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Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton

#1 of 51 in Nature in Indiana
Must see · State Park · Park
Indiana Dunes State Park consists of 2,182 acres of primitive, beautiful, historic and unique Hoosier landscape. It lies at the north end of State Road 49 in Porter County, and includes more than three miles of beautiful beach along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. In the early 1900s scientists, recreationists and nature enthusiasts, recognizing the value and potential of the Indiana dunes area, fought to have the region preserved. As a result, in 1925, the state park was established.

Large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan. A wide range of habitats and plant species are found in the park, with vegetation stabilizing some of the sand. These habitats provide homes for many types of plants and animals. The lake also provides habitat for many aquatic species, as well as a constantly changing fishery.


Note: For trail locations, view the property map under the MAPS tab.

2. EASY (3 miles)—The best trail for early spring flowers and ferns. Climax forest is used for crosscountry skiing during the winter season.

3. MODERATE (.75 mile)—Provides an opportunity to view succession in dunes area. Excellent for late spring wildflowers, including prickly pear cactus.

4. MODERATE (.75 mile)—Goes through dunes covered with black oak forest.

7. MODERATE (1.1 miles)—Similar to Trail 4. Most direct route from Nature Center to beach.

8. RUGGED (1.5 miles)—Goes over the tops of the three highest dunes of the Indiana Dunes.

9. MODERATE (3.75 miles)—Provides best representative view of the dunes. Good view of lake.

10. MODERATE (5.5 miles)—Hikers are rewarded by stands of white pine and a "tree graveyard" in Big Blowout. A good morning hike.

PLEASE STAY ON MARKED TRAILS. Contact the park office at (219) 926-1952.
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Indiana Dunes State Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
836 reviews
  • I was very surprised to see this beach area at the state park. It’s a beautiful place to go to during the summer and also there are sand dunes around the area. Definitely bring lots of water with you....  more »
  • Great hike along dunes with view of Lake Michigan. We took the number 9 trail which is a bit over three miles. Great hike, beautiful scenery. Very enjoyable hike.  more »
  • It was a very cold afternoon but we enjoyed walking down to the water with our pups. The only surprise was the $12 fee to get in. We really weren’t in the park long enough to justify the charge but...  more »
  • A great beach that wasn't crowded. In fact, it was sparsely populated despite the gorgeous weather (granted, it was the end of August). There's a nearby dune with a section for sand sliding. There are restrooms and changing rooms with lockers. The beach pavilion's history is intriguing but closed to the public. It would earn 5 stars if the pavilion was renovated and reopened to function as originally designed. The dune trails were fun. There's a "3 Dune Challenge" trail that's 1.5 miles going over the 3 big dunes. The first dune has an adjoining trail going down that would be amazing for sand sledding. The second dune has a minimal view of the lake. The third dune has a great view towards Illinois, Michigan, and the lake. The camping area has electric but I didn't see water connections so double check that before you camp there with an RV.
  • The park is great, so many spots for beach lovers, and it's clean for the most part. There are a good number of shelters if you decided to throw a party at this place. it gets very busy, though parking should not be a problem. They also have a wide range of trails for walking and running and biking fans. Overall, it was a great experience. We didn't get to camp there due to being full, though I imagine it would be fun. The entrance fee of $12 is a bit much considering we only spent few hours there, however no complaint on that front....
  • Awesome day on the dunes and Lake Michigan!... clean, well maintained and so accessible... very easy drive in from Chicago, just pack a few of your favorite snacks and have a picnic... get away from life for a few hours and unwind on the lake shore that seems like an inland sea!
  • Love finding these places that I've passed by lots of times, then finally going.. it wasn't too busy out there today.. it was sunny, windy and low humidity on this August 23, 2019.. just fun walking the sandy trails, taking some nice pics of Lake Michigan with Chicago in the distance. Makes for a nice day trip.. plus there's a food stand with Hot Dogs and Pulled Pork sandwiches that are reasonably priced. It's $12 to get in for the day.
  • Clean but could use people being more responsible while there with trash, not overly populated area the time of day we were there around 4. Shower stations with bathrooms were set up but biting flies met us there for our exit. Outdoor restrooms available and gate staff were pleasant and helpful.

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