Department of Natural Resources
Size: 2820 acres
Location: Approximately 8 miles north of Ludington
Management: Ludington State Park
Activities: Hiking, nature study, photography, swimming, cross-country skiing, hunting, camping (adjacent), wildlife viewing
Importance: The proposed Natural Area ecologically is part of the Big Sable Dunes complex, which includes Ludington Dunes and Nordhouse Dunes to the north. Open sand dunes and their characteristic natural communities occurring on freshwater are better represented in Michigan than anywhere else in the world. Big Sable Dunes offers the greatest expanse of open dunes in the Great Lakes, as well as some of the most extensive interdunal wetlands, a distinctive natural community unique to the Great lakes, and good examples of secondary dune forest that can be found on some of the older dunes.
At the fore edge of an open dune system, the habitat is quite harsh, with moving sand, extremely dry conditions and organic material for nutrients. Only a few plants are able to endure and thrive in this environment. One of these is the State threatened pitcher's thistle. Ludington Dunes encompasses one of the world's two largest populations of this species. Several other plant species of special concern also occur here.
Ludington Dunes may be the best spot in the Lower Peninsula to view a piece of Michigan's landscape that still looks like it did prior to European settlement, something very rare in eastern North America.
Ludington Dunes Shoreline