The town of Saugatuck and harbor

Blue Star and Bentheim Elementary School 3rd Graders in Hamilton, MI

What beach are you studying?
Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Nearest port city
Saugatuck, MI

Body of Water

Lake Michigan

Type of Water
Fresh Water

Number of months people enjoy the beach
Year Round

Busiest Months
May to October with Summer being busiest of all

Our beach is mostly sandy. The sand is very light tan color. There are patches of pebbly areas. If you look in the pebbly areas you can find fossils like Petoskey stones, honeycomb coral, chain coral, horn coral, Charlevoix stone, and crinoids. Another cool fossil is the Lucky Stone that is really the fossilized ear bones of the Sheepshead, a fish that lives in the lake. There are also cool rocks like agates, stink stones, lightning stones, quartz, moonstone, and granite. Sometimes little pieces of beach glass are mixed in. LakeMichiganRocks.com . Our beach, as the name states also has many sand dunes that people climb and hike.

Typical Visitors
People travel from all over the Midwest to visit Saugatuck. The area is especially popular with tourists from the Chicago area. Many people have summer cottages or keep their boats in the Saugatuck area.

Activities Enjoyed at the Beach
People exercise, hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski in the dunes and wilderness bordering our beach. On the beach people play games like volleyball and football. When the waves get big people like to surf and boogie board, even in the middle of winter. People swim all summer but the water doesn't usually get into the comfortable range until late July and August.

Fish caught at and around your beach
Fisherman go out onto Lake Michigan to catch yellow perch, Steelhead, King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Lake Trout, and Brown Trout. They also fish Saugatuck Harbor and the Kalamazoo River for bass, walleye, catfish, carp, and panfish.
Mr. Losik with a King Salmon caught off of Saugatuck

Shark Worries?
Luckily the Great Lakes don't have any sharks.

Other Dangers and Warnings
Although the water is pretty shallow in swimming areas, bathers still have to be aware of dangerous currents like rip tides, especially when swimming near a pier. According to Michigan Sea Grant, "Channel currents and rip currents are both potentially dangerous currents that are found in the Great Lakes. Rip and channel currents do not pull a person under the water, but can pull a swimmer away from the shore."
image from Michigan Sea Grant
image from Michigan Sea Grant

Local Environment around the Beach
Besides a mansion near the park entrance, there are no homes or buildings within a mile of the beach. The beach is bordered by the dunes and behind the dunes is dense wilderness. There are many trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Land Wildlife
There are many typical southern Michigan forest animals found near our beach. There are raccoons, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, white tailed deer, squirrels, skunks, possums, salamanders, and different kinds of turtles included box, painted, and snapping.

The occasional bald eagle, red tail hawks, great horned owls, seagulls, plovers including the endangered piping plover, and lots of different pipers. Cranes include sandhill cranes and great blue herons.

Shells or Aquatic Wildlife
Occasionally one may find a clam, but the only shells on our beach are usually from zebra mussels.

Pollution and Sollutions
For many years, factories around the Great Lakes dumped their waste into the rivers that feed the lakes. All of the pollution from paper mills, chemical factories, and other industries eventually flowed downstream and out into the lakes. Over the last 50 years or so many clean-up efforts have been put into place and the rivers and lakes are indeed cleaner. The problem is that many of those chemicals settled into the bottoms of the harbors and river mouths. Even now when dredging occurs to keep the waterways open for large boats like freighters and the cruise ship that will be visiting Saugatuck this summer, many of those old chemicals are stirred up and people worry about the health of the waterways and the people who live on them and use them.

What Else?
Just south of our beach lies the buried ghost town of Singapore. It was once a roaring lumbering town that helped supply the wood that would re-build Chicago after its great fire in 1871. The town of Holland north of Saugatuck also burned on the same night and needed wood too. Once many of the trees were cut, the winds from Lake Michigan blew the topsoil away. With no topsoil, the dunes began to shift and blow sand into Singapore. Before long the lumber mills slowed down and the sand began to pile up. The settlers moved on to other areas and eventually the sand shifted so much it covered the town. Even still today, builders will be drilling wells for new homes by the lake and hit an old Singapore building or home that lies buried below.

Also speaking of ghosts, some people believe that the Felt Mansion near the park entrance is also haunted.

See if you can figure out what happened to our lighthouse.