LUDINGTON, Mich. -- Imagine being almost 100 feet above the beautiful West Michigan sand dunes and Lake Michigan, overlooking 3,000 acres below in Ludington State Park. That's what you'll find when you visit the lighthouse and climb 130 stairs to the top of the lighthouse on Big Sable Point.
While this particular lighthouse is a bit of a challenge to get to, it's worth it! It's more than a one mile walk down a long, winding, dusty trail through sand dunes in Ludington State Park.
Built in 1867, the lighthouse offers almost full access to the tower itself, the top, and the actual lighthouse keepers' house (not the living quarters) and gift shop.
The Big Sable Point lighthouse has full living quarters for up to three couples who volunteer for two weeks at a time during the warm season months to oversee daily operations. They give tours, staff the gift shop, and inform tourists daily during normal business hours.
Roger Pashby and his wife Glenna have been lighthouse keepers for almost ten years, and they love it.
"It's a working vacation" says Glenna. They spend two weeks each July literally living at the lighthouse with other volunteers.
For everyday comforts, they have bedrooms, a full kitchen, bathroom, and sitting area. Lighthouse keepers in the early days also lived with their families on site, but they were paid. Those jobs went away when the lighthouses were either taken off line or were automated.
In the 14 years I've been covering news and weather around West Michigan, the view from the top of Big Sable Point lighthouse has one of the best in the area, rivaled only by the sand dune ride in Douglas/Saugatuck.
There's a great article written about this lighthouse by lighthousefriends.com and can be found here.
There is a $3 donation for adults to climb to the top of the lighthouse, but, as Glenna says, "It's a million dollar view!"
All donations fund the maintenance and upkeep of the lighthouse, which is managed by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers' Association (SPLKA). Click here for their website for much more information.