Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Nordhouse Dunes

Nordhouse Dunes north of Ludington, Michigan

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:

Montrose Beach dunes

Cleaning up the Montrose Dunes during Earth Day

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.

Montrose Harbor

No dunes here, but a great view of the city

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.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The Chicago skyline as seen from West Beach in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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.

Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes beautiful beaches in the state park

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.

Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes State Park trail beckoning

3. Warren Dunes – Michigan

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.

Warren Dunes State Park

Warren Dunes State Park shows the dunes are beautiful in winter too

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.

Nordhouse Dunes

Hiking with the Chicago Backpackers at Nordhouse Dunes

Nordhouse Dunes

Sunrise at Nordhouse Dunes and Lake Michigan

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.

Stay tuned,


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