What are the hours of the National Park?
The National Park is open from 6am to 11pm unless otherwise posted. West Beach and its parking lots are open from 6am to 9pm.
What are the hours of the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education?
- The Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education is open every day except for federal holidays.
- 8am to 5pm from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend unless otherwise posted.
- 8am to 4pm for the remainder of the year unless otherwise posted.
Are there entry or parking fees?
There are no entrance fees or parking fees to the National Park, with one exception. West Beach charges an amenity fee of $6 per vehicle or motorcycle per day ($30 per bus per day) from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend. The fee is collected from 8am Central Time to no later than 7pm.
Note: A 50 percent discount is available for holders of the following America the Beautiful—The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Senior Annual, Senior Lifetime, and Access Passes. There is no discount for the following America the Beautiful passes: Annual (non-senior), Military, Volunteer, and Fourth Grade.
Where is the best place to park when going to a National Park beach?
Parking lots can fill up quickly on summer weekend days. Visitors can call 219-395-1003 to hear a prerecorded message about parking availability at each beach parking lot.
Where can I get a passport stamp?
You can get passport stamps at the bookstore in the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Does the National Park sell/have the Senior Pass and other federal lands passes?
Although Indiana Dunes National Park does not have an entrance fee, we can issue all passes available within the America the Beautiful federal lands pass program. The passes include the Annual Pass, Access Pass, Senior Lifetime Pass, Senior Annual Pass, Active Military Pass, Volunteer Pass, and Fourth Grade Annual Pass. The passes are available at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center. Cash, credit, and debit cards are accepted for those passes that must be purchased.
Do the national park passes work at the State Park and vice versa?
The national park passes are not accepted at the State Park or any other non-federal location. The state park pass is not accepted at the National Park.
Does the National Park have wheelchair-accessible locations?
Major sites within the National Park that are accessible with assistance include:
- Dunewood Campground (sites 15, 30, 41, and 55)
- Indiana Dunes Visitor Center (building, parking, displays, restrooms, and hearing assistance device for the theater).
- Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education (building, displays, picnic area, boardwalk)
- Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk (paved hiking trail, pavilion, fishing pier).
- Accessible parking and restrooms are available throughout the park. A standard wheelchair is available for loan at the Paul H. Douglas Center.
- West Beach (two picnic shelters, paved road to bathhouse, and beach overlook).
- Chellberg Farm (one picnic shelter).
- Lake View Beach (picnic shelters).
- Tolleston Dunes (picnic overlook).
- Tremont Picnic Area (one picnic shelter).
- West Beach has a balloon tire sand chair during the summer season.
Are pets allowed?
Pets are permitted everywhere, including beaches in the National Park, with the following exceptions:
- Pets are prohibited on Pinhook Bog (pets are permitted on the nearby Pinhook Upland Trail).
- Pets are prohibited on the equestrian portion of the Glenwood Dunes Trail (pets are permitted on the other portions of the Glenwood Dunes Trail system).
- Pets are prohibited in the lifeguarded swim area at West Beach in the summer (pets can be walked through the area to get to another part of the beach).
- Pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than six feet (two meters).
- Pet owners are responsible for removing pet waste from the Dunewood Campground, picnic areas, parking lots, roads, and other developed areas.
- Do not leave bagged pet waste on the ground along trails, etc. Please carry bagged waste out with you.
Is alcohol allowed in the National Park?
Responsible and legal alcohol use is permitted everywhere within the National Park except inside NPS buildings. No glass containers are allowed on the beach.
Where can I find National Park maps?
Visitors can find maps online or by stopping by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
What are the primary Indiana Dunes National Park public sites?
From east to west:
- Pinhook Upland Trail (bog view, hiking trails).
- Pinhook Bog Trail (bog, hiking trails—ranger-led tours available only) (National Natural Landmark).
- Mount Baldy Trail and Beach (beach, hiking trails).
- Calumet Trail (gravel, frequent flooding, bikes allowed).
- Central Avenue Beach (beach, picnic table).
- Heron Rookery Trail (hiking trails).
- Great Marsh Trail (hiking trails and observation deck).
- Dunewood Campground (67 campsites, amphitheater, hiking trails).
- Lake View (beach, picnic shelters).
- Five Century of Progress Homes (from the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair).
- Dunbar Beach (beach).
- Dunbar Administrative Group Campsite (one group campsite).
- Dune Ridge Trail (hiking trails).
- Kemil Beach (beach).
- Calumet Dunes Trail (hiking trails, old VC is now USGS station).
