Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, located about 35 miles from Chicago, traces its roots back to 1899 when Henry Chandler Cowles did pioneering plant ecology work along the shores of Lake Michigan.  However it wasn’t until 1966 when a small group of citizens was able to urge Congress to pass legislation to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as part of the National Park Service.  The park was created within a “park-port” compromise bill that ensured the Port of Indiana, along with two large steel mills, could not be developed unless a section of the lakeshore was set aside for preservation.

Originally only 8,330 acres of land and water the park now includes more than 15,000 acres of sensitive dune lands, bird-filled marshes, oak and maple forests and remnants of once-vast prairies. More than 350 species of birds have been observed at the park and more than 90 endangered plant species are found within the park’s boundaries.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore provides park visitors a wonderful opportunity to hike along the dunes, swim in beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, climb the height of Mt. Baldy or explore the wonders of Pinhook Bog with a park ranger. 

—Matthew Killion/NPCA

Read More in NPCA's Park Advocate Blog

GirlTrek Takes On National Parks and Helps Black Women and Girls Take Back Their Health

The women of GirlTrek pose with a ranger at Indiana DunesDuring the month of August, black women and girls from across the country laced up their boots and stepped out to walk in national parks as part of GirlTrek’s Summer Trek Series, a partnership with the National Park Service to support “Healthy Parks, Healthy People.” GirlTrek, a national nonprofit and health organization that inspires and […]

Beautiful Nature, an Hour from Chicago

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.We often talk about “connecting with nature” and how important it is for urban residents to have access to green space. It improves our physical health, reduces our stress, and even improves our mood to have a world-class park near home. Chicago is lucky to have a spectacular urban oasis in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. […]

Focus on Water: National Parks Play Vital Role in Restoring Great Lakes

Volunteers help with restoration projects at Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreOur national parks on the Great Lakes offer 620 miles of shoreline, beaches, dunes, and wetlands. These parks–like Sleeping Bear Dunes along Lake Michigan, Isle Royale in Lake Superior, and Perry’s Victory in Lake Erie–have tremendous biological, historical, and recreational value for the more than six million people that visit each year. And these national […]


Still, after 40 years it is clear that the park is under constant threats. Indiana Dunes suffers from degradation of resources, boundary encroachment, visitor safety issues from the many highway and rail crossings in the park, and an “identity crisis” which leaves visitors confused as to when they are in the park.

NPCA’s Midwest Regional Office works with many park partners to address these challenges and shine the spotlight on this great national park site.

NPCA and its partners have established the project "National Park, Regional Treasure," to open a meaningful dialog about the challenges and opportunities at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Read more >








November 18, 2013

The Indiana Dunes are awsome. I love to go there to Swim,Hike,Eat,Camp and much more. I remeber in my 6th grade year we went on a 4day camp to Indiana Dunes, and i had a blast. One day i plan to become a Ranger.


October 16, 2013

I remember when I was a kid we always went to the state park side. Then on a school field trip we were told we were going to the dunes national park. I didn't realize at that time how much of the park away from the shore was marsh land needed by current and migratory animals. Hey as a kid it was rather boring, but as an adult I can appreciate the challenges that this park faces. Many in the area assume that the beach is it, when there is much more to it including the preservation of key marshes and historial buildings. Next time you go check out some of the off-beat and path locations you may be surprised.

This organization smells

March 3, 2013

Let's talk conflict of interest


November 10, 2011

i grew up playing on the sandy shores of lake Michigan, and love that many people work SO hard to protect it, so that my children now grow up playing along the shore. Every year when we get to escape from our Indy home and see that bit of water pop up on the hoizon-its like coming many happy memories...and a sense of inner peace, that only this wonderous place provides!


November 10, 2011

When I was in my late 20's, my supervisor invited some of us to her cottage at the Indiana Dunes--we all loved it. It seemed as if we were in the desert--with the ocean over the top of the Dunes! We all went back for many years, to the Indiana Dunes and to Union Pier, Michigan--right over the Indiana border. Same beauty and, I am sure, same concerns about preserving the lakeshore!


November 10, 2011

The Indiana Dunes, both national and state parks, are wonderful places. I am glad that a portion of this area was preserved from development.

Post a Comment

Share your park story today. Post your park experiences, recommendations, or tips here.*

Enter this word:

* Your comments will appear once approved by the moderator. NPCA staff do not regularly respond to postings. We reserve the right to remove comments that include profanity or personal attacks, promote products or services, or are otherwise off-topic. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the position(s) of NPCA. By submitting comments you are giving NPCA permission to reuse your words on our website and print materials.


Want to learn more about the  ?

The   can be seen in the wild in America’s national parks. Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Sign up to protect parks in   & other states

Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association Community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Sign up to protect   and other National Parks

Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association Community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Please leave this field empty
Yes, please sign me up for NPCA’s newsletter and other emails about protecting our national parks!

National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association

Log In

Or log in with your connected Facebook or Twitter account:


Welcome to our growing community of park advocates. Thanks for signing up!

Sign Up:

Or sign up by connecting your Facebook or Twitter account: