Full-service vacation rental management in Pentwater, Hart, Mears, Silver Lake, Shelby, New Era, and Stony Lake.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Michigan Travel Guide

Silver Lake Sand Dunes is an area on the lakeshore in Mears, Michigan. Most people call the area Silver Lake. The towering dunes sit in between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. But the area is much more than sand. You’ll find all sorts of entertainment, food, and ORV and Jeep® enthusiasts here.

Why Visit Silver Lake Sand Dunes?

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a famous, must-see geological wonder in Mears, Michigan. This small town multiplies by thousands of tourists in the summer months who explore the dunes via ORV or on foot. But there’s more than just sand, the waterways surrounding the dunes, including Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, draw boaters and beachgoers to the area. You’ll also find various restaurants and activities within Silver Lake.

About the Dunes

Check out these facts about the dunes from the Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Hart Visitors Bureau:

  • Sand dunes comprise about 2,936 acres in the Silver Lake area, and 1,875 of those acres are public land.
  • The recreational park is approximately three miles long and one and a half miles wide.
  • The sand deposits on the dunes are one of the largest deposits of living dunes in Michigan.
  • Weather on the dunes can change drastically throughout any given day.
  • On the southwest corner of Silver Lake State Park, you’ll find Little Sable Point Lighthouse. It’s one of the tallest lighthouses in Michigan at over 100 feet tall.

Keep reading to learn more about how to access the dunes and the lighthouse.

Getting There

Silver Lake, or Mears, Michigan, is located in Oceana County. It’s approximately 43 miles north of Muskegon and 28 miles south of Ludington.

Driving: Silver Lake is a short distance off US-31. The Hart/Mears Exit 149 is the easiest route. Or you can take the Shelby Exit 144 west to Silver Lake.

Air Travel: The Muskegon County Airport (MKG) is the closest airport to Silver Lake. It’s about 48 miles away, and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids is 95 miles away. Another option is the Manistee County Blacker Airport (MBL), which is approximately a 57-mile drive away and offers inexpensive flights from and to Chicago O’Hare Airport.

Accommodations

We offer vacation rentals in Silver Lake and the surrounding area. Houses and cottages are added frequently. If you don’t find what you’re looking for contact us as we may have something coming up or we’ll be able to guide you to alternative options. 

Other lodging options include hotels and campgrounds in Silver Lake and Hart. 

Where to Eat Near Silver Lake Sand Dunes

You’ll find various places to eat in Silver Lake and the neighboring City of Hart. Our area restaurant guide is coming soon.

Check out our guide to restaurants in Pentwater, Michigan, a 15-20 minute drive north of Silver Lake.

Things to Do in Silver Lake, Michigan

There are many things to do in and near Silver Lake, Michigan. The small town comes alive from April through September. While the dunes are the biggest draw, there are countless things to do in the area. Let’s check out the top things to do and see.

Tip: Start with our comprehensive area event calendar for up-to-date local happenings.

ORV

The most popular thing to do in Silver Lake is take an ORV (off road vehicle) in the sand dunes. Silver Lake State Park’s ORV Area is open April 1 – October 31 each year. Access to the area is stopped a half hour before the closing times, which are as follows:

  • April 1-30, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • May 1 – September 15, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Sept. 16 – October 31, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Permits, orange flags, and other equipment regulations are required to ORV in the dunes. Be sure to know all of the rules and regulations. Click here for details.

Don’t have an ORV?

You can still enjoy a ride in the dunes! Mac Wood’s Dune Rides is one of the most popular attractions in Silver Lake. Their 40-minute dune ride is fun for all ages, as you fly through the sands on their unique dune buggies. The tour guides also provide great stories and some education about the dunes.

If you prefer to explore the dune’s public ORV area on your own, there are vehicle rental options in Silver Lake.

Boating and Water Sports

Water sports are the second most popular thing to do in the area. But the best part about Silver Lake is that you can enjoy the sand and water on the same day! With the dunes cascading into the lake, you can drive your boat up to a sandy beach for lunch or a walk up the steep hills.

If you’re coming to Silver Lake with your boat, you’ll have an option of being on Silver Lake or Lake Michigan. You can’t get from Lake Michigan onto Silver Lake, or vice versa, via watercraft. There is only a creek that connects the two bodies of water. A kayak, paddleboard, or canoe can get down the creek but there is a damn that you need to portage around.

Boat Launch

Silver Lake State Park has a boat launch on Silver Lake at 9679 W State Park Rd., Mears, MI 49436.