- Glenwood Dunes Trail (hiking and equestrian trails, picnic shelters, warming hut).
- Dunes Nature Preserve (National Natural Landmark) (Indiana Dunes State Park).
- Tremont Picnic Shelters.
- Dunes Kankakee Trail (paved, bikes allowed).
- Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
- Porter Beach (beach).
- Cowles Bog (hiking trails) (National Natural Landmark).
- Porter Brickyard Trail (paved, bikes and e-bikes allowed).
- Prairie Duneland Trail (paved rail trail, bikes and e-bikes allowed).
- Chellberg Farm (hiking trails, farmhouse, sugar shack, garden, animals).
- Bailly Homestead (homestead, hiking trails) (National Historic Landmark).
- Little Calumet River (hiking trails).
- Little Calumet Water Trail (paddling, in conjunction with Shirley Heinze and NWI Paddlers Assoc.).
- Mnoké Prairie (hiking trails).
- Dunes Learning Center (Good Fellow Lodge) (environmental education center open for summer camps, school visits, and scheduled public events).
- Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk (pavilion, beach, hiking trails, fishing pier).
- Tolleston Dunes Trail (hiking trails, observation deck/picnic area).
- West Beach and the Diana of the Dunes Dare (bathhouse, eight picnic shelters, hiking trails, Long Lake).
- Marquette Trail (paved rail trail, bikes and e-bikes allowed).
- Oak Savannah Trail (paved rail trail, bikes and e-bikes allowed).
- Paul Douglas Environmental Learning Center.
- Paul H. Douglas Trail (formerly the Miller Woods Trail) (hiking trails).
- Hobart Prairie Grove Trail (hiking trails).
- Hoosier Prairie (National Natural Landmark).
National Park Beaches & Trails
How do I get to the beach?
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, visitors can call the beach parking hotline at 219-395-1003 to hear an automated message with parking availability.
The National Park’s 15 miles of beaches are accessible from the following beach parking lots, most of which you can access from U.S. Highway 12.
Which beaches are open?
Check our beach opening map or follow the Indiana Dunes Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.
Where can I park my vehicle when visiting the beaches?
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, visitors can call the beach parking hotline at 219-395-1003 to hear an automated message with parking availability at each beach. The Indiana Dunes State Park has the most parking spaces of all the beaches. Due to its popularity, it often fills to capacity early on hot summer days. An alternative is West Beach in the Indiana Dunes National Park, which has about 600 parking spots and rarely fills to capacity.
What are some of the rules pertaining to the beaches?
- Pets are permitted and must stay on a leash at all times (six feet or less).
- Responsible alcohol use is permitted. No glass containers.
- Wood and charcoal fires are prohibited on the beach. West Beach and Lake View Beach do have dedicated grills in their picnic areas.
- The removal of natural items such as rocks, shells, and fossils is prohibited.
Are personal motorized watercraft, dune buggies, ATVs, or kayaks allowed?
The park does not have a boat launch, and personal motorized watercraft, dune buggies, and ATVs are strictly prohibited. Non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks and canoes can be launched from the Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk.
The Lake Michigan Water Trail runs along the shore of Lake Michigan. Launch points in the Indiana Dunes area include Central Avenue Beach, Dunbar Beach, the west side of Indiana Dunes State Park, Kemil Beach, Lake View Beach, Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk, Porter Beach, and West Beach.
Power boaters must stay 500 feet from marked swimming areas, even when beaching. Some nearby communities offer boat launches. The National Park has no boat launches. Personal watercraft are prohibited.
Does the park close the beaches when high waves are present, or E. coli levels are high?
No, except for West Beach, when lifeguards are present. The National Park does not close its beaches, regardless of water conditions; however, when lifeguards are stationed at West Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the National Park will close the West Beach swim area when high waves or high E. coli levels are present. Lifeguards are not stationed at any other location within the National Park.
Call 219-926-7561 followed by prompt #2 for information regarding E. coli levels.
Do all of the trails involve steep climbs?
There are 50 miles of hiking in 14 trail systems with varying difficulty throughout the National Park. See the National Park’s hiking webpage for details. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk is a paved accessible trail where people can enjoy Lake Michigan views. The Calumet Dunes Trail is also paved. The Great Marsh and Heron Rookery Trails are flat.
Is horseback riding allowed on the trails or beaches?
The Glenwood Dunes Trail is the only equestrian trail at the National Park. Horseback riding is prohibited on all roads. There is no horse rental concession. The trail is open to horses from March 16 through December 14 unless there is sufficient snow cover for cross-country skiing. In the parking lot and picnic area, all horse excrement must be bagged, removed from the area, and disposed of appropriately. The parking lot is large enough for horse trailers.
