Home » 2000 Cross Country Road Trip

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN

Wednesday, August 2, 2000 - 1:00pm by Lolo
244 miles and 4.5 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


I had found out about Indiana Dunes in the National Geographic State Park book which highlights the best state parks in each state. Besides being a state park, there is also about 15 miles of National Lakeshore adjacent to it, so I expected it to be pretty good.

Herb with SmokestackHerb with SmokestackI admit that I was a bit disappointed. Although the dunes were impressive and fun to roll around on, it wasn't nearly as pristine as I expected. I had hoped for another experience like Sleeping Bear Dunes, but this was not even close. The park was positioned between Gary and Michigan City, both pretty industrial-type towns. Their smokestacks, spewing god knows what, were quite visible as you gazed down the beach. As if that wasn't bad enough, swimming in Lake Michigan was prohibited because of high e.coli counts.

Since swimming was out of the question, we took a nice long hike along the dunes and a bike ride along the Calumet Bike Trail, which runs along a railroad bed through some pretty nice sand dunes, forests, and marshes. The kids' favorite activity by far was climbing and rolling back down the Devil's Slide, a steep dune overlooking the beach pavilion. Being the competitive family we are, we had races up the dune. Running in sand up a hill is unbelievably exhausting.

This was it, the end of our trip. The next day we would make the 13-hour push for home.


Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which stretches about 15 miles along the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan between Gary and Michigan City, has some of the highest dunes along the Lake Michigan shore. These dunes are called "living" dunes because they continue to move inland a few feet each year, burying plants and trees as they go.

Kid's dune jumpingKid's dune jumpingWithin the National Lakeshore, a 3-mile section of the beach is actually a very popular State Park. This is where most of the action and facilities at Indiana Dunes are located. There is a large beach pavilion complete with snack bar and gift shop, a nature center, a lifeguard protected swimming beach, over 16 miles of dune hiking trails, and a large 286-site campground.

Another popular trail is the 9.2-mile Calumet Bike Trail, which is located in the National Lakeshore section of the Dunes about 2 miles inland. This trail runs along a railroad bed through a wide variety of habitats--beach, sand dunes, black oak forest, and marshes.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore location map in "high definition"

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