Indiana Dunes State Park

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On one of our road trips, we told our kids that we were going to drive up to a state park. Since we regularly visit our nation’s parks, they weren’t quite sure why we had to travel an extra 3 hours out of our way to visit another state park. Imagine their surprise when we pulled into the Indiana Dunes State Park and saw Lake Michigan and the sand dunes. What an amazing place right at the top of Indiana.

Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes State Park

One of the highlights of visiting Indiana Dunes State Park is being able to climb the sand dunes. The climb to the top of the dunes is tougher than it looks, but well worth the effort.

My Mom and Dad visited a few years ago and tell the story of how they were cheered to the top of the dunes by some young college guys. “Go lady! You can do it!” They were rewarded with high fives all around when they reached the top.

The view of Lake Michigan from the top of the dunes is simply amazing. Words can’t describe the feeling of being on top of the world.

Indiana Dunes State Park

This was my first visit to Lake Michigan. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. In some ways it is very similar to standing on the Florida Beaches. This may be a lake, but it looks as large as the ocean. I really was tempted to taste the water to see how different it tasted from the salty water of the ocean, but decided that I really wasn’t that curious.

There are no shells on this beach; instead, you can find flat smooth rocks. The kids were fascinated with the smooth rocks and loved skipping them out over the lake.

Climbing the Dunes

The Indiana Dunes State Park consists of 2,182 acres of primitive, beautiful, historical, and amazingly unique Hoosier landscape. It lies in Porter County and includes more than three miles of Lake Michigan’s south shore, all of which provides a magnificent beach. Eighteen hundred acres are wooded and contain the most diversified flora and fauna of the Midwest. Other areas made up of drifting sand hills, peculiar to the dunes region. A pavilion on the beach provides shelter, bathhouses and a complete snack bar during the summer season.

Kids Enjoying the Sandy Beach
Kids Enjoying the Sandy Beach

indiana dunes state park kids

lake michigan

Indiana Dunes State Park is more than just the sandy beach and the dunes, you can also visit the Nature Center (for FREE), enjoy camping, hiking or picnic areas.

Address and Hours

1600 North 25 East
Chesterton, Indiana 46304 Map

(219) 926-1952

Hours: 7am – 11pm


Indiana state vehicles: $7.00
Out of state vehicles: $9.00

Have you ever visited Indiana Dunes State Park? What’s your favorite part? I’d love to hear!

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  1. Excellent review….and makes me want to return…TODAY! It truly is gorgeous and a trip to remember for a long time.

  2. This makes me want to hop in the car and skip on over to Lake Michigan! How beautiful are those sand dunes!

  3. The Dunes has been our favorite spot for almost 40 years. (There was some dicey craziness there in the 60s!) In light of this, we got brave and decided to try to camp there in the early 70s and we never looked back. We love everything about Indiana Dunes State Park! (We also love the National Lakeshore!)

  4. I love your travel plan. This country has so many visit-worthy spots that are often passed over. Your family will look back on this time as a golden one. We used to live in Valparaiso, and I’d be at the Dunes about once a week. It is so gorgeous! My favorite part of the park, though, isn’t the beaches but hiking to the edges of the park. Trail 9 has it all – beach, marsh, woods. Amazing bird and botanical diversity. Although I live in another scenic part of the country, I miss the Dunes.

  5. I am so lucky to be able to visit this special place nearly every week. My state park pass is the best investment my husband and I make every year. It’s great to hear another family’s experience of visiting there. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. I wish we had made it this year. But there is always next. I understand the state park campground is beautiful, but you need to get your reservations in early!

  7. Thank you for the great review and pictures! My kids and I visit the park year round some of the best programs like saw whet owl banding are in the winter. It’s so nice to lose the crowds at the beach in summer and take off on the trails for a beautiful peaceful hike. We love our park and it’s nature center!

  8. I stumbled upon the Dunes information from a friend and started researching and ended up here. Wow! This looks like the Caribbean! We live in St. Louis, MO (about 5 hours away) and would like to make a long weekend out of it. Is camping my best cheap option there? Any tips or advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us!

  9. This was a frequent destination when I was in high school. Love this place…it is stunningly beautiful. The water was clear and gorgeous. Biggest issue is to watch the sunburn!

    Also an excellent place for hiking. Our scout troop had an annual hike on the beach.

  10. The Indiana Dunes are actually two separate parks. There’s the national park and the state park. Personally, I’ve always preferred going to the state park portion. It’s where the best trails and other things are. I’ve taken my dogs hiking there and my daughter have loved going there since they were little. Nothing tires you out as much as climbing Mt. Baldy. Of course, any time we go there we spend the next few weeks getting the sand out of our vehicle and everything we took with us!

    1. Yes, you are correct! That is confusing to new visitors. We loved hiking the dunes too on both our visits! I agree, it wears you out but man, is it worth the effort!

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