The park is beautiful year-round, there’s lots of great hiking, and the dunes are humongous. If you ignore the reeds and face away from the ocean, you might think you’re in Morocco. Mt. Baldy is the highlight here… it’s basically a sand mountain, with half-buried trees sticking up from its slopes. Being able to see the Chicago skyline from the shores is also pretty memorable. Winter may be super cold, but the way the water freezes up on shore is amazingly beautiful and makes it worth it. Plus the plentiful parking in the offseason doesn’t hurt either.
“scout rare birds, fly kites on the beach”
Indiana Dunes National Park is a unit of the National Park System designated as a U.S. National Park located in northwest Indiana and managed by the National Park Service. It was authorized by Congress in 1966 as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the name by which it was known until 2019. The national park runs for nearly 25 miles along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, in Chesterton, Indiana, and contains approximately 15,000 acres. The National Park has acquired about 95% of the property within the authorized boundaries. Its holdings are non-contiguous and include the 2,182-acre Indiana Dunes State Park (1925), which is owned and managed by the state of Indiana. The park is physically divided into 15 disconnected pieces. Along the lakefront, the eastern area is roughly the lake shore south to U.S. 12 or U.S. 20 between Michigan City, Indiana, on the east and the ArcelorMittal steel plant on the west. A small extension, south of the steel mill continues west along Salt Creek to Indiana 249. The western area is roughly the shoreline south to U.S. 12 between the Burns Ditch west to Broadway in downtown Gary, Indiana. In addition, there are several outlying areas, including; Pinhook Bog, in LaPorte County to the east. The Heron Rookery in Porter County, the center of the park, and the Calumet Prairie State Nature Preserve and the Hobart Prairie Grove, both in Lake County, the western end of the park. Also within the National Park is the Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve, managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Nice place to stop for a relaxing walk along the beach. Bring towel or chair and a book. There was a volleyball net along beach. Families swimming along beach and picnicking. Glad we stopped.
Despite all the sand, the trails are great for running. Try #10 for a good 10k or 6.3 ish mile trot. The main beach is a bit crowded, but head a bit to the north and east for more privacy in the tall grass.
Great place for a day at the ocean without going to the ocean
Really beautiful place to visit! We stopped here for a picnic lunch and to dip our toes intro the southern end of Lake Michigan. The kids were happy to be able to get a stamp on their national parks passport books. Will definitely return and plan to stay longer.
Such an awesome relaxing beach. It was a little crowded but in the middle of summer that's to be expected. Plenty of changing space and the facilities were well maintained. If the weather had been cooler and we'd had more time I would have loved to check out the hiking trails.
Love this place! We brought our 3 young children here and had a blast playing in the water of Lake Michigan and running through the sand of the dunes. So beautiful and relaxing. If you come into Indiana Dunes State Park area, you need to pay $6 as a Indiana resident per car or $12 for out of state resident. This area has a huge parking lot though that is super close to the water. Well worth the stop!
Talk about a hidden gem! We feel in love with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We live down south near the ocean and we actually felt like we were at the ocean! The sand is amazing! We did the 3 Dunes Challenge, which was a challenge, but totally worth the views. The beach is gorgeous. We went for an impromptu sunset over Lake Michigan. We parked at the Devils Slide parking lot and walked to the top of a dune to watch the sunset with Chicago in the distance. STUNNING! Will always return here when in the area and highly recommend staying at the Campground inside the park. We did visit in September after Labor Day, so I'm sure it was not busy compared to summer season.
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Indiana Dunes National Park
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Good for bird watching, boating, and 7 more activities.
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