Lake Michigan Beach Guide reveals bigger beaches

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The lowest water levels on Lake Michigan in five years mean you will have more sand to spread out on this summer.

News 8 visited 53 public beaches on Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Ludington to help you prepare for your summer beach trips. At most beaches, you will find significantly more beach this year.

Lake Michigan water levels on May 20 were down 25 inches from the record set in May 2020. You will also notice more room compared to last year, with the lake 7 inches below levels in 2021.

South Haven South Beach on May 16, 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV)
Left: South Haven’s South Beach in the summer of 2020. Right: South Beach in May 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Tunnel Park near Holland in 2020. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)Tunnel Park on May 23, 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Left: Tunnel Park in the summer of 2020. Right: Tunnel Park in May 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Olive Shores in the summer of 2020. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)Olive Shores on May 23, 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Left: Olive Shores in the summer of 2020. Right: Olive Shores in May 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Kirk Park on May 23, 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Left: Kirk Park in the summer of 2020. Right: Kirk Park in May 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Rosy Mound Natural Area on May 23, 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)
Left: Rosy Mound Natural Area in the summer of 2020. Right: Rosy Mound Natural Area in May 2022. (Luke Stier/WOOD TV8)

STILL CLOSED

Two beaches remain closed after their stairways washed out during record high water levels. The beaches at Casco Nature Preserve near South Haven and Kouw Park near Holland are both closed for a third straight summer.

NEW TO THE BEACH GUIDE

We have five new stops on the beach guide for 2022. We added Van Buren State Park Trail this year, which has a half mile hike over a dune through the woods to a spectacular beach. This hike isn’t easy and the dune at the beach is very steep. If you are up for it, make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.

Our beach guide goes north of Pentwater for the first time. You will find secluded spots at Bass Lake Outlet and Cedar Point County Park Beach. We have also added Buttersville Park and Stearns Park in the Ludington area.

BEACH TRIP CONSTRUCTION

There are a couple of highway construction projects that could impact your drive to the beach this summer.

I-196 is being rebuilt between Hudsonville and Zeeland. Westbound lanes are open, so your drive to beaches in Holland and Saugatuck should not be too unusual. However, there is only one eastbound lane open, so that could slow your drive back home if you live in metro Grand Rapids.

Northbound US-31 is closed just north of the I-196 split in Holland. The detour to get around is pretty easy using M-40, however during busy summer weekends, this area could get backed up.

I-96 has lane closures between Nunica and Muskegon that affect both east and westbound traffic. If you are headed to beaches like P.J. Hoffmaster State Park or Lake Harbor Park, you may want to get on and off the highway using Fruitport Road during busy traffic.

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