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Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you’re just starting or in the final planning stages, our collection of frequently asked questions might give you a few more things to think about when traveling to the Indiana Dunes area. To help guide you, we’ve compiled a list of questions about our two main attractions: the Indiana Dunes National Park and Indiana Dunes State Park. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Indiana Dunes National Park FAQ Indiana Dunes National State FAQ

Indiana Dunes National Park

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to the beach?

The National Park’s 15 miles of beach are accessible from the following access points, most of which you can access right from U.S. 12:

What are the National Park hours and is there an entry fee?

7 am-dusk. There is a $6 fee at West Beach. Other sites are free.

Is alcohol allowed?

Alcohol is allowed only on the beach sites from Kemil east to Mount Baldy, but remember that glass bottles are prohibited. Alcohol is not allowed from West Beach to Indiana Dunes State Park.

Are personal motorized watercraft, dune buggies, or kayaks allowed?

The park does not have a boat launch and personal motorized watercraft and dune buggies are not allowed. Kayaks and other non-motorized watercraft can be launched at locations other than West Beach.

Are pets allowed?

Pets on leashes are allowed on the beaches at the access points east of Indiana Dunes State Park and on all trails except Glenwood Dune, the Great Marsh, and Pinhook Bog. For people with horses, the Glenwood Dune trail at U.S. Hwy. 20 and Schoolhouse Road is open for riding March 16 through December 14.

Do you close the beach when high waves are present or E. coli levels are high?

No. The national park does not close its beach regardless of water conditions. Risks are inherent in all natural areas. During summer months, lifeguards are stationed at West Beach. Lifeguards are not present at other locations of the beach.

Call 219-926-7561 followed by prompt #2 for information regarding E. coli levels.

Do all trails involve steep climbs?

There are trails of varying difficulty throughout the National Park. See NPS trail maps for details. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk is an accessible trail where people can enjoy Lake Michigan views.

Is there camping? Lodging? Dining?

Dunewood Campground, located at U.S. 12 and Broadway, near Beverly Shores, is open April 1 to October 31 and has 78 campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. The restrooms have showers. There are no electrical hookups, but there is a dump station (call 219-395-1882 or visit nps.gov/indu). Alcohol is prohibited. There are no lodging facilities or restaurants inside the parks, but there are many nearby.

How do I reserve an environmental education program?

Teachers and youth group leaders should call Christy Gerlach at 219-395-1885 to arrange for a free ranger-led program. These programs are conducted at the park’s Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education located in Gary/Miller, Indiana, and focus on the park’s resource issues.

Do you have a Junior Ranger Program?

Yes. Stop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center on State Road 49, just south of U.S. 20, and ask a ranger to help you select the junior ranger program that best fits your visit. A Beachcombers program is popular with families spending just a few hours on the beach. A more comprehensive program is a favorite among those camping in the park. Other junior ranger programs are offered during special events. All programs are free. Children completing the junior ranger program earn a Junior Ranger patch. Program materials are available at the visitor center and are downloadable at nps.gov/indu/forkids. If you encounter a roving ranger on the beach, ask him or her about the program. Rangers often carry junior ranger booklets and patches with them for your convenience.

How can I volunteer at the National Park?

The National Park maintains a list of volunteer opportunities at nps.gov/indu/getinvolved/volunteer.htm.

Don’t have the time to volunteer full time? Try the Drop-In Volunteering Program! The National Park has drop-in volunteer projects on the third Saturday of every month. Trash Trekkers, our litter clean-up program, is available every day. Just drop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to get your trash bag and head out to the parks. Once you fill your bag, return to the Visitor Center and receive a free Indiana Dunes water bottle as a reward for your service.

We also have volunteer openings at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center front desk. Email our Operations Director at [email protected] to learn more about volunteering at the Visitor Center.

Where can I get more information?

Call 219-395-1882 or visit nps.gov/indu. When visiting the park, watch for informational park signs or stop at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to learn more.

