Frequently Asked Questions

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 3-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 and 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 size of Indiana Dunes National Park?
  • 15,349 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 each year?
  • 2,134,285 visitors (2019).
  • Approximately 60% of visitors come from outside Indiana.


What makes Indiana Dunes National Park unique?
  • Fourth most biodiverse national park (1,960 species) (Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and vascular plants) (1. Smoky Mountains, 2. Grand Canyon, 3. Yosemite).
  • 4 National Natural Landmarks (Pinhook Bog, Cowles Bog, Hoosier Prairie, Dunes Nature Preserve).
  • 1 National Historic Landmark (Bailly Homestead).
  • More than 50 structures on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Wide range of habitats including fens, bogs, marshes, pannes, creeks, woodlands, savannas, prairies, dunes and beaches.
  • More than 225 known archeological sites representing 10,000 years of Native American use, the American fur trade and Swedish immigration.
  • 46 species of mammals, 18 species of amphibians, 23 species of reptiles, 71 species of fish and 60 species of butterflies.
  • More than 1,400 species of ferns and flowering plants, 28 species of orchids (more native orchid species than the state of Hawaii).
  • More than 350 species of birds have been seen within the park (top 5 of all national parks).
  • 30% of Indiana’s listed rare, threatened, endangered and special concern plant species have populations within the park.

What are the hours of Indiana Dunes National Park?
6:00 am to 11:00 pm unless otherwise posted.


Are there entry or parking fees for Indiana Dunes National Park?
There are no entrance fees or parking fees to the national park with one exception. West Beach charges a parking fee of $6.00 per vehicle or motorcycle per day ($30.00 per bus per day) from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend. The parking fee is collected from 8:00 am Central Time to no later than 7:00 pm. Note: A 50% discount is available for holders of the Lifetime Senior, Annual Senior, and Access passes. A discount is not offered for the Annual Pass.


Where can I get more information about Indiana Dunes National Park and surrounding area?


Where is the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center (Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center)?
The visitor center is located at 1215 North State Road 49, Porter, IN 46304. It is one mile north of the I-94 interchange (exit 26B), four miles north of the I-80/90 interchange (exit 31), and just south of U.S. Highways 12 and 20.


What are the hours of the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center?
  • The visitor center is open daily, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
  • 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Central Time, from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend.
  • 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Central Time, for the remainder of the year.


What are the hours of the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education?
  • Open every day except for federal holidays.
  • 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend.
  • 8:00 am to 4:00 pm for the remainder of the year.


Does Indiana Dunes 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 parks’ website www.nps.gov/indu/planyourvisit/calendar.htm and Facebook www.facebook.com/pg/IndianaDunesNPS pages.


Does Indiana Dunes 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.


How do I get to the beaches of Indiana Dunes National Park?
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.
  • West Beach - North on North County Line Road. West Beach has 600 parking spaces, lockers and showers; other lots have limited parking.
  • Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk - from U.S. Highway 12, take IN 249 south and follow signs.
  • Porter Beach - Wabash Avenue and Johnson Beach Road.
  • Kemil Beach - North end of East State Park Road.
  • Dunbar Beach - Lake Front Drive and Dunbar Avenue.
  • Lake View Beach - Lake Front Drive and Broadway Street.
  • Central Avenue Beach - North end of Central Avenue.
  • Mount Baldy Beach - Just east of the U.S. Highway 12 and Beverly Drive intersection.


What are some of the rules pertaining to the beaches at Indiana Dunes National Park?
  • 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 have dedicated grills in their picnic areas.
  • The removal of natural items such as rocks, shells, and fossils are prohibited.


Are personal motorized watercraft, dune buggies, ATVs, or kayaks allowed within Indiana Dunes National Park?
The national park does not have motorized boat launches. Kayaks are permitted and there are launches along the Little Calumet River and Marquette Park Lagoons. Personal motorized watercraft, dune buggies, and ATVs are strictly prohibited within the park boundaries.


Are pets allowed in Indiana Dunes National Park?
Pets are permitted everywhere including beaches in the national park with the following exceptions:
  • Pets are prohibited on the Pinhook Bog boardwalk (pets are permitted on the 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 6 feet (2 meters).
  • Pet owners are responsible for removing pet waste from the campground, picnic areas, parking lots, roads, and other developed areas. Do not bag pet waste and leave it on the ground along trails, etc. If you bag the waste, please carry it out.


