Dunes National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore located in northwest Indiana and managed by the National Park Service. It was authorized by Congress in 1966. The national lakeshore runs for nearly 25 miles (40 km) along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, from Gary, Indiana, on the west to Michigan City
, Indiana on the east. The park contains approximately 15,000 acres (6,100 ha).
The National Lakeshore has development rights over the area within its boundaries, but has not purchased the full extent of the property. Its holdings are non-contiguous and do not include the Indiana Dunes State Park
(1916), a separate, 2,182-acre (883 ha) parcel of protected dune land on the lakefront near Porter
, Indiana.The park is physically divided into an eastern area and a western area.The eastern area is roughly the lakeshore south to U.S. 12 or U.S. 20 between Michigan City, Indiana on the east and the Mittal Steel Plant on the west.
Flora and fauna
BioBlitz 2009: Indiana Dunes was the third of ten National Park Units to participate in a National Geographic Society and National Park Service BioBlitz. For twenty-four hours beginning at noon May 15, citizen scientist (volunteers) and scientists explored the national lakeshore, attempting to document all the life forms along the shoreline. This joint project began in 2007 at Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway in Washington
The park includes habitats for several rare plants and animals. None of the plants are on the Federal list of Threatened and Endangered Species (T&E Species), but several are on the list of State T&E Species.Populations of each plant group are estimated to be around 100-120 individual plants.
Recreational Opportunities & Activities
The park contains 15 miles (24 km) of beaches, as well as sand dunes, bogs, marshes, swamps, fens, prairies, rivers, oak savannas, and woodland forests. The park is also noted for its singing sands. More than 350 species of birds have been observed in the park.
It has one of the most diverse plant communities of any unit in the U.S. National Park System with 1418 vascular plant species including 90 threatened or endangered ones. The Indiana Dunes area is unique in that it contains both Arctic and boreal plants (such as the bearberry) alongside desert plants (such as the prickly pear cactus).
First-time visitors to the Lakeshore often go to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center at U.S. Route 20 and Indiana Route 49, near Porter, Indiana. This brand-new center (2007) offers standard visitor-center amenities, including a video, brochures, hands-on exhibits, and a gift shop. It is free to the general public.
Camping is available at the Dunewood Campground on U.S. Route 12 and Broadway, in Beverly Shores. The campground includes an RV dump station and two loops of trailer accessible sites (some with pull-through drives).All sites have grills, a picnic table, and access to restrooms with running water and showers. There are a limited number of walk-in sites in the Douglas Loop.
The park provides opportunities for bird watching, camping, 45 miles (72 km) of hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Cycling is available on the Calumet Trail, a crushed limestone multiuse trail which runs through the eastern section of the park, providing access to the Indiana Dunes State Park, as well as to the communities of Beverly Shores; the Town of Pines; and Mount Baldy on the edge of Michigan City, Indiana.
West Beach, located adjacent to U.S. Route 12 and County Line Road lies on the border of Gary and Portage, Indiana. It is a geographically separated section of the Lakeshore that is preserved as a piece of public beach access and an example of the same theme of plant succession as is found in Cowles Bog. This section of the Lakeshore displays most of the successive stages of Indiana Dunes biotic progression, from open beach sands to mature Eastern Black Oak forest.
Porter Beach, located north of U.S. Route 12, is a small, public sand beach within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The surrounding area is residential and is governed by the town of Porter.
The Indiana Dunes has numerous short hike trails and a few longer distance trails