Can I grill at the beach?

The National Park has designated certain areas of some access points for grilling, where you can use the grills provided or bring your own. These grilling areas are found at Bailly Homestead, Glenwood Dunes, Lake View Picnic Area (bring your own only), Tremont, and West Beach. Grilling on the beach is not allowed.

Can I bring my own firewood into the park?

The National Park advises visitors to use firewood from local suppliers to prevent the spread of invasive insects. There is a general store near the Dunewood Campground which sells firewood and there is another firewood seller near the campground. Federal quarantines prevent people from other states from bringing their own firewood to Indiana.

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Indiana Dunes State Park

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get there?

Take State Rd. 49 North from Interstate 94 or the Indiana Toll Road. It leads straight into the park.

What are the hours, and is there an entry fee?

The park is open 7am-11pm daily and the entrance fee is $7 for in-state vehicles and $12 for out-of-state vehicles. Annual passes are available. Admission is free weekdays between November and mid-April.

Is alcohol allowed?

No

Are personal motorized watercraft, dune buggies, or kayaks allowed?

Kayaks can be put in the far west side of the park. Personal motorized watercraft and dune buggies are not permitted.

Are pets allowed?

Pets are not allowed on the swimming beach. However, if they are on a six-foot leash, they can be on other parts of the beach and anywhere else in the park.

Do you close the beach when high waves are present or E. coli levels are high?

If dangerous rip currents or high E. coli levels are present, Indiana Dunes State Park will bar people from entering the water, although they can still enjoy the beach. Signs alerting the public about closures are placed at the main gate at 11 am on the day of the closure — that is the time closure decisions are made.

In addition, the park advises people to visit ripcurrents.noaa.gov and click on Chicago, IL and Northern Indiana, IN for rip current conditions along Lake Michigan, and to visit in.gov and click on BeachGuard Online Monitoring System for E. coli closures and advisories.

Can I climb the dunes? Do all trails involve steep climbs?

Trails throughout the State Park vary in difficulty. The park has 16.5 miles of trails and is home to Mt. Tom, which is the tallest sand dune in Indiana, towering 192 feet above Lake Michigan. Mt. Tom is part of The 3 Dune Challenge, a 1.5-mile challenge trail with 552 vertical feet to climb.

Is there camping? Lodging? Dining?

The park has a state-of-the-art campground with water and electrical hookups. Make your reservations as early as possible (call 866-622-6746 or visit camp.IN.gov). There is a concession stand in the pavilion during the summer and a campground store. But there are no lodging facilities.

Do you have regularly-scheduled education programs, and do you do special programs for groups?

The park offers programs seven days a week in the summer and on weekends the rest of the year. A schedule is posted at the park. For more information, or to arrange a private program for a group, call 219-926-1390.

Can visitors earn a patch for completing activities?

The park has a Pin Program, and people can earn a pin by completing different activities. For more information, call 219-926-1390.

How can I volunteer at the state park?

People interested in volunteering can visit in.gov or call 219-926-1390 for more information. The tasks volunteers can do include pulling unwanted plants, beach cleanups, and weekend Nature Center staffing.

Where can I get more information?

Visit in.gov or call 219-926-1952.

Can I bring my own firewood into the park?

The state has a new policy that states campers and picnickers who live in Indiana can bring their own firewood as long as the bark has been removed (since the larvae of invasive insects live under the bark.) Federal quarantines prevent people from other states from bringing their own firewood to Indiana. Firewood can also be brought in if it is purchased from a store and has a USDA compliance stamp; if it is purchased from a local firewood vendor with a state compliance stamp; if it is kiln-dried scrap lumber; or if it is purchased from an on-site vendor. Regardless of where it is obtained, people should burn all of the wood at their campsite and not leave it for the next camper. Visit firewood.dnr.IN.gov for more information.

Can I grill at the beach?

The State Park allows grilling only at the pavilion in the grills provided. Grilling on the beach is not allowed.

Visit the State Park

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