Silver Lake State Park ORV Area Information

Silver Lake State Park ORV Area

Silver Lake State Park

9679 W. State Park Rd.
Mears, MI 49436

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Camping Reservations: or 1-800-44PARKS

Explore the dunes in 360-degree view with Google's Street View at

The Michigan DNR and SLORVA task force distributed a public survey for Silver Lake ORV Area users to submit feedback about the new entry system implemented in 2015. Survey results are posted below.

Click here to view results of public survey about the new ORV entry system (updated Oct. 10, 2015)

Learn more about the Silver Lake Off-Road Vehicle Area Enhancement and the SLORVA Task Force



Off-roading can be fun and exciting for the whole family. Make it a safe experience for yourself and other park visitors. Please follow the rules that have been made for everyone's safety and security. Sand dunes are subject to rapid topographic changes resulting from wind and erosion. Be alert for steep inclines, changing slopes, natural hazards and/or sudden drop-offs. Always operate your vehicle at a safe speed and in a safe manner.


There are a number of general rules that apply to all operators using the Silver Lake Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Area. Specific vehicle regulations and requirements follow the general rules section.

  • Dates & hours of operation: The Off-Road Vehicle Area is open each year April 1 through October 31.
    • April 1 - April 30, 9 a.m.- 8 p.m.
    • May 1 - September 15, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
    • September 16 - October 31,9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
    • Access to the ORV Area and dunes is stopped 1/2 hour ahead of closing time, every evening.
  • Required documentation: Current vehicle permits are required on all vehicles using the area.
  • Parking Lot Vouchers are required on summer weekends and holidays.
  • No alcoholic beverages are allowed throughout the year in and around the ORV Area.
  • Operate vehicles only within the dune area marked with orange boundary markers.
  • Obey Directional Traffic Zone signage. No north-bound traffic in high dune areas.
  • Rectangular, safety orange flags reaching 10 foot in height required on all ORVs.
  • Michigan Child Passenger Safety Law in effect in ORV Area.
  • Use of emergency strobe, flashing, rotating and/or blinking lights and sirens is prohibited except in case of emergency.
  • Helmets are required to operate ATVs and motorcycles in parking lot as well as in dunes.
  • Special regulations for un-licensed and young (12 - 16 years of age) operators.
  • Headlight(s), taillight(s) and brake light(s) required on vehicles 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • ATVs and motorcycles: operator only, no passengers at any time.
  • Please report accidents, injuries and/or emergencies to State Park personnel or 911.

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Specific vehicle equipment regulations and requirements are covered by the current Department of Natural Resources Land Use Order of the Director (LUOD) for Silver Lake State Park. Additionally, no person shall operate a vehicle in violation of any provision of Part 811, Off-Road Recreational Vehicles, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being Section 324.81101 to 324.81150 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. If you have any questions about the requirements or rules, please contact Silver Lake State Park officials. The current LUOD reads in part:

By authority conferred on the Director of the Department of Natural Resources by Section 504 of the Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, MCL 324.504, and in accordance with R 299.921 to R 299.933, the Director of the Department of Natural Resources orders the following:
5.9 Off-road vehicles, Silver Lake State Park Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Area, conditions for use, prohibited conduct.
Order 5.9. A person shall not do any of the following on all state lands of Silver Lake State Park posted as the ORV Area, Oceana County:

(5) Operate any motor vehicle with four or more wheels that does not contain a seat and individual seat belt for each occupant of that vehicle. Those vehicles with automotive-type seating and fewer than four wheels shall be equipped with a seat belt for each occupant. Vehicle operators shall comply with the provisions of the Michigan child passenger safety law, MCL 257.710d, and all of the following provisions:

(a) Seat belts shall be in use by all occupants while the vehicle is in operation.

(b) An approved automotive manufactured restraining device, such as a lap belt or three- or four-point harness, is an acceptable seat belt.

(c) Seat belts and restraining devices, other than factory installed, shall be secured by bolting to the vehicle floor, frame, or roll bar.

(d) Any vehicle on which the operator straddles the seat, such as a motorcycle or an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), will be limited to the operator only as the sole occupant and no seat belt will be required.

(6) Operate a vehicle requiring seat belts where an occupant in the rear seat is not protected by a roll bar located immediately behind the occupant's seat as described in subsection (8) unless the rear seat occupants are wearing a safety approved for automotive use (A.N.S.I. or equal) helmet. The operator or occupant of a vehicle not required to meet seat belt specifications shall wear a safety helmet approved for automotive use (A.N.S.I. or equal) and protective eyewear.

