Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan is one of 4 national lakeshores and 10 national seashores that are managed by the National Park Service and famous for their beaches. Although not as famous as Cape Cod or Cape Hatteras National Seashores, Good Morning America viewers voted Sleeping Bear Dunes the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” The beautiful beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes got their namesake from the Legend of Sleeping Bear, which tells the story of three bears driven by a fire into Lake Michigan. Along the way the two cubs grew tired while the mother swam ahead to shore. Once she got there she waited for her cubs, but they became too tired and could no longer swim and drowned near the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou then created two islands to signify the two bear cubs and a dune to represent the mother bear. Today the Sleeping Bear Dunes is the perfect place for relaxing on the beach or floating in the water. With l.2 million visitors, it contributed $120.5 million to Michigan communities in 2010. Nationwide, coastal national parklands alone provided $3.5 billion to local economies while coastal wildlife refuges provided at least $900 million.
Photo: National Park Service