Get Beach Ready

Beach season is almost here! Below is the most up-to-date information related to our lakeshore parks. We’ll continue to update this page as the season progresses. Please be aware that even with the high water levels in decline, we continue to see dune erosion at our Lake Michigan beaches. Please stay off of the dunes and refrain from digging into the side of the dune as it may collapse.

Scroll to find more info about:

  • Vehicle permits / Bridge Cards
  • Restrooms/parking
  • Dogs
  • Park Updates
  • Beach Buddies

Structural Repairs at Lakeshore Parks

Lake levels are declining and the beaches finally growing! Staff will re-evaluate each of our parks where we lost steps and walkways along the beach in spring of 2022. We may be able to re-build in some areas and not in others. We are still likely a few years away from being able to re-build at Kirk Park, where we saw the most significant structural damage. As the dunes continue to change over the next couple years, any structure built on the dune will likely be buried in the sand of the reforming dune. We do plan to rebuild as soon as we can do so in a responsible and sustainable manner. We are also looking for new and innovative access solutions to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake twice and lose our new access stairs as well.

Vehicle Permits

A motor vehicle permit (daily or annual) is required Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day at:

  • North Beach Park
  • Olive Shores
  • Kirk Park
  • Rosy Mound Natural Area
  • Tunnel Park
  • Riverside Park boat launch

Without one, you will be ticketed. Learn more about pricing and where you can purchase your annual permit here. Please note that the Michigan State Parks Recreation Passport is not valid at Ottawa County Parks properties. 

Coming Soon: Pay Stations

Pay stations will be available this season (2022) at North Beach Park, Rosy Mound Natural Area, Olive Shores, and Riverside Park. Next season (2023), pay stations will also be implemented at Tunnel Park and Kirk Park.

Important changes:

  • Cash will no longer be accepted at parks with fee stations.
  • Annual permits will not be available for purchase at the pay stations.
  • Staff will be available at North Beach Park on the following days and times throughout the summer to process annual permit sales: Wednesday-Thursday, 1-3 pm Friday-Sunday, 12-4 pm

In an effort to shorten time spent waiting in line, as well as in response to a shortage of seasonal staff, the Parks & Recreation Commission will be implementing pay stations at all of the lakeshore parks and the Riverside Park boat launch over the next two years.

Bridge Card Holders

Did you know… Bridge Card holders in Michigan can receive a free annual motor vehicle permit? The Ottawa County Parks fee waiver program launched in the mid-2000’s in partnership with the State of Michigan and the Natural Resources Trust Fund. Cardholder must present both their Bridge Card and ID when picking up their permit. Limited to one permit per household.

Dogs

  • Rosy Mound Natural Area – dogs are not allowed at Rosy Mouns
  • Olive Shores – dogs are not allowed at Olive Shores
  • Tunnel Park – dogs are not allowed at Tunnel Park May 1 through September 30
  • North Beach Park – dogs are not allowed at North Beach Park May 1 through September 3
  • Kirk Park
    • Dogs must be leashed on trails at all times
    • Off-leash Dog Beach Hours 7-10 am & 6-10 pm
    •  Dogs are not allowed on or off-leash on beach between the hours of 10 am-6 pm

North Beach Park

Important park updates:

Kirk Park

Kirk Park Beach Update, June 21, 2021 – We know many of you love Kirk Park dog beach (we do too!), but we have to talk about the rules. Due to only having only one beach access point and smaller than usual beaches, dog beach hours have been limited to accommodate beach goers and dog owners.
🚫 No dogs on the beach between 10 am-6pm 🚫
After losing the ridge loop in 2020, we re-routed the trails at the so, dogs are allowed back on the TRAILS, on-leash all day. Unfortunately, we have a number of park visitors who are abusing this rule adjustment. In addition to breaking the rule, many are mistreating our Park Attendants, who are often our youngest and most junior staff members and “sneaking” down the dune on the south side of the park, further eroding this unstable dune.
⚠️ If this behavior continues, we will begin banning offenders permanently from the park.
⚠️ If that does not deter offenders, we will close the park/trails to dogs during the day, as we did last year.
Please follow the rules and please be kind to staff.

Important park updates:

  • Facilities at Kirk Park are available for rental, for more information about facility rental visit: https://www.miottawa.org/Parks/facilities.htm
  • After Memorial Day, beach go-ers are invited to participate in our new Beach Buddies program, learn more: news.miottawa.org/beach-buddies
  • Dog rules at the park have changed slightly, please see below:
    • The trails have re-opened to dogs on-leash; dogs must be leashed on trails at all times
    • Off-leash Dog Beach Hours 7-10 am & 6-10 pm
    •  Dogs are not allowed on or off-leash on beach between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm
  • Please be aware that even with the high water levels in decline, we continue to see dune erosion at our Lake Michigan beaches. This erosion is causing some space constraints for sun-bathers especially at Kirk Park. Additionally, please stay off of the dunes and refrain from digging into the side of the dune as it may collapse.
  • In Spring of 2020, erosion caused the dune ridge trail at Kirk Park to collapse (left). For 2021, staff developed a temporary, alternate route (middle). The south access stairs also had to be removed last summer and remain closed. There is now a temporary overlook area (right).

Tunnel Park

  • Facilities at Tunnel Park are available for rental, for more information about facility rental visit: https://www.miottawa.org/Parks/facilities.htm
  • After Memorial Day, beach go-ers are invited to participate in our new Beach Buddies program, learn more: news.miottawa.org/beach-buddies
  • Please be aware that even with the high water levels in decline, we continue to see dune erosion at our Lake Michigan beaches. This erosion is causing some space constraints for sun-bathers especially at Tunnel Park. Additionally, please stay off of the dunes and refrain from digging into the side of the dune as it may collapse.

Beach Buddies

Help us keep our beaches clean by participating in our Beach Buddies program! Learn more about the program: news.miottawa.org/beach-buddies

It’s estimated that 22 million pounds of plastic waste makes its way into the Great Lakes every year. That’s enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 100 times! Most of this waste comes from one-use plastics; you know, those plastics that you use once and throw away? Join miECObuzz to explore how you can help keep our beaches clean and free of plastic. The plastic problem is daunting, but your involvement matters!

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