Indiana Dunes State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Indiana Dunes State Park is a stunning and uniquely beautiful park, sure to put a thrill in your RV travel log. Located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, the 1,530-acre park includes three miles of beautiful and spacious lakeshore. Prairies, black oak forest, and wooded wetlands converge in this special corner of Indiana. An ecological wonder, the dunes of the lakeshore are great for both relaxation and education. Keep an eye out for the skyline of Chicago across Lake Michigan on a clear day.

This historic park was established in 1925, but the large sand dunes behind the shoreline have taken thousands of years to form and tower nearly 200 feet above the lake. Scientists and enthusiasts marvel at the complex natural habitat formed in this unique landscape. Lake Michigan has a rich maritime history on display, including a preserved shipwreck located just offshore.

The iconic Beach Pavilion was built in the 1930s and greets visitors to this sunny and popular beach spot. Whether you’re swimming or hiking the dunes, the gorgeous lake views are sure to be a highlight of your RV trip. Miles of trails conveniently loop around the park, providing an easy way for hikers of all levels to explore the park. Don’t miss Mount Tom, the highest peak and best view around at 192 feet above Lake Michigan.

RV Rentals in Indiana Dunes State Park

Transportation in Indiana Dunes State Park

Driving

Indiana Dunes State Park is located at the north end of State Road 49 in Porter County. It is a short 45-minute drive from downtown Chicago via I-90. Whether you prefer taking your rig a direct highway drive or down scenic secondary roads, you’ll have no problems navigating to this easily accessible park.

Parking

Plenty of parking is available for your RV in the lots at the Dunes State Park. There is a fee for entrance and parking. There are large parking areas near the Pavilion and Beach House, the Bird Observation Platform, and Gatehouse near the picnic tables. Parking may be more challenging on weekends during the peak season due to the popularity of the beach.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Indiana Dunes State Park

Campsites in Indiana Dunes State Park

Reservations camping

Indiana Dunes Campground

There are 140 campsites with electric hookups (50 amp service) available in the park. The park accepts RVs and trailers up to 55 feet in length. There are water supply stations, showerhouses, comfort stations, a seasonal camp store, and a playground on site. Restrooms and showers are also conveniently located and you can use grills and fire rings to cook up some delicious grub right at the campground. You’ll have easy access to fishing, hiking, and scenic views of Lake Michigan. There is a dump station near the campground as well. This campground is located in the middle of the park and enjoys direct access to the dunes via a short hike over Mount Tom.

First-come first-served

Indiana Dunes Campground

The Dunes State Park campground accepts walk-up campers if there are unreserved campsites available.

Alternate camping

Private Campgrounds

There are a number of private RV campgrounds featuring modern amenities such as wireless internet, laundry facilities, full hookup sites and cabins. Whether you want to enjoy a rustic experience or a luxurious one at an RV resort, you are sure to find a private campground or RV park to meet your needs.

Seasonal activities in Indiana Dunes State Park

In-Season

Hiking Trails

Leave the camper behind and enjoy one of the seven hiking trails in the park that range in difficulty from easy to rugged. Sixteen miles of trails will let you explore the park at your own pace and take you through marshlands, creeks, forests, and over the tops of the biggest dunes in the state. Don’t miss the “living” dunes off Trail 9 that are slowly being blown inland, burying forests as they go. Trail 10 is home to “tree graveyards”, previously buried forests now exposed by wind erosion. There is a popular Three Dune Challenge for hikers looking to test their limits while enjoying a view.

Beach Recreation & Swimming

Take a dip in Lake Michigan in the designated swimming area located at the Beach Pavilion, which also offers fast-food service and a gift shop. The beach is popular on summer days, as it is free for visitors to come enjoy the lake views and relax. Experienced divers can check out the preserved shipwreck of the J.D. Marshall located in the lake bed offshore beyond the swimming area.

Birding

Don’t leave your binoculars in the RV - Indiana Dunes State Park has excellent birding opportunities for the spring and fall migrations. Famous throughout the Midwest for as a birding hotspot, there is a dedicated Bird Observation Platform and the Nature Center features current sightings and information. Keep your eye out for hawks riding thermal updrafts of the dunes, various waterfowl, and warblers.

Interpretive Naturalist Programs

Interpretive Naturalist Programs are held daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and on weekends throughout the year. Program schedules are available online and include many family and children’s activities and crafts. You’ll love learning about the unique natural history of this diverse ecosystem from the experts.

Fishing

Whether you’re a beginning or avid angler, you’ll love the the chance to hook your bait during your motorhome trip to Indiana Dunes State Park. You’ll have a thrill with the chance to catch smelt at the waters at the park. Don’t forget to pack your fishing gear when you head out to Indiana.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross Country Ski trails are provided for visitors with their own equipment--there are no ski rentals available onsite. You’ll love coasting along this beautiful state park when it turns into a winter wonderland. If you want to take the less beaten path during the colder months, make sure you pack your cross-country skis!

Nature Center

The Dunes State Park Nature Center is located near the campground and features environmental and cultural history displays, wildlife observation room, library and audiovisual presentations. There is also a children’s corner, a program room, and information about current bird sightings in the park.

Picnicking

If you want to enjoy a picnic in the tranquil setting of Indiana prairies, forests, and wetlands, this is the perfect destination. There are several pavilions and picnic areas located in the park, but one of the best spots is by the Beach House, where you can enjoy a quiet meal on the serene banks of Lake Michigan.

Storytelling Programs

Throughout the offseason there are regularly scheduled storytelling events that children and the whole family can enjoy during your RV stay at the park. In the fall you can hear ghost stories and thrilling adventure tales from park rangers. In the spring you can enjoy crafts and education about the native wildlife and natural history of the park.

Rainy Day Activities

Even if you visit the park during the colder months or on rainy days, the Indiana Dunes State Park website features loads of fun-filled “Rainy Day Activities.” You can download and print activity sheets so you can play games and take quizzes about the unique cultural history and native wildlife of Indiana.

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