Dune it Right at Silver Lake State Park
Three friends pack up their Jeep Wrangler and head to Silver lakes State Park in Michigan to explore the Dunes.
This story is a permission slip. Later this summer, this year, or this lifetime, you have hereby been granted permission to fail. We encourage it. Go forth and break things. Get stuck. Paddle out and bail. Eat dirt. Finish last. Whatever it is you want to do, go. Get out there, and fail at it.
Or perhaps we should say, fail into it.
We encourage failure because we know where it leads: straight to the lesson. To the good stuff. Wisdom, success, and fun. Behind every veteran, every expert, and every well-seasoned guide is a healthy helping of failure. As relentless chasers of unbeatable tires, we know firsthand: if you want to dune anything right, first, you need to try (And yeah, probably fail a bit.)
One of the greatest parts of our hard-earned lessons is that they give drivers the off-road confidence they need to take the leap, turn off the pavement, and try something new.
Did you know that you can dune in the Midwest? For a failure-friendly summer weekend, first-time off-roaders Kelsey, Jonelle, and Laura packed up their Jeep Wrangler and set course for Silver Lake State Park in Michigan. Boasting over 3,000 acres along the shore of Lake Michigan, Silver Lake State Park is one of the biggest camping destinations in the region. It’s the only dune area open to ORVs east of the Mississippi, and it’s well worth the drive.
State-run parks like Silver Lake are a great place for those who are just getting started with off-roading. Unlike a trip to a larger, more desolate recreation area, at Silver Lake State Park, vehicle speeds are kept a little lower for safety, and traffic is directed in one large loop, so it’s pretty tough to get lost. Plus, just in case, if you end up needing a push or a hand with your vehicle, you’re never too far away from park rangers or fellow drivers for some help.
During this weekend trip, all three ladies were new to off-roading, but eager to try it out and learn some new skills. For other newcomers out there: don’t let yourself get intimidated by the dunes. Having a great weekend at Silver Lake State Park does not require tons of expertise — just the right gear, a little preparation, and a willingness to try.
Five Tips to Make Sure Your Dune Adventure Goes Off Without a Hitch
1. Don’t Dune Alone
Off-roading is a group activity. You don’t want to get yourself and/or your vehicle into a situation you can’t get out of with no one around to help you get out. Having friends around makes for safer and more fun off-road adventures.
2. Play it Safe
Off-road recreation comes with risks. Minimize those risks by staying seated in your vehicle and always wear your seatbelt. Assign a passenger to be the driver’s spotter to watch out for obstacles and other vehicles. Never drink and drive.
3. Run the Right Rubber
On their trip to the dunes, Kelsey, Laura, and Janelle are running BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A® KO2 tires on their 2018 Jeep Wrangler. It’s the right tire for all their treks around Michigan together because it performs well on both the highway and the trail.
4. Adjust Your Tire Pressure
Your tires are adjustable tools for travel. When heading off-road, “air down” your tires to increase the surface area between the tire and the terrain. This is your tire’s “footprint.” Airing down adds comfort and traction to ride off-road. Make sure you “air up” your tires again before returning to the pavement.
5. Mind Your Momentum
Sandy terrain is one of momentum’s worst enemies. Once your vehicle is in motion, ride at the highest comfortable gear to stay in motion. If you need to stop, do so on a slight decline, so that gravity can help you get going again. Avoid sharp turns — they tend to bury your tires. If you lose momentum and your tires start to spin, try to back up gently. If your tires are spinning in both directions, it’s time to hop out and grab your shovel.
Pro tip: packing some wet sand right in front of your tires can help get you moving again if you’re stuck. Your car’s floor mats placed in the same spot can help add traction as well.
Essential Gear for a Weekend at the Dunes
Permission to Explore
Note: Trail ratings are based on general information. Trail conditions can change due to weather and other factors. This, along with the experience level of the driver, may change the difficulty level of a trail. Please be vigilant as you navigate any trails and assess the trail conditions you encounter at the time vs. your skill level to stay safe.
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