Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are only 60 miles from Chicago. It is hard to believe a place so scenic is found so close to the big city. There are six separate bands to the dunes here along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The first is Lake Michigan itself. The next five moving gradually inland include the beach, sedge grass, the actual dunes, hardwood forest, and the great swamp. This photo essay will be separated just like the geography of the dunes.
This photo essay is in honor of my upcoming trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. Many consider this park the mack daddy of the dune parks, so I am excited to check it out as it could not be much prettier than the Indiana Dunes. It is always great to check off a new national park when adventure traveling in the United States.
One of the most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world and one of the biggest, Lake Michigan is gorgeous whether you are looking at Chicago’s skyline, Door County in Wisconsin, or any of the number of amazing dune parks found in Indiana and Michigan.
Most people come here for the beach. It is probably the best swimming hole near Chicago, so it is no wonder that the beautiful sandy beaches are packed on hot summer days. It does not take long to walk from the main beaches and find a slice of solitude for those who do not enjoy the crowds.
One area of the dunes that really surprised me when I first visited was the beauty of the sedge grass in between the actual dunes and the beach. In summer it can be bright green and in the autumn golden brown.
The central feature in the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore is of course the dunes.
This is as far as a lot of people get when visiting the Indiana Dunes, but there is much more in store for the adventure traveler. Many trails explore the interior through hardwood, pine wood forests, and swamps. The forest is amazingly lush with an amazing array of ferns and wildflowers. The trails through the woods are also a great place to cross-country ski in the winter.
The great swamp
Past the woods in the Indiana Dunes lies the remnants of the great swamp, which used to run almost the whole length of northwest Indiana. Much of it has been drained to make way for cities, but inside the Indiana Dune parks stretches of it are alive and well. For those who come in the summer, swamps mean mosquitoes and at times they can be fierce. Make sure to bring repellant if hiking in the woods or camping.
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This is great, Ted! It’s a shame I don’t get to the Dunes more often; it truly is a beautiful spot. You are going to LOVE Sleeping Bear! It’ll be interesting to find out after your trip which you think is prettier: the Dunes or Sleeping Bear. I’ll keep my opinion to myself so as not to sway you 🙂
Francesca recently posted..Family, falling in love, and fly fishing
Hi Francesca, I think I am pretty much guaranteed to like Sleeping Bear more. The farther north you get the more pristine the dunes and the lake get. I have been to Nordhouse Dunes near Ludington and that was better than Indiana. However, you cannot beat the 60 mile drive to the dunes in Indiana.
Another excellent post, Ted, I was unaware of this phenomenon in Indiana. I have been to White Sands, NM. You could get a gig part time making postcards, these are some beautiful pictures, great job.
It boggles my mind that this place is only an hour away from Chicago. I have not been at all this Spring. Need to get there later in the summer.
Dang, this place is awesome, Ted. I really like the picture with the Chicago skyline in the distance. Really cool.
Leah recently posted..My Give-a-Damn’s Broken
Too bad you guys did not have time to explore outside the city a little bit. Next time you come you should come when it is warm. We can all go swimming.
Absolutely inspiring group of photos…well shot!
Charles Higgins recently posted..Memorial Day 2012 weekend events in Las Vegas
WOW!i am so blown away with these pictures and i have never seen such wonderful photographs like this.Thanks for sharing this with us.
Born27 recently posted..conference call
You are welcome born27. Thanks for visiting!
You have wonderful photos here Ted! I was so amazed with the scenery.. From beach to forest. If ever I have the chance to travel in this place, for sure I will enjoy a lot! I love adventure!
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Wonderful photos and story! I love living near the dunes. Please consider our local-owned pizza place Zing Pizzeria if you would like to get a bite to eat when visiting the dunes. Thanks a bunch!
Rebecca Bretzinger recently posted..New Zing Menu for Spring 2012
I will take you up on that offer next time I am in the area! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Such vibrant colors in these brilliant photos my friend. I have never been to any of the Great Lakes, sad I know, however, I feel like I have. LOVE that pic of the Chicago skyline on the horizon…looks surreal!! I just love it. Thx for the amazing tour through the rest of this scenic region.
Jeff Titelius recently posted..Inspired to Travel—Greece
Every time I look at these pictures I am amazed at this park and that it is only an hour from Chicago. Jeff, you really need to see a great lake. They are amazing.
This looks like a great place to visit! I love the fact you’ve got summer and winter shots. People from Chicago are lucky to have sucha lovely place to visit so close to home.
Leigh recently posted..5 Great Sea Kayaking Adventures on Canada’s West Coast
The park in the winter looks even nice 🙂
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