Indiana Dunes State Park Travel Guide

  • Bathhouse before the summer rush.
    Bathhouse before the summer rush.
    by Toughluck
  • Dunes Creek
    Dunes Creek
    by Toughluck
  • Beachgoers (with metal detectors)
    Beachgoers (with metal detectors)
    by Toughluck

Indiana Dunes State Park Things to Do

  • Trail #10 - The Nature Preserve

    Trail #10 Traverse the park from end to end on the 5.5 mile (rt) walk. Head out on the beach and come back through the upland forest, or reverse the walk

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  • Trail #9 - Walk the dunes

    Trail #9 Walk up into the dunes and see forest covered sand, trees eaten by sand and blowouts where nature has removed large sections of dunes to start over again. This is a moderate 3.75 mile (rt) trail. Remember that walking on sand can be tiring.

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  • Trail #8 - Top of the Dunes (all 3)

    Trail #8 This 1.5 mile trail is the most rugged in the park. You'll climb all three of the tall dunes before you are done and have walked nearly 4 miles with all the back sliding that will occur as you go up each dune. You'll need to get back to your car or campsite afterwards, so be sure to plan a return route that you'll still have the energy to...

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  • Trail #7 - Nature Ctr to the beach

    Trail #7 This is a connecting trail from the beach to the Nature Center. It takes you past and around the tall dunes, but not up. It's 1.1 mile length does not include a return to where you started.

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  • Trail #2 - easiet, wetlands and woods at...

    Trail #2 This is the easist trail in the park. The 3 easy miles passes through a wetland forest (wetter in the spring, dry in the summer & fall) and brings you to trail #10 on the north side of the marsh. You'll have 1 to 2 miles of trail #10 to get back to the nature center or you can explore more of the upland forests on trail #10.

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  • Trail #3 - Stroll in the woods.

    Trail #3 is a pleasant stroll through the wooded dunes on the park's west side. It runs 3/4rd of a mile from the alternate beach parking lot to the entrance. In the spring this can be a very wet area in some spots. Much of it is across dunes and dry.

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  • Park Trails

    The park has several trails of interest: Trail #2 This is the easist trail in the park. Trail #3 Trail 3 is a pleasant stroll through the wooded dunes on the park's west side. Trail #4 This is a connecting trail from the beach to the Campground. Trail #7 This is a connecting trail from the beach to the Nature Center. Trail #8 This 1.5 mile...

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  • Visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

    Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are often confused. In the listings here in VT, 7 out of 20 tips (including this one) are things in the National Lakeshore. The State Park includes 3000 acres of nearly pristine dunes, dune ridges and open beach. There is a single entrance and a daily use fee. Surrounding the State...

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  • Climb a beach dune

    If you've never climbed a sand pile before, take the time and give it a try. The best part is that you'll have to come down when you're done. S o o o o o ---- when you become tired, just turn around and let gravity help.Better yet, when you're part way up, stop, sit down and enjoy the scenery. The beach stretching out left and right and the blue...

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  • The Nature Center

    Visit the nature center. It is just past the campground and set back on the edge of the dunes. Here you'll find information about the dunes, wildlife, the trails, and the history of the area. Shipwreck artifacts are outside, and a memorial fountain orginally built in the 1940's has been retored with it's snake faucet.

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  • Hiking trails

    Indiana Dunes State Park has several trails which begin at the visitor's center and climb the highest dunes, ultimately leading to the beach area. The Calumet trail is 9 miles long and a portion of it runs through the state park along the beachfront as well. None of these trails are particularly scenic, spectacular or difficult, but are good for a...

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  • Mount Baldy

    Mount Baldy is the most popular attraction in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This is a moveable dune, either as a result of wind or water or both. There are several paths that lead to the top. Two are straight uphill climbs on the sand and the other, easier route has a series of stairs and one steep but short uphill at the end. From the top...

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  • The devil's slide

    You'll find this steep slope near the beach. Its a tough uphill walk, sinking into the sand and pulling yourself up step by step and then practically slipping all the way down, hence the slide portion of the name. Many people were using the slide as a workout path, jogging up and then back down. Much better exercise than the treadmill, but one time...

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  • Hike the sand dunes

    Although there is a beach which is pretty popular, the sand dunes are the main draw. Some rise over a hundred feet. Not exactly an impressive elevation, but, in the relative flatlands of the midwest, the height of these dunes is quite impressive.There are several trails ranging from easy to moderate which allow you to hike over and around the sand...

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  • Picnicking

    Is the other main reason to go. Tables and grills are located throughout the park. I heard alot of people do this during the spring and summer.

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  • Chellberg Farm

    Begun in 1872 by swedish immigrants Anders and Johanna Chellberg. They farmed the land for nearly a century. A nice historic structure.

