While there are many attractions to Ludington, the lakeshore and its ligthhouses are among the most iconic. While visiting Ludington, visitors have three lighthouses available to them within one hour. Maintained by the Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association, these lights are available to the public to learn, tour and climb to the top for some unique perspectives of the shoreline.
Big Sable Lighthouse - Ludington State Park
Nestled among jack pines, just a quick, two-mile walk along a breathtaking trail, stands Big Sable’s noble black and white tower. At over one hundred feet tall, this historic beacon is a huge attraction for its owner, Ludington State Park. The1867 lighthouse and grounds are operated by SPLKA (Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association), a non-profit which proudly manages three historic lighthouses within a 30-mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Since 1987, its mission has been the restoration, preservation, education and accessibility of their lighthouse charges. SPLKA also operates a Volunteer Keepers Program, which allows its members the opportunity to live and work within the lighthouses, completely free of charge during the seven-month season, May-October. Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds, tour the original keeper’s quarters, which have been converted into a gift shop, stroll along the sand dunes or climb the tower.
North Breakwater Lighthouse - Stearns Park Beach
Just down the shore from Big Sable stands the Ludington North Breakwater Light. This 1924 light is also open for tours and tower climbs and boasts a vibrant green light from its tower. The breakwater light is at the end of a half-mile walk down the pier, and is exquisite in its design. Volunteer Keepers are welcome at this light as well, and enjoy living accommodations just within Ludington State Park.
The Weather Channel voted it one of the Top 10 Lighthouses to See in the U.S., and it is a great place to watch the sunset or wave at the S.S. Badger carferry as it cruises out to Lake Michigan.
Little Point Lighthouse - Silver Lake State Park
Just south of Ludington is a magical world of 70-foot sand dunes and evergreen forests. Here, burrowed amidst the Silver Lake State Park sand dunes, stands the spectacular Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Easily the busiest of these three lights, the 1874 tower stands alone at the base of Lake Michigan, over a hundred feet tall and still harboring its original 3rd order Fresnel lens. In 2010, thanks to a Federal Coastal Zone Management grant, the Pathways to Illumination project was completed. This well-paved pathway leads through what once was a steep dune that inhibited many visitors from making it to the light. Here you’ll find more friendly SPLKA Volunteer Keepers welcoming you to climb the tower and take in the extraordinary views of forest and dunes that surrounds you. All towers may be climbed for the small price of $2 for children and $5 for adults. Educational tours are available by appointment, and are warmly received by staff and volunteers who love to share their Michigan maritime knowledge.
All three of these lighthouses are available to tour and climb to the top for a donation of $5 for adults and $3 for children. Visit SPLKA.org for more information about all of the lighthouses and events hosted at each.