Warren Dunes State Park — your high adventure playground
Warren Dunes State Park, located off Red Arrow Highway in Sawyer, is open all year round. Every season offers a new chance to explore nature, enjoy outdoor sports, take in scenic vistas and enjoy life's simple joys. The park is one of Michigan's most popular State Parks due to its miles of sandy beach, towering dunes and extensive trail system. Exploring the park's 1,952 acres is something that will take repeated trips to accomplish. I have been visiting the park for years and am still discovering new ways to experience it. Below are a few of the most notable features of the park.
Large sand dunes found throughout the park provide visitors with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and an above-the-treetops view of Southwest Michigan. Some of the park’s largest dunes are Mt. Fuller, Pikes Peak, Mt. Edwards and Tower Hill, which is the most popular dune and is the highest point in the park standing roughly 240 feet above Lake Michigan. Visitors delight in climbing its slopes and running back down again — or at least trying to before gravity carries them to the base. If you are looking to make your descent from the dunes even more exciting try sandboarding or sand sledding in the summer, and in the winter, try snowboarding, skiing or sledding. The top of a dune is also a great place to possibly catch a glimpse of Chicago — which is approximately 52 miles away — or a spectacular location to view the brilliant sunset over Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan & Sandy Beach
The beach at Warren Dunes is one of the most popular in Southwest Michigan. The three miles of shoreline allow people to spread out, relax and enjoy the tranquility of a peaceful summer day. Because of the wealth of space at the park, the beach is ideal for flying kites; there is enough wind for traditional kites on most days and stunt or foil kites on many. The beach is also a great location for kayak launching, stand-up paddleboarding or riding a skimboard. Another popular lakeshore activity is hunting for beach glass, fossils and stones. If you have a dog that loves the beach, you can enjoy the two miles designated for pets. The beach also features a concession stand and modern restrooms.
There are six miles of marked trails and miles of shoreline to enjoy for hiking and cross-country, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The trails take you through canopied forests, over the towering dunes and lead to the sunny, sandy shore of Lake Michigan.
A Photographer's Paradise
Every season provides new opportunities for amazing photos; the wide variety of flowers in the spring and summer, stunning colors of autumn and the snow-covered trees, dunes and icy lakeshore in the winter. My favorite photography subject at Warren Dunes is the sand. The way the weather shapes and reshapes the dunes is truly fascinating. The wind-shaped structures and patterns that are created are delicate and captivating.
The varied terrain of the park and proximity to Lake Michigan make it a wonderful location for watching wildlife. Some of the most commonly seen species are whitetail deer, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, turkeys, songbirds and a wide array of migratory birds that fly along the shore of Lake Michigan.
There are two camping areas: a ‘modern’ with electric hookups and ‘semi-modern.’ Campground amenities include drinking water, flushing toilets and showers. The campground also features a small camp store with souvenirs, t-shirts, food and firewood.
I encourage you to visit the park repeatedly throughout the year and marvel at how the seasons and weather reshape its stunning landscape.