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DNR offering horseback riders unique opportunity to access dunes, Lake Michigan shoreline

The DNR's pilot ride from Nov. 1-14 at Silver Lake State Park is limited to just over 800 riders.

OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering a unique opportunity to horseback riders from Nov. 1-15 at Silver Lake State Park.

Each year more than 1 million people visit the state park in Oceana County. The vast majority of those visitors are there to ride off-road vehicles on the vast dunes from April 1 to Oct. 31.

The pilot program will begin just as the O.R.V. season ends.

"We're excited to have a whole bunch of horses here," said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Events Coordinator Elissa Buck. "We're allowing two rides a day with 30-horses plus some volunteers. We've already had about 760 register, it's filling fast."

Buck says riders will follow a predetermined route that includes a few miles along the shore of Lake Michigan. 

"I think a lot of equestrians think fondly of movies like The Black Stallion and always have that dream of riding their horse along the shoreline," said Buck. "For us to be able to help make that happen it's been a lot of fun."

To date riders from from as far away as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois have registered. Some of the riders from out-of-town will be camping at the Oceana County Fair Grounds where boarding facilities are available.

Buck says the pilot event has a manure-maintenance plan that will include sweeps of the beach and state park parking lot to remove anything the horses leave behind. 

The DNR is also considering a pilot opportunity that would allow fat tire mountain bike riders a chance to explore the dunes. The dates for that event have not been set. 

The DNR is making it easy to receive notifications about the event. 

  • Register for the event: Text “BeachRide” to 80888.
  • Volunteer: Text “Rider” to 80888.
  • Info on future shoreline rides? Text “Trot” to 80888.

Michigan Silver Lake State Park ORV Dunes and Lake Michigan Shoreline Horseback Riding Pilot Season is offered through the Michigan Horse Council. 

Each participant must join the Michigan Horse Council. $20.00 Individual or $30.00 Family for annual memberships.

  • One session, per season, per participant.
  • 10:00am-1:00pm or 1:30pm-4:30pm sessions
  • Each vehicle must have a Michigan State Parks Recreation Passport.
  • Pre-registration will be offered through the Michigan DNR around mid-July 2021.
  • Registration will be ready through the Michigan DNR around mid-August 2021.
  • In appreciation of these opportunities, volunteers are needed for clean ups. Please indicate which dates you are available to volunteer for clean ups before, during and after rides on your registration. 

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