Fun Activities at the Indiana Dunes National Park

Sand dune with Lake Michigan in the background with a clear sky above. | Indiana

Whether you live in Northwestern Indiana or are just visiting the area, a trip to the Indiana Dunes National Park is well worth your time. Let’s take a look at some of the fun activities you can enjoy when visiting this Indiana treasure.

1. Swimming

The Indiana Dunes National Park contains 15 miles of sandy beaches along the shore of Lake Michigan, making it the perfect spot for relaxing in your favorite beach chair or going for an exhilarating swim. The West Beach and Lake View Beach areas feature grill-equipped picnic areas, so you can enjoy a family picnic in a beautiful setting. A summer sunset stroll is a great way to end your day at the beach. 

2. Biking

A 37-mile interconnected trail system spans the entire length of Indiana Dunes, allowing cyclists to discover the various habitats that make up the park. The shorter trails are perfect for beginners, while seasoned cyclists will enjoy the challenges provided by the longer trails. If you’re up for it, you can even bike the entire system for the ultimate all-day trek.

3. Birdwatching

Indiana Dunes serves as an important feeding and resting area for several species of migrating birds, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching. Warblers, vireos, and flycatchers are just some of the species that seek refuge in the park during migration. Along the lakeshore, you’re sure to spot loons, scoters, ducks, and gulls. An observation tower provides spectacular views of these water species, while other birds can be spotted along the park’s various trails. 

4. Fishing and Boating

If you prefer to spend the day fishing, you won’t find a better spot than Indiana Dunes. In addition to the numerous trout and salmon that inhabit the lake, you’ll also find smelt, bass, and bluegill. The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk area of the park features a fishing pier, a restroom pavilion, and seasonal food service. Of course, you can also fish by boat.

Boating isn’t just a preferred way to fish — it’s also a great way to explore the lake. The winds on Lake Michigan make it perfect for sailing, while the Lake Michigan Waterway Trail is great for kayaking. The Little Calumet River is best explored by canoe. 

5. Hiking

Indiana Dunes contains 14 hiking trail systems, each one providing a unique experience for hikers. Along the Bailly Homestead system, you can explore the historic Bailly Homestead, the Chellberg Farm, and the Mnoké Prairie. The system runs through a forest of maple, beech, basswood, and oak trees. The Cowles Bog system showcases the park’s diverse plant life and traverses a variety of habitats including ponds, marshes, swamps, black oak savannas, and beaches. 

For those needing wheelchair accessibility, the Calumet Dunes system and the Great Marsh system are wonderful options. In addition to exploration opportunities, the hiking trails are also great areas for geocaching.

These are just some of the great activities you can participate in when visiting Indiana Dunes National Park. Consider planning a trip so you can experience this natural wonder for yourself. 

Image via Flickr by Fisherga | CC BY 2.0.