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What's "The Most Beautiful Place in America"? GMA Viewers Pick Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


Top photo: Dune climb from the Cottonwood Trail.Bottom: North Bar Lake overlook at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. NPS photos.

A recent series on Good Morning America invited viewers to choose the "most beautiful place in America." After producers narrowed the field to 10 finalists, nearly 100,000 votes were cast on the program's website. The winner, announced on August 17, was… Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis responded to the news by saying, "It's great that a park like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which is a little off the beaten track in northern Michigan, is being recognized for its exceptional beauty."

The Director went on to note, "Six of the ten areas nominated are associated with national parks, and they represent some of the variety of special places saved by the American people in our National Park System."

National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz was thrilled by Sleeping Bear's selection. "I am honored and feel privileged to have served at this wonderful place for ten years, and still every day reveals a new aspect of its beauty and the remarkable natural and cultural resources entrusted to our care. We thank the viewers and staff at Good Morning America for this national recognition of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore."

An ABC News spokesperson noted, "The competition was fierce, as you might imagine, but in the end, it appears those who cherish the towering dunes, sparkling waters, and deep forests of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore mobilized to best the other praiseworthy candidates."

"I think because the beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes is so accessible to people, it makes it more real to them somehow," said National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich. "Those who visit this place develop a very personal connection to it, and those deep feelings lead people to demonstrate how much they care."  

You can view video of the announcement of the winner at this link. Information to help plan a visit to the area is available on the park website.


Don't know how the selection process worked, but have to admit being sort of glad to see all the skepticism in the other comments, since I hope SBDNL won't be further overrun by the curious as a result of this honor. SBD has hidden delights -- places and trails that aren't well known, so a person can find a quiet spot from which to watch a storm roll along the lake or stand on a remote dune amidst swirling mist. It *is* a wonderful place, a place to restore one's soul, if you make the effort to get to know it.

I wish somewhere the criteria for the ten finalists was published.  I live near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,  Sleeping Bear's southern cousin.  They are both gorgeous,  have dramatic diversity for the biologists, and I love them.  But none of the ten finalists were places like the Grand Canyon,  Yosemite,  Denali, the Tetons.  That just seems too strange.  And every time I have seen this written about,  the comments are the same.  We truly must be missing a big part of this story.

Katahdin from Pemadumcook Lake or Longs Peak in RMNP are preferable

I have done some traveling, and all the places mentioned in these comments are beautiful, but for me, there is no more beautiful sight than Lake Michigan from the top of the dunes.

GMA must have a strange viewer demographic. For starters, they don't travel much.

...can't imagine the dunes beating Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon.

I haven't been to the dunes but have been to those other places and also can't imagine it being better...

Ditto...NO, it isn't.

Grand Tetons,Bryce Canyon are my two favorites along with the Grand Canyon. Bear Dunes wouldn't make my top 10!

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