Point Betsie Lighthouse – Lake Michigan
One of our favorite lighthouses on Lake Michigan is the picturesque Point Betsie Lighthouse, which marks the southern end of the Manitou Passage. The light is located just a few miles away from the scenic and popular M-22, north of Frankfort and south of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is a popular lighthouse due to its location, unique and colorful design, and historic preservation. It is the oldest building in Benzie County and possibly the most visited as well.
The lighthouse tower is cylindrical and painted white, with a height of 37 feet. It sits on a dune, which gives it a focal height of nearly 60 feet above the lake level. The attached dwelling is also painted white, with a gambrel roof. The roof features red shingles, and the trim around windows and doors is green. The lantern. room atop the tower is black. When combined with the blue of Lake Michigan, and the light colors of the beach and dunes it makes for a very colorful scene in which the lighthouse stands out against the surrounding landscape.
The Point Betsie Lighthouse went into service in 1859, and it was the last Michigan lighthouse to lose its keeper when it became automated in 1983. The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse got control of the site in 2004 and have been working to restore and preserve the lighthouse ever since. You can tour the lighthouse on weekends each summer, or even rent the assistant keeper’s dwelling for an entire week or for special events.
In addition to the lighthouse, the FOPBL have restored the fog signal building and the boathouse. Historical artifacts highlight the first floor of the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling.
The beach next to the lighthouse is accessible even when the lighthouse isn’t open, and is a popular spot to catch a stunning Lake Michigan sunset. Good photographs of the lighthouse can be taken from here as well. From M-22 south of the Sleeping Bear Dunes head west for a mile on Point Betsie Rd., which ends at a parking area near the lighthouse. The physical address is 3701 Point Betsie Rd. and all additional information can be found at http://www.pointbetsie.org/.
Our most recent trip to Point Betsie Lighthouse (April 2020) found that much of the beach is gone, driftwood and debris covers much of the rest of the beach, and quite a bit of damage has been done to the seawall in front of the tower. Let’s hope that funds are able to be raised so this lighthouse property canbe fixed up and returned to the way it use to look.