Up North Blog

Spring in Northern Michigan

Ice formations on Lake Michigan Ice formations on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Sleeping Bear Bay

After a long, cold winter, spring is coming to northern Michigan! While there is still a chill in the air and doubtlessly more snow before summer, the sun is noticeably warmer and the piles of snow and ice are melting.

If you picture spring in northern Michigan, you probably imagine blue skies, cherry blossoms, and tulips and daffodils. We’re a long way from any of that right now. While we’ve had some beautiful, sunny days, March is spring at its least photogenic. Dirty ice, brown grass, mud, and puddles are everywhere, while blossoms are nowhere to be seen.

It’s been said that you can’t take a bad picture of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We headed out on a gloomy March afternoon to see if we could prove that wrong, and to provide you with a little taste of early spring up north. Let us know what you think!

Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor Our Glen Arbor store on a dreary March afternoon.

Snow piles outside Cherry Republic Snow piles still linger outside our Grand Cafe in Glen Arbor… but they’re melting quickly!

Ice on the Lake Michigan shore Sandy ice on the Lake Michigan shore at Glen Haven.

Sleeping Bear Dunes The dunes at Sleeping Bear Point. The snow is disappearing, but the ice in the bay will remain for another month.

Sleeping Bear Dunes These dunes were covered in snow a few days ago. Now it could almost be summer… Almost!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Untracked sand is sculpted by the winds.

Sleeping Bear Dunes An exposed knoll at the top of the dunes, blasted by winds all winter, displays layers of striation in the sand

Sleeping Bear Dunes Looking out towards Sleeping Bear Point across the other-worldly, undulating dunes. That snow won’t linger for much longer!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Sleeping Bear Bay and the Manitou Passage are still jammed with ice.

Sleeping Bear Dunes It may be cold and gloomy, but few places are more enchanting than the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes The “ghost forest” remains of ancient trees engulfed by the shifting sands of the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Bleached by the sun and dried out by centuries of exposure to the elements, these trees are an eerie reminder of the impermanence of everything.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Using this dead leaf as a pen, the wind traces patterns in the sand.

Glen Haven and Sleeping Bear Bay Looking down towards Glen Haven it’s hard to tell where the gray clouds end and the ice on Lake Michigan begins. Isn’t March awful?

Glen Lake Ice Fractures in the ice on Glen Lake.

Sleeping Bear Dunes March isn’t all gray skies, and when the sun comes out, the thawing ice looks spectacular!

Lake Michigan Ice Ice formations on the Lake Michigan shoreline on a beautiful March day. People will be swimming here in a few months!

D. H . Day Barn A deer enjoying one of the nicer March days in front of the D. H. Day Barn

Northern Michigan is at its least photogenic in March. But even on a gloomy afternoon, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s tranquil beauty shines through.