Permits & Reservations


A valid entrance pass or reciept is required for all visitors, including permit holders. For more information on fees and passes, including locations to purchase, go to the fees and passes page.


Most common reservation inquiries:

  • All 67 sites at the Dunewood Campground are reservable in advance at starting six months in before the check-in date. Sites are reservable beginning on November 15 for the following camping season. For more information call (219) 395-8138.
  • The Dunbar Group Site is reservable in advance at starting six months before the check-in date. The site can hold up to 30 people and 10 tents. For more information call (219) 395-8138.
  • Picinic Shelters have both reservable and first come, first served based locations. For more information call (219) 395-8138.


Special Park Use Permits (SUP) are for activities that take place within a national park outside typical and ordinary visitor use. These events may include gatherings and activities such as weddings, sporting events, and sales. Special Park Use activities inside the park require written authorization from the National Park Service in the form of a Special Use Permit, or a Commercial Use Authorization before the event or activity takes place.

Not all activities are appropriate for a national park, our regulations outline permissible actions. Criteria for activities as well as answers to many questions about permits are available on this website, or if you still have questions, please contact the Permit Office, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:00-3:30 pm Central time at (219) 221-2054.

  • Special Park Use FAQ Link

  • Portage Lakefront Classroom at the Portage Lakefront Pavilion -Permits my be requested for gatherings up to 58. There are 42 chairs and 10 tables in the room. There are no kitchen facilities. The permit is solely for the classroom. In addition to the application fee, there is a cleaning fee and maybe a liability insurance requirement.

  • Weddings - Persons interested in hosting a wedding ceremony will find answers to the most common questions on this link: Indiana Dunes National Park Wedding FAQ Link

  • Powerless Flight/ Hang-Gliding/ Paragliding - Due to ongoing dune restoration efforts, flight permits are suspended. New permits are not available and current permits are suspended. We will post updated information as conditions change.

  • Smelt Season Fire - Smelt fishing fire permits are no longer available and fires are no longer allowed in the park. Visitors are still able to smelt fish during posted hours at various locations throughout the park.


Permit Applications

Permit applications must be submitted at least three weeks and up to six months, before to the proposed event. Your application must include a non-refundable payment for the costs of processing the application. Please submit your payment as a check or money order made out to the National Park Service. The payment is $65.00 for simple activities and $200.00 for more complex events. Additional charges may also apply. Submitting an application does not guarantee the activity will be approved.


Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5 are unconstitutional.

The most current information on low-impact and non-low impact filming can be found Filming & Still Photography Permits (U.S. National Park Service) (


Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or

  1. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or

  1. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How do I apply for a permit?

You should submit a completed application along with the application fee to the park where you want to film or photograph as far in advance of your planned date as possible. In addition, you should request a meeting with park staff if your proposed activity is unusual or complex. Early consultation with park staff will help them process the submitted application in a timely manner.

Still Photography Permit applications are below.

What fees will I have to pay?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

  • 1–10 people - $50/day

  • 11–30 people - $150/day

  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

What about photography workshops?

If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.

Should you wish to conduct other business in the park such as guided activities or services, please see commercial use authorization page for more information.

If you are not sure your activity needs a permit, which application to use or have other questions, please contact the Special Park Use Coordinator at(219) 221-2054.

Last updated: April 26, 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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