Diana's Dare - Embrace the Dunes

Diana's Dare Logo
Diana's Dare Logo - Dare to walk in her footsteps and learn and explore the wonders of the dunes.

What is the Diana Dunes Dare?

It is a hiking challenge!
It is a ghost story re-told!

We are daring you to be like dune advocate Alice Mabel Gray, also known as Diana of the Dunes. She hiked and lived in the dunes on her own in an abandoned shanty for over 9 years in the early 1900s and took an interest in the history, ecology, and preservation of Indiana Dunes.

Alice? Who is Alice?

Diana of the Dunes became a legend in her own time. She was born in Chicago as Alice Mabel Gray. She was tagged Diana of the Dunes by area reporters because she chose to live a very different life from most of the women at that time. She was a well educated woman who studied at the University of Chicago and worked for a time at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington DC as a computer (Note: In Alice’s time, a “computer” was a person who did mathematical calculations as a profession). She had a profound change of heart for reasons that are not very clear, but many newspapers at the time created a persona for the woman who chose to live alone in the wilds of the Indiana dunes. Well, won’t spoil the entire plot here, so you will have to get out to West Beach and read the signs to complete the dare.

What’s the trail like?

Starting from the parking lot, hikers can climb the newly named Diana’s Dune. Count the steps along the way! At the first wayside, you can pause on top of the great staircase and let the breeze surround you as it heightens your senses. At this boundless vantage point you can choose your view. You can gaze 36 miles into the distance to see the towering might of Chicago, the birthplace of our gallant advocate Alice. You can choose to see the abrupt line of contrast of where industry and nature collide. Or you can turn your regard to the delicate, diverse rolling beauty of the dune succession and its fragility.

At the second wayside, you can get nestled on a bench in the dune swale as you contemplate the dynamic and complex landscape. You may hear the immense roar of the waves to the north or notice the quietness of an interdunal pond just at the foot of the jack pines. If you read the landscape, as Diana did, you can understand its message. The jack pines would have told Diana that she is close to the water. Jack pines are pioneer plants which are one of the first to root at the forefront of the shoreline because they do not like to compete with the mighty inland oak forest to the south. Diana listened, understood, and became harmonic with nature in these very dunes. As a matter of fact, this dune is designated in her honor as Diana’s Dune.

Along the beach to the bathhouse - Listen to the rhythms of the waves and let yourself sync with nature. Feel the sun on your soul and contemplate the many calls of the gulls and hear the singing sands dance along the shoreline. Let the diverse harmony of the dune landscape sculpt your affirmations. Dare to become a positive force in protecting these ecosystems much like Diana did. Vow your pledge of preservation and protection to the social media world by stopping by the selfie station and hash tagging #dianadunesdare.

As if this isn’t enough to tempt you to complete the dare...

Once complete, grab your iconic sticker as a badge of honor to go with your bragging rights on completing the dare at one of our centers.

Diana's Dare Trailhead
Park visitor about to begin the Diana's Dare

How to Complete the Dare.

1 - Go to West Beach.

West Beach Parking Lot
376 North County Line Road, Gary, IN 46403.
41.622934, -87.207747

2 - Follow Diana’s footsteps.

Hike the trail and read the waysides

3 - Share your Dare

Selfie and Post (Selfie station located in West Beach Bathhouse)

4 - Get your Badge of Honor

Collect your sticker at one of the park locations:

Indiana Dunes Visitor Center
1215 North State Road 49
Porter, IN 46304

Paul H. Douglas Center
100 North Lake Street
Gary, IN 46403


Can’t get enough? What’s Next?

3 Dunes Challenge
Dune Succession Story Map - An ecology story on this same loop.
Over 50 Miles of Trails

Learn about Dune Advocates:

Paul H. Douglas
Dorothy Buell
Alice Mabel Gray
Women's History

Map illustration of Diana's Dare Trail
Map illustrating the route for the Diana's Dare Trail
Indiana Dunes Tourism and Friends of Indiana Dunes Logo
The Diana of the Dunes Dare was made possible with great support from our partners at Indiana Dunes Tourism and Friends of the Dunes.

Last updated: December 29, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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