Fifteen miles of sandy beach along the southern shore of Lake Michigan offer a wide variety of recreational activities. Whether it's enjoying a summer sunset stroll or marveling at the arctic beauty of Lake Michigan's shelf ice, you can enjoy the beach in all seasons.
There are several beach parking lots along the Indiana Dunes National Park. All beaches and parking lots are open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm and have potable water and restrooms. Additionally, West Beach has showers and lifeguards from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend.
All beach parking is free with the exception of West Beach, which collects an expanded amenity fee daily from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend, from 8:00 am to as late as 7:00 pm. The fee is $6.00 per car, $30.00 per bus. Cash, U.S. checks, credit, debit, and gift cards (MasterCard, Visa, and Discover) are accepted methods of payment. A 50% discount if offered for the following America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Senior Annual, Senior Lifetime, and Access Passes. There is no discount for the following America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Annual (non-senior), Military, Volunteer, and 4th Grade.
Beach parking lots fill up very quickly on summer weekends and holidays. Several lots including Lake View, Dunbar, Kemil, Porter and Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk fill up as early as mid-morning. It's best to arrive early or wait until late afternoon when parking spots become available as visitors depart. West Beach's lot holds nearly 600 cars and rarely fills up except on holiday weekends.
All parking lots are located close to the beaches. Kemil Beach parking is located one-quarter mile away from the lake while Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, Central Avenue and West Beach parking are one-eighth mile from the water's edge. Wheelchair accessible parking lots with views of Lake Michigan include West Beach, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Beach, Porter Beach, Lake View Beach, and Central Avenue Beach.
Discover much more than just sand dunes as you bike on an interconnected trail system that spans 37 miles across the entire length of the national park.
A wide variety of trails traverse the various habitats and cultural history of Indiana Dunes National Park. The varying lengths make it easy to choose the trail that's right for you. From a short easy ride to a challenging all-day trek, most of the trails are open all year and the experience will change with each season.
E-bikes are allowed in Indiana Dunes Nationa Park where traditional bicycles are allowed. E-bikes are prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited. Except where use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited.
The term "e-bike" means a two-or-three wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 horsepower).
Calumet Bike Trail Gravel, 19.0 miles round trip, flat.
Dunes Kankakee Bike Trail Paved, 3.6 miles round trip, paved, flat.
Porter Brickyard Bike Trail Paved, 7.0 miles round trip, some hills.
Prairie Duneland Bike Trail Paved, 22.4 miles round trip, rail trail, flat.
Marquette Bike Trail Paved, 4.6 miles round trip, rail trail, flat.
Oak Savannah Bike Trail Paved, 17.8 miles round trip, rail trail, flat.
Fishing is allowed under federal, state and local laws. You need an Indiana Fishing License and a stamp if fishing for trout and salmon. Watch for drop-offs in creeks and along beaches.
Boaters must stay 500 feet away from marked swimming areas, even when beaching. Nearby communities offer boat-launches. Personal watercraft are prohibited.
Sailing and power boating are popular on Lake Michigan. There are no marinas, boat rentals or boat launches within the national park. There are services are available through commercial and city facilities in Porter, Lake and LaPorte counties. Check these county tourism links for information.
Porter County: www.indianadunes.com Lake County: www.southshorecva.com LaPorte County: www.michigancitylaporte.com
Kayaking is increasingly popular on Lake Michigan since the inception of the Lake Michigan Water Trail and in area waterways like the Little Calumet River and Burns Waterway. Try a new challenge by kayaking the Little Calumet River Water Trail: East Branch. Launching hand-carried, non-motorized boats from any Indiana Dunes National Park beach is permitted with the exception West Beach's lifeguarded swimming area (Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend). Lake Michigan’s water conditions can quickly change from calm to dangerous, so check the weather forecast and always use a certified personal flotation device.
Canoeing is also popular on the region's rivers and waterways, but is generally not recommended for Lake Michigan due to frequent windy conditions and large waves. Canoeing is popular on the Little Calumet River.
Glenwood Dunes Trails are the national park's only equestrian trails. Horseback riding is permitted on the specified portion of the Glenwood Dunes Trails from March 16 to December 14. However, if there is sufficient snow cover for cross-country skiing (3 inches or more) before December 15 or after March 15, the trail will remain closed to horseback riding. Horses are prohibited in the winter to prevent accidents with cross-country skiers on the trail.
The parking lot is large enough for horse trailers. In the parking lot and picnic area, all horse excrement must be bagged, removed from the area and disposed of appropriately. There is no horse rental concession. Horses are prohibited on all roads.