Indiana Dunes State Park consists of 2,182 acres of primitive, beautiful, historic and unique Hoosier landscape. It lies at the north end of State Road 49 in Porter County, and includes more than three miles of beautiful beach along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. In the early 1900s scientists, recreationists and nature enthusiasts, recognizing the value and potential of the Indiana dunes area, fought to have the region preserved. As a result, in 1925, the state park was established.Plan to visit Indiana Dunes State Park during your Chesterton vacation using our convenient Chesterton day trip planning site.
Large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan. A wide range of habitats and plant species are found in the park, with vegetation stabilizing some of the sand. These habitats provide homes for many types of plants and animals. The lake also provides habitat for many aquatic species, as well as a constantly changing fishery.
DESCRIPTION OF HIKING TRAILS
Note: For trail locations, view the property map under the MAPS tab.
2. EASY (3 miles)—The best trail for early spring flowers and ferns. Climax forest is used for crosscountry skiing during the winter season.
3. MODERATE (.75 mile)—Provides an opportunity to view succession in dunes area. Excellent for late spring wildflowers, including prickly pear cactus.
4. MODERATE (.75 mile)—Goes through dunes covered with black oak forest.
7. MODERATE (1.1 miles)—Similar to Trail 4. Most direct route from Nature Center to beach.
8. RUGGED (1.5 miles)—Goes over the tops of the three highest dunes of the Indiana Dunes.
9. MODERATE (3.75 miles)—Provides best representative view of the dunes. Good view of lake.
10. MODERATE (5.5 miles)—Hikers are rewarded by stands of white pine and a "tree graveyard" in Big Blowout. A good morning hike.
PLEASE STAY ON MARKED TRAILS. Contact the park office at (219) 926-1952.
Indiana Dunes State Park reviews
Surrounded by the national park, I opted to just check out the state park. I hiked up to Holden Mountain, a short easy hike through the forest and dunes. I also checked out the Pavillion and beach...
Surrounded by the national park, I opted to just check out the state park. I hiked up to Holden Mountain, a short easy hike through the forest and dunes. I also checked out the Pavillion and beach... more »
We went to Indiana Dunes NP for the first time last month! It was gorgeous with well marked trails and views of Lake Michigan. Great for families . We will be back for camping.
We went to Indiana Dunes NP for the first time last month! It was gorgeous with well marked trails and views of Lake Michigan. Great for families . We will be back for camping. more »
HIGHLY recommend this State park over the National park! The 3 Dune Challenge was well worth the effort, including a great beach area. Other trails were very good and as advertised/rated. Be sure..... more
HIGHLY recommend this State park over the National park! The 3 Dune Challenge was well worth the effort, including a great beach area. Other trails were very good and as advertised/rated. Be sure..... more »
We were here during summer and the line to enter the parking was huge. It took a while for us to get a spot in the Parking area. However, it was worth the wait. Although it's on the shores of lake Michigan, the beach gave us a feeling as if we were on some Ocean beach. Midwest's very own coast, I'd say :) Plus, the water here is fresh water. We took the 3 dune challenge followed by spending time catching a spectacular sunset with Chicago's skyline at the backdrop. Recommended to visit on a weekday when there is less rush.
Absolutely beautiful park with many trails through the forest and over the dunes. Beautiful nature center with clean bathrooms and a water bottle filling station. We came in July and were glad we carried bug spray. The wooded trails had lots of biting flies and mosquitoes but the spray worked great. Park by the nature center to hike the three dunes challenge. Entrance into state park is $12 for out of state cars. Best to hike with sandals. Parts of the trail are deep sand and steep incline. There are plenty of places to stop and catch you breath. Beautiful and peaceful location.
This may be my favorite state park ever...and I've been to a LOT of state parks. It is clean, beautiful, well-maintained and set up very nicely. The beach and dunes are stunning, the plants and scenery are breathtaking and the staff is very friendly and helpful. One comment...I am disabled, and the restrooms and showers here are the most handicap- friendly I've ever used. The campsites are level and far enough apart to be comfortable. They only have electric hookups, but there are water-fill stations and dump stations as well. Very pet-friendly also! We stayed here in a Class C motorhome and will definitely come back again! So many things to see and do!
You could spend a day and a half hiking this unique IN state park with dunes, trails, beach and a nice pavilion. Dunes offer fun in the sand & pretty views of Lake Michigan. Trails are long and the campground has lots of space but you MUST book months in advance to get a spot. I recommend bug spray if you are walking the long trails in the woods especially trail 8, 9 & 10. Pavilion is nice (3 floors) with food, an event venue and a roof top bar. The bar is 21+ and is a great end to the day watching the sunset with some live music - I was in athletic shorts and a crew neck with sandals, so no dress code, but others were definitely more dressed up than I. Entry fee is $7 if you don’t have a pass- I’d recommend getting there early if you don’t want to wait in a two lane long line and walk from overflow parking. Beach is clean, gets packed, but there is plenty of space. Great 1.5 day trip for me and would recommend for just that.
Amazing state park that has both a unique forest and a blue and clean lake with white sand on its shore. There are miles of hiking trails to walk and enjoy and miles of beaches to sun bath or swim. There is an entrance fee of 12 per car which on my visit needed to be paid only by cash . There are many free parkings but the ones that are close to the beach are taken early morning . Nice place to explore
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