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  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

    Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is adjacent to Indiana Dunes State Park. The federal park also has activities in Miller, Portage, Dune Acres, Porter, Beverly Shores, and Michigan City. The area offers many recreational activities. The IDNR Visitor's Center is located on Kemil Road off US HWY 12 a few miles east of IN SR 49.

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  • Hiking in the Indiana Dunes State Park

    Be sure to stop at the park office for a system map.Trail 2 - An easy 3 mile trail that also is used for cross-country skiing in the winter.Trail 3 - A moderate .75 mile trail that features lots of wildflowers and cacti.Trail 4 - A moderate .75 mile trail that connects the campground to the lakefront by way of forest-covered dunes.Trail 7 - Similar...

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Indiana Dunes State Park Restaurants

  • sambarnett's Profile Photo

    by sambarnett Written Sep 15, 2002

    During the summer months a cafeteria in the beachhouse sells hot dogs and other snacks. For more substancial fare, there are a few restaurants and diners along US 12. The town of Chesterton (a few miles south on Highway 49) features numerous restaurants.

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Indiana Dunes State Park Local Customs

  • Toughluck's Profile Photo

    by Toughluck Written Dec 8, 2006

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    Outdoor groups have been a tradition around here since the 1920's. One of the earliest was the Prairie Club of Chicago. Starting as a hiking group that would take the South Shore (railroad) out from Chicago to the Tremont Station, they would spend the day hiking the dunes. Soon they had cottages along the front of the dunes so they could spend the weekend. Then a club house. Their efforts to preserve the dunes paid off with the creation of Indiana Dunes State Park. Their clubhouse and cottages used to dot the beach were crowds now swim near the bathhouse.

    Their efforts are remembered in a memorial fountain located in front of the Nature Center. It has a spicket shaped like a snake.

    The Snake Dedication
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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Indiana Dunes State Park Warnings and Dangers

  • TinyTuck's Profile Photo

    by TinyTuck Written Aug 25, 2002

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    When we were there we were attacked by black flies all the time... I had never had contact with those enoying bugs before, so I don´t know why they are exactly here and at what time of year. Maybe it was just because there was a thunderstorm coming up?!

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Indiana Dunes State Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Winter in the Dunes

    Winter on Lake Michigan is an unexpected beauty. It can be blinding in the winter sun or dark and grey when it's overcast. Anytime, you'll find yourself alone on large stretches of the beach. Wind off the lake make is cold, even on sunny days. Stay off the ice shelf. Here, the shelf is over 60 ft (20 m) wide. The high ridge is near the 2nd sandbar....

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  • Chelberg Farm and Beilly homestead

    IN the far corner of the National Lakeshore, away from beaches and dunes, sits an exhibit which preserves the old buildings which once housed the immigrant Chelberg family. The Swedish immigrants arrived in the late 1800s and set up a farming community on this midwest soil. You can tour the old home used by the family and learn more about their...

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  • See a 'Blowout' in the Dunes

    Take the long hike on trail #10. It follows the beach front from one end of the park to the other. Along the way, you'll have a chance to see a 'blowout'. This is a natural phenomenon, where the wind gets under the roots of the dune grass and/or trees and begins to cut into the dune. After a winter of heavy wind, the 'blowout' had begun. Each...

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Indiana Dunes State Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Horseback Riding

    Ly-co-ki-we Trail is the only horse trail. The trail is open from mid- March to mid- December. There is no horse rental concession.

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  • Myriad of Activities

    Camping, biking, hiking, beach, birding, swimming, pinicking, sunset watching, beachcombing, Nature Center programs and activities, and other activities offer something for all ages and abilities. And on a clear day, you can see the Chicago skyline from the lakeshore.

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  • Indiana Dunes State Park Hotels

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Indiana Dunes State Park Favorites

  • Find Chicago

    Most days, you can see across the lake and find the Chicago skyline. Well, maybe 60% of the time. Which means, that you might not be there on a day when it's visible. Chicago is 25-30 miles across the lake, but it is very visible when conditions are right. It's much easier to see the Burns Harbor plant of Mittal Steel (was Bethlehem Steel) and...

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  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

    This area of about 15,000 acres includes about 25 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is separate from the small state park, but, like the park, the dunes are the main attraction. The beaches are also popular, mostly with Indiana residents. The National Lakeshore lies between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana and is...

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  • The Dunes

    Though most visitors come here for sun and swimming, the main focus of the Indiana Dunes State Park is preservation of a very diverse environment. Here arctic trees live side by side with Prickly Pear cactus. So please don't litter and stay on the marked trails.Entrance for Indiana residents is $4, $5 for out of staters. An annual Indiana State...

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Explore Deeper into Indiana Dunes State Park
Ship Wrecks
Off The Beaten Path
The historic bathhouse
Off The Beaten Path
Revolution
Off The Beaten Path
Lookout tower
Off The Beaten Path
Map of Indiana Dunes State Park

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