(7) Operate a vehicle requiring seat belts without a warning flag mounted and extending over the front-most portion of the vehicle. Vehicles not requiring seat belts shall mount the warning flag on the rear of the vehicle.  Vehicle operators shall comply with all of the following requirements:

(a) The warning flag shall be mounted on a staff that is securely bolted, welded, or secured to the vehicle. The warning flag shall maintain a minimum 10-foot height at standstill and a minimum 8-foot height under motion.

(b) The warning flag shall be mounted on the top-most end of the staff. The flag shall be rectangular, international orange in color, solid material, with a minimum length on the supporting side of five inches and a minimum length on the base side of 10 inches.

(8) Operate a vehicle requiring seat belts that is not equipped with an integral steel roof, or roll bar located immediately behind the operator, or roll cage, capable of supporting the weight of the vehicle. The operator and occupants of a vehicle without a full front windshield shall wear protective eyewear.  The operator of a vehicle equipped with a roll bar shall comply with all the following requirements:

(a) The roll bar shall be welded or bolted to the floor or frame of the vehicle.

(b) The roll bar shall be braced in such a manner as to prevent collapse.

(c) The roll bar shall have clearance above, behind, and outside each seated occupant in the vehicle.

(9) Fail to submit to any of the following tests, or operate any vehicle that does not comply with all of the following:

(a) Vehicles shall be equipped with a muffler and spark arrester containing baffles, shall meet the muffler and spark arrester requirements specified in subsection (g) of section 81133 of Part 811, Off-Road Recreational Vehicles, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994PA 451, MCL324.81133(g), and shall successfully pass a muffler and spark arrester baffle test.

(b) A maximum noise level of 94 dB(A), or the current EPA emissions limit, shall be met.  The testing provisions of current SAE J 1287, June 93 standard for ATV and motorcycle vehicles and SAE J 1169, March 93 for all other vehicles shall be followed and all vehicles shall pass a stationary sound level test.  The stationary sound level test shall be administered from a 0.5 meter (19.69 inches) distance at one-half the engine’s maximum rated RPM and as further described by current testing provisions for the particular vehicle.

(10) Operate any vehicle at any time without possessing a valid unrestricted operator's or chauffeur's license, except as follows:

 (a) A person at least 12 years of age with an ORV safety certificate issued by this state or another state or a province of Canada may operate either an ATV or motorcycle with direct visual supervision by an adult.  The direct supervision shall not be impaired by distance and must allow the adult the ability to direct the youth’s actions by verbal communications.  Electronic amplification of verbal communications shall not be used.

(b) An adult shall not allow an unlicensed youth to operate an ORV.

(c) An ORV operator licensed under a level two graduated driver’s license shall only operate under the provisions of that license. 

(11) Operate any type of vehicle and fail to present an operator's or chauffeur's license or ORV safety training certificate upon the demand of any law enforcement officer or state park personnel.

(12) Enter or use the ORV area without complying with all posted regulatory, zoning, or directional signs, or operate a vehicle except in the directional pattern established and marked within the ORV area.

(13) Enter or use the ORV Area without obtaining and displaying a valid ORV area parking lot voucher at any time when such requirement is posted.

(14) Operate any vehicle while towing a contrivance other than a disabled vehicle or trailer, or tow a vehicle or trailer on other than the designated parking lot or paved entrance road without first obtaining proper written permission from the department.  Passengers shall not occupy any trailer or disabled vehicle while it is being towed.

(15) Drive or operate any motor driven vehicle at speeds exceeding posted speed limits or perform exhibition-type driving within the parking area or entrance road/ramp to the ORV area, or the defined speed zone along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  Exhibition-type driving means performing wheelies, spinning tires, cutting circles, jump starts, or other erratic or irresponsible or careless driving.

(16) Possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at any time in the ORV area, ORV Voucher Center area, or any area extending one-quarter of a mile from the boundary of the ORV area.

(17) To leave a vehicle, trailer, or other equipment or contrivance unattended in the ORV voucher center area at any time without first obtaining written permission from the Department.

(18) Operate an ORV that is not titled.

(19) Operate a remote-controlled device within the ORV area.

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The Michigan Motor Vehicle Code and Michigan Compiled Laws state that: vehicles may only be towed using a ridged towing bar that includes safety chains - MCL 257.721 (3); a vehicle operator may tow only one vehicle or trailer at any time - MCL 257.721(5); vehicle operators must have the proper operator's or chauffeur's license - MCL 257.301(1); and in some cases reflectors or stop light are required on the towed trailer or vehicle - MCL 257.688(1)(f).

These rules apply to all Oceana County and State of Michigan roadways and are in effect inside the State Park until one passes the main entrance/fee collection booth.

