Singing Sands & The Green Flash | Saugatuck’s Beauty Enchants!

Posted on: July 2, 2021   |   Posted in: News, Outdoor Adventure

green flash over the lake at sunset with orange sky

sunset over lake michigan with small waves and golden sky

sunset behind a marina line up of moored sailboats in water at docks


“Those dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona, and Yosemite to California. They contribute a signature of time and eternity. Once lost, the loss would be irrevocable.”
~ Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg is correct. Saugatuck’s beauty is breathtaking and pristine. Simply taking a stroll down one of our award winning beaches, with the sand between your toes and the sound of the waves, takes you miles away from any of your troubles.

But listen more carefully, and you may hear what’s become to be known as The Singing Sands of Saugatuck. Portrayed by scientists and visitors alike as the haunting sounds of human voices singing, others hear the melodic, cascading strains of a violin as the sand is gently moved by the wind or when walked upon. Nowhere else on earth did ancient forces combine in the same way to form the quartz dunes. The sand of Saugatuck slips through ones fingers like granulated silk. It’s a compound of millions of tiny, clear fragments of quartz crystals (nine of out every ten sand grains is quartz) that give this sand its soft, smooth texture. When the sand has just the right balance between the wind and humidity, the sand along the water’s edge will sing underfoot, thus, geologists term it “Saugatuck Sand,” while the people refer to it as “the singing sands.”

“If I cannot fly, let me sing.”
~ Stephen Sondheim

Another local treasure is, a myth for some, but for many … it’s a reality and a nightly watch. Tourists and year-round residents alike marvel in the unpredictable, extraordinary image of “The Green Flash” light show. Most people cannot believe it until they see it with their own eyes. To see the Green Flash, you need to watch the sunsets. Rightt after the reddish glow disappears, there might appear a shade of brilliant phosphorus green that flashes for only a couple of seconds.  Another example of Saugatuck’s beauty…

Grace Wolf-Chase, research astronomer at Adler Planetarium, Chicago explains: “At sunset, you’re looking at a lot more layers of atmosphere than at noon. The atmosphere acts like a prism and refracts light. The setting sun looks kind of reddish, and if you catch it at the right time, as the sun disappears, you can catch a glimpse of the green left over.” Wolf-Chase says that if you’re a regular sunset watcher, you’re bound to see the flash eventually. And the expanse of Lake Michigan as viewed from the 200-foot Saugatuck/Douglas sand dunes, or the large, soft beaches, is widely believe to be the prime location to see this natural light show.

Certainly summer in Saugatuck means great shopping, inspiring studios and galleries, creative artisanal foods, live music all over town, abundant outdoor activities, and much, much more. But when you visit Wickwood Inn this summer, make sure you fully experience Saugatuck’s beauty. And, take a moment to listen for the singing sands and be sure to watch for the Green Flash!

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