When Visiting Silver Lake (Mears, MI) For the First Time All You Need To Know

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“Lake Hair Don’t Care, Sand everywhere don’t care.” Now, this is the mentality you have to take with you when you go to visit Mears, Michigan.  The beautiful Silver Lake Sand Dunes for the first time can well… for some be a bit overwhelming, but fear not I am going to do my very best to help you with all you need to know if you want to plan a trip there yourself.

Where do I stay in Mears, MI? Well, this all depends, most people that I know and what I have done is gone camping.  Some of the places that are nearby that you can stay at include; (I am not affiliated with any of these places, I have only stayed at the one, but I researched a few to see what ones were the closest and had the best reviews to try to make you have the best stay possible)

  1. Val Du- Lakes Campground: Now when you look up the reviews you will see that they are not the greatest, but I have to say this was a very nice place to stay. The bathrooms stayed clean, the showers were not horrible, and there was security. I think what people may not like is the security of this place, you need to have a parking pass and wristbands on at all time to get in and out of the camping area. There is plenty of parking, but the sites are on the smaller side, so if you do have a bigger camper or trailers see if you can get more than one site. (231) 873-2267
  2. Dunes Harbor Family Camp is a Christian family campground that is located close to the dunes as well.  (231) 873-3662
  3. The Hideaway campground is another way that is said to be relaxing, and if you want a quiet and peaceful atmosphere this one is for you. (231) 873-4428
  4. Jelly Stone Park, also located close to the dunes and has all the necessary hookups needed for a camper. (231) 873-4502
  5. Dunes Waterfront Resort is a hotel you can stay in if you are not looking to camp on your stay. The resort overlooks the silver lake and the dunes. Although on their site it does not say anything about where you can park trailers if you have one, so you might want to call this number and ask before booking your stay. (231) 873-5500).
  6. Another hotel that offers special packages for the silver lake sand dunes is the Sierra Sands Family Lodge. They are just minutes away from dunes. Contact this number to book your stay with them (231) 873-1008
  7. Footprints at Silver Lake is another place to stay; these are park style trailer homes that can be rented out by the day or the week. Contact this number for more information (616) 293-4798


I will start off by saying, this was only my second time there this past weekend, but I absolutely love being there. This is place is so beautiful but knowing a few things before you get there will help make your trip a lot more bearable and more enjoyable.  So you want to ride the Sand Dunes?  The Park is open from April 1st to October 31st and has 450 acres that are an ORV area.  The area is operated by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and with that being said you will want to know the system and the regulated rules before you can begin to start your adventure at Silver Lake State Park

So.. first things first, whether you are driving in your daily driver, a truck, a van, an ATV, Dune Buggy, A Redneck Rig you just built in your garage you will want to buy a flag to put on the front. You will need this to get into the park, the flag is one of the most important parts, you can get your flag online or purchase one in store. All vehicles that enter the park must have a 10- foot mast that has to hold a large Orange flag and yes the flag has to be orange. Also, this has to be 10 feet in height, this will help you as well in the long run while you are on the dunes, so people are able to see you, when you are going up and over the hills.

Are you Dune Reay??… not yet… In order to be dune ready, you have to go to the voucher center and basically have three important things. 1)  A state park pass (This can also be called a recreation passport). A recreation passport is $11 with the purchase of your annual license plate renewal and if you do not already do this, I would highly recommend it. Having a recreation passport gets you into several of Michigans State Parks for FREE!! Yes, I said free. If you do not have the recreation passport/state park pass this can be purchased again att he voucher center at Silver Lake. 2) You will need to purchase and have a trail permit before you are able to enter the dunes.  Finally, you will need an ORV sticker, this is everything that is checked for at the very front of the park before you can enter the dunes.  These truly, are some of the most important things you will need if you want to make sure you do not have to leave and come back to wait in line all over again. The lines can get very long and believe me, it is just not something you will want to do, it will make for a pretty crappy day. COME PREPARED!!!

