Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (Or “How to do Sleeping Bear Dunes without wanting to die a billion times.”)

June 16, 2015


You know that expression about learning from your mistakes?

Well, I never really thought that applied to me.

Instead I tend to repeat my mistakes.

Over and over and over again.

And then a few more times for good measure.

Experience and age have brought me many things. An appreciation for sensible shoes. That little “ooff” sound that I hear coming out of my mouth when I stand up after sitting down for too long. Pores on my face so large you could probably park a car in there.

But wisdom?

Not so much.

Until, that is, a few weeks ago, when I decided to stop by Sleeping Bear Dunes on my way to my campsite on Leelanau Peninsula.

This was not my first time at Sleeping Bear Dunes. As you may recall, I went there last summer, and I ended up hiking the Dunes Climb.

Kind of by accident.

And kind of because I didn’t bother reading the warning in the park’s pamphlet that described the trek as a “hot, exhausting, three to four hour trip.”


I know this doesn’t LOOK bad. But, trust me, it is EVIL. PURE EVIL.

Unlike countless mistakes before, I actually learned from the mistake that was the Dunes Climb and vowed to not climb a single dune on my trip back to the park.


It may seem hard to avoid dunes in a park where the word dunes is one-third of the name. But it was actually surprisingly easy. I think the creators of the park must have foreseen the possibility of a whole great number of people doing the Dunes Climb and then shortly thereafter vowing to never, ever do that again.

And that’s where the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive comes in.

The pretty, leafy drive winds around the park, and has a number of pull-off points where you can get out of your car, walk a few feet, take a few dune-y pictures or a few lake-y pictures, and then get back into your car.


Oooo, dune-y! And lake-y!

And you never once have to suffer the threat of dehydration or the fear that YOU’RE GOING TO DIE OUT HERE ALL ALONE AND WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY CAT????

In fact, there was even a sign at one of the stop-off points warning you against the horrible-ness that is dune-climbing.


Heed the sign, folks!

Despite this sign, I still saw people climbing down the dune and then flailing around down at the bottom of it when they realized that the sign was right and they were really, really bad at making life decisions.

And this was no ordinary dune, you guys. This was one mother-freaking seriously crazy-pants dune. If any dune deserved a sign telling you not to climb down it, it was this dune right here.


Again, I realize this doesn’t LOOK bad. But, trust me, it was hell in sand-form.

What is wrong with people??? It’s like they do stuff without even thinking or bothering to read warnings or, ummm, yeah…

I’m really glad I don’t know anyone like that.



What travel mistake have you made and vowed to never, ever SWEETBABYJESUSSOHELPMEGODEVER do again?


I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 16, 2015 at 11:47 am Daina said:

    I love the scenic drive! (And I would never in a million years climb those dunes…) Travel ‘mistakes’ I’ve made and resolved to never make again, I’m sure there are a number, but the one that immediately pops to mind is fly a red-eye from the West Coast to the East. Being on a plane for 5+ hrs is bad enough when you are six feet tall, but doing so in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping and there are no other options – nope, absolutely not.
    Daina recently posted..Music & Food in Boston

    • On June 17, 2015 at 9:34 pm Sally said:

      I’ve only done one red-eye. And it was the one and only flight where I was upgraded to business class. I was kind of annoyed at the time because I knew I’d be sleeping too much to enjoy the free booze, but at least I got to stretch out and sleep!

  2. On June 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm Wandering Educators said:

    Hilarious – and OH so true. those dunes are enormous. I always stay at the bottom and read while my crazy family climbs. 🙂
    Wandering Educators recently posted..When New Speakers of a Foreign Language Are Reluctant to Converse

    • On June 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm Sally said:

      You know how to DO it. (Oh, and have you visited the ice cream machine by the bottom? That was my only favorite part about doing the Dune Climb.)

  3. On June 16, 2015 at 8:57 pm Priya said:

    I’m glad I don’t know anyone like that either 🙂
    Priya recently posted..Getting My Ethiopian Food On – Vegetarian Style

  4. On June 17, 2015 at 2:16 pm Alouise said:

    From those photos those dunes don’t look too bad, but 2 hours just to get back. Holy crap that’s a long hike. Note to self – if going to Sleeping Bear Dunes don’t hike the dune, just drive.

  5. On June 26, 2015 at 3:45 am Ceri said:

    “I still saw people climbing down the dune and then flailing around down at the bottom of it when they realized that the sign was right and they were really, really bad at making life decisions.” – Laughing too hard at this.
    Ceri recently posted..Teaching in Korea vs Teaching in Mexico (Part 1)


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