The dune rides date back to 1954 when Ron Jousma, then 21 and home from the Army, decided Saugatuck needed a dune ride similar to those at Silver Lake near Hart. He bought the present dune property west of Goshorn Lake from a Chicago man and turned his 1942 Ford convertible into a dune buggy with seats in the rumble seat.
He added a 1946 and 1947 Ford coupe, cut off the tops, outfitted the cars with super-wide tires and cut trails in the dunes.
In 1961, Jousma and a friend picked up two half-ton Ford truck chassis and drove them back from Kansas City sitting on wooden boxes. They were outfitted with steel beds and seats and joined the fleet.
Still later Dodge Power Wagons were added and equipped with aircraft tires to operate in the sand.
In 1971 Jousma opened a dune ride in Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado and operated both rides until selling them in 1978 to an Indiana family.
In 1981, Linus and Janice Starring purchased the business. The two never had ridden on the schooners until they inspected them prior to purchasing the business. Saugatuck Dune Rides remains a part-time job for the Starring family. Linus, with a degree in heavy equipment, is a railroad engineer for two small freight lines in Michigan during the off-season. Janice manages the office and handles all booking and scheduling.
Even as a part time business, there's plenty of maintenance to do. Shifting sands require daily grading of the trails in the dunes. Driving in sand dunes means the schooners need oil changes and engine maintenance every 100 miles. During the off season, equipment is fabricated and updated for the following season.
Reservations accepted for parties of 18 or more people onlyPrices subject to change without notice.
Saugatuck Dune Rides | PO Box 885 | Saugatuck, MI 49453 | (269) 857-2253