Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Silver Lake Sand Dunes
5
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This is a state park along the coast of Lake Michigan located near Mears, Michigan. It includes shoreline along Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, along with many sand dunes.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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5.0
336 reviews
Excellent
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18 contributions
Jun 2020
We had a blast in the silver lake area. We camped on the opposite end of the lake in the state park. The water in both lakes was too cold to swim in early July. The dunes is a neat place to check out on foot or in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We opted to take our truck out onto the dunes. After spending about $125 on permits and a flag and hardware to attach to our bumper we were off. You are required to air your tires down to 15 psi. This takes some time before you go in but is necessary. We enjoyed driving down to the shore of Lake Michigan and sitting on the beach. We were able to go everywhere on the dunes that the atv Jeep and buggy’s could go. There is no alcohol allowed anywhere on the dunes. There is an air station about a mile from the exit of the park. We enjoyed the surrounding area of silver lake. There are a few local shops and eateries that were reasonable and what you would expect in a tourist area on Lake Michigan. We were there during the week and we were told we were lucky not to experience the weekend. Apparently it gets a little load a rowd. Dogs are allowed on the dunes as long as they are leashed.
Written August 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Krzys.Seweryn
Schaumburg, IL358 contributions
Sep 2020
Apocalyptic Mad Max scenery with custom made cars and lots of sand. Hard to believe that such a nice place is here only 4h drive from Chicago.
We took snowboards, kites and or 4x4 and we use them all in one place. With good weather you could seat here all day. Whole day entrance cost $9 arrive early to get parking spot and bring lots of water and some snacks - you will be amazed
Written September 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Amber E
70 contributions
Jul 2022 • Family
Lots of fun on the dunes, and they take you to like Michigan for a quick stop! We lucked out with the perfect weather as I decided to take my dad and sister along for the ride.
They have an organized ticket/call for rides and the gift shop is cute. The Penny press was a plus! Would definitely do this again!
Written September 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sibylla O
Geneva, IL185 contributions
Aug 2022
Attention to those who like to walk along the beach of these dunes. If you do not want to climb an very high dune you may want to go to the south of the State Park, the area around the Lighthouse. It is very nice and you can bring your dog with you, Very clean, restrooms are available, but no showers. If you go to the right of the beach you can go only for a short distance, because there are private beaches coming up. but if you go to the left (south) you can have a wonderful long walk. Enjoy!
Written August 29, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kara Z
Ann Arbor, MI3 contributions
Jun 2013 • Couples
Wild Bill's is a scam! They charged us for $250.00 in damages that we did not do! The definitely put a damper on our 1 year wedding anniversary weekend.
Written July 1, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Agill
Brampton, Canada1 contribution
Aug 2017 • Friends
It was my first time here this past weekend. We rented a 4 seater Tyrex vehicle, all adults. We were told the 2 seater was sold out for another hour. Which ended up being fine because the 4 seater buggy could actually go up the highest dunes which was fun. We went on a Sunday and it was not too busy. We got our vehicle rental right away and the staff at the rental place were very helpful. Riding around the dunes and the hills was a lot of fun! I had a great time and was glad to experience this. I would recommend this activity to those who are into thrills. Anyway I live in Canada, and I am used to living in a multicultural community my entire life. My background is Indian (South Asian), my family and I found it VERY uncomfortable to see people with huge Confederate flags attached to their trucks inside the dunes. There were a lot of people with these flags waving around high above their vehicles and my family and I found it very disturbing that this racist pride was allowed to be displayed so proudly. For that reason I would not come back here but other than that it was a great experience riding the dunes.
Written August 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Phicampiii
Southeast Michigan31 contributions
Jul 2015 • Family
I have been to Silver Lake many times in my life, and the thing is, in order to get the best experience you need to really understand what you are getting in to. There are services around town that give you rides on the dunes (like Mac Woods), and these are fun; but if you are reading this, I am assuming you are hiking the dunes on your own and not riding in a dune buggy, either your own or a rental. So, I will proceed with that assumption.

First, - and I can't stress this enough - NOT KID FRIENDLY. Unless you have a dune buggy or ORV, this is not a place kids can hike. The dunes are MASSIVE; your butt will get kicked simply hiking up the first one. Seriously, you're legs will be burning and you will look back and see you are so close to the parking lot you can still see your car. The hike is grueling on adults. Unless you like the thought of carrying whining, hot kids, leave the little ones at home. My 13 year old handled it fine, but younger than that would probably not be able to handle it. If you are out of shape or prone to whining, you will not be able to handle it either. Heck, I recently took a group of seniors from my high school there and they could barely handle it. They, too, referred to it as a "death march", though they also said it was beautiful and fun.

Second, the bathrooms are foul. They are these little unisex cabins with a metal portajohn inside where there is so much ammonia and bleach used to cover the fecal smell that your nostrils will be burning. Come already dressed; don't put yourself through having to change in these chambers of stench.

