Why Do People Want To Do the Dune Climb in Michigan?
This is a genuine question.
All over social media, well...really just Tiktok if I'm being honest, I've been seeing video after video of people attempting the Dune Climb in Michigan. And, for the life of me, I can't imagine any possible reason why anyone would catapult themselves down a sandy mountain and then have to climb back UP.
What's the Dune Climb?
The Dune Climb is a part of Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northwestern Lower Michigan. Overall, the area is stunning. With spectacular views of the lakeshore, paved trails, and more, this area attracts a lot of visitors. Understandably so.
What's not understandable is the need to conquer the dunes. From what I've read, I don't believe the Dune Climb is anything official. More so it's what the activity has been nick-named. But, to give you a glimpse at how steep some of these dunes are, just check out the Tiktok below:
As I said, the view is stunning. But the climb? Not so much.
How Long Does it Take to Climb Back Up?
According to nps.gov, hiking through the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes could take anywhere from three to four hours. It's unclear if that's for the entire dune area or limited to one specific dune. Now, that same website goes on to indicate that there's a separate path you can take to get to the bottom of the dune where you'll find picnic tables, etc. So, at least you have options.
However, visiting guests are strongly discouraged from climbing down the overlook dunes which look something like this:
With some of the overlooks standing over 400 feet, climbing back up could take over two hours for that hill alone.
To add to the risk factor, if you get stuck, you might end up paying big bucks. A 2019 article from freep.com details that a rescue could cost you anywhere from $700 to over $2000. And, yes, you'll be paying that out of pocket. In this economy? I'll stay on solid ground, thanks.
Wondering if the dune you're on may cost you money? Just keep your eye out for any warning signs. You can see one in this Tiktok (which says that a rescue will actually cost $3000):
How Can I Prepare Myself if I Want to Visit the Dunes?
Overall, the simplest thing to do is...don't underestimate them.
We, as humans, tend to get a bit cocky when squaring up with nature. And, yet, it always wins. Going back to the before-mentioned article from nps.gov, they have a few recommendations including:
- Make a plan. If you're going with a group, make sure you hash out a plan of when and where to meet should you become separated.
- Pace yourself. Running down the hill might be fun but you're going to need your energy to get back up
- Water, water, water. Especially if you visit during the summer months, you'll be sweating a lot as you traverse the sandy area. If you think one bottle will suffice, go ahead and throw in two to be safe.
- Shoes. Don't go barefoot. Sure, it's sand. But, that sand has the potential of reaching 150 degrees in the summer which is a real pain on your bare feet.
You can see all of their recommended steps for safety here. Or, watch a quick video:
Sleeping Bear Dunes is definitely on my list of places I must visit in the state of Michigan. But, you'll catch me sitting comfortably atop those sandy piles, instead.
If you're one of the many that have traversed the dunes successfully, I offer you my congratulations. But, again.....WHY?
Pretty soon, the chilly weather will be kicking in which may (or may not) deter people from attempting the dunes until the warmer weather comes back around. But, I'm sure the fall foliage provides an equally stunning view for any who may visit.
Don't want to travel to northern Michigan to experience fall colors? Check out these spots around Kalamazoo that are said to be the best for seeing the changing leaves: