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Welcome to the top of the lake Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Welcome to the breathtaking world of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a jewel nestled in the heart of Northern Michigan. As seasoned explorers and passionate photographers, we at Allen-Kent Photography have journeyed through many landscapes, but few capture our hearts like this stunning 7.4-mile loop. Here, nature unfolds in a spectacle of soaring dunes, lush forests, and panoramic lake views, each turn revealing a new portrait of the wild, unbridled beauty of Michigan.

Discover the magic of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive through our lens

Whether you're a nature lover, an avid photographer, or someone looking for a serene escape, this drive offers an experience unlike any other. As you meander through its winding roads, each vista and overlook tells a story, a dance of light and shadow over landscapes that have inspired countless artists and photographers, including ourselves.
Join us as we explore this picturesque route, sharing our favorite spots, photography tips, and stories from shoots here that make Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive not just a destination, but an unforgettable experience full of family memories!

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive running on the dunes

Ready to dig in?

There is a LOT to discover about this beautiful space. But, in order to make it easier on everyone, we have broken this down into some "easy to digest" sections. So, feel free to jump around at your own speed. But, always feel comfortable reaching out to us if you have any questions.

A quick history of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Covered Bridge on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, an integral part of Michigan's landscape, has a history as captivating as its views. This remarkable route, woven through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, was the brainchild of Pierce Stocking. A lumberman by trade, Stocking was deeply enamored with the serene beauty of the dunes. His passion led him to construct a road in the 1960s, allowing others to share in the awe of this magnificent landscape.

Originally a simple, privately maintained track, the drive has evolved significantly over the years. It became part of the national park system, transforming into a revered component of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This transition marked not just a change in management but also a recognition of the drive's significance in the larger narrative of natural conservation and appreciation.

Looking over the beautiful views of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

The ecological and geological wonder of the area is a story in itself. The drive showcases a dynamic landscape, where towering dunes rise majestically, framing the serene waters of Lake Michigan. The flora and fauna here are as diverse as they are unique, presenting a fascinating display of the area's ecological richness.

Beyond its natural beauty, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive holds a special place in the hearts of its visitors. It's a tapestry of memories, woven from moments of wonder, reflection, and connection with nature. At Allen-Kent Photography, we've captured countless such moments, preserving the emotions, beauty, and human experiences of this extraordinary place.

Meditation on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Kids playing on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

In celebrating the drive's history and significance, we acknowledge not just the physical journey it offers but also the emotional journey it invites. Each curve and overlook tells a story, echoing the legacy of Northern Michigan, preserved by Pierce Stocking, and inspiring us to continue exploring and cherishing the natural world around us.

Driving Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Embark on a picturesque journey through Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a route that not only showcases the beauty of Northern Michigan but also offers a gateway to a plethora of awe-inspiring vistas and experiences. As we at Allen-Kent Photography guide you along this scenic drive, each stop will unveil a different facet of this spectacular area.

Photography Tips for taking pictures at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at sunset

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is one of the most beautiful areas of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, so it is quite understandable to want to bring a camera with you to capture the family memories!

In this section, we at Allen-Kent Photography offer some tailored photography tips to help you capture the essence of this magnificent landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or just starting out, these tips are designed to enhance your photographic experience on this scenic route.

  1. Lighting: Understanding the play of light is crucial. Early morning and late afternoon provide the golden hour, perfect for warm, soft photos. The interplay of light and shadows around midday can create dramatic effects, especially in the forested areas.
  2. Composition: Pay attention to composition. Use the rule of thirds, leading lines of the roads and trails, and the natural curves of the dunes to guide the viewer's eye through your photos. Overlooks offer grand vistas, so use them to create depth and scale in your shots.
  3. Perspective: Experiment with different perspectives. Try capturing the dunes from a low angle for a sense of their grandeur, or focus on smaller details like the texture of the sand or patterns in the vegetation for a unique take on the landscape.
  4. Camera Settings: For landscape shots, a higher aperture (smaller f-stop number) can keep more of the scene in focus. If you’re capturing wildlife or moving subjects, adjust your shutter speed accordingly. Don’t forget to adjust ISO settings based on the available light.
  5. Patience and Timing: Sometimes, the best photo comes from waiting for the right moment. Be it the changing colors of the sky during sunset or the sudden appearance of wildlife, patience can reward you with spectacular shots.
  6. Respect Nature: While capturing its beauty, remember to respect the natural environment. Stay on marked paths and be mindful of the delicate ecosystem.
  7. Put Your Camera Down: Don't forget to record with your eyes. Taking photos is a lot of fun, but put the phone/camera down and spend time soaking in the magic for yourself. Trust me.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

These photography tips from are designed to enhance your experience and help you capture stunning, memorable images of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. But don't forget, we shoot out here all year, so if you want to capture moments without having to carry your own camera, make sure you reach out to us early in your planning to make sure we have availability.  Happy shooting!

