Written by funandsun on 22 Jul, 2003
Silver Lake Buggy Rentals
8288 W. Hazel Rd.
Mears, MI 49436
Rates: 1 ½ hours = $105
2 hours = $135
3 hours = $200
5 hours = $350If you’re interested on getting out on the sand dunes, this is the way to go! These buggies are two seaters…Read More
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.
A drive north of Silver Lake took us to Pentwater, Michigan. Pentwater is Oceana County’s only port connecting Pentwater Lake directly to Lake Michigan. The town was founded in 1853 and sits on the western shore of Michigan. As with Silver Lake, almost everything…Read More
A drive north of Silver Lake took us to Pentwater, Michigan. Pentwater is Oceana County’s only port connecting Pentwater Lake directly to Lake Michigan. The town was founded in 1853 and sits on the western shore of Michigan. As with Silver Lake, almost everything is within walking distance of the marinas and public beach. Pentwater's motto is "where phones take a back seat to fireworks. Where a seat at the Thursday night band concert is better than a seat in the boardroom. Where the only "waves" you’ll make are with a boat. Where your biggest scheduling conflict is between fishing, sunning, and shopping. Where you can "do lunch" with your family instead of your co-workers."
While in Pentwater, we enjoyed a meal at both Gull Landing and the Village Café. Gull Landing sits on Pentwater Lake with indoor and outdoor seating. The French dip sandwich was great. The Village Café sits across the street from the Gull and the lake, offering the same indoor and outdoor seating. I will say Gull Landing offered much better service than the Café, so much so that I would return to Gull. Meals are moderately priced at both locations. There are a variety of specialty shops lining the streets as well as any kid's favorite, the Dollar General store.
Pentwater is advertised as a four seasons vacation area with fishing year round. During the winter, ice shanties sit on the lake while fisherman catch perch and other types of fish. There is also a cross country skiing path just south of town. In the spring, there are flowers, birds, and fishing. The fall brings turning leaves and fishing, and of course the summer brings swimming, boating, and more fishing. There are also miles of bicycle trails throughout the area to enjoy during many of the seasons.
Charles Mears is the one recognized for building the channel to Lake Michigan and called the area Middlesex. Mears started a ferry service in 1858 to cross the channel and also built a pier onto Lake Michigan so large boats bringing lumber could dock. Mears's daughter Carrie gave 600 feet of the beach to the state in 1920, which started the Charles Mears State Park.
Pentwater is easy to find from Silver Lake, just take the B-15 north and in 20 minutes, you’ve arrived.
Sitting between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake are the 2,000 acres of moving sand dunes (constantly changing with the winds) open to the public to drive your dune buggy, jeep, truck, 4-wheeler, anything that will get up and down the dunes on. For off-road vehicles,…Read More
Sitting between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake are the 2,000 acres of moving sand dunes (constantly changing with the winds) open to the public to drive your dune buggy, jeep, truck, 4-wheeler, anything that will get up and down the dunes on. For off-road vehicles, the dunes are open from April 1 to November 1, but townspeople tell us the July 4th weekend is the big season opener. The dunes run one and a half miles wide and three miles long and are still growing and moving each day. This area is considered one of the largest deposits of living dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan. Most of the area is part of the Silver Lake State Park and is open to the public.
The dunes are divided into three sections. The northern area is reserved for off-road vehicles where licensed drivers can test their sand driving skills. The center region is for hikers and has access to both Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. The southern end is leased to Mac Woods Dune Rides. These are long, open-top jeeps that people of all ages can ride in to experience the dunes.
In the winter months, people go ice fishing on Silver Lake and ice fishing shanties dot the surface of the lake. Cross country skiers and snowmobilers come out to take their turn to enjoy the country side of the dunes.
Within the town of Mears, next to Silver Lake and called the "Gateway to the Dunes", there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. There are several go-kart tracks, but our favorite was Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Center. This track was bigger, longer, and better than the others and was newer. A bridge is built across the track so you can walk up and view the track and watch your kids race their go-karts and drive beneath you. We found all the tracks charged $4 for each go-kart. Also within this family fun center was a video game room. This is where you find all the kids and teenagers in the area! All of the games give tickets in order to purchase prizes, which is a big draw for the kids.
To eat, the Sands Restaurant sits on the main drag and offers a nice buffet breakfast for $6.95 for ages 11 and up. Younger patrons get the buffet for $1.95. Across the street is the Pizza and Bakery store where you can get pizza for lunch and dinner and fresh baked donuts in the morning. There’s also the Café Espresso, Par 5 Sports Grill, The Pizza Factory, Schooners Bar and Grill, and an old-fashioned ice cream store. There are also a few souvenir stores where you can purchase your very own Silver Lake Dunes t-shirt or other memorabilia.
As a historic note, Mears was named after Charles Mears, who started the village with the help of Samual Odell. In the 1890s there was a sawmill, three story hotel, express office, smokehouse, barns, and a two-story general store on 5th Street. Up to 12 passenger trains ran daily. Fire destroyed most of the village and it was then moved from near Pentwater to its present location next to the lake. Some of the first buildings constructed, such as the Charles Mears Boarding House at Silver Lake, are still standing and being used today. Owners have preserved or restored many of them.
Until watching the movie Sweet Home Alabama this year, I had never heard of fulgurites, and then I read about them at Silver Lake too. Fulgurites are formed when lightning strikes the sand. The heat of the lightning fuses the sand making a greenish type of glass. They are below the surface of the sand and usually look like a lightning flash with a main piece and several small branches. Here they are called "lightning sticks" and are rare, but have been found in the dunes. The average fulgurite is less than a foot in length, but they did find one measuring 13 feet in length. Specimens can be seen at the display at the Mears Newz Museum. One was found recently in 1998 and measured 9 feet in length.
This is a beautiful area to bring the family and enjoy all the outdoors has to offer.