The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are famous for their 450 acre ORV area where people bring their favorite off-road vehicle for a day on the dunes. When the season would change to winter, that same ORV waited until spring for everyone to return. That is until now! From December 15th through March 15th, the ORV is open to fat bikes. We geared up and made our way to the dunes for a new experience on the dunes.
First off, when you arrive at Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park, park at the pedestrian area of the dunes. A standard recreation passport is all you need to access the park and dunes. Once you park you will see signs right away on how to access the dunes on your fat bike. Like our typical outdoor adventures, we dressed for the weather. Being in the right gear in winter leads to the best experience. A tip from the start is to make sure to bring goggles, they are key!
The entrance for fat biking is actually the typical exit for ORV's. Right before heading into the dunes you will see a map and additional information about the fat biking area. Depending on the amount of snow in the area, the entrance can have some snow to get through but don't let make you think this will be what the dunes are like.
Once on the dunes, it is all about choosing your own adventure. For us, we decided to ride out towards Lake Michigan and then up the larger dunes to get views of the entire area and have fun riding down the dunes. We then made the decision that we wanted to get to the top of the iconic Test Hill. If you have ever been to Silver Lake Sand Dunes you probably know what Test Hill is. While ORV's drive straight up the face of the dune, that would pretty much be impossible on a fat bike. "Pretty much" probably doesn't need to be included here and we can just say that it would be impossible. Getting to the top is not impossible though. We found a path starting on the west side of test hill and make our way to the top from that side.
After reaching the top of Test Hill we took in the views before having what we believe is the most fun part. Riding down the dunes! Find a line and be ready for changing ground conditions with frozen sand, soft sand and snow. After conquering Test Hill we explored other parts of the fat biking area. This is quite a different experience than riding fat bikes on a groomed trail. There is a lot of opportunity for exploring and choosing your own adventure. It is challenging and fun at the same time.
One thing about the dunes are that they are ever changing because of wind and other weather conditions. This will lead to a new experience each time out. We recommend planning on spending at least a few hours out on the dunes. We packed waters, coffees and snacks to help us stay out for longer. Overall this is an amazing new way to be able to enjoy the Silver Lake Sand Dunes!
Check out the full video to learn more about riding the dunes!