Silver Lake Buggy Rentals
8288 W. Hazel Rd.
Mears, MI 49436
Rates: 1 ½ hours = $105
2 hours = $135
3 hours = $200
5 hours = $350
If you’re interested on getting out on the sand dunes, this is the way to go! These buggies are two seaters and can be rented for several hours. We choose 2 hours, which was plenty. The company sits directly on the main road in Silver Lake, across the street from Jellystone Park. The hours are from 9am - 9pm daily and I recommend calling for a reservation because they fill up fast. I also recommend arriving prior to your start time because there is paperwork to fill out and you must watch a safety video explaining the directional signs on the dunes and how to get in and out of the area.
There are a few necessary items I highly recommend you bring with you: sun glasses or goggles, a bandana for your face, and one for your head. Why, you ask? Because the sand flips and flies up and lands directly in your face and on your head. You may look silly looking like a western bandit with your bandanas adorning your face, but you’ll be a happy little bandit after your time on the dunes is up.
After you watch the video at the shop, you and the owner or an employee will visually check out each buggy and note any damage. This is so you won’t be responsible for those before you that may have rode the buggies hard. You are required to leave a $300 damage deposit, so drive safely so you can get that back! It is very difficult and unlikely that you will flip one of the buggies (you have to be trying some very difficult stunts) but if you do, the DNR will issue you a reckless driving ticket.
Safety is important. Most of their patrons are careful with the buggies and just go out for a little fun, but of course you have those wild and crazy drivers that everyone needs to watch out for.
After checking out the buggies, they are then hooked to the back of a four-wheel drive (their trucks are painted black and white like a cow so they can be easily seen on the dunes) and driven one and a half miles to the dunes entrance. You will then get in line to get into the dune area along with everyone else. This is a very popular place and is always busy. There are tickets to enter, which the buggy rental place has, and the first is 9 - 11am, then 11am - 1pm, and so on. The first part of each entrance time is of course the busiest with everyone rushing to get on the dunes. However, the best time to get on the dunes is first thing in the morning because this is the least crowded. You’ll have an opportunity to experience all areas of the dunes without having to watch out for quite so many vehicles that head there later in the day.
When you make it into the park and the buggies are unhooked from the truck, you get in, buckle up, and head for the dune entrance. The entrance is single line and you must take the entrance at half throttle (there are rangers sitting in this area to make sure you’re going slow). Don’t stop in this area because the sand is soft and you may get stuck. Once you make the turn to the left, hit it, because this is the entrance to the dunes so take off. Believe it or not, these buggies ride best at full throttle, so don’t be afraid to give it gas and take off.
There are many places to ride. You can go directly up to Lake Michigan over small dunes, or take the directional area and try to make it up and over some larger dunes. The larger ones are definitely more difficult, but a fun challenge to try and make it over. Some people have a "very rewarding experience" as the owner calls it, and get stuck. All you have to do is get out, pick up the buggy, and place it in a different direction and go. You must watch out at all times for other vehicles (everyone has a tall orange flag on their vehicle) and for debris. There are a lot of driftwood pieces but you’re not allowed to move them, even if they are at the bottom of a hill and you about run over them! Since the dunes are ever changing, that piece of wood will be covered up by the next day and another one exposed.
After riding the dunes for a couple of hours, your body will definitely feel it the next day, but this was a tremendous amount of fun. A husband and wife own this small business and they are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. On our first day, we encountered rain after being out on the dunes for about 45 minutes and they drove out, found us, took us back to their shop, and said for us to come back the next day and start our 2 hours over that we had purchased. They went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our stay. I would happily tell everyone about this buggy rental shop and will gladly go back ourselves.