Visitor Information for Pierce Sticking Scenic Drive

Couple dancing in the road after sunset at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

As you plan your visit to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Allen-Kent Photography would like to provide you with some essential visitor information to make your trip as enjoyable and seamless as possible.

  1. Operating Hours and Seasons: Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is typically open from early May through November. However, the best time to visit, especially for photography, is during the late spring, summer, and fall when the scenery is most vibrant.
  2. Entrance Fees: There is an entrance fee for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which includes access to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Check the latest fees and pass options on the national park's official website.
  3. Facilities: Along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, you will find various facilities including restrooms and picnic areas. These spots are perfect for taking a break and enjoying the natural surroundings.
  4. Accessibility: Most of the overlooks and points of interest along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive are accessible, making it a great experience for everyone.
  5. Photo Tours: For an enhanced experience, consider scheduling a photography session with us at Allen-Kent Photography. We offer a personalized and unique tour experience to help you capture the beauty of the drive while creating memories with your family or partner.

With this information in hand, your visit to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is sure to be a memorable one.

Couple holding hands overlooking lake michigan at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Stories from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, through the eyes of a photographer

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

We wanted to take some time and share some of the beautiful sessions that we have photographed as Allen-Kent Photography plus some personal experiences and stories from our numerous visits to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. These tales not only showcase the drive's beauty but also its ability to create lasting memories and connections.

Some of these sessions will be linked to other blog posts, if you get distracted looking at all of these beautiful images, don't forget you can always reach out to us if you have any questions, or want to book a session.

  1. First Impressions: I KNOW my parents took me on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive as a kid, but I was probably too engrossed in my gameboy to look up and take in the beauty of the park.It was honestly too late in my career that I found this drive. I think we had been photographing families and couples for almost 5 years before we decided to take a drive here.Needless to say, we were floored and inspired. From the dense forest drive to the huge overlook, it is a photography playground. It really must be seen to do it justice.
  2. Photographing a proposal in the rain: Proposal sessions are beautiful, and tense, and an outpouring of joy and excitement. This one all the more so with the weather. To quote the eventual bride as she looks at her rain soaked engagement ring: "Oh bobby! It's just like the Notebook!"
  3. Engagement exploring the whole park: This session was great, because we pretty much hit the whole park. Trails, roads, overlooks, dunes, everything.
  4. New baby on the dunes: We photographed this couple's wedding a couple years before this session, and oh MAN was it beautiful to see them full of joy and excitement as they played with their new baby on the dunes!
  5. Senior celebration on the dunes: Graduation is a unique time in life, and it is just so special that we have the honor of celebrating by helping people create images. This senior portrait session was uniquely exciting, as we did a LOT of exploring deep into the dune trails on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

There is so much to this park, and it can be easy to get hung up on the obvious spot, or to come here when you "have the time". I hope some of these posts show that there is a LOT to be discovered here, and a LOT of good excuses to start exploring.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Senior portrait photographer

Why you should bring a photographer on your trip through Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

As we draw our exploration of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to a close, we at Allen-Kent Photography reflect on the immense beauty and profound experiences this place offers. Every curve of the road, every overlook presents a new opportunity to witness the majesty of nature in its purest form. It's not just about the stunning landscapes; it's about the memories you create and the stories you take home.

While Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive's beauty is undeniable, having a professional photographer by your side can elevate your experience. A photographer doesn't just capture images; they capture emotions, moments, and the unspoken bond you share with nature. With Allen-Kent Photography, you're not just getting photographs; we are working together to create memories, and capturing those memories to create family art that lasts generationally.

A photographer can help you see the scenic drive through a different lens – noticing subtleties and nuances that might otherwise be missed. They bring expertise in lighting, composition, and timing. Not just ensuring your memories are captured in the best light possible, but helping to craft the memories themselves.

In choosing to explore Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive with a photographer, you're choosing to craft a better experience, and immortalize that experience in a way that resonates with the heart. You're not just traveling a route; you're creating a timeless narrative of your adventure.

We hope this guide inspires you to visit this spectacular drive, and perhaps, to see it through the eyes of Allen-Kent Photography. Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is more than a destination; it's a journey of discovery, reflection, and unparalleled beauty.

Hi, I am Michael Stewart Patrick Kent Co-Owner, Photographer, and personal camp counselor 

And! Don't forget to have fun!

No matter what your choice in how to explore Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or Sleeping Bear Dunes, just make sure you take the time to breathe, and jump into the fun!


I am a coffee loving, extroverted nerd who is always ready for a great conversation. I dream big, I’m terrible at directions, yet I can explain in detail how a black hole works. People describe me as a golden retriever, which I take as the highest of compliments.

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