Sand, Sun and Something for Everyone

Amanda Lepinski, Associate Editor
May 9, 2012
Filed under Destinations, Travel

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Central Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo by National Park Service.

Lake Michigan splashes its mighty waters on shorelines across four states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and, of course, Michigan. A visit to this great lake offers big-game fishing, swimming, boating and camping, all among breathtaking scenery sprinkled with lighthouses, lush foliage and sparkling fresh water. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is nestled within a crook of Lake Michigan and is declared this week’s National Park Getaway by the National Park Service.

In 1926, Indiana Dunes State Park opened to the public as a small park pushing for National Park inclusion. By 1966, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was established with only 8,330 acres of land and water. Since the 1960s, four bills were passed to expand the park increasing its size to more than 15,000 acres.

Located in northwestern Indiana, along Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore sees nearly 2 million travelers each year. Undoubtedly, these visitors come to see more than 1,100 native plant species, enjoy lakeside sand dunes, take advantage of 45 miles of trails, 15 miles of sandy beach, and, of course, the view of Lake Michigan.

Bird watchers should bring proper binoculars and cameras for a glimpse of more than 352 bird species that soar across and meander through the park. Hikers, bikers, walkers and runners are already taking advantage of the expansive trails. The beach is open, however, currently the water temperature is nearing only the mid-50s and swimming is not advised. The approaching summer weather will blanket the beach with sun-soakers and swimmers, while the lake will offer fishing. Kayakers have already been taking advantage of Lake Michigan’s glimmering waters. Lockers are available at the park for stowing away valuables while enjoying water recreation.

West Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo by Jeff Manuszak.

With so much biological diversity, it’s no wonder Indiana Dunes Lakeshore sees 46 different mammals, 18 species of amphibians, 23 species of reptiles and 71 species of fish. Whether you’re an animal lover, have kids who love checking out animals or you’re looking to be engulfed in nature, the park offers more than enough opportunity to see a little of everything.

The size and opportunities at the park are a lot to pack into one day but campgrounds are available at the park for a flat site fee of $15. The park offers both tent and dry camping for RVs. For more information check out the website www.nps.gov/indu or call 219-926-7561.

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