If you're looking for a vacation 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. There are two main places to go when you want to camp out at the Indiana Dunes: the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
This particular park, located in northwest Indiana, features a national lakeshore that is close to 25 miles long. Bordering Lake Michigan, the park's size is impressive with 15,067 acres. The closest city is Michigan City, Indiana.
The campground is open from April 1 to October 31 annually. With 78 campsites, the park features showers and restroom facilities, with accessibility to campers with mobility restrictions. One thing to note is there are no electric hookups.
Situated within a quarter mile of a gas station and convenience store and the South Shore Railroad station, the campground is within close proximity to supplies and transportation. In case you've forgotten anything off of your camping list, supplies are closeby.
Sites are not reserved, but are filled on a first come, first served capacity. Pets are allowed, but only when attended, 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 premises.
Things to Do
There are a vast number of activities while Indiana dunes camping to keep you busy at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Bird watching is a popular activity with Lake Michigan being an important point of migration for a large number of species of birds. The lake provides ample opportunity for fisherman and boating enthusiasts to enjoy the water. Hikers will find a large number of trails with varying difficulty geared for the beginner to the expert. The Ly-co-ki-we Trail accommodates horseback riding; but there are no horse rentals. 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 eastern border of the park, featuring many of the parks 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 features electrical hookups, picnic tables, water hydrants and two new shower houses with restrooms. Shade or partial shade is common at most campsites. It's within walking distance to the swimming beach.
Firewood from ash trees is also prohibited within this campground.
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, trails abound passing near the sand dunes, wet prairie area and other historical landmarks of interest. In addition to these fairly typical activities, the park is also host to sledding, cross-country skiing and sand trapping.
Weather at Indiana Dunes Camping Areas
Typically, during the summer, the days reach the mid-80s F for highs and the nights dip into the mid-60s F. Summer weather usually features lots of sun and dry weather. To check the local weather forecast prior to your trip, use the following zip codes as locations when using an Internet weather provider.
- Michigan City, 46360
- Beverly Shores, 46301
- Chesterton, 46304
- Valparaiso, 46383
- Ogden Dunes/Portage, 46368
- Gary, 46403
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, to beaches, to bogs; educational programs; historical landmarks; sites of the city from afar; and experience a number of 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 most any family, group or individual. There are few other places to see so and do so much.