Sleeping Bear Trip Report: Camping in Glen Haven


When we arrived at the D. H. Day Campground in Glen Haven, the first thing we did after registering for our site and setting up our camp was to go check out the beach, which was only about a 5 minute walk away.

Our original plan had been to spend three days backpacking South Manitou Island, however the weather had different plans for us.  A gale warning was in effect on Friday, causing the waters of Lake Michigan to be too choppy for the ferry to take us to the island, so we decided to camp in nearby Glen Haven since it was close to the beach, plenty of hiking trails, and only a 30 minute drive from the Leland, where we wold be headed the following day to catch the ferry to the island.


The trail to the beach passed through a tiny stretch of woods before reaching the sandy hills overlooking the waterfront.

The winds whipped harshly along the beach as we made our way along the coastline, checking out the various rocks and driftwood that had washed ashore during the storm.

The waves were rough and the water choppy, so although the beach was beautiful, we decided to go back to our campsite and relax for a bit in hopes that the wind would settle down a bit before sunset.

We enjoyed a lunch of trail mix, jerky, and ramen noodles that we had originally packed for our first night backpacking, then spent some time hanging around camp.


For the safety of the campers, the rangers at the D. H. Day Campground are strict about food storage due to its location in the middle of black bear country.  If you do visit this campground, do be prepared to keep a clean campsite and store your food in your car or bring a bear canister.  Bear country or not, it’s always good practice to store your food properly and not feed the wildlife.  (Not only can eating foods that aren’t normally in their diet give them health problems, it can also make them go crazy and stalk people for more food.)

I think all of us were itching to get moving since we had originally planned on hiking that day, so after catching up on a little rest and relaxation we decided to explore the campground a bit and take a walk down one of the intersecting bike trails.

While we were on our walk, I spotted this plant that looks just like a cluster of eyeballs!  I had never seen one of these plants before, but after uploading a quick photo to the iNaturalist app my brother had told me about, a couple of people identified it as White Baneberry, or Doll’s Eyes.

We also discovered a beautiful plant with leaves of shiny metallic silver.  iNaturalist identified this one as autumn olive (aka: Japanese silverberry).

We ended up a little further down the beach where there was a little lookout point.  As you can see, it was still pretty windy.

We were hoping to hit the beach around the “magic hour” to hopefully take a few good photos, but the wind and clouds unfortunately blocked out most of the color.  Instead of taking serious photos, we decided to just have some fun with one of Luke’s dinosaurs instead.

The campground had a historic log cabin near the beach that reminded us of the school houses in Greenfield Village.  We decided to bring Luke’s dinosaur there, too.

He also came back to the beach with us.

After a while, the weather started to get a bit chilly, so we decided to head back to camp to hit up the firewood vending machine and build a fire.

We fired up my JetBoil and made ramen noodles for dinner.  Megan also made us hot apple cinnamon tea with Fireball whiskey to sip on while we enjoyed the warmth of the campfire.


The lows dipped into the 40s that night, which made for a chilly night of sleep.  Luckily, my tent has really good ventilation and we all had warm sleeping bags.


If you’re interested, you can read the rest of my trip report to South Manitou Island by clicking on the links below. 


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