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Introducing the Guide to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

bill-herd-snowshoeLeelanau.com is committed to developing a truly comprehensive guide to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Guide will have basic information for first-time visitors, as well as in-depth features about park resources for folks who are already familiar with the National Lakeshore but want to be even better informed. I have enthusiastically agreed to edit this Guide. For the last 35 years I have had what many folks would consider to be one of the best jobs in America. As a National Park Ranger/Interpreter at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, it was my job to learn as much as possible about the park and to share this knowledge with visitors in an interesting and understandable way. Four decades of leading hikes, giving tours, and presenting campfire talks have provided me with a wealth of knowledge about the park. Equally important, years of answering questions at the information desk has given me understanding about what visitors want and need to know. While I am no longer a National Park Ranger, I will be providing the same types of services to park visitors at Leelanau.com.

Leelanau.com is an ideal place to host such a Lakeshore guide. For years folks interested in Leelanau County have gone to Leelanau.com to get the information they need about lodging, dining, activities, and special events. The staff at Leelanau.com have been long-time supporters of the National Lakeshore, helping to promote its programs and special events. Equally important, Leelanau.com has donated valuable services to many of the nonprofit groups working to preserve the natural and historic features on the Leelanau Peninsula. They are an important partner in protecting the environment that makes the area such a wonderful place to live and visit.

When I began as a seasonal ranger in 1973, the National Park Service only owned about 500 acres of land. As the park developed over the years, I took part in most of the meetings, planning sessions, and project reviews. I not only know the park facilities and activities, I helped develop most of them: from ski trails to historic villages. Frequently, during my ranger career, I would get a call from a travel writer who was seeking information about Sleeping Bear Dunes. Sometimes they had been visited the park once or twice but were still a bit fuzzy about what was where. Many times they had never even been to the National Lakeshore. You will not find any articles by these “instant” experts in this Guide, because this guide will not only be comprehensive, it will be accurate. I will personally write most of the weekly feature articles and I will review all of the information put up on the site to be certain it is correct and up to date. As the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is too diverse for any one person to know everything about it, I will be inviting guest writers who I know are experts on specific park topics.

During the first weeks the site is up, we will be addressing the basics—the most important things to see and do, campground choices, dunes, and beaches. The things folks need to know to plan their visit. However, just as basic is knowing why the National Lakeshore is important is the knowledge of what physical features are nationally significant and why. I begin the site with a quick overview of the park’s significant features and where you can see and experience them. In the following weeks I will explore many of these significant features in greater detail. There is a fair about of information about Sleeping Bear Dunes on the web, some of it quite good, some questionable, and much of it is difficult to locate. We will provide links to the sites with good information such as the park’s official website and the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes website.

Guiding hikes and tours at the Lakeshore gave me an opportunity to communicate directly with park visitors. It was a joint experience as they added their comments and questions. I would like to continue this two-way dialog, so the site will also provide a way for readers to easily provide comments and questions. I look forward to this new venture and hearing your questions and suggestions. We all love this area and together we can help others understand, appreciate, and protect it.

Bill Herd
Editor

Photos: Bill Herd at Snowshoe Hike (NPS)
~~Follow Me ~~ by KT of Lake Orion

Speaking of Photos…

We’d love it if you would share your photos of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Leelanau (dot com) pool on Flickr!

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