If you’re looking for a great riding area in Michigan, check out the Silver Lake State Park ORV Area in Mears in western Michigan or The Mounds on the east side of the state.
The only dune area in Michigan that allows vehicles, the Silver Lake State Park ORV Area on the shores of Lake Michigan offers spectacular views and a lot of fun.
The park encompasses 3,000 acres, of which 2,000 acres are sand dunes. Some 450 acres of those dunes are designated for off-highway riding.
Located at 9679 W. State Park Road in Mears, the park is open from April 1 through Oct. 31. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 1-30, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 1-Sept. 15, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 16-Oct. 31.
All motor vehicles entering the park must have a Michigan Recreation Passport, which replaced the state parks sticker. For a Michigan resident, the Recreation Passport for vehicles is $11 when purchased at the time of annual license plate renewal, or $16 at state parks. The cost for a motorcycle is $6 at the time of annual license plate renewal or $11 at state parks. A daily pass isn’t available.
The non-resident fee is $9 a day or $33 for an annual pass. Non-residents can buy the annual pass online at media.state.mi.us/MichiganeStore/public/ProductDetails.aspx?categoryID=5&productID=896.
An ORV license is also required, as well as a trail permit.
The Department of Natural Resources says that the $26.25 ORV license is required to ride eligible county roads, frozen surface of public waters, state forest (that are open to ORV use) and eligible national forest roads. A license is not required to operate on private lands; however, an ORV trail permit is required to ride on state-designated ORV Trail/Routes and special ORV-use areas.
An ORV trail permit (an additional $10 for a total of $36.25) is required when operating on designated ORV trails and routes as well as at special ORV areas, the department says. ORV trail permits are not valid as a stand-alone license; an ORV license must also be purchased.
ORV license and trail permits may be purchased at www.mdnr-elicense.com, at DNR customer service centers and at participating DNR license agents. They also can be purchased by mail at Michigan Department of Natural Resources, PO Box 30181, Lansing, MI 48909.
Helmets are required.
Vehicles using the dunes must have a fluorescent orange warning flag that extends at least 10 feet from the ground. A spark arrester is required, and the muffler must meet a sound limit of 94 decibels.
Alcohol isn't allowed.
Also, the Department of Natural Resources has a voucher system to manage long lines on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The department says: "Parking Lot Vouchers are for those who require a staging or parking area for their tow vehicle and/or trailer. Vouchers are free to park visitors and are distributed from the Off-Road Vehicle Welcome Center located at the corner of Fox and Ridge Roads, about 1/4 mile east of the ORV Area entrance. The purpose of the voucher is, simply, to ‘hold the ORV users place in line,’ while staggering arrival times to avoid excessive lines.”
For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79119_79148_80314_80651---,00.html.
The Mounds Off-Road Vehicle Area at 5145 E. Mt. Morris Rd. in Mount Morris, Mich., has just about anything a rider would want for a weekend of entertainment: trails, mud holes, pits and open scrambles riding areas.
Just 3 miles north of Flint and about an hour from Detroit, this 370-acre Genesee County park. with 230 acres available for riding, offers a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are 9.5 miles of trails.
If you’re looking for challenging terrain, this is the place to be.
Keep in mind that the park is open to motorcycles, ATVs, dune buggies, Jeeps and pickup trucks. All trails are two-way, but there are also dedicated ATV trails.
Also, the park includes regulated wetlands where off-highway vehicles are not allowed.
The park is open year-round, but from March 15 to May 15 no trucks are allowed, and ATVs and motorcycles are restricted to an eight-acre scramble area.
A resident daily pass is $10 per vehicle and a season pass, which is good for the calendar year, is $40. A non-resident pays $15 per vehicle per day and $70 for a season pass.
Riders also must have a state of Michigan off-road vehicle sticker, which costs $26.25 and can be purchased at The Mounds or wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
The Mounds is open from 8 a.m. to sunset Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to sunset on Sunday.
Riders must wear helmets and eye protection, and your bike or ATV must have a U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrester.
In addition, motorcycles and ATVs built in 1986 or later must comply with Michigan’s sound limit of 94 decibels. Machines that were built in 1985 or are older must comply with a 99 decibel limit.
Children under 16 must have a Michigan ORV safety certificate and must be supervised by an adult. For information on how to get a Michigan ORV safety certificate, go to www.offroad-ed.com/michigan/.
For more information on The Mounds, go to www.themounds.org/fees-rules/.