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.