For additional details please contact the Michigan State Police - Hart Post or the Oceana County Sheriff's Office - Hart , Michigan.

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Silver Lake ORV AREA

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There are a number of other considerations each vehicle operator should be aware of and keep in mind while enjoying the dunes:

  • Be prepared to stop at any time. There may be a stalled or parked vehicle or a natural hazard such as a tree or stump on the other side of the hill that you are cresting.
  • Drive defensively, be careful, stay alert and in control of your vehicle.
  • No passing on the entrance ramp.
  • Must be 16 years of age or older to operate a 3-wheeled ATV.
  • ATV and motorcycle riders need to consider wearing protective clothing and gear.
  • No side awnings on vehicles or trailers in the parking lot / staging area on voucher days.
  • Consider doubling up in the parking spaces if you have the extra room. It will maximize parking opportunities for others.
  • Parking spaces are designed to be 12 feet x 60 feet. Vehicles and equipment extending beyond the 60 feet in length will need to unhook and park the tow vehicle in a nearby space.
  • Be on time for your voucher period. Make sure to have a Park Ranger validate your voucher slip with a distinctive hole-punch upon arriving at the ORV Area Entrance Gate. The hole-punch will be required if re-entry is requested later in the day.
  • Rule violations may subject operator to court citation, eviction and/or vehicle(s) impoundment. Please follow the posted rules for everyone's benefit and safety.
  • Driver's license or ORV Safety Training Certificate must be in operator's possession at all times. Persons may not operate any vehicles if license is suspended or revoked.

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Vehicle muffler noise and the use of spark arresters has been a matter of concern regarding the operation of Off-Road Vehicles (ORV) for many years. The State of Michigan ‘s ORV Law has required them since 1975. At Silver Lake State Park a static or stationary test for this equipment is used on all types of vehicles. Noise levels will be checked at a twenty-inch distance from the exhaust pipe at half the vehicle's rated revolutions per minute (RPM) or as detailed in the automotive specifications SAE J1169, March 92 or SAE J1287, June 86. The maximum noise level permitted under these testing conditions will be 94 dBa which is the current limit set by the Off-Road Recreation Vehicles Act of Part 811 of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.811). All vehicles are required to have a muffler and spark arrester containing baffles meeting established United States Forest Service (USFS) specifications.

Generally speaking, the guidelines for testing at "half the rate RPM" will be based on some vehicle similarities. In most cases, full-sized vehicles with "V" configured engines will be tested at 2,500 RPM and all others at 2,000 RPM, which was a method developed and used while testing these vehicles at Silver Lake in 1997. Diesel powered, full-sized vehicles are tested at 1,500 RPM. Most reverse flow mufflers will meet the spark arrester requirements, as will most turbochargers. However, straight-through mufflers, such as glass-pack designs without baffles and mechanically driven superchargers, do not qualify as adequate spark arresters.

Motorcycles and ATVs will be tested like the full-sized vehicles by placing a sound meter at a twenty inch distance from the muffler exhaust pipe. In most cases, 80 cc engines will be tested at 6,000 RPM, 125 cc at 5,000 RPM, 250 cc at 4,000 RPM and 500 + cc at 3,000 - 3,500 RPM. Annually, the Motorcycle Industry Council produces a manual detailing the standards ATVs and motorcycles must meet. A muffler that meets the Environmental Acoustic Reduction (E.A.R.) standards may be considered as a viable solution for motorcycles. Many ATV and motorcycle mufflers are stamped as being USFS approved and will meet Silver Lake State Park standards, if they have not been altered. Those vehicles that have been manufactured for "closed track" use only, such as many motocross or "dirt-bike" motorcycles and competition style ATVs, will most likely not meet the requirements. This is also often true where after market installations have altered the original exhaust system in attempts to gain additional horsepower.

Testing for compliance with these regulations will be done in a random fashion either within the ORV Area Parking Lot, at the base of the ORV Area entrance ramp roadway by the Safety Check Station, or within the ORV Area sand dune complex itself. Park Rangers or other Law Enforcement Officials may insert a plastic rod into the vehicle's exhaust pipe to determine whether there is a spark arrester or baffle present. Most often home-made baffling devices, such as steel wool or metal door screen material, do not meet the USFS requirements.

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The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) developed a voucher system as a tool to manage the long lines of Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) users waiting to enter Silver Lake State Park on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.

Parking Lot Vouchers are for those who require a staging or parking area for their tow vehicle and/or trailer. Vouchers are free to park visitors and are distributed from the Off-Road Vehicle Welcome Center located at the corner of Fox and Ridge Roads, about 1/4 mile east of the ORV Area entrance. The purpose of the voucher is, simply, to "hold the ORV users place in line", while staggering arrival times to avoid excessive lines.

