By Ann Drzewiecki
April 1, 2023 started for us at 6:30 am at Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan – OPENING Day! Or more accurately the two cabins just off to the “right” of the dunes, the ones that are right by the boat launch. We had the perfect spot. We smooshed, 4 picksup, 3 trailers and a BUNCH of riding “toys” on the two lots that we rented for the weekend. The cabins we and our friends rented were truly right on the water. The view was excellent. The cottages/cabins, I never know which term is correct, were perfect for our needs. Each were three bedrooms with one bathroom. Very large windows on the water side. Honestly, the only improvement I would have liked would have been bigger windows on the road side so I could have watched on the rigs going by heading to the dunes. I would have liked to see what everyone else brought “Up North” to play with.
The cabins were within ¼ mile (I didn’t truly measure) of the entrance to the first parking lot – the one right by Test Hill. It would be hard to get closer. Scott and I along with our son Nick and his friend Colby, plus our dog were in one cottage with plenty of room. Our friends Eugene and Susan, their sons Josh, Matt and nephew Bryce were next door, also with plenty of room. This was truly a great setup for a group. The cottages had maybe 15 steps from door to door. Plenty of outdoor space and gear for barbeques. Basically, bring the food, charcoal and fun. The only possible downside, is the boat launch in the summer. You will have strangers driving next to the one cabin all day. But if you are there for the dunes, this location is tough to beat.
This trip marked our third annual family trip to Silver Lake Opening Day. I expect many more. We were a little disappointed that the Chicken Shack and a couple other local haunts weren’t open yet, but both Duneland and Silverback Offroad Rental are always open on opening weekend – so the necessesities for fuel based fun are covered.
If you’re like me and the smell of motor oil, rec or diesel fuel and the idea of rpm’s gets your adrenaline going – this is the place for you. Like I mentioned, this year was a bit cold, but it didn’t stop many other enthusiasts. The first lot was pretty full by about 9:15. It was so awesome to see so many ways to put wheels and motors together to head on out and enjoy – basically an adult sandbox. What I loved most though – was there was everything from super high end expensive stuff – to entry level, easily affordable bikes AND everyone was talking to everyone. So cool… Not a lot of scrolling through social media going on, not that there’s anything wrong with social media. Just sometimes, we all need to find a bit of balance in our lives. AND, I saw a LOT of families hanging together. All ages hanging out in all kinds of vehicles with lots of TALKING going on.
The other thing I noticed was kids watching and learning the maintenance and upkeep it takes to get a machine ready for the dunes. A lot of the machines do not just roll off the trailer and go. Many need a bit of care and a wrench or two before they go. Lots of knowledge hanging out and being passed down to the next generation in this parking lot. The other thing is safety of the dunes. This particular weekend was windy – which means the sand shifts. There was one really weird spot on the dunes that dropped off and word spread through the parking lot on that issue as well…
And, have you noticed we haven’t even got on the dunes yet…
Isn’t this town sounding great so far! You gotta make this a bucket list item if you haven’t already been there. Most of the town businesses are still locally owned. My favorite part of this place by far. Let alone the natural beauty of being Michigan.
Okay, so there are a few rules before entering the Dunes. For safety it’s important, but not that big of deal. Like flags – trust me – you’ll want em. ORV stickers – stop in at the State Park booth at the 2nd parking lot (note: also where you can air up your tires at days end). Plus, there are sound limits – check the website for now – I’m not that well versed in describing this part. I will be doing a follow up article later this summer and will go into detail for the dirt bike riders at that time. My son and his friends have to help me with this and since all of us have full time jobs that influence our fun-time – well, we ran out of time…
And, that’s where I’m going to leave this story until next month. That full time job is calling my name. This place is so awesome I want to devote a full article to describing what it is to be on the dunes from the perspective of the drivers I was with that day. Stay tuned til next month… •