Photo by Todd & Brad Reed Photography
Big Sable Lighthouse at Ludington State Park
The black-and-white striped, 112 foot lighthouse at the Ludington State Park stands proudly on the shores of Lake Michigan and remains a testament to lighthouse keepers of the past. Big Sable Point Lighthouse was honored as 2013 Featured Lighthouse of the Year for the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival.
The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association is in the midst of a fund drive to repair the lighthouse. “Leave a Print in the Sand” hopes to raise $250,000 to make major repairs, including repair of rusted sections, painting the tower, replacing both the roof and more than 700 original bricks.
You can purchase a Trex board that will be used in the new walkway around Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Each engraved board costs $100 and allows 25 characters on one line. If you’re interested in helping with this project, visit the SPLKA office in downtown Ludington’s Center for the Arts, or go to splka.org. The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association maintains the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, north of Ludington State Park.
The lighthouse is open for tours daily 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday from May 9-October 22, 2023.
You can climb to the top, or visit the gift shop, located in the original Keeper’s Quarters. Lighthouse in the Dunes Field Trips are available by registering in advance with Alan Wernette, State Park Naturalist, at (231) 843-9261. Or you can e-mail Alan at Wernettea@michigan.gov.
There is a $8 donation fee to climb the lighthouse tower; $5 for children 17 & under. On selected days through the summer, buses transport visitors from the park rangers house located just inside Ludington State Park to the lighthouse and back for an additional transportation fee. Buses are available from 12pm to 5pm on those days; the round-trip fee is $5 for adults and $2 for children 12 & under. Due to weather conditions and staffing, it may be wise to call ahead at (231) 845-7417, or visit splka.org for more information.
Lighthouse History & Facts
Standing on ground formerly known by French explorers as Grande Point au Sable, the Lighthouse Board recommended a beacon be placed in Ludington. In 1867, Big Sable Point Lighthouse was constructed, and on November 1 of that year, mariners as far as 19 miles out on the lake saw a constant white light for the first time.
Climate has not been kind to the lighthouse, and in early 1900, the tower had deteriorated so badly that cement was poured between the plates and brick. It was at this time that the black and white daymark was introduced. In 1949, Big Sable Point became the last Great Lakes light to be electrified, and automation of the light eliminated the need for a keeper, though the Coast Guard staffed the light until 1972.
Erosion has always been a problem at Big Sable Point, and in 1943, a seawall was built to help control the problem. But because the light was unmanned, the virtually abandoned property deteriorated further. In 1987, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association was formed, guaranteeing the preservation of this historic landmark. Restoration work began on the seawall, the original Fresnel lens was replaced, the building exterior and tower were painted and floors were refinished.
The Big Sable Point Lighthouse is listed on both the state and national registers of historic places. It is one of the tallest in the state of Michigan at over 100 feet. From May-October, visitors can hike the 1.8 miles from the parking lot to the beach and climb the 130 steps to the top of the tower, which offers a spectacular view. The original keeper’s quarters houses a gift shop, where you can pick up a memento of your visit. Thanks to the Lighthouse Keepers Association, Big Sable Point Lighthouse and three other area lighthouses will continue to beautify the coastline and allow people to enjoy their importance to our maritime history.
Visit Ludington's Other Lighthouse
The North Breakwater Lighthouse reflects off the concrete path that allows visitors to see it up close. | Craig Sterken Photography
Don’t Miss Ludington’s Other Lighthouse: The North Breakwater Lighthouse. The white, pyramid shaped tower that is known as the Ludington North Breakwater Light (not an official lighthouse, since a house has never been attached to it) has a history that’s as fascinating as its structure. Read more about the North Breakwater Lighthouse here.
Ludington State Park Contact Info:
Camping Reservations (Michigan DNR) or Ludington State Park Michigan DNR reservations (800) 447-2757
Ludington State Park Local Office (231) 843-2423
Concessions & Watercraft Rental (231) 843-1888
Snowshoe Class Reservations/Special Programs (231) 843-9261
What is available in Ludington State Park?
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More About the Ludington State Park
The aerial view of Big Sable Point features Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park, and Big Sable Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan.
The Hamlin Lake Beach within the Ludington State Park is fun for the whole family! With a dedicated, weed-free swimming area and more!
One of the most popular state parks in the Midwest! Ludington State Park has four campgrounds, hundreds of sites for your camping pleasure.
The Ludington State Park trails are as varied as they are beautiful. Hike or bike 18 miles of eight marked trails with information kiosks.
The Ludington State Park offers winter activities. With snowshoeing tours, cross country skiing, and natural beauty, it’s a winter paradise!
Dune Grass Concessions offers watercraft & bike rentals, concession food, ice cream, convenience items, State Park & Hamlin Lake souvenirs!
Friends of Ludington State Park is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wise use and conservation of the Ludington State Park.
The beautiful Lake Michigan Beach House in the Ludington State Park is a two-story shelter with visitor exhibits, lounging, and concessions.
Water fun in the Ludington State Park! Float down the Big Sable River, paddle Hamlin Lake water trails, launch a pleasure boat, or swim!
One of the most popular state parks in the Midwest offers a vacation within itself. Enjoy beautiful natural resources and endless activities.