Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.Frank Lloyd Wright
About the Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park will enchant you along its 15 miles of sand-filled shoreline on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Popular activities include hiking the dunes, flying kites, birdwatching, or swimming; there is much to do in one of the newest National Parks. There is also the adjacent Indiana Dunes State Park, which is also worth a visit while in the area.
Check out the view of the park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Visit the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center for maps, events, and other park information
- Enjoy Indiana Dunes State Park as well and take the 3 Dunes hiking challenge
- Enjoy some time on the 18 miles of sandy beaches and just relax
- Go for a bike ride on 75 miles of park trails
- Get out on the water in a canoe, kayak, or sailboat on Lake Michigan
- Try out some dune buggies on the sand dunes
- Birdwatching is a great activity for any of the park trails
We were so excited to see Indiana Dunes on our first day that our better judgment gave way to a wrong decision; take our Airstream to the park to get a quick view of the dunes. Unfortunately, we took a path to the beach and had little way to turn around. Thankfully, we found some folks who allowed us to take up all the room on the road to make the turn.
Size of Park
There is the Indiana Dunes State Park adjacent to the National Park.
Located in northwestern Indiana, the Indiana Dunes National Park was named the country’s 61st National Park in 2019. The park consists of 15,000 acres of dunes, swamps, oak savannas, marshes, rivers, and forests.
Apart from the park’s sandy soil, hiking trails, and Great Lake waters, the ecology and history of this region make Indiana Dunes National Park worth the visit. The park consists of over 2,000 acres of grassy terrain where visitors can stroll on the sandy shoreline and enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Michigan. Moreover, the park is also home to more than a thousand flowering plant species and ferns.
Best hiking trails
Whether you are looking for a relaxing walk along an easy trail with many views or a challenging and calorie-burning hike, the Indiana Dunes National Park has a number of trails. Here are some hiking trails in Indiana Dunes National Park.
Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve
The entirety of the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve is a 157-acre complex of wetlands, woodlands, and prairies. The best places to hike in the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve are the Coffee Creek Long Loop and the Coffee Creek Short Loop.
The Coffee Creek Long Loop is a 4.8 km loop trail with a few bridges, a stream, many beautiful views, and wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and such. Taking an average of an hour to complete, this trail is considered easy.
The Coffee Creek Short Loop is a 2.1 km loop trail and takes about 25 minutes to complete. This trail is particularly great for hiking, running, and bird watching, and it is likely to encounter few people while on this trail.
Cowles Bog Trail
The Cowles Bog Trail is a 6.9 km loop trail. One thing to remember if you plan to hike on this trail is that it is considered a relatively strenuous hike, and it takes an average person about 1.5 hours to complete. One reason for this strenuous hike is the sand dunes near Lake Michigan. The interconnected trails, however, allow you to pick from several routes; down to the shoreline, into the forested dunes, or through the wetlands.
The Cowles Bog Trail is mainly known for its plant diversity. In fact, for this reason, it was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1965. Aside from plant life, you can encounter several ponds, swamps, black oak savannas, and beaches on this trail.
Glenwood Dunes Trail
While the Glenwood Dunes Trail is a 10.8 km trail, it is an extensive network of interconnected loop trails. These loop trails vary from less than a mile long to some relatively challenging 15-mile trails, connected through 13 junctions. This extensive range makes the trail popular among hikers, runners, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers.
Since there are so many interconnected trails and junctions, bringing a map on this trail is suggested.
Little Calumet River Trail
The Little Calumet River Trail is a 6.3 km trail system of interconnected hiking trails. This trail is considered a moderately challenging route and popular among hikers, runners, bikers, and bird watchers. You can hike through a forest filled with maple, beech, basswood, and oak trees.
The Little Calumet River Trail connects Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm, and the Dunes Learning Center. Following along the Little Calumet River, you can explore the Mnoké Prairie and its grasslands, the endless stretches of which make up a beautiful view.
Camping in the Park
Camp in or near Indiana Dunes National Park is incredibly popular among tourists to enjoy its beauty and shoreline. There are a number of campgrounds you can choose from.
One campground you should consider if you plan on camping inside the Indiana Dunes National Park is the Dunewood Campground, containing 66 campsites. Surrounded by trees, this campground is excellent for getting immersed in nature. In addition, this campground is relatively secluded.
However, the Dunewood Campground has all the necessary facilities, such as restrooms and a shower.
Dunbar Group Site
Another great campground in the Indiana Dunes National Park is the Dunbar Group Site. This campground can accommodate up to 30 people.
The incredible thing about this campsite is the various surroundings and views. The camp is less than 500 feet from the beach. The campsite also overlooks the Great Marsh and Lake Michigan.
Other camping options
There are also a number of camping options in the close vicinity of Indiana Dunes National Park. One of these is the Woodland Village RV and Mobile Home Park, which is very close to the park and also a great place if you are traveling in an RV and need a campsite for camping in it.
Lake View Beach
Lake View Beach is a great place to spend the day lounging on the beach or in the picnic areas, taking a walk along the shoreline, climbing the dunes, and enjoying the beauty of Lake Michigan. The incredible view of the clear, blue Michigan Lake causes this beach to fill up fast, and the sunset on this beach makes it even more attractive.
Dune Succession Trail
One of the spots in the Indiana Dunes National Park that offers some of the best views in the area is the Dune Succession Trail. The trail provides a glimpse at the stages of dune development, starting with a beach at the shore of Lake Michigan and ending with a natural rise from the sand boardwalk through a forest.
Aside from the landscapes, the trail also offers excellent lake views. You can see Lake Michigan from various points and the Chicago skyline to the west.
Little Calumet River and Mnoke Prairie Trail
Following along the Little Calumet River, you can find the Mnoké Prairie and witness its endless stretches of grasslands, making it a perfect viewpoint. The Little Calumet River valley and the hardwood forests filled with various kinds of trees come together to make this trail mesmerizing.
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