The following information applies to All About Water’s Sleeping Bear Dunes Guided Tours in Northern Michigan.
Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Credentials of our guides:
Our guides will have all been trained by instructors with credentials through the ACA (American Canoe Association, www.AmericanCanoe.org). The instructors will have put together an instruction program specifically designed for our guided tours in northern Lake Michigan.
Prior kayak experience required?
There is no prior kayak experience required! We can provide you with instruction on what you need to know.
Guided kayak tours along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore should be considered an activity that will require at least moderate physical fitness.
All About Water is not aware of reasonable objective criteria to determine who is capable of making the trip, and who is not. It is simply up to the individual to make the appropriate decision. We have put together our tours with planned rest stops, but the outing will require some minimal physical strength and stamina. This is not meant to deter those who do not exercise regularly, but just to help remind people that this will not be like floating the lazy river at Disney World. We expect to paddle at a leisurely pace that will be comparable to that of walking.
We will accept reservations for children as young as 14, but we must speak with you before accepting any reservations for children under 14.
We provide sit-on-top kayaks so there is no issue of whether someone will fit into a small kayak cockpit. Our maximum capacity is over 600 pounds for two passengers.
The summer in northern Michigan is short and subject to a wide variety of weather. We will make the most of our short season. Our tours will proceed even with less than ideal conditions. Fog, rain, and cool temperatures will not lead to cancellations. However, high winds and waves, and lightening will keep us off the water. The weather can change quickly, so we may try to wait out a storm to preserve the day. Alternatively, the weather may appear perfect, but the tour could be cancelled based on a threatening weather forecast. We will always use the latest technology to make the best, safest decision.
On those days when Lake Michigan is just not conducive to kayaking because of current or forecast weather, we will offer alternatives. The first option will be a guided tour on an inland body of water; the particular water may vary from time to time, but Victoria Creek and Lake Leelanau will be the most frequent choice. Another option will be for the guests to kayak without guides on an inland lake within the Park. (We will have the ability to deliver kayaks to inland lakes within the park, but are allowed to guide groups on some of these lakes.) The third option will be a rain check to reschedule the tour for another day.
What is a good weather forecast?
Light winds (from any direction), waves zero to two feet, and little to no chance of a thundershower. Please keep in mind that we will proceed with tours even when the forecast is less favorable, but these would be excellent conditions.
Please keep in mind that the weather can vary greatly from the shores of Lake Michigan to inland communities. The weather may be excellent at one location, and bad at another. Also, forecasts on television may contain some sensationalism. You may want to check forecasts at these sites:
Please do not assume that because the weather is bad where you are, the weather is also bad at the tour location. You should proceed to the gathering place regardless of your local weather, unless we notify you otherwise.
There is no deposit. All reservations are paid in full in advance. Packages purchased through promotions or special events have the opportunity to schedule the date of the reservation later. Reservations purchased without a promotional event may schedule the date of the reservation at the time of purchase or later. Please keep in mind that you will need a National Park entrance pass to enter Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Other than our tour fee, and the State of Michigan Use tax, that is the only additional required charge.
Cancellation policy :
Cancellations seeking a refund: voicemails, regular mail, texts, and emails that have not been received and confirmed by All About Water will not lead to a refund. An actual conversation or exchange of confirming emails with All About Water will be required.
Where and when to meet?
The following information is subject to change.
The morning will start with everyone meeting at a parking area somewhere in western Leelanau County. We will provide you with transportation to the water, and return you to the parking area after the tour.
We request that guests arrive at the parking area by 8:20 a.m. We will have to wait for everyone to arrive. The kayaks will be in the process of being delivered to the water so you won’t have to wait on those. During this time All About Water will be monitoring weather conditions to confirm the intended put-in location is still advisable. Once everyone has arrived we will proceed to the water. Getting on the water will vary with every group, but we will try to have groups on the water at 9:00.
How long do the tours/outings last?
This is an obvious question, but one that is nevertheless difficult to answer. Our expectation is that the average tour will be on the water close to three hours, including rest stops. This will vary depending on the wind and waves, and the speed of the group. Naturally, some groups will simply progress faster than others. You should plan on four to five hours from the time you arrive at the parking area until we return you there.
Our objective will be to get on the water as quickly and efficiently as possible.
We may decide to wait out a weather system if it seems to be moving out of the area quickly.
One-person kayaks or two-person kayaks?
We provide two-person kayaks unless there is a special situation.
If you have a private group of twelve we can be sure to assign you all to the same guide. Our authorization from the National Park Service allows up to twelve guests per guide. If you have fewer than twelve in your group we will do our best to get you all with the same guide.
You will take out of the Park anything you bring into the Park.
Calls of nature — You should expect that you will NOT have access to any toilet facilities from start to finish. (There are outhouses at some of the starting and ending locations, but you should not assume that we will depart from those locations.) Our National Park Service authorization requires that anyone who needs to defecate shall do so in a product that is essentially a portable outhouse. We will have a supply with each group. The used portable outhouse product shall then be removed from the park and disposed of in an appropriate receptacle.
What to expect?
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a unique geologic area. Many consider the extensive dunes beautiful and perhaps even spiritual. Others simply do not understand the attraction.
All About Water knows that the shoreline and scenery will not appeal to everyone. For example, much of the shoreline along the area by Pierce Stocking Scenic Overlook is simply sand dunes that rise hundreds of feet from the water with little vegetation. We want everyone to have reasonable expectations before they make reservations. Please review some of the images and video on our website. If you are not familiar with the shoreline, seek out images on the Internet. In short, do your homework so that you have an idea of what you can expect.
We have read through online reviews for such spectacular places as Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and other objectively beautiful places. Some of the negative reviews there, and comments about what people expected, are mind-boggling. We want you to avoid the types of disappointment experienced by some of those uninformed tourists.
You should understand that the name of the park, Sleeping Bear Dunes, is not based on bears seen sleeping there. The name comes from a Native American legend. Although there are reports of bears within the park, it is most unlikely that you will see any bears. You probably won’t even see any wildlife on the tour because many of the areas are so exposed and provide little cover for the animals to hide.