Accessible Adventures in the Indiana Dunes
Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking to hike, bird, paddle, or just wander and take in the scenery, the Indiana Dunes area has many accessible adventures to offer. Here are some popular outdoor places and activities that are wheelchair friendly.
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.
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 ambassadors who can answer all your dunes area questions.
If you’re looking to camp in the 61st national park, Dunewood Campground at the Indiana Dunes National Park has four accessible campsites (sites 15, 30, 41, and 55) available for reservation. The campground is located right off of US Highway 12 in Beverly Shores. Just be sure to make reservations early as the campsites are often booked by the start of camping season.
Founder’s Square Park and Hannah’s Hope Playground
Portage’s Founders Square Park is home to Hannah’s Hope Playground, an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities to play together. The neighboring splash pad is the perfect place for young kids to cool off on a hot summer day.
The Great Marsh Trail
This trail offers 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. If you’re new to birding, stop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and check out our birding backpack for the day!
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.
Indiana Dunes State Park’s Trail 8 Boardwalk
Drive through the winding roads of the state park down to Wilson’s Shelter parking area. From here you can catch Trail #8 which has a boardwalk crossing over the marsh. It’s an excellent spot for birding.
The boardwalk on trail #8 is an accessible place to birdwatch.
The Nature Center
The state park’s Nature Center is accessible and offers all-terrain chairs for the public between Memorial Day and Labor Day. One balloon tire beach chair and two all-terrain trail chairs are available for use by the public. To access the state park beach, head to the west parking lot where you can park right next to the sand.
Thanks to the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, accessible paddling launches are popping up in the Indiana Dunes area. The most recent launches are at the Marquette Park lagoon and the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
Get up close to the water with the accessible fishing pier and boardwalk. There’s also an accessible pavilion and a paved trail that passes through the dunes. What’s incredible about this spot is that it used to be settling ponds for industrial byproducts and you would never know!
Prairie-Duneland and Iron Horse Heritage Trails
The paved 12-foot wide Prairie-Duneland Trail stretches from Chesterton to Hobart and connects to the Iron Horse Heritage Trail in Portage. There are many places to park along the trail and it’s lined with wildflowers and trees.
Railway Garden at Gabis Arboretum
Feel like a kid again as you enjoy the large model railway garden. The Meyer Pavilion is also accessible. Touring the entire 300-acre area may be difficult due to varied elevations and trail surfaces. You can call Gabis Arboretum in advance to schedule a mobility cart tour.
Valparaiso’s 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 our events page for free outdoor concerts in the evenings.
Looking for a place to stay while visiting the Indiana Dunes? Peruse our list of B&Bs, inns, and hotels to find the perfect overnight stay to suit your style. Don’t forget to sign up for the Indiana Dunes Deals Pass to access discounts at local restaurants and shops!