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Active Travels: Sleeping Bear Dunes

By Steve Jermanok

Head to the Grand Traverse Bay area, a four-hour drive northwest of Detroit, in the autumn months for a weekend, and you’ll be treated to far more than a fun frolic on a Great Lake. Slow down and explore the region at a slow pace on bike or on two feet and you’ll find diverse terrain, from the shaded wetlands of the Grass River Natural Area to the rolling countryside of the Leelanau Peninsula to the steep dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the largest sand dunes west of the Sahara Desert. The towering slopes of sand, some as high as 440 feet, slide steeply to the shores of Lake Michigan. Stroll on the 1.5-mile Cottonwood Trail and the dunes look like bowls of sand that only a giant could drink from. No wonder Good Morning America just named Sleeping Dunes the most beautiful locale in America.

 

Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life.His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World, due out late 2010.He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.

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