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Accessible Adventures in the Indiana Dunes

Most folks think of Indiana Dunes and they immediately picture climbing up sand dunes – not exactly an outdoor adventure for those who need accessible excursions. But have no worries! Here’s a list of 10 outdoor places and activities that are wheelchair friendly.

1. The boardwalk trail at Indiana Dunes State Park

Drive through the winding roads of the state park down to Wilson’s Shelter parking area. From here you can catch Trail #10 which has a boardwalk crossing over the Great Marsh. It’s an excellent spot for birding. The Nature Center is also accessible. The best place to

see the beach is from the west parking lot where you can sit right next to the sand.

people bird-watching

– The boardwalk on trail #10 is an accessible place to birdwatch at the Indiana Dunes State Park.

2. Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

Boardwalk trails meander past fountains and through prairies at Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve. Wildlife viewing is good here, and you can sit in the small pavilion as you listen to Coffee Creek’s running waters.

3. Paddling launch at Marquette Park

Thanks to the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, accessible paddling launches are popping up in the Indiana Dunes. The most recent is at the Marquette Park lagoons with future spots planned at the Little Calumet Preserve and Lake George. Marquette Park also has a number of paved walking paths.

4. Lake View Picnic Area

An expansive view of the beach and distant Chicago skyline, grilling areas and picnic tables under shelters make Lake View an excellent spot for a picnic.

5. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Get up close to the water with the accessible fishing pier and boardwalk. There’s also a paved trail that passes through the dunes. What’s incredible about this spot is that it used to be settling ponds for industrial byproduct and you would never know!

people on the portage waterfront

– Watch the waves roll in from the boardwalk and fishing pier at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.

6. The Great Marsh Trail

Birdwatching at its finest. Accessible parking spots are available in the north lot and a boardwalk takes you to the viewing platform where herons, warblers and even the occasional sandhill crane can be spotted.

Coffee Creek watershed preserve building

– Don’t miss the wildlife at Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

7. Taltree Railway Garden

Feel like a kid again as you enjoy the large model railway garden. You can also call Taltree Arboretum in advance to schedule a mobility cart tour.

8. Prairie-Duneland Trail

This paved 12-foot wide trail stretches from Chesterton to Hobart. There are many places to park throughout the trail and it’s lined with wildflowers and trees.

9. Dunes-Kankakee Trail

The newly completed DK Trail runs from the Visitor Center at State Road 49 to the entrance of the Indiana Dunes State Park. It’s paved and mostly shaded. Don’t forget to come inside the visitor center for our printed guides, short films, and to chat with our destination concierge who can answer all your dunes area questions.

10. Central Park Plaza

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, enjoy the farmer’s market in the Urschel Pavilion at Central Park Plaza. Take advantage of the shopping and dining in downtown Valparaiso every day. The splash pad also provides a spot to cool down in the summer and be sure to check the events listing for free outdoor concerts in the evenings.


Have you recently visited the dunes or live nearby and have your own spots to add to this list? Comment below and share!