The Saugatuck Dunes State Park is nestled along the Lake Michigan shoreline and features 1000 acres of land and 2.5 acres of sandy beaches and shoreline. The park also prominently features 200 feet tall fresh-water coastal dunes and rolling hills of sand, other wise known as “sand dunes,”, which are breathtaking to see.
Historically, the Augustinian Order sold the land for the Saugatuck Sand Dunes to the State of Michigan in 1971, and the state originally used the buildings for government buildings like state police offices and a jail. The state also acquired the historic Felt Museum, which became a police post and the beach front and became the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. In the 1990’s, Laketown Township, purchased Felt Mansion and transformed it into a rental venue for garden weddings, though the general public may tour the grounds while on a hike.
Both adults and children will enjoy the thrill of climbing the 200-foot sand dunes and then racing each other back down them. The company, Saugatuck Dune Rides, offers tours on a “dune schooner,”, which is a converted truck, to show visitors all the natural sights of the dunes, including the forests and wetlands, animals, and the Ghost Town of Singapore.
Saugatauk Dunes State Park features four trails ideal for hiking and cross-country skiing. Most of the trails are ungroomed and marked by different colored flags. The North Trail, The Beach Trail, and the Livingston Trail are all 2.5 miles, with the North Tail being white, the Beach Trail being yellow, and the Livingston Trail marked red. The South Trail is longer and is 5.5 miles and is marked blue. The Saugatuck Dunes Park also adds parkings to help with directions, such as green arrows direct hikers toward the lake, and red arrows return visitors back to the nearest parking lot. If they come across two colored arrows, it means that two of the trails will be adjoining. Throughout the 13 miles of trails, visitors can gaze at different plant vegetation and birds.
The National Geographic Traveler has rated Oval Beach, located along the shoreline of Saugatuck Dunes State Park, as one of the two best freshwater beaches in the country. Besides the usual summer activities of swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking at the white sands beach, visitors also have the option of chartering a boat for a day and fishing for some local salmon or perch. For visitors preferring to view the dunes from the water, they can book a tour on a historical stern wheeler shuttle, the Star of Saugatuck, which highlights area homes, the sand dunes, and Saugatuck’s “Ghost Town Singapore,” hidden near the entrance of the Kalamazoo River. Oval Beach also offers jet-ski and kayak rentals for those who wish to explore the water and sight-see more adventurously.
The Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a day-only park, open until dark. Visitors will need a parking permit, which varies in cost from $8 to $29, depending on if you are a Michigan resident and if you want a daily pass or a yearly pass.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
138th Avenue and State Park Drive
2213 Ottawa Beach Drive
Saugatuck, MI 49453