HomeSand DunesSilver Lake State Park (Mears, Michigan)

Silver Lake State Park (Mears, Michigan)

Overview Silver Lake State Park

  • Open: April 1 – Oct. 31
    • April 1 to 30 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • May 1 to Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    • Sept. 16 to Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Latitude / Longitude: 43.673603, -86.514457
  • Managed by: Department of Natural Resources
  • Usage: Extreme Heavy
  • Fee:
  • Mi Residents:
    • ORV Stickers: $36.25
    • + Recreation Passport: $6 motorcycles/$12 vehicles (buy in advance)
    • or Annual Passport: $11 motorcycles/$17 vehicles (buy at the park)
  • Out of State:
    • ORV Stickers: $36.25
    • + Daily Recreation Passport: $9.00 (buy at the park)
    • or Annual Passport: $34.00 (buy at the park)
  • Camping: Yes
  • Location: West-Central Michigan

From Mears MI
Travel 2.7 miles on W Fox Rd.
Right onto N 34th Ave
Drive 1.1 miles on N. 34th and1.1
34th becomes W. Juniper Beach Rd.
Drive .6 miles on W Juniper Beach Rd.
Left on Ridge Rd, drive 1.3 miles
Junction of Ridge and Fox is the Off-Road Vehicle Welcome Center where you pick up parking vouchers
Right onto W Fox Rd, drive .5 miles
Turn right 0.2 miles

Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Silver Lake State Park is a beautiful 3,000 acres of multi-use area along the shores of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, a small inland lake. It has 2,000 acres of sand dunes, 450 acres which are open to OHV use in the “scramble area”.

The campground is located on Silver Lake which has a designated soft sand beach for swimming. Plus, there are additional beaches and swimming available at the lighthouse and along both the Silver Lake and Lake Michigan shorelines of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

In addition to off-roading the dunes, this park also offers plenty of other recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, hiking and paddling.

The west coast has a lot of sand dunes open to off-roading, but this is the only sand dune open to OHV use east of the Mississippi River. Being the only game in town makes it a popular dune destination.

A great addition to the ORV dunes is the Light House Concessions food truck which serves up burgers, snacks and drinks.

Parking lot vouchers are required on summer weekends and holidays. Vouchers are free.

- Advertisement -

Silver Lake State Park Campground

Silver Lake State Park Campground
  • Fee: $33 a night
  • ADA Accessible: Yes
  • General Info: Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.
  • Registration Office: 8am-10pm
    • Check-in: 3pm
    • Check-out: 1pm


  • 200 Sites
  • Electric 20/30 AMP
  • Fire Rings
  • Picnic Tables
  • Playground
  • Bathrooms
  • Swimming Beach
  • 15 Day Limit

Silver Lake State Park Camping Reservations

You can’t drive your OHV from the campground to the dunes, it will need to be trailered to the staging area. You will also need a parking voucher.

Throwback Dune Photos

Silver Lake State Park
Don…The UpNorth Memories Guy | Flickr

Silver Lake Travel Guide

Silver Lake Visitor Bureau (Dunes, ATVing + more)

More Fantastic Off Roading In Michigan

ATV Trails In Upper Michigan: Yoop It Up

Michigan’s The Mounds: More Gears. More Fears. More Tears

ATV Michigan: Ride In Ride Out ATV Campgrounds

  • Alcohol is prohibited in the OHV area
  • Drivers 12 – 15 years old must have an ORV Safety Certificate
  • Drivers 16 years and older must have a valid driver’s license
  • No passengers are allowed on ANY ATVs or morcycles in the off-road area, this includes ATVs designed for passengers, on what are referred to as “two-up” ATVs.
  • SXS/UTV cannot be operated at Silver Lake State Park by anyone under 16 years old. 
  • You can’t drive your ATV from the campground to the dunes

- Advertisement -

Rules & Regulations

Required Documentation For Silver Lake State Park

Recreation Passport

You must have and display a Recreation Passport:

Recreation Passport (can be purchased at Silver Lake State Park)

MI Residents (Year Pass)

  • $6 Motorcycles (if done with annual license plate renewal)
  • $11 Motorcycles (if purchased onsite, at other state parks, or without the annual license plate renewal)
  • $11 Vehicle (if done with annual license plate renewal)
  • $16 Vehicle (if purchased onsite, at other state parks, or without the annual license plate renewal)


  • Daily: $9
  • Annual: $33 

Other Required Documentation

  • Towed (motor) vehicle: $7 at state parks (can only be purchased if towing vehicle has an annual non-resident pass, good for length of stay) 
  • Michigan ORV registration and a state trail permit. 
  • An ORV license ($26.25) is required to ride eligible county roads, frozen surface of public waters, state forest (that are open to ORV use) and eligible national forest roads. A license is not required to operate on private lands; however, an ORV trail permit is required to ride on state-designated ORV Trail/Routes and special ORV-use areas.
  • An ORV trail permit (an additional $10 for a total of $36.25) is required when operating on designated ORV Trail / Routes and special ORV-use areas. A trail permit is not required for private lands. ORV trail permits are not valid as a stand-alone license; an ORV license must also be purchased.

