Trail Review - Silver Lake Sand Dunes
As part of our blog, we will be doing reviews of trails and off-road parks around the country, either written by myself or a guest blogger. Our first trip of the summer was to Silver Lake Sand Dunes, so I thought that would be a great place to start! This post will cover the basics of SLSD, sand wheeling tips, and brief tourist information. I will also link our YouTube video with GoPro footage from the weekend, so be sure to check that out and subscribe for future videos as well.
Silver Lake Info & Requirements
The ORV area is located on 450 acres of Silver Lake State Park. The remaining 2,000+ acres of the State Park are made up of pedestrian dunes, swimming areas, campgrounds and other attractions. Beautiful Lake Michigan runs along the west side of the ORV area, and creates some amazing sunsets on a clear night.
If you want to ride the dunes, below are two extremely helpful resources.
This flowchart shows you what licenses and permits you will need: https://thinkdunes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/stateparkflowchart.jpg
Further requirements are listed on the following document This is a basic map that will get you to the dunes ORV area and give you an understanding of the directional traffic on the dunes.
Things To Know
Certain areas of the dunes, mainly the larger hills, are one-way southbound traffic ONLY to avoid collision. Other areas are low enough that you can see another driver's flag coming over the hill, slow down and re-route.
Speed is only restricted to 25mph along the beach, but you should always know the limits of your own driving ability. The MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice is to slow down, especially when you are coming over a hill. If the hills are peaked, is very easy to get air and lose control of your vehicle. Even if you’ve been before and are extremely confident in your driving skills, you need to proceed with caution each time. Being right on the lake, the weather changes often and quickly - that means the terrain changes as well. A hill that was flat may be extremely peaked 3 hours later because of the wind speed and direction.
That leads me to my second most important piece of advice - do NOT trust the water, looks can be deceiving. Many “puddles” are actually deep holes. Not going to lie, we learned this the hard way, but thank goodness for our 40 inch tires.
I mean this in the most respectful way possible - you NEED to be a good driver to drive on the dunes. In the short time we’ve been going there, we’ve seen far too many accidents due to lack of skill or knowledge. It may seem easy, but driving on sand takes a lot of control and focus. Take your time, do a few test laps, and get comfortable driving on the sand before you hit any big hills.
I asked our Ambassadors for tips, tricks, pros and cons of the dunes - here are some things they said:
“pro: it is the most fun you will have
absolutely gorgeous views of lake mich
good place to wheel with friends and fam
cons: you will find sand in places you did not know you can find sand (on your ride and on yourself 😅)
kind of expensive? so you have to plan for buying the passes
if something breaks it is best to be prepared while you are out there so you can try and fix it or risk having to get a tow out”
“Best weekend to visit: Applefest in September
- Don't be afraid to go on the dunes alone. There are a lot of people that will stop and help you as long as you're not being an ass.
- Bring a tow strap and portable shovel.
- Follow the directional signs on the dunes.
- Do a couple laps before letting loose to find your loop.
- The sand changes constantly so what was flat in the morning may be peaked by afternoon.
- stay out of the water holes. First off, it's deeper than it looks and second, you don't want to end up all over FB as that idiot”
“Tips- the pools of water are always deeper than you think, bring a tow strap, pay attention, don’t drive like an asshole, take things straight on- don’t turn on random hills the sand is super soft it’s different than rock crawling, bring tools- you’d rather have them then not & also don’t be the mechanic boyfriend who forgets your air down gages & has to buy cheap crap at an autozone 😂”
Attractions & Lodging
There are a handful of hotels and campgrounds around the dunes, but here are the one recommended by our Ambassadors:
“silver hills campground was super nice”
“Sandy Shores Campground (the convince store right infront of the campground was so nice to grab ice for the coolers & fire wood and not have to drive around for that stuff)”
“Silver Lake Resort and Campground”
I personally stay at the Dunes Express Inn & Suites. Prices are fair, it is always clean, our rooms are usually ready early (because we always arrive early out of excitement), and they have the nicest staff members! It’s about a 10 minute drive from there to the dunes. There is a gas station out front, along with a Subway and a pizza shop, which is where we usually grab a bite to eat. McDonald’s is across the street, along with another gas station with a nice convenience store, where we fill up and grab snacks before heading out. Our favorite food spot is the Chicken Shack - wings and beer, what more could you want after a day of wheeling?!
Here are some of our Ambassadors favorite food spots:
“Ice cream: Whippy Dip
Dinner: Golden Sands Golf Course”
“GB Donut Shop (just before the round about on the left headed to the dunes, she just opened all freshly made) Soooo good!”
If you have any other recommendations, tips, stories, anything - drop a comment below!
Check out our YouTube for GoPro video from the passenger point of view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoWnBUpXUCM&t=1s
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