

5. Enjoy a day of watersports

Rent a wide range of fun water sports equipment (plus accompanying instruction) at Wave Club Water Sports, located right on Silver Lake. Rentals are available for ski boats, pontoons, wave runners, sail boats, kayaks, canoes, and more!

Amusement & Entertainment for the Whole Family …

6. Shop ‘till you drop

Throughout Downtown Hart and Silver Lake (and everywhere in between!), our area boasts a number of fantastic locations to browse and buy this summer. Check our Shopping page for complete shop & store listings.

7. Plan a day of amusement

Craig’s Cruisers has been a staple destination in Silver Lake for decades. Head here with the whole family for a full day of mini golf, kiddie karts, arcade games, bumper boats, paddle boats, go-karts, and much more!

8. Take part in agritourism

Our inland area of the coast covers acres upon acres of beautiful countryside, orchards, and forest, making it ideal for families who want to get away from the city and enjoy a bit of the farm life. Our agritourism visitors especially enjoy:

  • Country Dairy, a working dairy farm with tours, a play area for kids, fresh-from-the-dairy ice cream, a full-service café and store, and much more.
  • Lewis Farms & Petting Zoo, a 700-acre farm with local produce and treats, plus a petting zoo, gift shop, and an ever-changing list of awesome games and activities for kids.

Psst! Looking for places to eat while you’re out and about? We can recommend the best eateries and ice cream shops in the Silver Lake area.

And if you’re looking for even more local entertainment and attractions, rest assured it’s all here on our list of things to do. We hope to see you soon!

Think Dunes Starting April 1

Sunset of Silver Lake

As winter fades away, we find our sweet reward for surviving another frigid season: the opening of Silver Lake Sand Dunes. While you may recognize four seasons, around here we only know two: Silver Lake Sand Dunes Season and its offseason.

On April 1st, the only true fools are the ones not at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes celebrating 2,000 acres of ever-changing sand dunes that stretch nearly three miles long and one and a half miles wide. Every year on April 1st, sand-riding enthusiasts descend upon the dunes, nestled in between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, to celebrate their playground re-opening. And if you can’t make it April 1st? Don’t fret: the dunes remain accessible through October 31st.

But let’s not linger on the closing date – we’re here to revel in its opening. As the season kicks off, there’s much excitement ahead. The northern area of the dunes is reserved for off-road vehicles for sand-driving fun. Don’t have your own and don’t want to miss out on the fun? Good news: there are a handful of locations in the area from which you can rent a vehicle. The center of the dunes essentially functions as one giant sandbox, where visitors can explore and have fun by foot – beaches are also accessible in this area. Finally, the southern end of the dunes is home to Mac Woods Dune Rides, which offers visitors a seven-mile tour of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Mac Woods is a Michigan summertime staple and opens May 11th.

The fun isn’t solely found on the dunes and the water, however. The area boasts attractions like Country Dairy, Lewis Farm Market & Petting Zoo, Craig’s Cruisers, golf courses, Rainbow Ranch horseback riding, and much more.

The area also features a full lineup of events and festivals that celebrate everything from the arts to asparagus. View the lineup here.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes present a unique Michigan excursion. You can connect with nature and really use its beauty for fun. Whether it’s a day-trip adventure for a ride or an extended stay chockfull of riding, golf, swimming and other amusements, you want to ensure a visit is locked into your calendar before Halloween gets here. Start planning here. www.thinkdunes.com