Vouchers will be handed out starting mid-May, two weeks prior to the Memorial Day weekend and then continuously through the summer on weekends/holidays until the Sunday following Labor Day weekend.

The voucher distribution point on Fox Road will open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. Parking Lot Vouchers will be handed out Friday starting at 8 a.m. for Saturday and Saturday at 8 a.m. for Sunday. The Welcome Center will be open as traffic and use require until at least 10 p.m. Fridays and re-open at 7 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. You must also purchase your State Park and ORV permits at the same location or at several local retailers, which will help speed up entry into the ORV Area.

Parking Lot Vouchers will be for two periods: 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. or 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Parking Lot Stand-by Vouchers will be distributed once parking spaces for those periods are exhausted. In order to give people the opportunity for the limited parking spaces, Parking Lot Vouchers will be available at 8 a.m. the day before they are to be used.

Once the days Parking Lot Vouchers are all given out, visitors may choose to be placed on the Parking Lot Stand-by Voucher list for the following day.

Parking Lot Voucher holders are guaranteed entry for either the 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. or the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. time frame, but not both. If you arrive after your voucher entry time frame, you will need to secure a Parking Lot Stand-by Voucher for later in the day. No parking lot spaces will be guaranteed after 9 a.m. nor can space be held for someone to arrive later. Persons may not use their validated/punched Parking Lot Voucher to trailer-in additional or new off-road vehicles after they originally gain entry at the ORV Area Entrance Gate unless prior arrangements are made with Park Officials and noted on the validated Voucher.

Once you have entered the park, you may stay as long as you like until the normal closing time. The vouchers only specify the arrival time. Parking Lot Voucher holders that leave the sand dunes and/or the State Park will be required to go to the end of the waiting line to re-enter. Those attempting to "cut" in ahead of other visitors waiting to enter will be turned away. Vehicles leaving the parking lot will not be guaranteed space upon returning. Be sure your voucher slip is validated (HOLE-TYPE PUNCHED) when you arrive at the ORV Area Entrance Gate for the first time, on any particular day.

The number of available spaces in the lot controls the number of Parking Lot Vouchers. Inclement weather, no-shows, early or unplanned departures, space sharing, and similar actions allow for additional room on occasion. Parking Lot Stand-by Vouchers are used for these unexpected events.

One Parking Lot Voucher can be obtained by an individual adult park visitor. These voucher slips will require the addition of the user's name and main vehicle license number, in ink, prior to validation and must be completed and validated at the time of pickup. The person picking up the Vouchers will need to know the names, license plate numbers and the intended time frame for entry. The voucher forms must be completed, in ink, prior to embossed or stamped validation at the time of application at the Welcome Center Office. Voucher slips will again be validated with a distinctive hole-type punch upon arrival at the ORV Area Entrance Gate. This hole-type punch will be required if re-entry is requested later during the day.

The Voucher Center Parking Lot will be used for Parking Lot Stand-by Voucher stacking or cueing line purposes during regular business hours. There will still be a wait with a Parking Lot Stand-by Voucher, since there is no guarantee when parking spaces may occur, but the visitor will be better able to make the best use of their time. Dune Ready Vehicles will need to check back during the day for the possibility of entry prior to 7 p.m. Owners of vehicles in the Voucher Center Parking Lot must be in attendance, trailers or extra vehicles may not be stored or parked there, and there is no overnight parking allowed.

Parking lot spaces are approximately 12 feet x 60 feet in size. Park visitors use of side awnings on trailers, motorhomes, etc., takes up space that others may be waiting to use. No side awnings are allowed on voucher days. Please make efficient use of the limited space and keep your vehicles and gear within your parking spot.

Trailers are not allowed into the ORV Area beyond the Safety Check Station. Check with Park Rangers regarding use of trailers to remove disabled vehicles or for emergency situations. Within the ORV Parking Lot, semi trailers with tractor/trucks that are over 60 feet in length, will need to unhook trailers and use a small portion of the adjacent space on weekends and busy days. The spaces on the ends of the parking-bays afford this opportunity and semi users are encouraged to use these spaces in which to park their tractor/truck. After 9 a.m. on voucher days, no vehicles may be trailered past the ORV Area Entrance Gate unless prior arrangements are made with Park Officials and noted on the validated Voucher.

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The Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Silver Lake State Park, is developing a safe dune driving/operating campaign to make information more readily available throughout the Silver Lake Area.

If you have questions or concerns or would like to volunteer to help, please contact staff at Silver Lake State Park at 231-873-3083.

Related Documents
Silver Lake ORV Area Voucher System Meeting Agenda PDF icon