Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton

#1 of 51 in Nature in Indiana
Indiana Dunes State Park consists of 2,182 acres of primitive, beautiful, historic and unique Hoosier landscape. It lies at the north end of State Road 49 in Porter County, and includes more than three miles of beautiful beach along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. In the early 1900s scientists, recreationists and nature enthusiasts, recognizing the value and potential of the Indiana dunes area, fought to have the region preserved. As a result, in 1925, the state park was established.

Large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan. A wide range of habitats and plant species are found in the park, with vegetation stabilizing some of the sand. These habitats provide homes for many types of plants and animals. The lake also provides habitat for many aquatic species, as well as a constantly changing fishery.


Note: For trail locations, view the property map under the MAPS tab.

2. EASY (3 miles)—The best trail for early spring flowers and ferns. Climax forest is used for crosscountry skiing during the winter season.

3. MODERATE (.75 mile)—Provides an opportunity to view succession in dunes area. Excellent for late spring wildflowers, including prickly pear cactus.

4. MODERATE (.75 mile)—Goes through dunes covered with black oak forest.

7. MODERATE (1.1 miles)—Similar to Trail 4. Most direct route from Nature Center to beach.

8. RUGGED (1.5 miles)—Goes over the tops of the three highest dunes of the Indiana Dunes.

9. MODERATE (3.75 miles)—Provides best representative view of the dunes. Good view of lake.

10. MODERATE (5.5 miles)—Hikers are rewarded by stands of white pine and a "tree graveyard" in Big Blowout. A good morning hike.

PLEASE STAY ON MARKED TRAILS. Contact the park office at (219) 926-1952.
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Indiana Dunes State Park Reviews

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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
821 reviews
  • After a rough start with the lady who takes your $12 for out of state plates- she was unfriendly- we found friendly people with the “friends of the dunes” who helped us get to the 3 dunes challenge...  more »
  • Great getaway spot for social distancing since the beach is miles long. We were from out of state so admission was $12 for our car. The park has good hiking trails although the black flies were...  more »
  • A great beach that wasn't crowded. In fact, it was sparsely populated despite the gorgeous weather (granted, it was the end of August). There's a nearby dune with a section for sand sliding. There are restrooms and changing rooms with lockers. The beach pavilion's history is intriguing but closed to the public. It would earn 5 stars if the pavilion was renovated and reopened to function as originally designed. The dune trails were fun. There's a "3 Dune Challenge" trail that's 1.5 miles going over the 3 big dunes. The first dune has an adjoining trail going down that would be amazing for sand sledding. The second dune has a minimal view of the lake. The third dune has a great view towards Illinois, Michigan, and the lake. The camping area has electric but I didn't see water connections so double check that before you camp there with an RV.
  • The park is great, so many spots for beach lovers, and it's clean for the most part. There are a good number of shelters if you decided to throw a party at this place. it gets very busy, though parking should not be a problem. They also have a wide range of trails for walking and running and biking fans. Overall, it was a great experience. We didn't get to camp there due to being full, though I imagine it would be fun. The entrance fee of $12 is a bit much considering we only spent few hours there, however no complaint on that front....

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