With its proximity to thousands of lakes and a mixture of breathtaking landscapes, Michigan is no stranger to scenic drives. In fact, one of the most scenic drives in all of America is located right here in the Great Lakes State. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive may be just a little over seven miles long, but it packs in views that will make for an unforgettable trip.
The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive can be found in the western portion of Northern Michigan. Located within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the drive meanders through an impressive variety of landscapes for approximately 7.4 miles.
The scenic route begins just south of Glen Lake, at the entrance off of M-109. Eventually, the road becomes a one-way route with twelve numbered sites that correlate with the brochure and interpretive information. The first site is a beautiful covered bridge, which gives way to an overlook of Glen Lake followed by a variety of forested areas and sand plains.
This road was built in the 1960s by a man named Pierce Stocking, a dedicated lumberman after whom the drive is named. Stocking operated the road until 1976, when the duty was taken over by the National Parks Service. In the 80s, the NPS added some visitor-friendly features to the drive, including interpretive markers.
It’s estimated that nearly 80,000 vehicles make this breathtaking drive each year. The road is particularly memorable for its proximity to the Lake Michigan shoreline and its surrounding landscape. While hiking along the road is permitted, it’s strongly discouraged due to the amount of motor traffic.
The drive was really put on the map in 2011, when Good Morning America named the Pierce Stocking Drive and nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes as the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” As you wind through luscious forests and stretches of shoreline, you won’t be surprised at all by this title. One of the most impressive feats of the drive is how much landscape can be seen in such a short distance.
As this photograph of Lake Michigan shows, the vastness of the water is such that you can't even see beyond to the other side. Whether you have a spare hour or an entire afternoon, taking a trip along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will surely rekindle your love for the beautiful state of Michigan.