Are e-bikes allowed?
E-bikes are allowed where traditional bikes are allowed. Except where the use of motorized vehicles is permitted, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited.
Does the National Park offer any winter activities?
Hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are popular. Visitors must bring their own snowshoes and cross-country skis.
Where are the best places to cross-country ski in the National Park?
Glenwood Dunes Trail has a 6.8-mile trail with a series of interconnecting loops through gently rolling wooded dunes. The 2.9-mile Tolleston Dunes trail is a good choice for advanced skiers. There are some difficult hills that can be tricky to navigate. A 4-6 inch snow base is recommended. Trails are not groomed.
Is snowmobiling permitted in the National Park?
Snowmobiling is not permitted.
Are there sledding hills in the National Park?
Sledding is not permitted except at West Beach within the designated area.
What is shelf ice?
Shelf ice often forms along the edge of Lake Michigan during periods of cold weather. Don’t be fooled! Despite its appearance, the shelf ice is not solid and should not be walked on. Due to the way shelf ice is formed, numerous air pockets exist that cannot be easily seen. It also can be difficult to tell where the beach ends and where the ice starts. Don’t walk on the shelf ice! A person applying even a small amount of weight on shelf ice can easily fall through into frigid water that can quickly kill. Please enjoy the beautiful and unique ice formations from the safety of solid ground.
Camping, Lodging, & Food
Is there lodging in the National Park?
There are no lodging facilities or restaurants inside the park, but there are many nearby. See listings for nearby lodging and restaurants.
Does the National Park have a campground?
Yes, the Dunewood Campground is run by the National Park and is located just off of U.S. Highway 12 in the Town of Beverly Shores. The campground is open from April 1 through November 1. The following are details pertaining to the National Park campground:
- 67 campsites.
- Sites 1-54 are conventional drive-in sites for RVs or tents. RV length is limited in some sites.
- Sites 55-67 are walk-in sites for tent camping only.
- Sites 15, 30, 41, and 55 are wheelchair-accessible.
- Restrooms and showers are located in the center of each loop.
- No electric or water hookups at individual sites. There is potable water located at several locations in each loop.
- The campground does have an RV dump station.
- There is a $25.00 per night camping fee (expanded amenity fee).
- All sites are reservable online starting six months in advance of the check-in date.
- Sites are reservable beginning on November 15 for the following camping season.
- There is a 50 percent discount for the following America the Beautiful—The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Senior Annual, Senior Lifetime, and Access Passes.
- There is no discount for the following America the Beautiful—The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Annual (non-senior), Military, Volunteer, and 4th Grade.
- Lake View Beach on Lake Michigan is located 1.5 miles north of the campground.
- Do NOT park in the Town of Beverly Shores’ beach parking lot, located just to the east of the Lake View lot. You will get ticketed. The town is very strict.
- A gas station/convenience store is located ¼ mile north of the campground at the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Broadway Avenue.
- The Beverly Shores South Shore Railroad station with passenger service to Chicago and South Bend is located on Broadway Avenue, ¼ mile north of the campground.
- All sites are reservable online starting six months in advance of the check-in date. Sites are reservable beginning on November 15 for the following camping season.
- The check-out time is noon. New check-ins cannot occupy your site until noon unless the site is vacant.
- Stays are limited to 14 days in a 30-day period.
- Quiet hours are daily, 10pm to 6am. Please be considerate of others.
- All tents and equipment must be set up on the camping pad.
- There is a maximum of eight people per site.
- All vehicles and RV campers must remain entirely on the pavement.
- Bikes can be walked to the walk-in sites.
- Pets must be caged, be in a tent or RV, or be on a leash (maximum length of six feet) at all times.
- The National Park suggests that visitors use firewood from local suppliers to prevent the spread of invasive insects. There is a general store near the Dunewood Campground that sells firewood, and there is another firewood seller near the campground.
Do you have picnic areas?
Covered picnic shelters with tables are located at the following locations, along with modern restrooms. Cooking fires are permitted in the provided grills or an approved carry-in grill. An approved grill is a noncombustible container with an enclosed bottom and enclosed sides with a minimum depth of two inches. Charcoal must be cooled and safely disposed of in a noncombustible container or removed from the area.
Picnic tables are also provided at the Tolleston Dunes Overlook, Central Avenue Beach parking lot, Porter Beach parking lot, Pinhook Bog parking lot, Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, and the Paul H. Douglas Center. Note that cooking fires are not permitted at these locations.
