If you're looking for a midwestern summer vacation destination that includes the best of what nature has to offer, relaxation time, and plenty of activity, you may want to take an Indiana Dunes camping trip. This gem has several places to set up camp and lots to see and explore.
Dunewood at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
This particular park, located in northwest Indiana, features a national lakeshore close to 25 miles long. Bordering Lake Michigan, the park's size is impressive, with 15,067 acres.
The campground is open from April 1 to October 31 annually. The campground has two camping loops, consisting of a total of 66 campsites total. Each loop in the park features showers and restroom facilities, with accessibility to campers with mobility restrictions. One thing to note is there are no electric hookups at this campground.
Situated within a quarter-mile of a gas station and convenience store and the South Shore Railroad station, the campground is close to any necessary supplies campers might need and transportation. In case you've forgotten anything off of your camping list, supplies are close by.
Sites can be reserved up to six months in advance and cost $25 per night. Stays are limited to 14 days in 30 days. Pets are allowed, but only when attended to, caged, or on a leash. Firewood from ash trees within the park is strictly prohibited. However, firewood is offered for a fee, and fires are allowed at the campsite. Alcohol is prohibited on the premises.
Things to Do
There are a vast number of activities here to keep you busy morning, noon, and night. Bird watching is a popular activity, with Lake Michigan being an important point of migration for many species of birds. The lake provides ample opportunity for fishermen and boating enthusiasts to enjoy the water. Hikers will find numerous trails with varying difficulty geared for the beginner to the expert. The park boasts 14 hiking trails for campers to enjoy, so bring along your best hiking shoes! Some of the more popular trails are:
- West Beach Trails (3-mile loop hike)
- Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail (.9 miles)
- Great Marsh Trail Hike (1.3 miles)
- Glenwood Dunes Trails (6.8 miles)
- Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm, Little Calumet River, and Mnoké Prairie Trails (3.4 miles)
- Dune Ridge Trail (.7 miles)
- Pinhook Bog Trails (2.1 miles)
There is nothing better than jumping in a cold lake after a long hike. Here there are seven beaches to enjoy the sun and swimming opportunities, with West Beach manned by lifeguards.
Indiana Dunes State Park
Just 47 miles east of Chicago, the Indiana Dunes State Park has a lot to offer a potential camper. With 2,182 acres, it is bordered by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Dunes Nature Preserve consists of 1,530 acres and creates the park's eastern border, featuring many of the park's trails and dunes.
The campground features modern facilities, a dumping station, and electric hookups. There is a two-week stay limit for this campground. Some reservations are available during the peak season.
Featuring 140 campsites with level, asphalt-paved pads for campers, the campground offers electrical hookups, picnic tables, water hydrants, and two newer shower houses with restrooms. Shade or partial shade is common.
Things to Do
The state park is well known for its dunes and sandy beaches. The swimming beaches are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and swimmers are kept safe with the careful eye of lifeguards on weekends. A beach house featuring concessions is open during the summer. Bird watching is a popular activity with an observation tower along Trail 10. The tower is within observation range of the marsh. The Nature Center is open year-round and allows visitors to view wildlife through a large observation window. For the hiker, seven trails, ranging from moderately challenging to rugged, pass near the dunes, wet prairie area, and other historical landmarks of interest.
In addition to these fairly typical activities, the park also hosts sledding, cross-country skiing, and sand trapping during colder months.
If you're looking for a destination that will offer the entire family something to do all the time, the Indiana Dunes is a logical answer. Activities for nature-lovers are everywhere. Visitors can see wildlife, wildflowers, a variety of natural habitats from dunes to wet prairies, beaches, bogs; educational programs; historical landmarks; sites of the city from afar; and experience several other fascinating activities during the visit. Located just a little northeast of the geographic middle of the United States, this area is a potentially viable destination for almost any family, group, or individual. There are few other places to see so and do so much.
Sunset Hill Farm County Park Campground
Sunset Hill Farm County Park Campground is located within the Indiana Dunes area. Set in the beautiful, scenic countryside, this campground can accommodate large families and larger groups of people. A smaller park, sitting on only 238 acres, Sunset Hill is welcoming, beautiful and a great choice for campers not wanting the bells and whistles that often come with a state park stay.
The campground contains 10 miles of nature trails for hikers to enjoy. Reservations are welcome and encouraged as this campground fills up fast. The campground includes primitive toilets, no shower facilities, a group firepit, and rentable shelters. There is no electricity hook-up at this particular campground.
Sunset Hill only allows tent camping; no RV camping is allowed. Each site allows for two tents, contains a fire pit and a picnic table. The nightly rate to stay at this Indiana campground is $15.
Things to Do
Walk the trails, connect with nature and enjoy the company of your loved ones. This primitive campground is the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Make s'mores, sing campfire songs, read a book among the grasses and wildflowers and take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature.
Lakeshore Camp Resort
Lakeshore camp resort is a great place for camp enthusiasts who want to return to the sandy dunes of Indiana time after time. Located only 10 miles from Indiana Dunes State Park, Lakeshore Camp Resort has all the fun a family could want out of a camping excursion.
The campground is a 940 site membership park that contains 115 full hookup campsites and 12 cabins that will easily fit most families. Prices vary depending on the camping experience you are going for.
- Tent sites range from $39 to $53 depending on the day of the week you camp and the time of year you reserve a site.
- Regular cabins range from $82 to $115 depending on the day of the week you camp and the time of year you reserve a site.
- The park has deluxe cabins, full-service loft cabins, and park model cabins available to the public for a daily price higher than the regular cabin price.
Reservations can be made by calling the number on the campground's website or emailing the address provided on the campground website.
Things to Do
The short answer here is, "A lot!"
There is so much for kids and adults alike to do while staying at this campground. The grounds contain a 22-acre lake, three separate swimming pools, volleyball, fishing, live entertainment on the weekends, beaches, boat rentals, tennis courts, a drive-in movie theater, a playground, an arcade, a mini-golf course, and countless other activities.
Themed weekends are worked into stays and fun games for the kids to partake in, like scavenger hunts, bean bag toss, and water activities.
Sandy Space With so Much Appeal
The sandy shores of Indiana often get overlooked regarding beachy vibes and camping opportunities. After a stay at any of these campgrounds, it will be hard to go somewhere else. When it comes to sandy dunes and camping fun, Indiana campgrounds seem to have it all.