Located on the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan, West Beach is a popular and unique public beach with a collection of hiking trails. Part of the Indiana Dunes National Park, West Beach is a stone’s throw from Gary and Portage, Indiana, and an accessible 45-minute drive from Chicago, making it ideal for weekend adventures, staycations, and road trips!

A landscape with vegetation-covered dunes, a blue lake, and the Chicago skyline are in the background. In the foreground is the back head of a man with sunglasses on his head.

Visitors can marvel at a variety of ecosystems, flora, and fauna. The dunes succession trail highlights a natural process where sand dunes gradually become forested. The wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer are a key attraction for millions of visitors who travel to the Indiana Dunes yearly.

Activities at West Beach

Swimming: Dive into the cool waters of Lake Michigan. Lifeguards are on duty from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Hiking: West Beach offers a variety of trails, including the 0.7-mile Indiana Dunes West Beach Succession Trail (also known as the Diana Dunes Dare) which showcases the stages of plant succession from beach sands to mature Eastern Black Oak forest. The Dune Succession Trail provides stunning views from the top of the dunes, while the Long Lake Loop Trail offers birding opportunities and scenic vistas.

Sledding: With adequate snowfall, sledding is permitted on the dune just southwest of the West Beach picnic shelters, offering a thrilling activity for all ages; however, check the weather conditions to ensure safety first!

Amenities at West Beach

  • Concessions: Enjoy food and beverages from a rotating host of vendors while at the beach! Nothing says lakeside summer like burgers and hot dogs!
  • Restrooms: Year-round restrooms are found throughout the park, with additional seasonal facilities at the bathhouse and picnic areas.
  • Picnic Area: The beach includes eight covered picnic shelters, which are wheelchair accessible and reservable starting 6 months in advance, perfect for family gatherings, parties, and general celebrations.
  • Bathhouse: The bathhouse at West Beach includes showers and lockers and is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

West Beach bathhouse aerial view

Parking and Accessibility at West Beach

The West Beach parking lot can accommodate cars, buses, and RVs. Accessible parking is available for individuals with wheelchairs and other mobility needs. Additionally, the bathhouse, picnic tables, restrooms, and walkway to the beach are all wheelchair accessible. Please note, however, that the trails and beach itself are not wheelchair accessible.

Beach parking address:
West Beach Parking Lot
376 North County Line Road, Gary, IN 46403.

Trailhead parking address:
Trailhead Parking Lots
376 North County Line Road, Gary, IN 46403

Aerial view of a large parking lot surrounded by dunes and vegetation. Lake Michigan is seen in the background.

Hours and Fees

Access to West Beach Indiana Dunes National Park is daily from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Entrance fees vary depending on the method of entry, with a seven-day vehicle pass costing $25. Annual passes are also available for frequent visitors.

Safety and Regulations

Visitors should stay on designated trails to protect the fragile habitat. Make sure to check rip current advisories before enjoying a dip in the lake. Pets are permitted on the trails (leashed 6’ or shorter) year-round, but keep them off the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Whether you're swimming, hiking, or sledding, West Beach Indiana Dunes offers an unforgettable outdoor experience. Come and explore this remarkable destination's natural beauty and diverse ecosystems.