Last year Sleeping Bear Dunes ranked 13th out of more than 100 national parks, lakeshores, and recreation areas for the number of search and rescue operations conducted there.
A report out today found there were 47 search and rescue operations conducted to help out 61 people at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 2014.
Joe Lachowski is a park ranger at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Lachowski says people often get in trouble in the dunes on hot days when they underestimate how far they’ll have to hike in the sun to reach whatever overlook or shoreline they’re aiming for.
“The sand dunes reflect the heat, there’s no shade to be found, there’s no water out there,” he says.
He tells us the Dunes Trail and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive are two areas in the dunes that see higher frequency of rescue operations.
He adds that some of the more complicated and resource-intensive rescues they conduct have to do with retrieving individuals lost or exhausted while kayaking in Lake Michigan.
“Most of it is people just overestimating their abilities and underestimating the difficulty that it does take to hike through the sand and the heat,” Lachowski says. “Again, the sand is just an oven … they just get extremely sunburned, dehydrated, that will lead to heat exhaustion, potential heat stroke and other complications.”