Is there food available in the National Park?
There are no restaurants inside the park. West Beach has a concession stand inside the bathhouse seasonally. Dig the Dunes Trail Stop operates out of the concession window at Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk and serves pizza, snacks, wine, and beer.
National Park Programs
Does the National Park offer programs for the public?
The National Park offers nearly 500 free public programs a year covering a wide range of interests and abilities. Upcoming programming can be found by calling or visiting the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center or online at the National Parks’ website and Facebook page.
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 or Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education for information and program materials. The Junior Ranger book can also be downloaded online. Other junior ranger programs are offered at special events. All programs are free. Children completing the junior ranger program earn a Junior Ranger badge or sticker.
How can I volunteer at the National Park?
The National Park has many ways to volunteer. Click here to learn more.
- A Drop-In Volunteering Program is available. 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 or Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education to get your trash bag and head out to the park. Once you fill your bag, return to the Visitor Center and receive a free Indiana Dunes water bottle as a reward for your service.
- The Indiana Dunes Visitor Center also has volunteer opportunities. Email the visitor center’s Operations Director at [email protected] to learn more.
National Park Historical Sites
Are there historical sites the whole family would enjoy visiting?
Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm is a great place for both adults and children. The site includes an 1820s fur trading post and a 1900-era Swedish farmstead. Seasonally, farm animals inhabit the barn. Hiking trails of various lengths are available. The Maple Sugar Festival and Apple Festival take place there in the fall.
Where can I see the 1933 Chicago’s World Fair Century of Progress Homes?
The five homes are all located along Lake Front Drive in Beverly Shores and are within a block of each other. Interpretative signs along the road. Private families or individuals lease the homes and rehabilitate them, so please do not trespass on their properties. A tour of the homes takes place the last week of September. Tickets typically go on sale in August and sell out quickly.
National Park Stats
What is the size of Indiana Dunes National Park?
- 15,348 acres (2019).
- 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
- 50 miles of hiking trails.
- 37 miles of multi-use biking trails.
- 6.8 miles of equestrian trails.
How many people visit Indiana Dunes National Park?
- 2,134,285 visitors (2019).
- Approximately 60 percent of visitors come from outside Indiana.
What makes Indiana Dunes National Park unique?
- It is the fourth most biodiverse national park (1,960 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and vascular plants).
- 1. The Smoky Mountains, 2. Grand Canyon, 3. Yosemite
- There are four National Natural Landmarks
- One National Historic Landmark
- There are more than 50 structures on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
- Fens, bogs, marshes, pannes, creeks, woodlands, savannas, prairies, dunes, and beaches.
- More than 225 known archeological sites represent 10,000 years of Native American use, the American fur trade, and Swedish immigration.
- There are 46 species of mammals, 18 species of amphibians, 23 species of reptiles, 71 species of fish, and 60 species of butterflies.
- There are more than 1,400 species of ferns and flowering plants, 28 species of orchids (more native orchid species than the state of Hawaii).
- There are more than 350 species of birds that have been seen within the park (top five of all national parks).
- At least 30 percent of Indiana’s listed rare, threatened, endangered, and special concern plant species have populations within the park.
- The park shows the industrial juxtaposition of natural preservation and heavy industry. It is one of the few urban parks in the nation. The Indiana Dunes is a natural oasis tucked between industry. Near one of the top metropolitan areas, it is a gateway national park for the Midwest.
Can you tell me some basic facts about Indiana Dunes National Park?
- Congress authorized the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on November 5, 1966.
- There have been four land expansions (1976, 1980, 1986, 1992).
- Congress authorized the park’s name change from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Indiana Dunes National Park on February 15, 2019.
- Indiana Dunes National Park is the closest national park to Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Milwaukee. It is closer to Detroit than Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
- Over 30 million people live within a three-hour drive of the park.
- The South Shore Commuter Railroad has stops in the National Park: Miller, Ogden Dunes, Dune Park, and Beverly Shores.
- The park is located very close to Interstates 65, 80, 90, and 94 as well as U.S. Highways 12 and 20.
- The park has land in LaPorte, Porter, and Lake counties and within 15 cities and towns.
What is the park’s purpose?
The purpose of the Indiana Dunes National Park is to preserve, restore, and protect the outstanding ecological and biological diversity along with the geological features that characterize the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Also, it provides access for a large diverse population to experience natural, scenic open spaces with recreational, scientific, and historic features alongside inspirational and educational opportunities.
Where can I get more information about the National Park and surrounding area?