Friday, January 22, 2016

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore--You Won't Believe You are in Indiana!

I am behind on posting this trip, but what better time to do it than in the midst of a blizzard in the eastern part of our nation? We have wanted to visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a while.  It touts beaches, biking, birding, botany, hiking and a diverse ecosystem in a relatively small area. From beaches to bogs to marshes, this area boasts it all.  We finally made it to visit the summer before last and had no regrets!

Indiana Dunes
Public beach taken from concession stand
The campground was very nice and very well maintained. Pads were over-sized and level. You can walk or bike to the beach, although it is a ways, or hike dunes from the campground. One note--if you plan to stay on the weekend in the summer, it is important you get your reservation in early. Also, as they usually fill up, they are very strict about check out times. You may get lucky for early check-in, but I wouldn't count on it.

If you stop at the Visitor Center, you get learn more about the area through displays and an activity center. While you are there, you can pick up brochures, area maps and trail maps as well as shop in their book store.  Since it is a national park, children can participate in their Junior Park Ranger Program and earn a badge. You can also sign up to participate in the Three Dune Challenge and earn a decal.

Hiking on the dunes can be challenging as the sand is deep and slippery. Flip flops are not recommended (for any hiking in my opinion, but especially here). I wore my hiking books and didn't get too much sand in them, but at times, I just took them off and walked on the sand. Other places, the sand was a bit more packed. There are steep hills on the dunes, which, with the sand, can make them challenging to hike.

The beach is absolutely beautiful! The sand is soft, white and powdery. I liken it to Sarasota beaches, and at that, it is deeper. Surprisingly, the water, although Lake Michigan, was not freezing cold. It was also very clear, similar to the Gulf of Mexico. Another plus is that you are able to see the Chicago skyline. (Chicago is just about an hour away by train.) The only drawback to this area is if you look too far to the right or too far to the left, you will see smokestacks from the steel factories.

I am including some of my favorite photos. I hope you enjoy them!

Indiana Dunes
Public Beach

Indiana Dunes
Clear water--similar to the Gulf of Mexico


Indiana Dunes
Sun setting over Chicago
You don't know you are on a sand dune till you look down.

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes
What a surprise coming over the dune from the campground.
To gain perspective, notice the size of my daughters in this picture.

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes
This is like a Where's Waldo picture. Do you see the Canadian Geese?



Indiana Dunes
A Scarlet Tanager was just one of the beautiful birds we spied.


I couldn't begin to include pictures of all the different wildflowers we saw. It was beautiful!





Below are examples of how diverse the area is.





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