National Parks 2021: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

It’s time for the annual National Parks Club/KAL!

Every month from May-August, we’ll be releasing 4 new parks colorways. We have exhausted all of the traditional US National Parks, save one, so this year, we’ll be showcasing other National Parks areas, such as National Recreation Areas, Heritage sites, etc. Most will fall under one of 4 categories:

  • National History – Eastern USA
  • National History – Western USA
  • Indigenous Culture
  • Human Rights Leaders/notable people

Check out our Socks and Hats on Vacay/Staycay summertime KAL with our friend Shannon Squire, too: 

Thanks for exploring parks and making socks with us once again this summer! To get your yarn, check out our list of LYS’s offering National Parks (Parks yarn will ONLY be available at our LYS partners through the summer):

Where is it located?

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It hugs the northeast shore of Lake Michigan and includes South and North Manitou islands.

Whose land does it reside upon?

The Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa were called the “three brothers” of the Algonquin family. As the Potawatomi migrated south, the Chippewa and Ottawa co-mingled peacefully in northern Michigan. They shared several hunting and fishing territories including the Sleeping Bear area.

When was it established?

October 21, 1970

Why is it amazing?

Sleeping Bear Dunes is as old as continental ice sheets. The immense sand dunes that give the National Lakeshore its name are “perched” atop the towering are glacial moraines, at up to 400 feet above Lake Michigan. The park has 65 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, as well as numerous inland lakes, streams, and bogs. The long and narrow Lakeshore contains several northern hardwood and conifer forest types as well as fantastic examples of glacially caused landforms.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is so named from an Indigenous legend (

Two different versions of the story are commonly told. These stories are an Anishinaabe (Odawa/Ottawa, Ojibway/Chippewa and Potawatomi) oral tradition of a sacred place within their homelands in the Great Lakes.

Once, long ago, in the land called Wisconsin across the great lake, there was terrible hunger and many people died. A bear and two little cubs were trying to leave that place and come around the lake where there would be more food.

They walked for many days on the beach together, but after a while the two little cubs began to whimper with hunger, and so the bear decided to swim across the rest of the lake.

They waded into the water, one cub on each side of the bear, and they swam off into the lake a long way. After a while the cubs began to get very tired, and so the bear said, “Try hard, the land is not very far.” And very soon they did come in sight of land.

But gradually the cubs got weaker, and only ten miles away, one cub sand into the water. Soon after, the other also drowned.

The bear’s heart was broken, but she could do nothing. She waded ashore and lay down, looking out on the water where her cubs had died. Eventually, both of them came to the surface as two little islands, and so the bear still lies there atop the dunes, looking after here children.

Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but soon the cubs tired. Mother bear reached the shore first and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. The cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the eternal vigil of mother bear.

Why did we choose these colors?

Our Sleeping Bear Dunes colorway brings all of the components of the lakeshore together: you’ve got the deep blue of Lake Michigan, the sandy brown of the dunes themselves, and the greens of the forests.

For more information: