Pets in the Park


Spring, Summer, and Fall 2024

The red lines on the above map are areas closed to pets.
The green lines are beaches and trails where leashed pets are allowed.

You and your pets are welcome to enjoy the park together in select areas. This includes most hiking trails and specific stretches of beach.

There are rules and regulations for pets in the park that must be followed. These rules are in place to ensure the safety of visitors, pets, and wildlife. Violation of these rules and regulations may result in a ticket and fine.

Trained service animals of visitors with a disability are permitted throughout the Lakeshore. Service animals are required to follow the same guidelines for leashing, bagging pet waste, and respecting wildlife.

Leashed pets are welcome on these beaches:

The following beaches allow leashed pets unless indicated by signage at the trailhead or parking lot.

  • Peterson Beach south to the Railroad Grade Trail from Platte River Campground. Peterson Road Beach south is closed to pets April 15-Aug. 15, 2024.
  • Esch Road north to the Lakeshore boundary line in Empire (closed to pets south of Esch Rd)
  • Lakeshore boundary line in Empire north to the southern end of North Bar Lake. No pet access from North Bar Lake.
  • Glen Haven Beach west to the Maritime Museum beach (pets are not allowed on the Maritime Museum grounds) Glen Haven Beach west to Maritime Museum is closed to pets April 15-Aug. 15, 2024.
  • Glen Haven Beach east to the Lakeshore boundary in Glen Arbor.
  • From the Lakeshore boundary north of Glen Arbor around Pyramid Point all the way to Bohemian Road (CR 669)
  • From Good Harbor Trail (CR 651) to the northern Lakeshore boundary

Why Close the Beaches to Pets?

Pets are an extreme hazard to the Lakeshore’s population of Great Lake Piping Plover. Pets disrupt normal piping plover breeding behavior. Their presence can directly and indirectly lead to a loss of eggs, chicks, or adults. Plovers consider pets to be predators.

They react to pets as they would to wild animals threatening their space. Plovers may abandon their nests or leave the area entirely in search of better breeding grounds.

The Great Lakes Piping Plover is federally protected by the Endangered Species Act. The population hit a low of just seventeen breeding pairs in 1986. In 2021, the population had rebounded to seventy-four breeding pairs.

Approximately half of the Great Lake Piping Plover population chooses to nest and raise their young in Sleeping Bear Dunes along the lakeshore.

Maps and signs, both online and posted throughout the park, show areas where leashed dogs are welcome. They also show areas completely closed to pets. There are multiple stretches of beach that are permanently closed to pets to protect Great Lakes Piping Plover.

There are some beaches that may be open to leashed pets during much of the year but closed in the spring and summer. Changes should be expected throughout the year as to whether a beach allows pets.

There is evidence showing the damage done by pets on beaches where piping plover breed. The following document gives more information on the importance of following pet guidelines.

Cats and Dogs and Birds at the Beach: A Deadly Combination (

Rules of Pet Behavior – the simple principles of BARK:

Bag pet waste: clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles 
Always on leash: pets must be on a leash (six feet in length max) and under control at all times 
Respect wildlife: prohibit your pets from interacting with wildlife or disturbing other visitors 
Know where you can go: know which areas are open and closed to pets, and obey posted signs

Additionally, pets may not be left unattended or tied to an object. Please do not allow your pet to make unreasonable noise. 

Suggestions for Pet Safety

  • Don’t leave your pet unattended in a hot car
  • Bring along extra water and a bowl when away from your car
  • Sand and asphalt can reach temperature hot enough to burn paw pads in the summer, even if the air temperate isn’t that hot. Be aware when hiking or walking in the park of the temperature beneath your feet
  • Your pet may not be able to negotiate the same terrain as you, so plan according to their needs
  • Bring along a dog specific first aid kit
  • Do not allow dogs to interact with wildlife in any manner

Become a BARK Ranger

Interested in helping keep the Great Lakes Piping Plover safe? Bring your dog along and become a BARK Ranger! Help educate other pet owners about the importance of following the principals of BARK at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Contact Matt Mohrman at e-mail us for more information about volunteering in the park and learn more about the program.

MAP DESCRIPTION FOR MAP AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore comprises over 71,000 acres in northwestern Michigan on the shore of Lake Michigan, including two islands and the mainland park.The park’s mainland area resembles a triangle on the map starting a third of the way from the top. The first side of the triangle runs along the right edge of the map page, the second along the bottom of the page, and the third runs in an irregular diagonal back up to the right edge. Access to the park’s mainland area is primarily via M-22 which runs north and south through the park. The Philip A. Hart visitor center is located in the center of the mainland area on the map near the intersection of M-22 and M-72. Road construction and seasonal road conditions require closure of certain roads.

Following M-22 south from the top of the triangle along the 32 miles of shoreline, the road passes south of Good Harbor Bay. FThe Lake Michigan beach access from County Road 651 west to County Road 669 is marked in red. This stretch of beach is closed to dogs.

M-22 continues through the south end of the Port Oneida Historic District, an historic farming landscape, and on to the town of Glen Arbor near the middle of the map. In Glen Arbor, M-22 turns south and continues on past the Glen Lakes to Empire, Michigan. A second road, M-109, continues west out of Glen Arbor to the Glen Haven Historic Village in the center of the map. D. H. Day Campground and the Sleeping Bear Point US Life-Saving Service Station and Maritime Museum are nearby.

Continuing on the now southbound M-109, the road passes by the Dune Climb on the right and the road to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Further south, M-109 and M-22 meet up again and head toward Empire and the visitor center.

Following M-22 north from Empire onto Voice Road west, to North Bar Lake Road to the north, is North Bar Lake. The Lake Michigan beach access from North Bar Lake north and then east to the Maritme Museum is marked in red. This stretch of beach is closed to dogs.

Traveling south out of Empire to the southern section of the park and the bottom third of the map, the road passes many beach access points and trailheads on its way to Platte River Point and the Platte River Campground.

From the Esch Road beach access to the southern boundary of the Lakeshore, past the Old Indian Trailhead is marked in red. This stretch of beach is closed to dogs.

At this point, in the middle left of the bottom third of the map, the Platte River meets up with Lake Michigan at the terminus of Lake Michigan Road. Campgrounds, beach access, trailheads, inland lake access, picnic spots, and restrooms can be accessed from M-22, however, not all services are available year-round.

Last updated: April 17, 2024

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Empire, MI 49630


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