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Shoreline horseback riding season

horseback riders along sandy lakeshore

Shoreline horseback riding season

Experience Silver Lake State Park – one of Michigan's most unique state parks – on horseback! Horseback riders can ride the Lake Michigan shore during a shoreline horseback riding season Nov. 1-30. 

Silver Lake State Park
Riding season: Nov. 1-30
Registration opens: Sept. 1 at 8 a.m.
8960 W. Fox Road, Mears, MI

Register at »

Click on the "Equestrian" tab at the top, then select the "Equestrian Staging Area" radio button and then select "Silver Lake" as your location in the drop-down menu.

Rules and tips for shoreline riding

  • A valid Recreation Passport is required on vehicles. 
  • Vehicles may enter the equestrian staging area (or parking lot) between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Gates will open every day regardless of weather conditions. It’s at the visitor’s discretion to enter the dunes.
  • The vehicle’s license plate number must correspond with the reservation.
  • Bring your own fork and muck bucket. You must clean up your own manure/hay in the equestrian staging area; a designated manure collection trailer is provided. No manure in any dumpster.
  • Vault toilets are in both the equestrian staging area and dunes.
  • Be aware that DNR staff may be working and operating 4-wheel drive trucks and tractors in the area during the first two weeks of November.
  • There is limited refuse service provided for trash.
  • Alcohol is prohibited.

General rules

  • You must bring your own horse.
  • Open horseback riding in the ORV and/or pedestrian areas is not allowed. 
  • No drinking water is available for visitors or horses. Please plan accordingly.

On the dunes

  • A predetermined riding route takes riders through the dunes to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The route is signed and it’s important to familiarize yourself before heading out.
  • You cannot use tie-downs on horses near water.
  • The dunes are open to hunting, but it is not a frequent occurrence.
  • The dunes are an everchanging environment. Drifts and freezing conditions can drastically change the landscape overnight.
  • Stay out of all ponds as the footing may not be secure and there could be steep/deep drop-offs.

Tips for riding

  • Condition your horse to be fit enough for at least a 5- to 10-mile ride.
  • Be courteous toward others. When near other riders and pedestrians, give space and stay at a walk.
  • Walking or “shuffling” is best when climbing up the dunes. Try to avoid loping or cantering uphill; these gaits can be more strenuous as your horse sinks deeper in the sand. Take breaks as needed.
  • Consider riding parallel along the shoreline and not directly into the water until your horse becomes accustomed to the waves.


If you have questions about shoreline riding, please contact the park at 231-873-3083.

The DNR also offers a fat-tire bike season at Silver Lake ORV Area Dec. 15-March 15 (each year).

Reservation info

  • The annual shoreline horseback riding season takes place Nov. 1-30.
  • Reservations open Sept. 1 at 8 a.m. at or 1-800-447-2757.
  • The cost is $10 per horse / day. Example: 1 horse trailer with 4 horses = 4 reservations.
  • There are 125 slots available each day.
  • You can cancel your reservations, however, please know they are nonrefundable and nontransferable.


Entering/exiting the equestrian staging area (or parking lot):

  • To enter, follow the GREEN arrow pattern.
  • To exit, follow the RED arrow pattern.

When parking:

  • For safe parking and easy exiting, arrange vehicles in two rows, leaving ample space between them.

Vehicles without horses must park in the pedestrian parking area, 8890 West Shore Dr. in Mears.

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