Like so many people around Michigan, Travis Parrott spent quality time with his family in the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area when he was a kid. Some of his favorite memories are from driving around the state park’s ORV area, the gigantic 450-acre sandbox between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan.
Everybody should be able to experience the largest sand dunes east of the Mississippi River, but not everybody has a dune buggy or a jeep that can power up the hills and tool around. So, Parrott started a business that offers vehicles for visitors to rent and have a great, safe time on the dunes the way he always did with his family.
Parrot’s Landing has been helping families have fun on the dunes for 18 years now.
“You reach the top of the hill and see the dunes, and you’re going to say ‘Where did all this come from?’ It’s like the Sahara Desert out there,” said Rob Obbink, Parrot’s Landing manager. “It’s fun. It’s exhilarating. It’s breathtaking. The views out there are beautiful.”
More than 850,000 people visit Silver Lake State Park each year, and many of them find their way onto the dunes thanks to Parrot’s Landing. The business located right in the heart of town offers user-friendly Jeep Wranglers that are perfect for families, with two seats in front and room for up to three people in the back seat.
You can also try the Polaris RZR 1000 4-seat utility vehicle or a Yamaha Kodiak 450 quad that’s perfect for one person.
Of course, not everybody is comfortable grabbing the keys to a Jeep and driving up a sand dune. That’s why Parrot’s Landing runs guided tours so visitors can get a feel for what it’s like before they go off on their own.
One of the most popular ways to experience the dunes is to pay for an hourlong tour, then get a discounted hour on your own.
“The tour guide gives you a description of the history of the dunes, how they were created, and then gives you a lot of insight into how to drive safely out there,” Obbink said. “Safety is our first concern.
“You’re going to have a really fun time because you’re in control. You’re not being driven by anybody else. You have your own vehicle. It’s a safe vehicle, and it also has plenty of power to get over any of the hills out there.”
The ORV area is a 450-acre section of Silver Lake State Park, which includes about 2,000 acres of sand dunes between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. One section of the sand dunes is limited to pedestrian use, while the ORV area is for off-road vehicles only.
To access the ORV area with your own vehicle, the state park requires you to have a Michigan ORV registration, state trail permit, parking lot voucher and vehicle-mounted safety flag. But when you rent from Parrot’s Landing, all of that is taken care of for you. And if you run into any trouble up there, the Parrot’s Landing dune patrol is right there to help.
After you’ve experienced the dunes, you can cool off on the all-sports Silver Lake right at the foot of the dunes. Parrot’s Landing rents 3-seat wave runners and 19-foot, open-bow Yamaha Jet Boats by the half-day or full day. You can even add tubes or skis for some seriously fun water sports action.
The dunes, the water, the thrill of adventure…it all makes the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area a destination spot for Michigan. To have a Michigan’s Best Day in Silver Lake, make Parrot’s Landing your first stop.