Additional Rules To Note

  • Parking lot vouchers: required on summer weekends and holidays.
  • Alcohol is prohibited in the off-road vehicle scramble area and within .25 mile of it’s boundaries at all times. It is also prohibited throughout the entire park May 15 to June 10.

Dune Rules & Regulations for Operation 

  • Operate within orange boundary markers 
  • Directional traffic zone: no north-bound traffic in high dune area 
  • Safety flag: orange rectangular flag, minimum 10’ from ground 
  • Limited speed on entrance ramp and beach area 

Leatherhead Photography | Flick

Requirements By Vehicle Type

The following equipment, gear, licenses, certificates and permits are required to operate in Silver Lake State Park’s off-road vehicle area:

Side-By-Side Vehicles / UTV

  • Front mount safety flag
  • Seat belt for each occupant
  • Eye protection and/or windshield
  • 94 dB sound level or less
  • USFS-approved spark arrestor exhaust system
  • Valid driver’s license for operators 16 years and older 
  • No operators under the age of 16 years old
  • Recreation Passport; ORV license and trail permit 

ATV / 4-Wheeler / Quad / Motorcycle

  • Rear mount safety flag 
  • No passengers (this includes two-up style ATVs) 
  • Eye protection 
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certified helmet (or equal helmet)
  • 94 dB sound level or less 
  • USFS-approved spark arrestor exhaust system
  • ORV Safety Certificate: 12 to 15 years old
  • Valid Driver’s License: 16 years and older 
  • Recreation Passport; ORV license and trail permit 

ATC / 3-Wheeler / Trike

  • Rear mount safety flag 
  • No passengers  
  • Eye protection 
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certified helmet (or equal helmet)
  • 94 dB sound level or less 
  • USFS-approved spark arrestor exhaust system
  • No operators under 16 years old
  • Recreation Passport, ORV license and trail permit 

Truck / Jeep / Dune Buggy

  • Front mount safety flag 
  • Seat belt for each occupant 
  • Eye protection and/or windshield 
  • 94 dB sound level or less 
  • USFS-approved spark arrestor exhaust system / reverse flow exhaust 
  • Driver must be protected by metal roof and/or roll bar above and behind head 
  • Passengers not protected by metal roof/roll bar above and behind head must wear American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certified helmet (or equal helmet)
  • Valid driver’s license: 16 years and older 
  • No operators under the 16 years old
  • Recreation Passport; ORV license and trail permit 

Special Operating Restrictions – Youth Side-By-Side Vehicles (SXS) and Two-Up ATVs

  • SXS/UTV vehicles do not fit the legal definition of an ATV. They are classified as an ORV and cannot be operated at Silver Lake State Park by anyone under 16 years old. This includes the Polaris ACE single occupant ORV and other youth marketed SXS vehicles. 
  • Passengers are not permitted on any ATV or motorcycle in the Off-Road Vehicle Area. This includes BOTH single passenger and “two-up” designed ATVs.  

Parking Lot Voucher System

The voucher system was developed as a way to manage the long lines of ORV users waiting to enter the 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.

The Voucher System Season

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

Voucher Distribution Times

The Fox Road voucher distribution point is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Vouchers will be distributed on Fridays for Saturdays and Saturdays for Sundays.

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.

- Advertisement -

Voucher Time Periods

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.

Late Arrivals

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.

Leaving And Re-Entering The State Park

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 Vouchers That Are Given Out Each 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.

Picking Up A Voucher For Someone Else

One parking lot voucher can be obtained by an individual adult park visitor. You may pick up a voucher for someone else but an individual cannot pick up vouchers for multiple people/vehicles.

Only one voucher will be issued to an adult, whether picking up the voucher for yourself or for someone else. The voucher 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 voucher will need to know the name, license plate number and the intended time frame for entry.

The voucher form must be completed, in ink, prior to embossed or stamped validation at the time of application at the Welcome Center Office. The voucher slip 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.

Voucher Center Parking Lot

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.

ORV Area Parking Lot

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.

Use Of Trailers In The ORV Area And ORV Parking Lot

Railers 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.

Titling ORVs Or ATVs For On-Road Use

  • Under Michigan law, certain side-by-side off-road utility vehicles may be retitled as an assembled vehicle for on-road use. Vehicles fitting this description include the John Deere “Gator” and Polaris “Ranger.” You must follow the secretary of state’s standard assembled vehicle title procedure.
  • The vehicle must be retro-fitted with high- and low-beam headlights, brake lights, taillights, turn signals, horn, windshield, windshield wipers and washers, independent parking brake, street-legal tires and all other on-road equipment required by the Michigan Vehicle Code. It will be retitled as an “assembled vehicle” and issued a new vehicle identification number.
  • Two-wheeled ORVs (motorcycles known as “dirt bikes” or “trail bikes”) also can be retitled for on-road use. A vehicle inspection is required to verify that the motorcycle has the required safety equipment.

Featured Image By Leatherhead Photography | Flickr

Read Next