Renting a Watercraft

The Wave Club, 1220 N. Shore Dr., Mears, MI 49436, offers watersport rentals, including pontoons, ski boats, and wave runners for use on Silver Lake.

Access to Lake Michigan

If you’re looking for a marina with access to Lake Michigan, Pentwater has three. All are conveniently located on Pentwater Lake, just north of Silver Lake, within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and other conveniences. Snug Harbor is a full-service marina with a public laundromat. Charlie’s Marina is also full-service. There’s also a municipal marina that offers transient and seasonal slips and amenities. In addition, we offer a house for rent on Pentwater Lake with a private dock for up to a 60-foot boat.

To put in for the day, there are boat launches on Pentwater Lake at 191 Lake St. and the 90-degree Bend Site on Longbridge Rd. Each is a short distance to the channel that leads into Lake Michigan.

There’s also a boat ramp at Oval Park in Stony Lake, 9202 W. Garfield and Lake Michigan, Shelby, MI. Permits can be purchased at the Stony Lake Depot or Stony Lake Market.

Check out our Pentwater Travel Guide for more information.

Beaches

You’ll find beautiful sandy beaches in the Silver Lake area. Silver Lake State Park has a beach on Silver Lake. If you’re exploring the public area of the dunes on foot or with an ORV, you’ll have an opportunity to get down to Lake Michigan’s epic shoreline.

The following are other Lake Michigan public beaches in the area:

  • Little Sable Point Lighthouse Beach, 287 N. Lighthouse Dr., Mears, is one of our favorite Lake Michigan beaches in the area. It has a large sandy stretch and blue water. Plus, you can tour the lighthouse when it’s open from May to September. You’ll also find bathrooms here and a food truck is available occasionally. There’s ample parking.
  • Channel Park in Golden Township is about a quarter of a mile north of Little Sable Point Lighthouse Beach on North Lighthouse Dr. The parking area, which is limited, is at the curve in the road that turns south along the lake when you’re driving west from Silver Lake. Channel Park sits where Silver Creek meets Lake Michigan, so depending on water levels it’s fun to swim in the warmer shallow water of the creek. There’s a portable bathroom in the parking area.
  • Cedar Point County Park is between Silver Lake and Pentwater on Ridge Rd. It’s a small, quiet stretch of shoreline. There are many wooden stairs to get to the beach from the small parking lot. There’s a small parking area and porta-johns are available during the summer.
  • Another nearby option is Charles Mears State Park, just 20 minutes north in Pentwater. The state park has a large sandy, accessible public beach, a dog beach, bathrooms, a large parking lot, and a campground. 
  • Benona Township Park, or Stony Lake Oval Park, is south of Silver Lake. It’s a small beach but it’s great for swimming in Lake Michigan or fishing in the connecting channel. There are bathrooms and a parking lot.

Downtown Silver Lake Entertainment

Silver Lake has a round-a-bout. When you drive around it you might think you’re at an amusement park. That’s because there’s entertainment going on all around. Check out the following on your next visit:

Nearby activities in New Era, MI:

Hiking and Biking

The dunes provide a steep hike up and a fun run down for a robust workout! Nearby, you’ll also find the popular Hart-Montague Trail, accessed at 9679 W. State Park Rd., Mears, MI. It’s a 22-mile paved trail that has scenery and picnic areas for walkers, joggers, bikers, and cross-country skiers through the cities of Hart, Mears, Shelby, Rothbury, and Montague. There are future plans for it to also connect to Pentwater.

Fishing

The best way to fish Silver Lake is by boat or off a dock. One thing to take into consideration is that it’s a busy lake for water sports, so getting out early will be the quietest time of the day.

Charter fishing boats are available in nearby Pentwater, Michigan. You’ll find them parked downtown in the municipal marina near the public bathrooms. 

Golf

Golden Sands Golf Course is Silver Lake’s premier course located at 2501 N Wilson Rd., Mears. They have a 9-hole, par 4 course with great greens. There’s also a restaurant and bar on the property which hosts events throughout the season.

The Colonial is a 27-hole public golf course located at 2763 N 72nd Ave., Hart. Daily rates and memberships are available.

Is Silver Lake Sand Dunes Worth It?

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are worth visiting during the summer months. There’s always something entertaining going on whether it’s the Jeep Invasion, watersports, ice cream, or a beautiful sunset. You’re guaranteed to make memories on a visit to Silver Lake. We hope to see you soon!