A trip to the Indiana Dunes National Park is not just a trip to the sandy beaches and cool waters of Lake Michigan; it’s a trip back in time, a trip to experience 15,000 acres of diverse landscapes and make memories with your friends and family.
The Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) offers stargazing into the Milky Way, thrilling cycling adventures, strenuous hikes up the towering dunes as well as a relaxing day soaking up the sun’s rays.
61st National Park
February 15, 2019 marks a monumental event in Indiana’s history – the Indiana Dunes becoming the country’s 61st National Park. Hoosiers have always known the grandeur of dunes and the recreation opportunities along the shore. Now, the park will be featured in calendars, books and can’t miss lists. Travelers will include it on their bucket list and make it an essential stop in the Midwest.
More than 13,000 years ago, glaciers receded, leaving behind some of the nation’s most diverse landscapes and plant life. The Indiana Dunes not only has towering mountains of sand and swimming opportunities in one of the nation’s Great Lakes, but also includes bogs, marshes, prairies, ponds and rivers. The Indiana Dunes is also home to one of the last-surviving and highest quality oak savannas in the world!
Because of the rich diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna – it is no wonder that the science of ecology was born here. In the late 1800s, Henry Cowles, a University of Chicago botanist, performed field studies in the dunes and published his classic paper on plant succession based on his research. During a visit to the park, keep your eyes peeled for more than 1,100 native flowering plants and ferns, 350 bird species as well as maple, oak, beech and black gum trees in the forests.
Miles of hiking paths will take adventurers through the forests and marshes and along the rivers and to the lakeshore for breathtaking views. A number of flat-terrain and paved bike paths meander through the park system as well as rugged, more challenging paths for mountain bikers.
The lakeshore along Lake Michigan also provides a number of launch sites for sea kayaks. Paddlers can enjoy a scenic adventure along 30 miles of the nationally recognized Lake Michigan Water Trail. For a quiet and relaxing paddle, canoes and paddleboards can be launched along nearby rivers or the lagoon at Marquette Park.
Along the sandy shores, you can enjoy a number of activities, including swimming, volleyball and searching for beach glass. See the sunset over Chicago’s skyline or stay longer and enjoy stargazing while you camp at the park or nearby.
Bring your entire family, including your fur family to the Indiana Dunes National Park. Pets are allowed on the majority of the trails and beaches with a leash no longer than 6 feet. There are some restrictions at West Beach, Nature Play Areas and the Glenwood Dunes and Pink Bog Trails. As always, please pick up after your pet and for the safety of your family, stay on the trails.
Start planning your trip today! Choose from a variety of vacation rental properties, hotels or a campsite to get the most out of your visit. The South Shore has a number of other attractions just a short drive from the National Park including award-winning restaurants and more than 30 breweries, wineries and meaderies. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the candy factory, visit a modern-day dairy farm or fly through the skies at the adventure park. Start planning your summer getaway at alongthesouthshore.com or nps.gov/indu.