Third, so I said the hike is tough. But suppose you think you're just going to take a quick skip over the dunes and then swim in Lake Michigan? Great, but keep in mind, no matter which route you take, you're looking at a 45 minute hike from the parking lot to Lake Michigan. "Forty-five minutes doesn't sound hard!" you say. Well remember, you're walking 45 minutes over sand dunes, where every single step your foot sinks in and makes you exert double strength to move it out again. Walking 45 minutes in the dunes is like walking 45 minutes through thick snow - except unlike snow, you can't just sled down the hills. It is hard. Sometimes it feels like a Sahara Desert death march. There is also a large valley of pine trees between the lake and the dunes that must either be crossed or gone around. The forest is murky, dense, and has a swamp in it, so don't try to go through it. There are plenty of paths, but none are marked, so you have no idea if you are walking towards the beach or into a dead end.

Fourth, when you get to the beach, please be aware there is no real beach so to speak of. The trees and grass from the forest go pretty much right down to the waters edge. There is only about five feet of sand before you get to the lake. If you want a good, broad place to stretch out, you have to kind of find something on the side of the dunes. The beach itself is extraordinarily narrow.

Fifth, half of this park is earmarked for dune buggys and ORVS. Stay off of that half.

Sixth, Silver Lake is a small lake behind the sand dunes. It forms the barrier between the dunes and the village of Mears. You can access and swim in Silver Lake from the dunes. Silver Lake itself is REALLY deep. There's a crazy drop off only six feet in. You go out fifteen feet and you can't touch the bottom even if you try. When I was there we estimated that at about fifteen feet from shore the water is twenty feet deep. If you go to Silver Lake, there is this crazy hill you have to go down to get there and no way out (all the level egress areas are roped off as "critical dune zones" or private property, so you have no way out but to hike up the most monstrously steep and grueling dune in the whole park.

Does this all sound like I'm ripping on the place? Well I'm not. I find the dunes beautiful; it looks like a wild, foreign or other-worldly landscape. One of my fondest memories is hiking on them once after dark. That was crazy. And Lake Michigan is always beautiful (when the hill-billies from the ORV part of the park haven't fouled it up with beer cans and other rubbish) - the area is beautiful, but I stress, you HAVE to know what you're getting in for. These dunes are for people who are in shape, like hiking, can deal with extreme conditions and rugged landscapes, have several hours to blow, and don't have small kids. Leave the kids home. Leave the whiners home. Adventurers, continue on.

Oh and...no matter how much sunscreen you put on, you WILL get fried.
Written July 29, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brent S
East Lansing, MI1 contribution
Jun 2015 • Business
I gave them $100 deposit in May for a July rental and had to cancel the rental and Dutch told me that he would not gave me back my money, so I called my credit card company and they will be calling Wild Bills about this issue. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH COMPANY!
Written June 4, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Debra
3 contributions
Jun 2021 • Family
We gifted our father for Father's Day for a different experience. This place did not disappoint. This was by far one of the most racist businesses we had the displeasure of visiting. I cannot recall such blatant evil and hate. It was obvious from our initial encounter that we were not welcome there and they were proud to let us know. We drove miles to get there and we didn't want to ruin our Dad's day, so we got through it alive, thank God. There were negative political signs hanging everywhere. That should have been the first clue. Why not hang a sign indicating who is not welcome to save others time and money. Needless to say, we won't be returning. Please know that we are going to share our experience so no one else will encounter what we experienced.
Written June 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jarIndiana
Muncie, IN413 contributions
Aug 2011 • Friends
Silver Lake near Hart Michigan, is a very nice little area. If you pick your activities carefully you can enjoy your time there. If you plan to RENT a Jeep, or ANY type of 4 wheeler for dune climbing.... brace yourself for the cost of these rentals!!! Also, compared to similar areas that I have visited on Michigan's west coast, the mini golf, go-carts, bumper boats, and souvenirs, are all much higher in price. However, the Little Sable Lighthouse costs only (two) $2.00 dollars to visit and offers fantastic views of Lake Michigan from the top.
Also, they have recently added a cement walk so you no longer have to navigate over sand to get to the lighthouse...this was a nice surprise. Here are some tips to help you both enjoy and afford the area.

1.) Take your own cooler full of drinks.
2.) Pack sandwiches and check the menu prices of your meals before being seated.
3.) If you like pizza, the large deluxe at Pizza Factory is a great value at about $20.00.
4.) DO visit the Lighthouse.
5.) Buy gasoline BEFORE you get to the Silver Lake area (premium grades are costly)
6.) Consider camping at Silver Lake State Park vs. area motels,hotels, and cabins.
7.) DO compare prices for t-shirts and souvenirs.
8.) CALL AHEAD for prices of both adult and kids activities.

Silver Lake IS a nice area.... and hopefully these tips will help you to enjoy it.
Written August 18, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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