One of my favorite all time places on the planet is Michigan. I’m talking the entire state. I love the place. There are so many beautiful spots that make realize what a wonderful world we live in. I could start singing now, but I don’t know the Michigan State song.
Inside of Michigan, one of my favorite destinations is Warren Dunes State Park. I’m warning you now, it’s a popular park. So if you hate crowds, you might want to check it out during off peak times, such as spring or fall, or early mornings in the summer. But either way, it’s a great place to see.
The beach, which is the primary reason for going, is exceptional. It has a super soft sand that is pretty rare. If you have been to the other side of Lake Michigan, you might run into that coarse, gritty sand, or even beaches entirely of rocks. But because the glaciers thousands of years ago decided to dump its tow in Warren Dune’s general direction, it created this satiny soft beach. It is so soft that it sings when the wind blows across it. When I was a kid I used to think of the sound like a million tiny little zippers being unzipped at once. If you run really fast, you can imitate the wind and make a small zip with your feet. Someone wiser than me dubbed the area “The Singing Sands,” and then named my Girl Scout troop after it. At least that’s how I remember it.
So take off your shoes, dig your feet into the sand and enjoy it, or you’re missing out. Then run like a crazy person to the water, because Lake Michigan is a great place to swim, weather permitting. I think there are those people who have no feeling in their skin that jump in during the middle of winter. Boy are the some kind of brave. For the rest of us, there is always summer. The lake will eventually heat up to a decent temperature, especially by July and August.
The singing sands not only feel good on your feet, but they make some beautiful dunes as well. If you close your eyes and picture your happy spot, where you feel most relaxed and at home, the dunes are mine. I can imagine sitting on top of a small one amongst the reedy grass, sun shining on my face, sand and reeds singing, and the lake softly breaking into waves against the shore. You can almost hear the seagulls now. Of course in reality, that blissful moment lasts a millisecond before life kicks in and someone runs by spraying you with sand in the face.
If you should be so lucky to visit Warren Dunes, you should check out their largest dune, called Tower Hill. It is impressively huge, and many people’s main goal is climbing to the top. I have seen so many families wear out their kids by forcing them to walk all the way up. Most kids love it, though, and for adults, it will give you a nice workout, since it is somewhere around 250 feet tall. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, remember that sand sinks when you walk in it, so the time you get close to the top, your legs are burning. It’s worth it though, because the view is spectacular. And if you happen to still be a kid, even at heart, you will want to run all the way down so you can get that body moving faster than legs feeling. Just don’t kick yourself in the head as your feet fly out behind you.
Back on the beach there is a unique inlet that seems to change as the years go on. The water is coming from a stream or small river in the woods, and as it hits the beach, it grows and recedes. When I was a kid, a friend walked me up river into the woods where there is natural clay. The already legend was that it was supposed to be good for your skin. We walked waist deep for a while through murky water, and when we finally got to the spot, we covered ourselves with mud, which may have been more dirt than clay. I’m pretty sure are a park ranger or two would cringe at this story, and I won’t even mention my mom. My excuse was there were adults walking there too. We didn’t know them, but….
The Dunes and woods are beautiful. There are actually a lot of paths you can walk on that will help keep the natural park more pristine than going off path. There is even a backway to hike into the park through the acres of woods, where you can see some local wildlife. My sister and I hiked it when I was about 19, and we ran across a rattlesnake sunbathing in a patch of sand. I wanted to get close enough to touch it, since I didn’t believe there were real rattle snakes in Michigan ( so logically it had to be fake?). Lucky for me that my wiser sister refused to go near it, and we took an alternate path. Turns out there is only one venomous snake in Michigan, the Massasauga. And it is a rattle snake. But they are pretty rare, so there’s not much chance in meeting them often.
There’s a lot more to do at the beach, like swim and play volleyball and check out the boys… it’s a beach first and foremost, so it’s definitely worth the stop. And once you have swam, and hiked and ran down the Dunes and sun bathed, the last thing before leaving is to stay for the sunset. It sets right over the water, so it’s the perfect way to end a day.