Does Indiana Dunes National 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.


Is alcohol allowed in Indiana Dunes National Park?
Responsible alcohol use is permitted everywhere within the national park with the exception of inside of NPS buildings. No glass containers are allowed on the beach.


Do all of the trails involve steep climbs in Indiana Dunes National Park?

There are 50 miles of hiking in 14 trail systems with varying difficulty throughout the national park. See the national park’s hiking webpage at www.nps.gov/indu/planyourvisit/hiking 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 there horseback riding in Indiana Dunes National Park?
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.


How do I reserve an environmental education program at Indiana Dunes National Park?
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 other park locations, which focus on the park’s resource issues.


Does Indiana Dunes National Park 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 at www.nps.gov/indu/forkids. 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 Indiana Dunes National Park?
The national park has many ways to volunteer. Visit www.nps.gov/indu/getinvolved/volunteer for details. 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 or Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education to get your trash bag and head out to the park. Once you fill your bag, leave your trash bag next to an existing trash can in the park and return to the Visitor Center or Paul H. Douglas Center to receive a free Indiana Dunes water bottle as a reward for your service.


Does Indiana Dunes National Park have a campground?
Yes. The Dunewood Campground is run by the national park and is located just south of the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Broadway 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:

Campground Facilities
  • 67 campsites.
  • Sites 1-54 are conventional drive-in sites for RVs and/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.

Campground Fees
  • $25.00 per night camping fee (expanded amenity fee).
  • All sites are reservable at www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/258887 starting six months in advance of the check-in date.
  • Sites are reservable beginning on November 15 for the following camping season.
  • 50% discount for the following America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Senior Annual, Senior Lifetime, and Access Passes.
  • No discount for the following America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Annual (non-senior), Military, Volunteer, and 4th Grade.

Campground Attractions / Services
  • 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, which is 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.

Campground Reservation Information
  • All sites are reservable at www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/258887 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.

Campground Rules
  • Stays are limited to 14 days in a 30-day period.
  • Quiet hours are daily, 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. Please be considerate of others.
  • All tents and equipment must be set up on the camping pad.
  • A maximum of 8 people per site.
  • All vehicles and RV campers must remain completely on the pavement.
  • Bikes can be walked to the walk-in sites.
  • Pets must be caged, in a tent or RV, or on a leash (maximum length of 6 feet) at all times.
  • The national park suggests, but does not mandate, that visitors 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.


Does the State Park have a campground?
Yes, the state park has a year-round campground with full electric hook-ups. All sites are reservable on the following website: www.reserveamerica.com/explore/indiana-dunes-state-park/IN/570035/overview. The campground is very popular, and sites must be reserved months in advance for the summer season.


Does Indiana Dunes National Park have picnic areas?
Yes, 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.

  • West Beach picnic shelters (reservable six months in advance at www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/10007207).
    • Eight non-electric shelters: $25 per day.
  • Chellberg Farm picnic shelters (reservable six months in advance on www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/10007156).
    • Two non-electric shelters: $25 per day.
    • One shelter with electricity: $50 per day.
  • Tremont picnic shelters (first come, first served).
  • Glenwood Dunes picnic shelters (first come, first served).
  • Lake View Beach picnic shelters (first come, first served).
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.


Does Indiana Dunes 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 bath house and beach overlook).
  • Chellberg Farm (one picnic shelter).
  • Lake View Beach (picnic shelters).
  • Tolleston Dunes (picnic overlook).
  • Tremont Picnic Area (one picnic shelter).


What is the relationship between Indiana Dunes National Park and State Park?
The national park is owned by the United States Government’s Department of the Interior. The state park is owned by the State of Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The parks are completely independent of one another and have different rules, regulations, and fees. Both parks do have similar missions in protecting the unique habitats of the Indiana Dunes and providing recreational opportunities for millions of visitors. Both parks also collaborate in many areas such as public programming, prescribed burns, and invasive species control.

The region is very lucky to have both parks and gives visitors a broader set of options when coming to the Indiana Dunes. It is recommended that visitors visit both parks to get a more complete understanding of the Indiana Dunes.


Is Indiana Dunes National Park going to buy the State Park?
The national park is NOT taking over the state park. Nothing has changed. The national park’s 2019 name change from national lakeshore to national park did not change the national and state park’s relationship in any way.


Revised May 6, 2020

Last updated: June 19, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304

Phone:

(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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