P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is a year-round tourist attraction on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. The dominant feature of the 1,130 acre park is the forest-covered sand dunes that border 2 1/2 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline.


Flush Toilet: Start Date: 4/8/2005 End Date: 10/23/2005
Showers : Start Date: 4/8/2005 End Date: 10/23/2005
Electrical Service : Start Date: 4/8/2005 End Date: 10/23/2005 Fee: $23
Campsites with 50 amp Service: Start Date: 4/8/2005 End Date: 10/23/2005 Fee: $25
Campers enjoy a 293-site wooded campground with modern facilities.

Day Use

The "day use" beach area attracts swimmers and sunbathers. A 2.5 mile cross-country ski trail is a major attraction during the winter months. Hikers, photogrphers, birders, and picnickers are lured year-round to the numerous picnic sites and trails.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is open daily year round, 8am to 10pm. A State Park Motor Vehicle Permit is required for entry. The Visitor Center is open year round (closed on Mondays).

E. Genevieve Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center

The towering sand dunes along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan collectively represent the world's largest accumulation of sand dunes bordering a body of fresh water. This phenomenon is the theme of the Visitor Center. The 82 seat theater plays an important part in the visitors' experience at the center. Nine-projector multi-image slide shows present short programs on dune ecology and the Great Lakes. Included are panoramic views of the sand dunes, wildflowers, and the four seasons. Shows can be seen daily.

"From a Grain of Sand" to the "climax forest," a comprehensive study of the sand dune environment is depicted with dioramas and graphics in the Exhibit Hall: A "projection-diorama" interprets the origin of our Great Lakes and dunes.

The basic principles of "plant succession" now used in the United States were developed in Lake Michigan dunes in the late 1800s and are the basis for the exhibits.

Named for E. Genevieve Gillette, the Visitor Center is a tribute to one of Michigan's foremost conservationists. Honored by governors, presidents, and numerous conservation organizations, Genevieve Gillette was an outstanding leader in the preservation of unique natural areas and the acquisition of many of Michigan's finest parks.

The classroom serves as a resource center for thousands of visitors throughout the year. It features "hands on" exhibits as well as live seasonal displays...snakes, frogs, and other pond animals bring much excitement to spring and summer visitors. All classes taught at the center involve a guided outdoor learning experience.

The center's natural history association sponsors art shows in the Gallery. A variety of wildlife and lakeshore artists are exhibited throughout the year. During the winter months, the gallery's picture windows offer a popular bird watching experience.

The Gillette Natural History Association is a non-profit organization that supports the center through booksales and memberships. Operated by volunteers, the bookstore offers a variety of nature books, cards and gifts.

A variety of trails lead from the Visitor Center into the dunes. The Dune Climb Stairway leads to the top of one of the park's highest sand dunes. From its observation decks, a sweeping view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding dunes can be seen. Another trail leads through the wooded dunes and down to the sandy beach of Lake Michigan. Over 10 miles of trails wind through the Park.


These play areas offer a variety of playground equipment for children.

Beach House

Provides clothes-changing area for swimmers.


Lake Michigan Campground Beach Water Testing Information
Lake Michigan Public Beach Testing Information

Picnic Area / Picnic Shelter

Picnic tables and fire pits/grills available on first-come, first-served basis or by reservation at the park.

Alcohol Restrictions Apply

It is unlawful to possess or consume alcoholic beverages in the campground areas from April 15 through Labor Day.


With more than 10 miles of trails, the casual hiker or the serious student of nature will find a variety of interesting natural features. Upland, shoreline and aquatic birds are abundant. Hawks soar on the air currents of the dunes when winds are from the east. A main attraction is the Dune Climb Stairway leading to the top of a high sand dune. There, an observation deck offers a panoramic view of the dunes and Lake Michigan.

Cross Country Ski, Snowshoeing

A marked three-mile trail is available for this winter activity.

Metal Detecting Areas

Metal detecting is recognized as a legitimate recreation activity when it is conducted in ways that do not damage the natural and cultural resources in Michigan State Parks nor violate applicable state statues. If you wish to use a metal detector in this state park, here is a map that shows clearly where this activity may take place. Any items found must be reviewed by park staff and may be retained for further investigation.

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