Lake Michigan is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. One of the top attractions along the lakeshore is the many sand dune areas to explore in Indiana and Michigan. There is even actually dunes still found in Chicago at Montrose Harbor.
Here is a list of five places to find gorgeous dunes along the lakeshore around this great lake:
1. Montrose Beach and Harbor – Chicago
We will start local and wind our way around the lake from my home base in Chicago and go south to east and then north up to Michigan. First we will start here in Chicago with Montrose Beach and Harbor. The dunes here are far from spectacular, but for a place in Chicago it is not bad.
The best part about this Chicago city park is it provides a wonderful view of downtown Chicago. Besides the view looking downtown, there is also a little bird sanctuary called the Magic Hedge, a beach, some dunes, and a harbor. There is a lot to explore at one of my favorite Chicago Parks.
2. Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore – Michigan City, Indiana
In Indiana there is both a national lakeshore and a state park. The state park is surrounded by the national lakeshore. Usually when there is federally protected and state protected land so close together, the best portion is in the federally protected area.
This is not the case here as the most outstanding dunes are found in the state park sector. Mt. Baldy and West Beach in the National Lakeshore are also outstanding, so there is enough awesomeness to go around here for both the state and the nation.
Most people think of the dunes as a summer only location due to the beaches. Travel tip for you, if you like cross-country skiing, the Indiana Dunes and the next four options are also great skiing locations. Indiana and Michigan get great lake effect snow and the dunes make for some wonderful hills when snow covered.
The farther you go up the Michigan coast line the more remote, the more scenic, and the more spectacular the dunes get. I have only been to Warren Dunes once and this was in the winter, but I would definitely come back in the summer for a swim.
4. Nordhouse Dunes – Ludington, Michigan
I had the pleasure of experiencing these dunes with the Chicago Backpackers a couple of years ago, and I was impressed at how beautiful the dunes were here. The swimming was awesome and the views of Lake Michigan, the sunset, and the dunes were great.
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore –
I have never been to Sleeping Bear, but I hear it is the mack daddy of the dune parks in Michigan and Indiana. This is why I am going there over Memorial Day weekend. Pictures and reports pending.
Have you been to any of these dune locations along Lake Michigan? Have you been to a park I have not included: perhaps a dune area in Wisconsin. Please feel free to comment on one of the parks mentioned here or another dune location I may have missed.
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These are beautiful areas. It’s been many years since I’ve been to Chicago but I’ve never spent a lot of time around Lake Michigan. I didn’t know there were this many great beaches. Can you camp on any of these? Since some of these areas are parks I would assume you could. Really beautiful dunes and beaches. Seems like they are great places to explore in the summer and winter.
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The picture labeled “sunrise at Nordhouse Dunes and Lake Michigan” came from where I woke up that morning. I set up a tent, but I slept right on the beach with my ground pad and sleeping bag. It was a great view when I woke up. I don’t think you can do that at the Indiana Dunes.
I love Lake Michigan and I refuse to say I’m biased only because I live in Chi. 🙂 The lake is truly fantastic and there is so much to do around it.
Montrose Beach is one of my fav spots to enjoy the lake from. Have you been to the Dock there?
The picture from Warren Dunes S.P. is gorgeous!
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I have been to the harbor many times. It is one of my favorite places too.
Being the redneck that I am, you did not mention dune buggies or four wheelers; I am guessing they are not allowed. As usual, you have some great pictures here but all that beautiful water and the complete absence of watercraft is kind of creepy, if you ask me. Can you explain the lack of pleasure craft in what would be, in my opinion, the perfect place to find or operate them? Enjoy your weekend by the lake, thanks.
I will enjoy. The lack of watercraft is simply a matter of where I pointed my camera. Although there are not a lot of boats along the dunes, they are there. Kayaking is also allowed, and would be a great activity, but I have not seen too many of them.