Another way to come prepared if you are riding in an ATV is having some proper gear with you. Now you don’t need everything but sometimes so of this stuff is nice to have. Here is a picture of what we took with us to the dunes;

     (I am not an affiliate of Yamaha, but I will say this is one of the best ATV’s and did very well on the sand dunes)

The items that I got and that my husband bought for our ATV were;

Having mirrors is a MUST when going to the dunes. Just like having mirrors to drive on the roads is something you need, you will want them here. There is traffic everywhere, you will want to see if a dirt bike is pulling up fast alongside you, or a truck, razor, etc… These mirrors were very easy to install and have worked perfectly for our side by side.
The items that I got and that my husband bought for our ATV were;

 Having mirrors is a MUST when going to the dunes. Just like having mirrors to drive on the roads is something you need, you will want them here. There is traffic everywhere, you will want to see if a dirt bike is pulling up fast alongside you, or a truck, razor, etc… These mirrors were very easy to install and have worked perfectly for our side by side.

[caption id="" tps: border="0" height="250" alt="" width="250"]AYDR4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B005HAYDR4&linkCode=as2&tag=chevytruckgal-20&linkId=3ba40751fee9275361d9a85e220403ff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”> The husband put these in the ATV just for me to hold onto when we started going over the hills and bumps and they worked great. These are very well priced and work great!!!

Now a winch is not something that is absolutely necessary, and you do not have to buy one. Although I will say this, we had it on there for a just in case scenario. When you are in sand/ mud or just about anywhere, there are times when well… you might get stuck. Sometimes having a winch can be a good idea to get yourself out of a sticky situation or in this case a sandy situation.

Something that I liked to have as well when we were at the dunes was music. I absolutely love being able to listen to music, and well having just my phone did not cut it. Although having this speaker that I bought worked perfectly!

Now you got past the guard in the front, they let you come in the dunes and you are driving on through, you get to the top and you see the big hill. This hill is called test hill, and you will see many fail at it, and many succeed. Now, my husband and I also learned a huge lesson here with our ATV/ side by side that I want all of you to know right now, so it does not happen to you.  TAKE THE AIR OUT OF YOUR TIRES!!!!! I know it sounds silly, but I am serious, it helps so much. You want to take the air out of your tires, I believe my husband brought our air down to 10 PSI, and that worked perfectly for us. I don’t think I would do any more than 10 PSI if I were you though. That should be plenty for any vehicle.

Finally, follow the rules, there are several park rangers that patrol the park and make sure you are doing what you are supposed to. So if you do not know the rules, make sure you go to the website I have posted below, that will give you a good guide to a lot of them. Also, here are some more that I found and wrote on my phone when I was in the park myself.

In order to be driving anywhere on the dunes, you must have a valid drivers license, these signs were posted on the very front before you entered the park and they are highly enforced. The only exception is those that may have a valid ORV’s license and may be operating an ATV or motorcycle.

You can bring a cooler but you can not have any alcohol, I would not even try. You will just end up having to leave the line and go right back to the end of it. Not worth it, if you ask me. Just wait until you are off the dunes, and drink when you get back to your campsite or wherever you are staying. They do not accept drinking and driving.  So again NO ALCOHOL! But you can bring anything else in a cooler, and it can get pretty hot in the summer so bring lots of water.

Everywhere you go on the dunes there are directional signs so be sure you are not going the wrong way. These signs will let you know, if you are going the WRONG WAY, well… you will probably cause a scene or an accident neither of which you will want. So.. be smart and just follow the signs like you would when you are driving on the road anyway. Use common courtesy because it can get very busy, watch for traffic and be aware and pay attention to your surrounding and you should be fine.


Here are some more pictures from my trip! ENJOY!!

If you would like any more information and you want to know anything about Michigan and the rules/regulations that need to be applied when traveling on Silver Lake Sand Dunes please go to https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79119_79148—,00.html

5 thoughts on “When Visiting Silver Lake (Mears, MI) For the First Time All You Need To Know

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